Roma IV & Arrivederci Roma

I awoke around 8:30 but the heavy, dark clouds and the intermittent down pours gave me permission to stay in and write.  I am still trying to get caught up.  Bloggers that do this for a living really do work for their money.  The process is just that, a process.  Add to the mix working on an ipad, plus the array of difficulties with technology I have had and…well, this is where I am…behind.

I open the window once in awhile to allow the thunder its full effect.  Again, rainy days do not get me down (for the most part).

Later in the morning, I hear someone at the reception desk.  I walk out to be greeted by Gabby and her boyfriend (owner of the Guest House) Alesseo…I’m liking saying that name.

They offered a walk for today up to see Piazza Garibaldi.  I would take the 8 train, then the 115 bus up to the top of the hill, walk around to San Pietro in Montorio and see the Tempietto built by Bramante.  They assure me the rain has gone for the day.  They even took me up to the roof top (via crazy route) to show me the clouds have moved from the sea.  Side note on the rooftop: The view was amazing!  Gabby and Alesseo pointed out all the major sites in Rome from this vantage point.  Oh what I could do with this space.

Now Gabby and Alesseo are wonderful hosts.  They are organized, tidy and easy to communicate with…but weather people they are not.  As I walked to the train, the clouds open up again.  I decide to leave that walk for another visit. And as it is well after breakfast and lunch, I go to a favorite spot from my last visit, Grazia & Graziella.  I order a spritz (remember…I know I just left my bedroom and I am now drinking…but it is around 3:30 in the afternoon) and as they did last time, they brought these yummy snacks to accompany it, including my favorite oily bag of fresh pane.

I sit and can’t help but hear a conversation being had with the 2 next to me.  The tables are all but 4 inches apart.  Anywho, one I believe is English and one from New Zealand.  The guy from England is going on about how Americans are all the same…and his perception is not good.  He says there are some small “pockets” that are worth something and goes on to name San Francisco, Austin, Boulder.  The girl from New Zealand chimes in and says, “Oh, when did you visit America?” and he replies, “I’ve never been but…”.  The girl later adds she has been to Boulder but everyone is always high there.

Let us all remember, ya never know who is listening.image

This gentleman you see below works at Grazia & Graziella.  He was constantly moving around, flirting with tables of young girls, flirting with young girls as they walked by…being Italian….oh wait…that’s a stereotype…sorry.  At one point, he comes out with a large water gun and a “fight” with a girl from another trattoria ensues.  Soon another guy from another trattoria appears and his weapon of choice…a large red bucket.image

A little while later an older couple, I’m talking about my age, comes in, breezes past, let’s call him Fabio, breezes past Fabio and starts looking for an empty table.  He gives his “audience” a look of displeasure, unbeknownst to the newbies.  He says in a loud voice, “Ciao!”…they do not hear him. “Ciao!  ciao!  Buonasera!  Good Evening”  With each greeting he looks around as if he cannot believe the rudeness of these two.  He finally announces, “If you-a do not-a say-a buonasera, I no-a give-a you-a a table-a.”   They did get a table, but everyone else got another show.

A not young, not old Italian couple leaves their table, hand in hand.  They walk a few steps away from the trattoria, then begin an intense hugging, kissing session.  After minutes of this, they stop, look into each other’s eyes, light a cigarette and share it as they walk off.  Crack me up!

I look at the clock and see it is time for me to head to mass.  I attended mass on my last visit at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.  It is one of my favorite churches.  As you may remember, it is said to be the first church in Rome dedicated to The Virgin Mary and one of the oldest churches as well. The original floor plan dates back to the 340s and much of the structure to 1140-43.  The large areas of important mosaics are from the late 13th century and are by Pietro Cavallini.  image

During mass, I understand a few more words than I did last year…here and there…piano, piano.  Although this is a tourist point, most of the people attending mass are locals, knowing and greeting each other, moving about in the smaller rooms and corridors as if this is an extension of their homes.  The feeling of home and comfort is so great in this chiesa, that the gentleman behind me has fallen asleep and is happily snoring away.

The sounds outside along with the flickering of lights tells me another storm is here, but like in Assisi during my last visit, in the church, I am safe and warm.

