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June 22, 2007

so far Rome is very peaceful

Buon giorno!

Thursday, June 21st
I arrived in Rome Thursday afternoon. I took the bus, which was 10 minutes "in ritardo" (late), from Cortona to Camucia where I caught the train to Rome. The bus drops you off in the town of Camucia and then I had to walk (about a 10 minute walk) to the train station. I took the bus the day before as a practice run. Because the bus was late, I only had 10 minutes to get to the train station and so I jogged partway, reaching the station in 5 minutes, only to find out that the train was also 10 minutes "in ritardo"!

The train was a newer regional train and was quite comfortable. I had a 1st class ticket. The 1st class section was full but luckily I found a great seat before it filled up at the Terontola station. We arrived in Rome 20 minutes late. I decided to go to the Trastevere station instead of the Termini to avoid the craziness and long taxi lines at the Termini station. This meant a change at the Tiburtina station. I printed out all the train options in case the train was late for my connection.

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my day exploring some of ancient Rome

Friday, June 22nd
I have been to Rome 3 times before, either arriving or departing from Rome, but I have never stayed more than 2 or 3 days. I decided for this trip that I would not make any major plans and instead just wander and explore Rome to get to know her a little better.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been very fortunate to find a wonderful apartment in Trastevere. This apartment is usually booked up and so I was very fortunate to find open dates on the availability calendar 4 months before traveling. Usually the apartment is booked up months and months in advance. The piazza where the apartment is located right next to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. Trastevere is a maze of streets and I have already been lost a few times when taking just one wrong turn. It is always interesting though as I end up finding the most interesting places that I would have never seen if I stayed on the correct path.

I started out my day on Friday on a quest for muesli. The grocery store I shopped in the night before did not have any and so I stopped in a few local stores that sell a little of everything but usually only have 1 or 2 small aisles. The people of Rome have all been so very friendly and kind.

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June 25, 2007

searching for that perfect cup of coffee, Castel Sant' Angelo, & my swollen foot

Saturday, June 23rd
When I walked out the door on Saturday morning, I realized that my right shoe felt tight. I looked down and my right foot was twice as fat as my left foot. My chacos are adjustable and so I spent a little time getting them to fit. I thought, now was the time to be able to wear all of those shoes that never fit me before as my feet are pretty narrow. Well at least one of my feet could wear them.

I started out my day deciding to have a coffee at Tazza d'Oro, a place recommended as one of the best places to have coffee in Rome. The only information I had was that it was near the Pantheon. The walk from my apartment to the Pantheon with stops to take pictures along the way was about 15 minutes. I looked around for the bar. There was a place right across from the Pantheon with a sign difficult to see because of the way the table umbrellas were blocking the sign. I saw a "z" on the sign and assumed it was Tazza d'Oro. It was pretty late in the morning as I spent some time on the internet before leaving the apartment Saturday morning and so there was no one else inside. I figured everyone already had their cup of coffee and was off touring Rome. I went over the the bar which was pretty tiny and thought that was a little odd. I also found it odd that there were no pastries as most bars have an assortment to go with your coffee. I ordered my caffè machiatto and was ready to taste "best" cup of coffee. I thought it was a great coffee and told the bartender that I read this place has one of the best cups of coffee and that they were right. He told me that Sant' Eustachio has the best coffee. I thought that was odd that he would say that when working at Tazza d'Oro. I asked him where Sant' Eustachio was located as I read that the other highly rated place for a cup of coffee was Sant' Eustachio. I had wanted to try their coffee also and would then compare for myself to decide which I liked the best. When I went to pay, I saw some cards on the bar. They were for Zio Ciro which seems to be a chain restaurant, pizzeria, caffè, and gelateria. I couldn't believe that this entire time I was thinking I was at Tazza d'Oro when really I was at Zio Ciro. Well either the power of suggestion worked or they also make a superb coffee as I really enjoyed my morning cup.

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June 27, 2007

the rest of my weekend in Rome

Saturday, June 23rd
I had made plans to meet Sandra (slow traveler) on the Ponte Sisto bridge on Saturday night at 6pm. She was staying in the Piazza Farnese area so the bridge was about halfway. I have not been a fan of this bridge. It is a foot bridge, meaning no cars, and there are always aggressive beggars on this bridge. I got there a little early and decided to wait at her end instead of in the middle. The only challenge was trying to find a place in the shade that didn’t reek of urine. The smell of urine is pretty common in many cities in Italy and even some smaller towns. I think that is one reason why many shop keepers wash in front of their shop each day.

