Sunday, October 28, 2012

~ IL Vaticano ~

I'm ending my little 'Roman Holiday' series at
The Vatican
She is the jewel in the crown of Roma.
Pilgrims travel from every corner of the globe to see her. To stand within her ancient walls and breathe in,
 not only the beauty, but the history of her storied past.
And I am no different.
We came upon the Vatican on our first night, as we made a whirlwind
 run about the city.
She  was bathed in darkness, punctuated by the tiny glow of lights from within.

We only had time to nod and then move on.
But THIS day, we came back to REALLY see her.
She was rising out of the morning mist

and I was so moved , that this poem started to form in my mind
before we even got inside.
I started scribbling in my little pocket journal as we waited in line
and the words just tumbled out.
I finished it later that day during our siesta, my little quiet hour.

IL Vaticano
 by Terri M
She was built on a rock
a solid rock
buried deep and strong
to insure against slipping
in the sands of time.
The rock was covered over
with centuries of stories
hidden in layers of dirt
and bits of bone and ash
which only made her all the stronger.

She is a hymn
made of stone and concrete and glass
that rises out of the morning mist.
Standing as she has always stood
with arms outstretched wide
to gather all her children into
her saving embrace.

Though her polished marble floors
where Emperors have knelt
and her soaring heights might at first
seem imposing,
one must remember that her walls
are adorned with her children's artwork.
She has lovingly accepted the gifts
of sculpted stone and bits of colored glass
and proudly displays them, knowing each piece
clearly says...."see what I have done for you".

Don't fault her for her beauty,
for it is those who have loved her over the centuries
who have adorned her in glitter and gold.
And if you care to dig under the marble and glass
you'll find the rock buried there
her humble foundation
holding her up for all these centuries
and for all time to come.

A little bird's eye view, from the catwalk.

So with this little love poem to the Vatican, I finish up my series on Rome. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed re-visiting
one of the great treasures on earth,
 this living museum,
this inhabited art,
this fabulous city;
And I wave goodbye wistfully, just as Gail and I did as we left the city for the first time,
 looking back over our shoulders
Bye Bye Roma

All pictures are mine ( except for those from Roman Holiday, of course)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

~Rome Part II~

As I said in the previous post: when traveling
"Have a plan, but be willing to abandon it"

Our second trip to The Forum  was sweet serendipity
after having a change of plans at the Mouth of Truth.

As it happens in Rome, schedules and hours of operation mean 'NOTHING'
So, the Mouth of Truth was closed when we arrived, even though it plainly said it should be open.
Hmmmm what to do now. 
We consulted our map and realized that we could hike back over to The Forum and enjoy a more extended  visit . Just when we were about to get  nervous thinking we were really LOST this time, we came up over a hill and there it was
 spread out before us. 
Like a child's Tinker Toy set that had been smashed after a tantrum.

With marble columns broken and strewn about at random. 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and we had the entire place to ourselves. 
We wandered with our little guide book and had all the time we wanted
 to explore every nook and cranny, as we walked the same path
 that Julius Caesar walked.
 But hopefully not to the same demise.
Early morning is such a blessing, before all the tourists find you.
Imagine having this ancient site that people come from all over to world to see,
 all to yourself...
I was beginning to think I had discovered it all by myself.
I felt like Indiana Jones

When I think back on Rome, I am reminded of: 

the Colors of Rome

The Piazza Farnese

I understand why we want to replicate them and bring them home. 
But there is something about AUTHENTIC patina 
that cannot be replicated, try as we might. 

Behind the Vatican, as we took the Necropolis Tour


'Trevi' , and yes we threw coins over our shoulder to insure that we would one day return
In the Piazza Navona
Fountain at the Villa Borghese

This also reminds me of how much I loved all the public drinking fountains. You can refill your water bottles with the cold goodness flowing from the Etruscan Aqueducts that are now thousands of years old.

sidewalk cafe dining

Arches, arches everywhere

the evening promenade


Our very first taste of Rome, was Gelato. And my taste buds reveled in this new delight.
Our usual stop was the brightly lit little shop right in our Piazza; 'Blue Ice'.

Crazy Traffic

 It's definitely an act of faith to cross the street.

 We enjoy many cab rides during our stay and I never ceased to marvel at Roman driving. From the outside observer it seems as if there are no rules, no lanes. Scooters scoot between cars dangerously close, all jockeying for position. It seems more like a horse race than a drive. Whenever you come upon a red light, the cars stop and then the vespas come swarming up and fill in any little hole. But the cabbies take it with ease and I am not frightened by the chase. We witness a little bump of an accident. The driver in back throws up her hands and shrugs, the driver in front just shakes his head and they move on.
 No big deal!!! WHAT??

Isn't this gorgeous. If you're going to zip through the streets of Rome it might as well be on a BMW

Speaking of crazy traffic;

 This blurry picture was taken at the Villa Borghese. They have a extensive park that is filled with fountains and pathways to explore. Gail and I caught one of the little trams that gave you a tour to get a better look at this vast estate. Unfortunately our driver is a typical Italian and the tram is careening around corners on these little pathways meant to be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. I can barely  ready my camera for a shot, before we have whizzed by it at lighting speed. In what seems like mere minutes we arrive back at the entrance. A little dizzy, but no worse for wear,
 and laughing like crazy.

Rome is  beauty and chaos. 
But somehow it all comes together perfectly,
like a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

A view from the Castel San Angelo

So much to love, too much to share here.

Look for the final entry next week.

All pictures are mine ( except for Roman Holiday, of course)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

~Roman Holiday~

October always reminds me of my trip to Italy.