After mass, I roam my neighborhood.  Today, I decided to not exceed its boundaries.  Since this is my last night, I’ve decided to eat as the Italians do, late.  As I scope out a place for dinner, I run across this piccolo pastaccieria.  When I see a group of people inside with a guide, I think, ok…I’ll try.

I enter and the group is passing around a little, gold tray.  Each time they are trying a different dolce.  Each is met with approval.  I move up to the counter and point to the different ones I would like to try.  They are tiny, so I get 3 of each.  The woman behind the counter is patient and then ends telling me her favorite.  I think they are hazelnut meringue.  I add 3 of those as well.  She weighs my batch, I pay 3.20 euro and I store them in my borsa for domani’s train ride.image

I go back several trattorias the ones on the other side of Via Trastevere are more crowded than the ones on my side of the tracks (literally).  I end up choosing one that is not on Gabby’s list, Dar Sor Olimpio al Drago.  It is 10 meters (I’m just saying that…I don’t measure well in meters, but they tend to say that a lot) from my Guest House.  I am seated at a small table on the street/piazza. (In the photo below you see my empty table.)  Each time I lean in my chair, I fear I will topple over as it tips backwards.

As I am settled in my evening spot, I watch others looking for theirs.  There are the couples walking by, stopping to read the menu, giving looks.  Within this piccolo piazza, there are 3 trattorias.  The more popular looking, with the strung lights and bigger space, is the one Gabby advised me to avoid.  This is the one that most of the men vote for.  I watch as couples do the, “I want that IF you want that” dance.  Two italian preteens walk by arm in arm chatting.  Shortly behind them, 3 older italian women walk by arm in arm chatting.  Nice.

I look over the menu and choose Gnocchi Ricotta con Salvia.  This will definitely be a recipe I try to replicate in casa.  It was so good.  Comfort Food to the highest degree.  The rain has brought cooler temps so this is perfetto!  I wish for Avery as I know she would appreciate this dish as much as I do.  I order panna cotta for dessert and my waitress asks, “Do-a you-a like-a the caramel-a?”  Certo!

This was very nice ending to MY Roman Foodie Tour.image

Before going to bed, I make sure I am all set for my departure in the morning.  Gabby has told me where a taxi station is and says with my train leaving at 10:30, I could leave around 10:00.  Silly Gabby, I leave at 8:30.  What if there are no cabs, what if it is raining, what if Putin is headed to mass (ha) and causes yet another closure or rerouting?  Cosa se, Cosa se, Cosa se?

I arrive at the stazione in plenty of time.  I watch the crowds then realize this odd little headache I have is probably from not having my daily dose of espresso, yesterday or this morning. image

So I grab my first cappuccino of my vaca and feel relief.image

Armed with my biscotti from ieri, I am ready to go.  I won’t go into my brief panic when trying to find the binario for my treno.  Just a tip for you- 2 and     2 est are two-a different tracks.  I think my still watering left eye, made train attendants have pity on me and helped me find my way.

Quick review of Highlights of Roma- Helpful Gabby, Nice clean, sleek room, Cacio e Pepe, Trumpet Player, Funny “If Art Could Talk” Post Cards, Colosseum Tour with Guido the Guide AND THESE BISCOTTI!!  If you are in Roma, you must seek this place out.  Truly OUTSTANDING!!image

On this treno, I have an assigned compartment and seat.  When I enter all but 2 of the seats are taken and a man from Australia is struggling to put his wife’s luggage in the overhead compartment.  He gives up and leaves it in the space between the seats.  I roll in the Ferrari and he asks if he can put mine up for me.  I tell him, it is quite heavy and I saw him struggle with his wife’s.  Just as trying to get a middle school boy to do something for you, this approach of “Oh…it is too heavy for you” worked again.  The four Australians will be heading to Firenze in a few days and I share my tips with them.

I arrive in Chiusi about 2 hours later.  Milena meets me.  It is great to see her again.  After knowing each other for less than 24 hours 2 years ago, Milena feels like an old friend.image

At the house, she asks a favor of me.  The room I had last time and the same room Mom and Dad had last year when they visited has been requested by a business man that comes through often.  She asks if I would mind terribly choosing a different room.  She shows me 2 different ones.  I choose this one.image

Although the view is not quite as good, I like this room even better.  Letting the wood and white speak for itself it the way to decorate.