When Sandra arrived, we walked over to my apartment. She has been thinking of renting an apartment on her next stay and so I wanted to show her my great find. She was impressed. We had a drink at the bar downstairs and talked about our travels. As it got closer to 8pm, we headed over to Da Giggetto’s for dinner. I cannot rave enough about this restaurant. When eating at the Hostaria da Nerone the day before, I saw the fried artichokes on the menu but was not sure how to eat one so I decided to wait until Saturday night to figure this out, thinking that Sandra may have eaten one before. Well it was a new experience for both of us. We ordered both the famous Carciofi alla Giudea and also some stuffed zucchini flowers. The fried artichokes were very good but the stuffed zucchini flowers…Mama Mia! They were excellent. I have had fried zucchini flowers before but never the famous stuffed ones with anchovies inside. I have not been a big anchovy fan but these were incredible. I ordered another one and Sandra ordered a rice ball. The rice ball was also very good. Incredibly, I cannot even remember what else I ate. I guess I could not get the zucchini flowers out of my brain. Sandra, if you read this please fill in the blanks. I remember that she had a caccia e pepe pasta but other than that it is a mystery. I loved this restaurant and am definitely going back there again at least once if not more than once before I leave Rome.

After dinner we walked over to the Piazza Campidoglio. It is a beautiful piazza both by day and at night. We also walked toward the back and enjoyed the view of the forum at night and then walked back through a little of the ghetto area. We ended up at the turtle fountain. What a great night. We decided to have dinner again together the following night. We walked together as far as the Ponte Garibaldi bridge and said our goodbyes. It was now almost midnight. I could not believe the size of the crowds out and about walking around. It was packed with people. It was like walking down a narrow street right after a concert just got out. Stores were open, people were buying gelato, kids were still out. Simply amazing.

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a day of statues & fountains and a visit to the Jewish museum

Monday, June 25th
When I awoke on Monday morning, my ankle was looking better. It was still slightly swollen but the redness on my leg was gone and I was able to tighten my shoe a little. The weather was sunny and very HOT! I had not yet been to the Campo de' Fiori in the morning. I think I have been spoiled by the big Venice fruit and vegetable market next to the fish market as this market seemed smaller in size. I walked around and decided on a nectarine and then headed over to the Sant' Eustachio bar for a caffè macchiato and brioche. I thought the coffee was good but nothing to rave about. Perhaps it is the special coffees they offer that are all the rage there. The bar was not very crowded. This is one of the places where you need to pay first. Everyone was very friendly and nice there.

After having my morning coffee, I went over to the Piazza della Minerva. I have wanted to see the elephant statue in this piazza ever since seeing Janet's amazing picture of this statue. It was another "wow" sighting in Rome. After taking a few pictures of the elephant, I went into the church, the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva. This church was incredibly beautiful and houses the famous Michelangelo's statue of Christ risen from the tomb.

Being so close to the Pantheon, I had to go inside once again. I don't think I will ever feel like I have spent too much time in this famous site. I then stopped in a few shops, and ended up somehow on the street of the famous Giolitti gelateria and pasticceria. It was now lunchtime. It was so hot outside. I could not pass up stopping in for a gelato. Because of the heat, I decided on fruit flavors. I ordered a small cone with peach and kiwi flavors. Besides the gelato being so much better in Italy than in the US, the size and cost are very different. Here in Italy, when ordering the smallest gelato (which will usually cost between 1.80 and 2.00 euros) you always get 2 flavors and the size of the scoops are usually very large. I could probably manage to eat a medium size gelato but I don't think I could finish a large gelato. WOW the kiwi was amazing! The peach was also very good. I have to say that I agree that this is a very good gelateria. I guess I would have to order the same pistachio and nocciola flavors I have been ordering to say if it was the best gelateria. I may have to take that test before I leave.

