Monday, June 21, 2010

Rome, June 2010 Day Four

As with the other days, this day began at Beatrice’s parent’s house where Donna was teaching the Advanced Feldenkrais Training. I departed from there and walked over to the bus stop to catch the 628 into town. I had decided to get off at Flaminio which is just outside Piazza del Popolo and walk through a good part of the old City on the way to join my Mom near the Campo dei Fiori. Arriving there I proceeded to photograph the arch before entering through the walls of the City. Just inside on the left is a church called Santa Maria del Popolo. Mom had castigated me on previous visits for failing to go see the Caravaggio paintings that hang there. I decided to earn brownie points and go see them. I have to admit that the guy is pretty good even if he isn’t Michelangelo (actually his name is also Michelangelo but he is not THE Michelangelo). One of the paintings was the Crucifixion of Peter and the other was a soldier being trampled by a horse. I really like the crucifixion one. From there I crossed the square, photographed the Obelisk and proceeded toward via del Babuino. Along the Babuino I glanced in the stores, all the big names here, went into the Anglican church but it was just too English. Further down (almost to the piazza di Spagna) was the place we had discovered full of statues. I went in and looked around and tried to sneak some photos. The Spanish Steps were as magical as ever. I took a photo of the steps but focused more on the fountain this time. I’m doing a job in Cardiff right now and we are discussing fountains. I want to be ready to address that subject when I return with lots of examples. Somewhere along the line over the past few days I became interested in the street names in Rome so I started photographing them whenever I saw a street of note. Mostly, I was not interested in the famous ones (some of those did get photographed) but rather in the ones that grabbed me for some other reason. There was a street named after the craftsmen who re-weave the wicker into an old worn out chair and another named after the guys who made nails. There was also one for Key makers but according to Beatrice Via delle Chiavetorri is also a crude slang expression for what guys do to women; who knew?

Anyway onward, through the piazza with a column that had a saint on it. Another with an old Roman on it. Behind the building (I think the Prime Minister was there) was another piazza with an obelisk with hieroglyphics all over it. A few more turns brought me almost to the Pantheon and so in the foreground was the Tazzo d’Oro with the moniker ’best in the world’ (in Italian). I went in, had a cappuccino and moved on. It actually is very good coffee. There was no way that I could cross the front of the Pantheon without going in so I did. I photographed the inside and the dome, all over again. For Donna and George I also got photos of the fountain. By now I was running late but still, I needed to go through Piazza Navona. The church was open and what a treat that was! Borromini was a genius. And so was Bernini. That fountain is a triumph and there was a zoo around it. The piazza was jammed with tourists, street painters, performers, everything, very cool.

Mom was raring to go when I got there so off we went on our grand walk-a-bout. We set off for the Ghetto. Checking out this and that along the way I showed mom the new Fornaio (bread store) and then we went over to via Catalana to see our old apartment. There was a to do at the Synagogue. People pouring out of the Synagogue. Mom started wandering over and immediately the military police moved towards us to block a possible terrorist threat. I turned mom the other way and said “let’s go see Lemantani” and so we did. At the other end of the block that we used to live in, in the basement of the building is possibly the world’s largest supplier of kitchen stuff. Not appliances, but plates, cups, glasses, silverware, knives, pots, pans and so on. This place wanders on and on under the building. It is Huge! I asked permission to take photographs; they allowed it, sooner or later I will post the photos of the inside of this place.

Finishing there, we wandered down into the grounds of the Teatro Marcello. Those of you who have read my other years of postings may remember that I used to catch the bus to school from here every day when I was a kid. We wondered through and came upon a newly erected pedestal, with a column on top of it. Impaled through the top of the column is a carriage (horse drawn without the horse), the type used to take tourists around Rome. The thing was painted gold and cantered slightly off at an angle. I guess this is also art. I made up an amusing story of the Cart driver trying to explain how his cart had ended up impaled in that column and how he couldn’t figure out how to get it down.