Milena has another couple checking in soon which allows me time to unpack and get situated.  Only staying 2 nights, I basically work from my suitcase while here.

Milena and I then drive into Chiusi to grab a quick bite to eat.  We catch up over salads and vino.  She tells me she has a couple of things planed during my visit.  At 4:30, we will pick up her friend, Diana, and “make-a a drive-a” to Montepulciano and Pienza.  I am so thankful to Milean for taking this time to show me these beautiful villages.  Without a car, I would not have had the opportunity.

I cannot share much with you about these towns.  We literally “made-a a walk-a” through.  Milena and Diana being patient with me as I snapped a few photos.  What I do remember were the views from Montepulciano and the aroma of pecorino in the streets of Pienza.imageBeing with these 2 close friends was fun; listening to their conversations as they spoke over each other, yet understanding each other.  Diana looks exactly like Laura Dern but with strawberry blonde hair and Milena is a younger Diane von Furstenberg.  Even when I show pics of these famous people, other friends we hang out with agree.  imageThe views from the top of Montepulciano are unparalleled.  We were there when the sun was hot and high and the air hazy.  I cannot imagine what a sunset here would be like.imageimageimageAfter our quick tour, we rested and then met again for dinner.  Another friend of Milena’s was coming to pick us up and take us all to dinner.  Roberto arrived in a brand new Mercedes van (he owns and operates a car service in the area- Autonoleggio Rent a Car, Caroti di Caroti Roerto) and we all pile in- Roberto, Milena, Diana, Milena’s two beautiful girls, me and Roberto’s son.

When Roberto introduced himself, he shared with me that his english is “not-a too-a good-a”, but it was enough to communicate with me that he has driven for “a-Russel-a Crowe-a, Sarah-a Jessica-Parker-a, Morgan-a Freeman, Bill-a Gates-a Google-a” and I add, “And now, Paige Conn”.

We drive and drive then arrive at an Agriturismo of sorts.  Tonight the large restaurant has only a few families.  All who seem to frequent.  The kids run around like it is home.

Roberto and Milena suggest me trying pici con ragu.  This photo does not do the dish justice.  Again, comfort food.  Pici is a thick, hand-rolled pasta, like a fat spaghetti.  It originates in the province of Siena, which Chiusi is a part of.  I ate every bite!  When Roberto pours the vino rosso, I hold up a glass, I notice he hesitates, pours wine into it, then adds, “Wrong-a glass-a”.  oooppss.image

Just because the Limoncello (will always remind me of Franco) is serve, it does not mean the evening is over.imageThe kids continued to run and play.  All decided to get tattoos.  When Milena was handing out the money to buy, she gives me a silly look and says, “Paj-a…do-a you-a want-a a tattoo-a too-a”.  Nope, I’m good.image

Earlier, Milena told me that although she has 1 tattoo declaring she is a Scorpio, she wants to get 2 more.  I ask her what she wants and she says she does not know.  I, like a mother to a 40ish year old, tell her to remember how they will look when she is old.  She replies, “Yes-a, but-a we will all-a have-a them-a” and smiles.

As the night winds down, we would gather kids and be missing one, find that one, then miss another.  This went on for quite a while.  The crescent moon was low and large.  Che Bello!

Driving back through Chianciano, Roberto would say, “Paj-a…that-a eees-a my shop-a (Roby’s Women’s Fashion), Paj-a…that-a eees-a one of my-a petro stations.”  Roberto works hard and does well.

The next morning, I wake slowly, enjoy breakfast with cappuccino and prepare to “take-a the waters”.image

Milena had planned for us to “take-a the waters” and enjoy a day of relaxing at the piscine termali or thermal pool.  We gather the girls plus Nicolo and andiamo.