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June 29, 2007

another day of statues at the Musei Capitolini and my "slug" day

Tuesday, June 26th
Tuesday was another hot and muggy day. The weather was also very overcast and a bit cloudy at times. In the morning, I had coffee and a delicious brioche with the woman renting me the apartment at her apartment nearby. Because my apartment was rented starting this Saturday and I wanted to stay in Rome until Monday, she was kind enough to rent me her place for the last two nights since she would be away on holiday. After a lovely chat and a quick tour of how everything worked in her apartment, I headed across the Ponte Garibaldi to explore more of Rome. When making my reservations last February, I also inquired with other apartments in Rome. The owners of one of the apartments were very nice and suggested that we meet for a coffee while I was in Rome. I gave them a call while walking over the bridge and they happened to be in a bar just on the other side. We found each other by calling each other a few time, saying just where we were, and then waving as we got closer. We went to a bar near the Campo to sit and chat for a while. We talked about many things including Rome and Hawaii. They also gave me a few tips on places to see while here as well as a great bookstore to visit. It has been wonderful to meet so many interesting people during my travels, one of the things I love about traveling. After leaving the bar, we headed over to a tea shop that their friend owns. I spent some time in the shop and ended up buying some interesting tea from South Africa.

I then went to an internet place to check on my pictures which I had burned onto CDs. I have the Apacer Disc Steno 200 which can burn pictures from your memory cards. It has worked wonderfully in the past but has been acting up a bit this year only allowing me to burn one card even if there is more space left. I always check to make sure all of my pictures actually have transferred before deleting them from my memory cards. The computer at my apartment is an older computer and does not have a place to insert a CD and so an internet place is the perfect solution. There is one in Piazza Sant' Andrea near the Campo which Sandra pointed out to me that charges 4.40 euros per hour which is pretty cheap.

After checking on all of my pictures, I decided to go back to my apartment for lunch. I did not want to walk around all day with my CDs and memory cards. I made a Caprese salad. Oh, I wish the Buffalo di Mozarella cheese was available in Hawaii. What a simple and delicious lunch.

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July 1, 2007

a day at the amazing Basilica

Thursday, June 28th
Thursday morning I awoke to another beautiful day. The skies were blue and the humidity was gone. What more could you ask for! The few clouds in the skies even disappeared by mid afternoon. Thursday would be my day to spend at the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter’s Basilica).

I had read that there was a wonderful walk up to a park (the Gianicolo or Janiculum) which is located between Trastevere and the Basilica. It was a steep walk up with a staircase at the top or end of the hill of about 50 stairs leaving your legs wobbling a little when you reached the top. The Gianicolo or Janiculum is said to be the second tallest hill in Rome (although not one of the seven famous hills). Once you reach the top, you then take "la passeggiata del Gianicolo" through this beautiful park, where there are little statues (heads) of important Romans. There you will also find a very large statue or monument of Garibaldi, a smaller statue of Anita Garibaldi, who I am guessing was his wife, and also a lighthouse! In addition, there are amazing views of Rome at the Gianicolo. There is a cannon that fires once from the Gianicolo at precisely noon every day to signal the exact time.

After enjoying the park and walking up from Trastevere, I started to head down on the other side to reach the Basilica. I ran into an English couple who told me that they walked through this big parking lot from the Vatican area to the park. The map was not very clear on the path to take. I asked this friendly Italian woman for directions on my way down. She said she was going that way and I could walk with her. She would just step right out in front of cars. I would keep stopping and she would just grab my arm and tell me to come on. It was as if she had a magic hand. She would put her hand out and stare down the cars as she walked out into the street. We had a very nice chat on the way down. She left me at the parking lot where she went to catch a bus. Once you walk through this underground parking lot, the other side ended up being right at the piazza where the Basilica is located. There was one part on my walk where there was this definite "vista view" photo moment. I really wanted to take that picture but if I did, I would lose my guide and then definitely be lost. Ah, the photo that could have been...

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another wonderful day exploring Rome and my right foot

Friday, June 29th
Friday morning, I turned on the TV to check out the latest news. The apartment has Sky TV, a cable network which includes Fox, Cnn International, and some British news channels. I checked out the weather on Meteo 24 hours and then flipped to the US news. There I saw the information about the car abandoned in London set to explode. This story was on every news channel. Thankfully there was a witness that realized that something was odd and called the police or I could have been watching a horrific story instead.

