Roma

by Laura A

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I’ve been wanting to go to Rome ever since we moved to Italy, and finally made there it last week. Most Italians we talk to say it’s their favorite city. Certainly it has deep roots, and points of interest from almost every era. It has a similar serendipitous energy to New York, the organic beauty of an old European city, and the warmth and unpredictability that I’ve come to associate with Italy.

The ostensible reason for my trip was to meet with a tax attorney who knows both the Italian and American systems. (I’ll say as little about that as possible.) Sarie and Alberto went with me, Sarie to try out a Baroque violin, and Alberto because he had never been.  (And no doubt, they wanted to see Rome together.)

The unpredictability follies began on Wednesday, before we’d even arrived. The proprietor of the AirBnB we’d rented called and said there was a problem with the plumbing in the apartment, and could he upgrade us to a better one? In some ways the new apartment wasn’t as suitable as the original, but what else could we do? We agreed. Then on Friday, as we came home from a full day of walking around the city, the woman who managed the second apartment met us saying that the other guy had booked ours with someone else–a group of five who were arriving that night!  She did a spectacular sales job on another apartment upstairs, and they moved us up immediately. By the time we were settled it was 9 p.m. and I still had to cook dinner, using utensils I’d counted on having from the other apartment. So I “borrowed” a few from downstairs!  They even allowed us to bring the DVD player with us so we could watch Don Camillo.

We were amused that the new apartment had tiny LED lights on the bathroom ceiling inside the shower. They changed color. Other than that, our accommodation follies were thankfully ended.

What follows are some photos from our time in Rome, with a few explanations.  Enjoy!

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Above, top: The street where we stayed. Middle: A street of steps around the corner.  Rome is the City of Seven Hills, after all. We were on the Esquiline, in the Monti neighborhood. Bottom: Someone across the street was airing sausage in the window on Saturday morning. We were intrigued.

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From the Colosseum and the Forum. 1) A view of the Forum from the Colosseum 2) Nice tourist photo of Alberto and Sarie in the Colosseum. 3) A frieze of the Sack of Jerusalem from the Arch of Titus, as you enter the Forum 4) The Nympheum, a grotto under the Palatine Hill 5) Some excavations of houses on top of the Palatine Hill, beyond which is a line of typically Roman trees.

Sarie took the last three photos above.

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On Friday we met a cousin of mine for lunch near Piazza Navona and then went on to the Vatican Museum.  I particularly wanted to see the Sistine Chapel, since I’d tried to go three times on my last visit to Rome (in 1984), but never succeeded. This time I was not disappointed, but no photos are allowed. This was just as well, because I would have taken way too many.

But I enjoyed all the other Vatican frescoes too,such as Raphael’s The School of Athens, The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (above center), and a corridor of frescoed 16th C. Italian maps, including one of Torino and its surrounding towns. Some of the names were a bit different, but we recognized most all of them, including Alberto’s home town.

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And finally, what trip to Rome is complete without St. Peter’s? It is enormous in scale, richly appointed, and of course, it’s the center of the Catholic Church. We had the idea of going to mass there on Saturday night, but unfortunately we never made it.

Near our apartment was another papal basilica, Sta. Maria Maggiore. It’s smaller than St. Peter’s, but still grand. I went there by myself on Saturday to see its famous mosaics, but my photos didn’t turn out so well, so instead I’ll post a link to a virtual tour. It’s well worth even a virtual visit!

In sum, we all enjoyed our visit, and I’d go back at the slightest provocation! But as the train rolled out from the tunnels near Genova and I saw the Po Valley spread out bright green on both sides of the train windows, I felt at home again. Shortly afterwards, the clouds parted in the north to reveal one glowing Alpine mountain, covered with new snow. Funny how one  can get attached so quickly to a place. I still can’t speak the language half the time. And yet it’s home.

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