The day seems perfect for this, kinda sunny, kinda cloudy, not too hot for the warmth of the waters.  My only issue was the swim cap.  Earlier, Milena has asked, “Paj-a…do you have-a a cap-a for the swimming-a?”…never!  I tell her I really don’t think I need one and she tells me it is a “rule-a”…oh.  Milena pulls 4 or 5 from her swim bag.  One has 2 cigarette holes burned into it.  She laughs and adds, “Theeesa one-a eeesa for going to-a the banca”…funny.

As Milena advertised, the day was nice and relaxing.  My favorite part, aside from sporting an ill-fitting swim cap, were the cement lounge chairs, of sorts, that had millions of bubbles shooting up from them.  As you sat in the warm, mineral water enriched with healing elements (that’s them talking…not me), bubbles burst up from chair, giving you a light, warm message.  I kept laughing, but no one else was.  The thermal waters were known to the Etruscans and the Romans…this is serious business.imageReturning to the guest house, we retired for a bit more relaxation, and then prepared for a dinner in with famiglia.  Apart from the 4 rooms Milena has as the bed and breakfast, there is a wonderful space where Milena and the girls live.

Tonight, Roberto brings pizza and plenty of it.  We also have every bevanda known to Italia.image


The night is just like any other spent in the company of good friends, filled with great conversation (Kendra Scott, Alice, Roberto’s 12 year old daughter coming as an exchange student to Texas, and the difference between the english pronunciation of Tree and Three), laughter and broken glass…certo!image

Roma II

My first full day in Roma began with grabbing a quick Italian breakfast.  The guesthouse provides tickets to get a bite to eat and a beverage of choice at a bar around the corner.  This was a ritual I loved during my last visit.  Unfortunately, this bar is not quite as tasty as the last.  On future mornings I will just grab espresso. imageWhen Gabby welcomed me to Roma, she highlighted three or so walks around the city.  Today I will follow her Red Line.  As I pass from Trastevere over Ponte Cestio, I see this sign.  To me this is a reminder of what Roma needs to do…clean up their mess!  I have accepted the graffiti, this was a surprise in 2007, but just mounds of trash scattered about, I can’t accept in the “ambience” column. image

Ponte Cestio is a stone bridge spanning the Tiber to the west of Tiber Island.  The original version of this bridge was built around the 1st century BC.

Walking in Rome, you are struck by the sheer number of ancient buildings in such a concentrated area…so bear with me as I share a couple of today’s highlights.

To my left you will see the Teatro di Marcello, Theatre of Marcellus.  This was the largest and most important theatre in Rome completed in the late 1st century during the reign of Augustus.  The facade would later influence iconic buildings such as the Colosseum.

The project was started by Julius Caesar but completed by his nephew who then dedicated it to his nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus (did you follow that).  The theatre had a capacity between 15 to 20,000 spectators.  It originally had two tiers, each with 41 arches (the Colosseum’s have 80).  The theatre hosted cultural events such as plays, musical contests and poetry recitals.  When the popularity of circuses and gladiator games increased, the theatre fell into disuse.  The materials from it was used to building other projects, in particular, the bridge we just crossed, Ponte Cestio.imageNow we approach the enormous monument honoring Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II.  It was built on the slope of the Capitoline Hill, which is the heart of this city.  The monument was dedicated in 1911.  At the center of the monument is the equestrian statue of Vic himself.  If you google “inside the horse of Victor Emmanuel” you will find an old photo of men dining inside.  This image gives you an idea of the scale of the horse and the entire monument.  There is also a tomb of an unknown soldier below the statue of the goddess Roma. The tomb holds the body chosen from 11 unknown remains by Maria Bergamas, a woman whose only child was killed during World War I. I arrived just in time to see the changing of the guards.


Next we head over to Trajan’s column.  This is basically an ancient comic strip sharing the victory of the Roman emperor Trajan over the Dacians.  The column stands 126 feet tall.

Trajan’s Market was a sort of shopping mall (also housed administrative offices for Emperor Trajan) for the common Roman, where Trajan’s Forum was reserved for the important and well-to-do.  As my Art I students study, Trajan’s Market was built in 100-110 AD by Apollodorus of Damascus.image


A Roman Guard headed to the gym.