I made lunch at my apartment and watched this story for a while. When I finally left my apartment, it was about 1pm. I stopped in the Santa Maria in Trastevere church since I had not visited it yet on this trip. There was a wedding taking place, so I only stayed for a few minutes. This is a very beautiful church with amazing mosaics inside. I took a couple of photos and then headed on to the Pantheon to finally try that espresso at Tazza d'Oro.

At Tazza d'Oro, I felt that the service was friendly. My opinion on the coffee was that it was very good but nothing spectacular to go out of your way for. It is pretty difficult to find a bad tasting espresso here in Italy. One of the wonderful things I love about being in Italy.

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my last weekend in Roma and in Italia

Big SIGH....my trip to Italy is coming to an end. How did the time go by so quickly? I have so enjoyed my time here in Rome as well as all of the other places I have visited this year. Here's my post about my last weekend in Rome.

Saturday, June 30th
Saturday, after moving apartments, I headed back over to the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) to take the mandatory hand in the mouth picture. The line was much shorter this time and so I got in the line and waited my turn. It's sort of funny doing this silly thing as everyone waits patiently for their turn and then runs over to the face, sticks their hand in, and someone else quickly snaps the picture.

After leaving the Bocca della Verità, I headed over to see Trajan's markets. Either it was closed or I was in the wrong location. There were still more ruins to see along the way and so I took more pictures of ancient ruins and then headed back to the Colosseum. I was getting hungry and took a short diversion back to Hostaria da Nerone for lunch. I walked in the door and there was the same waiter that was so nice to me and insisted that I needed a handsome man to have lunch with. He again asked why I was alone. I had the spaghetti with clams again and it was wonderful! I stopped by my table often and chatted with me.

When I was leaving, he recommended that I go see the Domus Aurea. I headed over to what I thought was the correct location for this site and was not sure what I was missing. Yes there were some ruins but nothing so spectacular that would warrant a recommendation to see this site. A guy came and asked me if I knew where the Domus Aurea was. I told him I was also looking for it as I thought it was something you had to pay to see and could not believe that the ruin we were standing in front of was it. We both decide to walk around and look together. There were some shady characters on one side of this big park and so I did not go over to that side to see if that was where the entrance was. We finally found it down a few stairs and found out that it was closed on the weekends! I believe if I remember correctly it was only open Tues-Fri. So, I guess I missed out on that one on this trip. I will just have to return again!

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July 4, 2007

home again and missing Italy already

Happy 4th of July! I arrived home safely last night. Now to unpack and work on my photos. Hopefully I can get a few ready to post soon. First I need to organize them. Half are burned on CDs and half are still on the memory cards and I am running out of space on my computer.

Monday, July 2nd
My departure from Rome:

Monday morning, I finished packing, making sure my liquids were all in their proper locations. A driver came to pick me up and about 40 minutes later I was at the airport. The Fiumicino (Rome) airport is a little more confusing than the Malpensa (Milan) airport. It is not as well marked with signs. I saw a long line and headed that way to see if that was where I needed to be. It was indeed the first step in order to check in - the first passport check line.

I have flown out of Milan the past few years and so I was used to finding my airline first, standing in that passport check line, and then checking in my bag & getting my boarding pass. Here in Rome, if you are flying one of about 10 airlines, you stand in one long line, which covers all the listed airlines to have your passport checked. It seemed pretty trivial to me as in Milan, at least they check to see if your name is on a specific list (some sort of watch list?), but in Rome there is a woman who looks quickly at your passport and then lets you through. You then have to show your passport again about 3 or 4 more times so I don’t really see the point to this initial line.

The line took about 20 minutes to get through. I arrived at the airport 2 1/2 hours before my flight left. I was not in a rush and so the difficulty for everyone to wait orderly in line, which seems very common in Italy, was not a big deal.

Once I was through that line, there were more long lines ahead. Luckily for me, they were for Delta and Alitalia. When I reached the Continental check in, there were only 4 or 5 people waiting with 2 agents available. Once again, no lines, no wait; one of the things I love about Continental. My bag weighed 16.3 kg, which is about 36 pounds – 3 more pounds than when I left. I was given a “brava” and thumbs up by the ticket agent.