Mom was running out of steam but being the slave driver that I am, I pushed her along and we crossed the street to the side of the Capitoline hill and walked down hill away from the Ghetto. There was a foot path that veered off to the left and would bring us closer to the base of the hill so I steered her that direction and we found a place to sit under some trees. This made mom happy. Rome has been very hot. In the high 80s to 90s every day with high humidity too. In the sun, it can feel oppressive. Naturally, I had been loving it even if I was mostly a sticky, sweaty mess. There was a cool breeze under those trees and it refreshed us both. I wanted to push on. The old Roman mint was somewhere nearby and I wanted to go there. What we saw was another church and I convinced mom that we should head for it since it would have seating and be cool inside. As we approached the base of the stairs I told mom that I would go up and see if the church was open. Just then a priest got out of a car and started conversing with us. He assured us that the church was indeed open and walked with us as we climbed the stairs. He spoke English and I explained that Mom was Italian; I was only half but had grown up in Rome. He left us as we entered the church. Inside, this church was very poor and decrepit. The paintings were deteriorated to the extent that I doubted they could ever be restored. The whole place smelled musty and it was not all that cool inside either. We sat a while, then decided to get out of there, it was depressing. At the same level as the church, there were some outdoor restaurants. I thought it best to lead mom over to one and feed her before she collapsed. We selected one. Right next to our table was one of those vertical Roman drinking fountains made of bronze that are on many street corners. I immediately took our glasses over and filled them up. I just kept filling them over and over as the meal went on. Sort of felt water logged by the end of the meal. We both chose to order Rigatoni with Pesto sauce. It was delectable!

Relaxed ad recharged (at least I was) I led mom the opposite direction that she wanted to go (she wanted to go home). We were only two blocks from the Mouth of Truth and any of you who really know me know that the ‘Bocca’ is special to me. So kicking and complaining, I dragged her down there and she rebelled and declined to stand in line to see the Bocca. She found a seat while I waited in line as couples and families made idiots of themselves posing with body parts inserted in the mouth and the eye of the Face. When it was my turn I took a series of high def pictures. I’m now ready to do my third reproduction of the Bocca if anyone out there wants one. After the pictures I went inside to see the scull of Saint Valentine for a sec and I also extensively photographed the mosaic patterns of the floors of the church.

Mom wanted to take a taxi home but naturally, we could find no taxis. There was a bus stop nearby and I managed to get her down there. We caught an empty bus where she got a seat and this one bus even had air conditioning and took us to a block from where she is staying. I was off the hook. I plopped her down in a chair in the air conditioned house and took my leave to return to pick up Donna. We had agreed to return to have dinner with Mom and Shirley.

So, I walked through piazza Navona again; I don’t think that anyone can ever visit that piazza too many times. Got the 628 at the other end and shortly arrived at the apartment at Piazza Mazzini. Donna was elated to be finished with her work for the day and anxious to get in some exercise so we agreed to basically repeat the voyage I had taken earlier that day. We got off the bus at Flaminio. Immediately it was obvious that something was up. That morning as I passed through Piazza del Popolo I had noticed that they were setting up to do a rally. Well, this rally was in full swing now. The place was absolutely jammed with people wearing red hats and large bandanas proclaiming that the weight of the world was on their shoulders (whatever that was supposed to mean). Donna wanted to see the Caravaggio’s so we went back into that church again. Exiting we soon realized that we would never be able to directly cross the piazza, there were thousands and thousands of people here and Donna doesn’t really like being crushed into a mob situation. It probably hadn’t helped that I kept pointing out all of the paramilitary police aggregated around the perimeter all dressed out in riot gear. To my credit, I did tell her that things must be under control or the church would have been closed up like a vault. The solution was to take the perimeter road up the side of the piazza and back down the other side to the twin churches.

We enjoyed our walk. Donna needed to look into some of the stores. This was the first opportunity that she had had since arriving in Rome to shop and she had already been in Rome for four days. Eventually, she satisfied her immediate need by purchasing a new top. We stopped at the statuary store for an Ice Tea (they sell statues but are also a café). Pretty much, it was a déjà vu of that morning’s walk. At the Pantheon we went back in again, at Piazza Navona we walked around the Bernini fountain twice discussing the power of the sculptures and then went into the Borromini church as well.

Finally, we arrived at Shirley's apartment and I introduced Donna to her. We had cocktails and a nice dinner and eventually departed to return back to Beatrice and Renzo’s apartment. This was accomplished relatively quickly by taking a bus to the metro and then three stops down the line on the metro to the Cornelia exit which is a few blocks away from the apartment.

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