Now Gabby’s Red Line directed me to continue right, but I cannot wait until the Green Line walk tomorrow to see the next highlight.  So I turn left, walk 5 or 6 blocks and am now standing at the site where Julius Caesar was stabbed by members of the Senate.  Largo di Torre Argentina is a square in Rome that hosts four Roman temples and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre.  What we “know” about Caesar’s death is a mix of several versions, including Shakespeare’s “Et tu, Brute?”.  Nevertheless, the lesson here is clear, when you declare yourself “Dictator for Life”, you put a target on your back.

imageProving everyone is a student, while I am at this historic site, I hear a guide sharing information about Mark Anthony and Julius, “Mark-a Anthony-s…he-a, as we say-a in Eeetaly-a, he-a sitz-a in-a two chairs-a….He-a has-a one-a face-a to the Senate and-a one-a to-a Cleopatra”.  As I always like to eavesdrop on a free history lesson, I look over and recognize “Turtle” from Entourage.  Later, Avery tells me she also spies “E” in my stealth (ha) video of the group.image

OK, back to the Red Line and on to the Colosseo.  image

The area around here is CRAZY.  I do not think I have ever seen it this crowded.  This is when I am glad Blaine is not here.  It just takes away from the moment.  The crowds, the vendors, the incessant sound of “selfie…selfie….selfie” as the Indians hawk their goods, not to mention the “Beware of pickpockets” announcement, in every language known, blaring over a PA system.  As the wind whips up dirt older than dirt into my eyes, I maneuver to get a decent shot, knowing I will be back tomorrow night and move on.

I fold my map into yet another origami masterpiece and head back to Trastevere.  On the way I pass the Arch of Constantine and Circus Maximus.  Back at the Guest House, I clean up for my Foodie Tour.

As most of you know, I love to cook and I love to eat, so signing up for another Foodie Tour this year was a must.  The company I chose was The Roman Guy.  The tour, Trastevere “Locals” Food Tour.  We were to meet by the fountain outside Palazzo Farnese at 5:30.image

Since I tend to arrive early, I took a few minutes to walk around Campo di Fiori (tomorrow’s Green Line walk).  At this time of day, there was little left to see but garbage.  In the mornings, this piazza is filled with flower and food vendors…you can also find a “selfie…selfie…selfie” stick if ya need.

Avery and I love peonies!imageimage

When all in the group (2 from Colorado, 1 from Canada, family of 4 from Houston and me) arrive, our tour begins.

First stop, formaggio!  In this piccolo mom and pop, we are allowed into the back where we try an assortment of Pecorino and Parmigiano with Prosecco certo!imageNext something I would not have tried, Filetti di Baccala.  I wouldn’t  have thought this fried fish was traditional Roman…or even Italian.  But deep fried, salted cod with a glass of vino bianco locale was molto buono.  The photo of the guy below reminds me of the look I got from Paola’s son in Sorrento last year when I could not stop laughing as he tied my suitcase to a rope to hoist up to the B&B.  He looked at me like, “What…”.

Also, see the blurred guy carrying the pane?  Well, they are all in a hurry around this time of the evening, so most of my restaurant workers are blurred.image

What is a visit to Roma without some Roman style pizza? La Renella Forno is THE place for it in Trastevere.  Our guide chose for us or else the decision would have been molto difficile! (I do return later for further research…certo!)imageTrastevere is very proud of their foods.  Organic, Slow Food and Biological are important terms to look for as you eat your way through.imageThe Street Art scene is not as rich in Roma as in Firenze, but I have  noticed a few like this one.  Our guide tells us the artist’s inspiration is Michelangelo’s Pieta.imageOf course, if you layer graffiti…it starts to look pretty cool…(work with me here).image

On to TASTEVERE…clever no (finger to eye here)?  I think we tasted 4 or 5 different, oh so fresh, samplings here.  Lorenzo was kind enough to allow me to photo each before serving.  Like all the places we visited, TASTEVERE is very proud of what they are doing with fresh ingredients.  On the door you will see a sign that states “0 km”.  imageThe streets are starting to fill as we enjoy a bit of exercise between each stop.imageAn item you see on most menus this time of year is the Jewish Style Artichoke.  This is my first time to try.  They are beautiful.  At Trattoria de Teo along with the carciofo, we sample Cacio e Pepe and a pasta with guanciale (pig cheek) and pomodori. image  A stroll through the Jewish Ghetto is an Anthropology lesson- food, culture and history.imageimageThese brass threshold plates share the names and dates of Jews taken from their homes, transported to camps like Auschwitz and killed- a sobering reminder.imageimage