Next stop was passport control. This one was the “official” passport checkpoint where you have to stand behind the official yellow line. I got my stamp and a friendly smile. The security area was pretty routine. Everything in the bins, although shoes did not need to be removed.

They had to put my small carry-on through three times and then had a short conversation about my bag. I finally suggested that they open it so that everyone would not have to wait any longer for my bag to clear. The guy looked in my bag, which was pretty packed. He moved a couple of things around and then said it was fine.

There are quite a few shops in the Rome airport, including a place to grab a bite to eat. I went to the bar inside this place which sold different foods to order my last coffee. I was told that I had to pay first. Since I also planned to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch, I checked out the food before going to pay for my coffee. I saw something called a sfiziaforno filled with spinach and cheese that looked delicious. I was not sure how to pronounce it. The man at the cash register had a good laugh and then helped me pronounce the word.

Having to go to the cashier first to pay for what you want to order is one situation which can be stressful for those that do not speak any Italian as you can’t just point to what you want to order since the cash register is not near all the food items. While I was in line waiting to order, a lady asked me to help her order, which I was happy to do.

My last coffee and meal in Italy. I must say the sfiziaforno was indeed delicious.

The plane ride from Rome to Newark was pretty routine. I sat next to a high school boy who was traveling with his family. I was able to sleep part of the way and watched movies the rest of the time.

When we landed, we went to the passport control area. There we encountered this guy who seemed to think he was “king” of keeping people in orderly lines. He almost started a little revolt. He decided that the line would bunch up too much if we all just stood in one line and so, starting with me, he made us all go through this little rat maze, you know the silly bank zigzag lines which are pointless when there are not enough people to fill up all of the lines. We must have had to go up and down those lines about 12 times and in the end came out in the same place in one big line.

Then we encountered the “queen” of keeping people in orderly lines. There were about 9 passport control agents stamping tickets. We had to wait to be told where to stand. Everyone was very orderly while getting to this point and we could have easily figured out this on our own much more easily and more efficiently than the "queen". When my turn came, I was told to go down to the end, when there was a line right in front of me with only 2 people waiting. Instead, I ended up getting behind this family, which must have had something suspicious with their passports, as it took forever. I ended up being one of the last people out of there.

Next stop, baggage. It was the usual, everyone standing around watching the bags go round and round. I am always so happy to see my bag after previous times when my bag did not show up.

Finally, customs. I was asked if I had any food. Now why do they have us list what we are bringing in if they do not read it? I mentioned that I had sun dried tomatoes. “Dried tomatoes?” Big star on my paper and no passing go. Instead I was diverted to the customs area. There, the custom agent asked again what foods I brought in. I mentioned that it was all listed on the back. I was asked again. I said “sun dried tomatoes”. He realized that they were not a threat but since I was there, I had to have my bags go through the x-ray machine anyways. At least they did not need to search them or confiscate my tomatoes.

What really ticked me off was what the next agent at the other end of the x-ray machine did. He threw my bags down on the floor onto this metal plate. The first bag he threw down was one of my carry-ons. I can’t remember what I said, but I was not happy. He realized that I was not happy and replied that it was a good thing for the bags to go down on the ground (meaning that they did not need to be searched). I did not care if they needed to be searched. I did care that he was throwing may bags down onto a metal plate. Just as I started to ask if I could please pick up the bags off the shelf because I had some things that were fragile inside, down went my second bag. At least that one was my check in bags which was probably already thrown around. He did allow me to pick up my other carry on. I ended up being the last one out of there from my flight.

Next challenge, find my hotel. I was staying at the Mariott Airport Hotel and had no idea how to get there. Again, no signs, but there was a person helping anyone who seemed lost. She told me to go up the escalator and take the air train to P4. That did not make much sense to me, but I followed a few others also needing to find P4. It was pretty easy in the end. When you arrive at P4, there is a board with a phone and a bunch of phone codes to push to reach your hotel. The shuttle came right away and the driver was very nice. The check in procedure was quick and easy.

My treat for Monday night was to meet Kim from Slow Travel. I really enjoyed our time together. We ended up eating at a pizza/sub place after we found out that the restaurant we planned to go to was closed for the holiday. The sub was delicious and the company was wonderful. Thanks again Kim!!