As you open a scrapbook or photo album, 
memories come floating out
and I am happy to sit with them awhile.
So I thought I would take you with me on an armchair trip
back to ROMA

BFF and I went to Rome, in the first week of October a few years ago.
It couldn't have been more lovely.
In fact everything was PICTURE PERFECT.
A little back story here: we are NOT world travelers.
But we were determined to do this on our own.
Half the fun was PLANNING the big event. We spent months with maps and guide books spread out on the tables at Barnes and Noble planning our itinerary. Marking off the absolute "MUST SEE'S" and compiling  lists of '"IF WE HAVE TIME'S "
We did not go with a tour group, nor stay with friends, nor have any guidance what so ever.
No we were not Audrey Hepburn
but two crazy girls from the Midwest, on a romp through Rome.
Flying by the seat of our pants as it were. 
And if anyone knows me at all, they would tell you
"I NEVER fly by the seat of my pants. "
It was one of the best times of my life.
I spent the year prior to our trip learning Italian, with the help
of travel books and audio CD's.
So I felt comfortable that I could get by with my little bit of traveler's Italian.
But of course, almost everyone spoke English. However, they were so charming as I attempted to use my limited vocabulary. Always gracious, always smiling.
A moment's confession here:
Once Gail and I landed in Rome and arrived at our destination  on the Piazza Farnese
I had a little panic attack. I said to myself
"What the heck are you doing here, halfway around the world in a foreign country where you don't speak the language? Are you crazy?"
Yes. I was.
But thankfully my panic attack subsided,
and I embraced my Roman Adventure.

Our driver, Lorenzo,  who delivered us to the Casa Di Santa Brigida
Not bad huh????

Gail and I have the same philosophy about traveling. We don't like to cram our days with too many things to do, marking things off of a list on a tight schedule.
We like to take it slowly. Have a plan, but be willing to abandon it.
And savor every bite.
Running about from sun up to sun down and rushing from sight to sight was not on our agenda.
We wanted to LIVE in Rome.

So we structured our days with plenty of time to wander.....

and while you're wandering, don't forget to look UP

Religious artwork and icons are everywhere, no matter the degradation of the buildings or urban blight. Mary and Son look down with care over the city of Rome.

time to get lost.......

One of the beautiful streets we found 'WHILE LOST'
One thing I know for sure, is ALWAYS find time to get lost.
The best things happen when you're not expecting them.
What we thought was just an ugly alley turned out to be this charming place covered with ivy. And tiny side streets hide little 'trattorias' ( restaurants) that spill out onto every open piece of avenue. Some places only have room for one or two tables outside, but they are adorable.

time to sit and watch the world go by.....

We had lunch 'al fresco' overlooking this piazza with the Pantheon as a backdrop. We had 'tremazzini' , the Italian version of a club sandwich. It had a hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, ham and lots of mayo on crustless little wedges and it was delicious!! We sit and relax looking at the fountain and watch all the tourists taking all the same pictures we just took in front of the Pantheon.
(Notice more artwork on the building behind the fountain)

Speaking of the Pantheon, I was fascinated by it.

In a city where there is an historical site on every street corner, this still has the capacity to amaze.
Perhaps because it's so INTACT. It is not a 'ruin'.  When we came upon it on our first night in Rome I said " It looks like Dorothy's house from the Wizard of Oz, and it's just been plunked down here in the middle of this bustling pizza.

time to go home in the afternoon and rest.

Room with a view
I love the windows. Big open casements. No screens, but shutters. I open them up and all of Rome rushes in. Bells from the church next door ( Feels like I could almost reach out and touch it),the workers voices, scooters everywhere. Men are working on the building next door. There is scaffolding and hammering and SINGING. They wave to us through our open window as we lean out and drink it all in.

Looking to the left out of our window.
The French Embassy proudly anchoring our little corner of the world.

Like any city, a quiet spot is a treasure, but I think especially so in Rome. I look forward to this quiet hour each day to collect my thoughts. I would journal, while Gail would nap.  On this day when  Gail wakes up and we are preparing to head back out our attention is drawn to the window and noise below. It seems as if a delivery of dirt is in process. We can't figure out if the driver is a moron with no clue of how to dump this load of dirt or if this is just typical Italian business. It's hard to tell if people are arguing or not sometimes, because of all the gesturing and yelling. But for this scenario all hands are on deck. Everyone from the construction site is yelling and waving arms and the driver is waving them off. Workers from the upstairs windows hang out and offer their two cents. Finally the driver backs up again and dumps the tiny load of dirt from his little Tonka truck and all is well.
 The workers go back to singing
and Gail and I just smile.

Yes, this is life in our own little Piazza Farnese.

Stay tuned for Part II next week.

All pictures are mine ( except for Roman Holiday, of course)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

~To dine with Royalty ~

Yes, there are  Kings & Queens
at our table. 

My  little band of Royals celebrate their birthdays all within the same week!!
So the decree went out that there was to be a party befitting the  likes of the
 Majestic Court

I'm always trying to kiss up and  get on the good side of the Royal Family
(Never know when I might need to be in their good graces in the future.)

They can be a finicky lot
though their palettes are limited
So the menu was a kicked up version of MacNCheese
with a delicious cream sauce that the adults at the table could enjoy too.

with cheddar biscuits, steaks on the grill and a few hot dogs thrown in for
 good measure.
They are surprisingly MESSY for Nobles
leaving a path of destruction as they ransack and plunder my humble cottage.

And there are Imperial squabbles aplenty betwixt the Lords and Lady
which can make for a very taxing day

But then again, they are quick to laugh at everything,
and easily melt your heart

as the hugs and kisses flow like wine

So when these Kings and Queen come knocking at my door

I always rush forward with arms outstretched
 to loud squeals of

 "Hi Grandma"