Our last stop is dolce, certo.  We end our tour at a gelateria across the strada from Pompey’s Theatre.  Although it is good, it does not compare to Edoardo’s in Firenze…I am spoiled. image

All in all the tour was buono.  The spots were well chosen, the food, very good and the time, well paced.  The main drawback for me, this is my opinion only I am sure, was that our tour leader is British.  When I am in Italy, I want to understand, sure…but I want to hear a thick Italian accent.  I want the words to roll off their tongues not sound labored and practiced.  AND I want tomatoes called pomodori, NOT toMAHtoes….again, I’m sure it’s just me.

Walking back across the Tiber for the 4th or 5th time today, I notice the abandon white tents of day have been magically transformed.  Although during the day, I have been nervous to venture down due to the homeless presence but now…the lights call me. imageimage

These crate pieces you see here are cozy spots to enjoy a spritz or glass of wine with friends.  All along the Tiber there were unique lounges and bars set up.  image

There were used book and record spots, even arcades.  This was, no doubt, the coolest nightlife scene I have ever witnessed.image

This tent made me curious.  I asked what the purpose was and a young woman told me they were Photography students and this was their project.  People were answer the question, “What makes you happy?” on a small chalkboard and then they photographed them.  For their final, they will be creating a book of the photographs….Again, an idea I will be taking home.imageimageUnfortunately, I didn’t feel this was the place for an older, solo traveler to sit and enjoy a beverage.  So after walking the span of a couple of bridges, I made my way to street level again and bid buonanotte to Roma who was obviously just getting started.image

Roma I

My train to Roma does not depart until around noon, but I wake up early enough with plenty of time to spare.  One never knows what challenges might be placed in front of you.

I start with my last tazza di caffe (I bought this cute little tazza at that Tiger shop.  I hope it makes it home in one piece), publish my 60th post to you, take my chiavi off my Florentine chiavi chain, and load up.  The Zara bag has my goodies from the pasticceria…and anyway…EVERYONE carries a Zara bag around here.image

When I say arrivederci to my appartamento (It has been great!  The best location ever!) Guess what…it is raining once again.  I feared this, but what’s a girl to do?  Adding one more object (umbrella) to my balancing act, I begin my walk to the stazione.

Being quite early for my treno, I find a place to stand to people watch.  The people coming into Firenze come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages and capacities for fashion sense.  Ma, we are in luck.  It is Fashion Week.  If you like to people watch and major in fashionable people watching, may I suggest you schedule your travel around Santa Maria Novella Stazione during this annual event.

My photos DO NOT show what I saw justice.  I have not mastered the true art of the discreet photo.  I did learn to position yourself near the center of an exit.  NONE of the cool people are coming in leaving Florence, I assure you.imageHere are some fashion tips I gleaned for you:  Although girls/women wear every short of Converse with every sort of outfit…not when attending Fashion Week.  The Louboutins were out in full force, cobbled stone streets or not.  Come to think of it, most of these people probably had cars waiting for them outside the stazione….darn, I didn’t think to look.

Men ALWAYS wear or carry a blazer…a well fitting blazer, and I love this.  For men, socks are optional  and pants are slim and short.  Most men carried a small portfolio…kinda like a clutch.  Sunglasses madatory, and either walk with purpose or consult your phone to see where the heck your photographers and models are.

Speaking of photographers and models.  The photographers were easy to spot, sensible shoes, scruffy (but well chosen) look and a large bag.  The models…they came through with nothing but their tall selves.

I hated to put my camera away.  I just knew when I did someone fabulous would rush by.  But it was time for me to go to platform 5 and uscita this citta.imageimageI entered the train  careful of the Italians exiting, cigarette poised in mouth, ready to light when their second foot touches terra.imageArrivederci  Firenze, a dopo.  Ciao Roma!