My bed was soooo comfy! I ate some cherries, trying out the jet lag remedy once again.

Tuesday, July 3rd
I felt very refreshed, or so I thought the next morning. I had the buffet breakfast, checked out, and headed to the airport.

No line at the Continental check in. I was curious to see the weight of my bag but it was not even weighed. There were only a few people ahead of me at the security x-ray line. Again, my smaller carry-on had to be screened 3 times. I offered to open it for them but they said it was ok. I still can’t figure out what the big mystery was in my bag.

I then had to pee, story of my life, so first stop was the bathroom. I walked in and couldn’t figure out why one of the male pilots was in the ladies room. Then, I realized that there were 4 or 5 other men standing there washing their hands. I was in the men’s bathroom!! Thank goodness the toilets were not right out in the open!

After using the ladies room, I checked the board and saw that my 1:30 flight said it was taking off at 3pm. Since I had plenty of time, I went into a couple of stores and then found my gate. When I got there, it still said 3pm. I went back into a few more stores and then headed back to my gate. It now said 1:30!

After being in a fog, standing in the men’s bathroom, I was a little concerned that I was losing it! I had to go ask if it really did say 3pm at one time. It did indeed. I asked what time the flight would start boarding and he said probably not till 1:30, which obvious meant it was not really leaving at 1:30.

We ended up boarding from 1:30 to 2pm and then spent the next half hour playing musical chairs to accommodate all of these families who did not have seats together. I was one of the people asked to move. It didn’t really matter much to me as I was sitting near kids either way and the move seemed to be next to a few less kids. Little did I realize there was a girl who threw lots of tantrums sitting right behind the seat that I moved to. I sat next to a 3rd grade teacher and her mother who was an educational assistant in a special ed class. None of us were thrilled with the constant tantrums from either the boy in front of us or the girl behind us. Other than that, and the fact that we left 90 minutes late, my flight was fine. They did not have my special meal listed but instead offered me the Kosher meal. Wow, that was the best airline meal I have ever eaten. From now on, it will be Kosher meals for me!

July 30, 2007

on to Rome...the Piazza Navona

I took tons and tons of pictures while in Rome. I am still going through them trying to decide what to keep and what to delete.

Where to start when sharing my images from Rome? After some thought, I decided on starting with Piazza Navona since it was where I started after arriving in Rome.

There are three fountains in Piazza Navona. On one end, you will find the
Fontana di Nettuno or Fountain of Neptune
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August 5, 2007

a few body parts from the Musei Capitolini

One of the highlights of my trip this summer was my visit to the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums). The Musei Capitolini are said to be the oldest public museums in the world. The history of these museums can be traced back to 1471. The Musei Capitolini are located on the famous Campidoglio or Monte Capitolino (Capitoline Hill). The collections of art, statues, archeological remains, and other items are housed in three main buildings which surround the Piazza del Campidoglio and are interlinked by an underground gallary beneath the piazza.

The ticket cost 8 euros. I believe the cost for the audioguide, which I would highly recommend, was about 5 euros. When you rent the audioguide, you need to leave an ID. My copy of my passport worked.

The entrance into the museums is through the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. I'm not sure how, but I did not know about these museums until this spring, while reading up on Rome. I saw a few pictures of parts of a statue in this courtyard, the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and I immediately put a visit to the Musei Capitolini as a must on my list of things to do while in Rome. The museums were even more amazing than I imagined.

Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori
Colossal statue of Constantine: right hand
313-324 AC
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August 9, 2007

elephants and turtles

In Piazza della Minerva, you will find a very cute elephant. This elephant is the base for an Egyptian obelisk. The Roman name for this statue is "Pulcino della Minerva". The statue is located in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva and behind the Pantheon.

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August 14, 2007

a different view of a building in Trastevere

While changing my memory card in Trastevere, I noticed this interesting reflection of some apartments. My camera was pointing down onto the hood of a shiny car. I could not think of a title for this photo but thought it was pretty cool.

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October 14, 2007

images from Castel Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo has always intrigued me. The first couple of times I visited Rome, I never had enough time to visit the Castel Sant'Angelo. This past summer, I finally spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon inside this mysterious castle. The admission was 5 euros. Here are some images from my visit.

