Friday, June 11, 2010

Rome, June 2010 Day Three

OK, there is a hiccup in the operation. Today is an impromptu transportation strike. Well, I can only get into the Center by taxi, walking from Donna’s training at Piazza Mazzini is definitely out. Don’t know where the day will lead me but I am going to start out there which is near to the Vatican and go see the ‘Pieta’ (Michelangelo) as a starting point.

Siily me, I thought that Saint Peter’s was close to piazza Mazzini. I set off in the right direction and walked and walked and walked. This is one boring neighborhood. The buildings are well under a hundred years old and in Rome that is essentially, brand new. Block after block I kept waiting for the Duomo (dome) to come into site and it just kept eluding me. I did finally end up at Castel San Angelo and from there I knew exactly where the Church was. I arrived through ‘La Porta dei Englesi’ (the English gate) and on the side of the colonnade that surrounds Saint Peter’s square. I always like to enter this way instead of through the grand concourse in front because it has so much more impact this way. Surprisingly, there was security and metal detectors in the crossing through the colonnade. I’d never seen this before. Turns out that my buddy Benedict (the Pope) was doing his Service thing right out in the open on the front steps of Saint Peter’s. Most of the square (its round not square) was filled with people dressed in white with yellow hats. I was unable to figure out what that was about but we could all see old Benedict doing his thing up front on these enormous monitors that were set up around the piazza. Everyone was having a good time and the crowd around me was singing right along with the eunuch priests that were leading the choir. Well, I was having fun but one can really only do that for so long out in the full sun on a day that is exceeding ninety degrees. It was obvious that I would not be allowed through that crowd of thousands, past Benedict and into the church so that I could see the Pieta’. I went off back the way I came and decided to follow the Papal battlements that connect the Vatican with Castel San Angelo. This was fun; I kept stopping to photograph details of the battlements, Also through the arches that framed the alleys leading away from the other side and some of the street names too. At one point an old man who was headed my direction and going about my speed had stopped to wait for me. He told me that I could get a photo of the street sign and the campanile in the background from this angle if I wished, I did and he got ahead of me while I was shooting photos of the combo. I caught up to the old guy and we were mostly neck to neck all the way to the front of the Castle. I turned right and crossed the bridge and lost sight of him there. Crossing the bridge I got a great picture of one of the sentinel angels of the bridge in the foreground with the dome of Saint Peter below and to the left. It should be a winner.

OK, having crossed the bridge, the Campo seemed to be just down the way so I decided to go see Mom after all. I stopped at the Chiesa Nuova (also San Fillippo) saw that there was supposed to be a Caravaggio but that it was missing, took some photos and proceeded to arrive at Shirley’s just after their return around noon. We chatted a while, Sherley made her lunch and was munching on it and Mom was hungry. Eventually we went out and trolled for some food finding an incredible fornaio/ pastry store a few blocks from the Campo and heading toward piazza Navona. I’m not sure that I have ever seen such a large variety of pastries in one place but what got us in was the freshly made pizzas that are sold by weight (by the slice). Mom selected pizza margarita but I got this White pizza that had fresh slices of Mozzarella, tomatoes and Basil and was not melted. This was truly heavenly. We wandered up the street to a bar and I ordered a beer, mom ordered a cold cappuccino. They bollixed that thoroughly and mom proceeded back into the place to try to teach them how to make it properly. She failed on her attempt, I didn’t ask her if she had been charged for their failures. From there I walked mom back to Shirley’s and set off toward Piazza Navona. Having examined the maps I had determined that no matter how I returned to piazza Mazzini on foot it was going to be a very long walk.

Piazza Navona is one of the gems of the world and unlike our previous two visits to Rome, this time all three fountains were operating. The previous two times the center fountain was being restored. They did a great job, it looked brand new. So, I remember a story from my child hood about the central fountain and the cathedral behind it. I seem to remember that it had to do with the rivalry between Borromini and Bernini. Have them mixed up so I don’t know which one did which. Anyway, one guy got the church contact over the other. Shortly later the other got the contact to do the fountain. Well he was so pissed off about missing out on the church job that when he did the four river god statues, they are all (but one) looking away from the church. One even has his head covered with a cloth to hide the hideousness of the church facade from his view. The fourth statue does face the church but he is holding up his hand to block the view of the church. Talk about holding a grudge!

I navigated through all the guys selling their original or perhaps not so original art. Out the back side of the piazza and I watched two buses go by. Some buses were running, a lot fewer and some lines were not running at all. I walked up to the bus stop and studied my options. There was the 30, the 7 and the good old 628 that would all take me to Piazza Mazzini. I liked my odds that a bus going my way would show up so I decided to wait. I probably waited a half hour in that 90+ degree sun and while I waited group after group of tourists led by a guide walked by. Finally, I was rewarded for my patience. Guess which bus showed up. Yep, the 628. Something seems to have me inextricably connected to this bus line as I return to Rome time after time.

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