Roma Termini  is 2 miles from Trestevere, so I get a taxi.  Passing through the city, it feels oddly familiar..  I know where I am and what is around me as we drive.  In front, is the monument to Victor Emmanuel II  and behind, the street where my room 2 years ago was.imageWe arrive in the neighborhood of Trastevere and to my strada..  Trastevere is where I took my cooking class with Chef Andrea 1.  Staying here is one of the main reasons I am revisiting Roma.  To see if can get a more local feel.image

I find the building in my small piazza, buzz, enter, walk up the  50+ steps and am greeted by Gabriella.imageWhen I enter Trastevere Luxury Guest House,  I am very happy.  The outside of most of the buildings are ugly, grimy and covered with graffiti.  Mine is no exception. But inside, clean, modern and refreshing.

Gabby shows me to my room  and shares a few quick things I need to know.  For example, you must put your key card in this little slot in order to get  power (electric, air, etc.) to your room.  It takes me a moment then I realize I cannot charge my electronics when out and about…this is going to take some planning.  But the room is fabulous….and they leave me treats in my piccolo fridge.image


After I get all situated, Gabby is kind enough to spend time with me acquainting me with the area. She would tell me something, like a trattoria and then bring it up on google maps so I could get a better idea.   Although she and Alesseo are not here much of the time, when they are they are very helpful and molto  gentile.

As I am hungry, I take Gabby’s advice and not go to the busy trattoria across the street, but instead to the small one to the left.  I have my choice of tables  so I try out a few to get the best view before I order.   I begin with bicchiere di vino bianco locale.  The bring it in this piccolo ppitcher.  Is that so cute….II think I will ask to buy one before I leave on Sunday.imageI then order, what I later find out  is a local specialty,  Cacio e Pepe.  I can see why it is a favorite.  I will definitely be making this at home.  It is simply pasta fatta in casa, pecorino cheese with a bit of pasta water and black pepper.

The sky chooses to open up again and I am seated inside for my fiori di zucca fritti.imageAfter a lunch like that, it is time for molto pedi.  I head through Trastevere to  Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.   imageimageBefore I enter the piazza, the unmistakable sound of a trumpet greets me.  I stand for a  while, enjoying the moment and his talent.  He plays the theme from Rocky.  Daddy would LOVE this

I decide to buy the cd to relive and share this moment later.  When he gives me change, it burns my hand it is so hot from sitting in the sun.  Later I pass the guitarist and he asks me how my day has been.imageI head towards the Vatican  passing by familiar monuments as I roam.  imageI turn a corner and there it is!imageimageimageThis year I have no intentions of a visit inside.  Which seems to be a good thing.  After the rain, the air is hot and humid and the lines are very long.  I just reflect of the memories made here with Mom and Jim, Mom and the kids,  Papa Francesco and myself, and that is enough.

As I turn to leave, the sky is once again threatening.  I am struck by the formation of the clouds.  They are perfect for this moment and this place.  In The Agony and the Ecstasy (the movie depicting Michelangelo’s  experiences while painting the Sistine Chapel)  there is a scene where Michelangelo is up in the mountains and receives Divine inspiration for the Creation of Adam  among the clouds.  The clouds in front of me now, so close to the Sistine Chapel and it’s focal point, resemble Irving Stone’s  portrayal. imageimageThis calendar always makes me laugh.  To think, a handsome priest of the month…BTW, this is the same coverguy from 2013.imageOn the walk home, there is no rain (probably because I have carried along a loan umbrella from the Guest House), but there is plenty of wind! The leaves and dirt swirl.

As I walk along the Tiber, I get the feeling I am very near where we (mom, Avery, Dalton and me) stayed in 2007.  I cross and find Via Giulia.  It is a posh address, but like most of Rome, gritty and dirty.imageI take a quick right, and my instincts were correct.  I find the appartamento were we stayed, complete with Avery’s favorite- graffiti and trash.imageThere are prettier things on Via Giulia, like this bridge designed by Michaelangelo,imageimageAnd one of my favorite fontanas built in 1626.

Heading back to the Guest House, I am not hungry enough for an Italian dinner, so I grab a birra, watch a puppet show in the piazza (the puppet is actually painting!)

and enjoy what’s left from this morning’s snacks.image