Ponte Sant'Angelo with the Castel Sant'Angelo in the background:
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cat at Castel Sant' Angelo

After spending a few wonderful hours enjoying the Castel Sant' Angelo, I headed to the bookstore. Outside sat a gorgeous cat. We quickly made friends. I must have spent 30 minutes just hanging out with her. I am sure she would have been a little happier if I had some food to share but I think she appreciated the attention I gave her. If I lived in Rome, I might have considered taking her home with me, but since there is a certain cat quarantine issue in Hawaii, I sadly said goodbye, and instead took a few images home with me.

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November 11, 2007

views from the base of the Cupola of the Basilica di San Pietro

While in Rome this past summer, I had the opportunity to once again climb to the top of the Cupola of the Basilica di San Pietro (dome of St. Peter's Basilica).

After climbing 323 steps, I was treated to an amazing view from the interior gallery at the base of the Cupola. Although I chose to climb the first portion, there is also the choice of taking a lift to reach this point. However, from the base of the Cupola to the top, the only way to get there is by climbing more steps (I believe it was 228 more steps).

In this post, I would like to share a few pictures that I took from the interior gallery at the base of the Cupola.

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November 12, 2007

onward to the top

After leaving the interior gallery at the base of the Cupola, I continued my climb to the top for some magnificent views. I took this picture from the roof below. If you look closely, you can see all the people along the bottom railing. This is where you end up when you reach the top.
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November 18, 2007

views from the roof of the Basilica di San Pietro

After taking in the 360 views at the top of the Cupola, my last stop on my " Cupola climb” adventure was a visit on the roof of the Basilica. Because it was extremely crowded at the top, I was relieved to find a lot of open space down on the roof. This was my favorite part of the climb.

The roof houses a coffee shop, a gift shop, and restrooms. I must comment that I was quite impressed with the cleanliness of the women's restroom on the day I was there.

While on the roof, you are allowed to walk around, get up close with the statues, and you are rewarded with more incredible views. I spent quite a bit of time just hanging out and enjoying the views.

I also went inside the bar to get a cup of coffee. I mentioned in my July post about a possible trivia question about the roof coffee bar. “Where in Italy will you get an espresso served in a tiny paper cup (and I mean tiny, even smaller than a dixi cup)?” Answer - at the bar on the rooftop of the Basilica.

A few of my favorite pictures from the roof of the Basilica:
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February 6, 2008

a bookish meme

Thank you softdrink for suggesting this fun topic :-)

Don't forget to check out softdrink's bookish meme.

Rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I am not going to tag anyone in particular, instead, I will leave this idea for as many bloggers as are interested, to use as an idea for a post sometime in February.

I also will not tag anyone in particular, leaving this idea for as many bloggers as are interested, to use as an idea for a post sometime in February.

My Book: A Thousand Bells at Noon, by G. Franco Romagnoli:

"For you, my dear!" said the duke. Father and daughter were duly impressed; the duke's gamble worked and he gained a wife and a dowry. Rome (legend true or false) gained a splendid fountain.

But now the integrity of the rione that survived persecutions, wars, famine, and plague is beginning to break under the attack of the new affluence.

Can anyone guess the fountain being discussed? I will give you a hint...
The subtitle of the book is: A Roman Reveals the Secrets and Pleasures of His
Native City.

I am surprised at how these three sentences on page 123, sentences 6-8, turned out to be a perfect mystery question for all the Italy lovers out there. I have confidence that someone will be able to answer this question without peeking in the book. I will post the answer here in a few days, after everyone has time to guess.


*Edited to add the answer - the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei
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February 9, 2008

car in piazza

This car was parked in Piazza Sant'Egidio (Trastevere, Rome) a few doors down from the apartment I rented. I took this photo last summer.

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March 9, 2008

a little trattoria in Trastevere

I walked by this cute little trattoria one day in Trastevere last summer and couldn't pass up taking a photo. I never found out the name. If you have been to Rome, have you eaten here?

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April 19, 2008

"thirteen (13)" ~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


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This week's PhotoHunt was a tough one. All week long, I have been counting groups of things. I found 12 beautiful palm trees in a row, 7 great hibiscus flowers on a bush, but I have yet to find a group of 13 items that would make a good photo. I also searched through my photos with not much luck there either. I ended up going with a few photos with signs (even though next week's PhotoHunt has to do with signs). I figured with this choice, I could add a little bit of trivia to my post.

The word rione (plural - rioni) comes from the Latin word regio (plural - regiones) meaning regions. If Wikipedia is correct, the rioni in Rome were established for the first time in the 4th century BC by Servius Tullius, with only four, which at the time were called regiones (the plural of regio). More regions were added since then and they have been changed often over the years. Currently, there are 22 rioni.

R. XIII refers to the Trastevere rione of Rome.

April 26, 2008

"unique/funny signs" ~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

I couldn't find anything too funny or unique nor did I see any unique/interesting signs in the past few weeks. Here is what I have:

I found the first sign interesting because of the misleading information on the sign.
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While in Rome last summer, I decided to check out the Palazzo Barbarini. Because it was Monday, I was not sure if it would be open. I met a nice Italian man who was also standing outside the gate wondering the same thing. It looked like it might be open so we both headed toward the ticket door. There we saw the sign: "aperto tutti i giorni/open every day 9-19:30" AND THEN underneath: "chiuso lunedì/closed on Monday". Now, please explain to me how this sign makes sense. After we read: "open every day", we both were excited that it was open even though it was a Monday, but then we read the second line and realized that it was closed. We both shook our heads in amazement over the conflicting information. We even went as far as the entrance in hopes that the "open every day" part of the sign meant that it was open. As we were leaving, an American man and his son came walking up. I told them that the museum was closed. They asked why and said it wasn't Sunday. I replied, "No, it's Monday".

I found this sign interesting because of the name (also taken in Rome).
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May 10, 2008

"share any photo" ~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


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I took this photo last summer while visiting St. Peter's Basilica.
This is one of my favorite photos from my visit that day.

May 27, 2008

a nice bathroom in Rome

If you are in need of a nice bathroom while you are out and about in Rome, check out the Antico Caffè Greco, located on Via dei Condotti near the Spanish Steps. It is also a cool bar, although I can only personally vouch for the refreshing glass of peach juice I had while there.

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November 15, 2008

"ruin(ed)"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

After “hunting” through all of my photos of ruins from Italy, I decided on this photo of the Ponte Rotto (which means broken bridge). The original name for this bridge was the Pons Aemilius. The Ponte Rotto or Pons Aemilius is the oldest Roman stone bridge. Construction began in 179 BC and was completed in 142 BC. It stood until 1598 when floods “ruined” the bridge. I guess you could say that it is now the “bridge to nowhere”.

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December 20, 2008

"wide"~ PhotoHunt ~ take 2

PhotoHunters

I can't believe how much of a fog I have been in this week. Last weekend after posting my PhotoHunt post "favorite", I checked on the next theme, looked through a few photos and found a photo right away to use! I put it on my desktop and forgot all about it.
I started to think about PhotoHunt again on Thursday night and could not come up with anything for the upcoming "wide" theme until my friend suggested the wide ocean.

Then just a few minutes ago while doing something on my computer, I noticed the wide photo I originally chose last weekend! It has been sitting there all week right in front of my eyes!!

So...here is my "wide"~ PhotoHunt ~ take 2 post...

a W I D E foot:
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March 14, 2009

"four"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

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Information on Via delle Quattro Fontane from Yahoo Travel:

"The road was built by Pope Sixtus V and was part of a long straight stretch called the Strada Felice together with the Via Sistina which continues after it meets Piazza Barberini. The name came from the complex of fountains that adorns it at the crossroads of Via XX Settembre and Via del Quirinale. At this point there are four large statues on each corner of the crossroads that represent two rivers, the Arno and Tiber, the goddess Diana and the god Juno."

June 13, 2009

"lock"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

The door to the far right of the main entrance of St. Peter's Basilica is called the Porta Santa or Holy Door. This door is not only locked but it is also walled up and is only opened during Holy Years, also known as Jubilee Years. The Holy Years originally occurred every 100 years and later were changed to every 25 years. The Holy Door is also occasionally opened on other proclaimed special occasions. For more information on the Holy Door and for details of how this door is opened, click here.

In 2007, I was at the Basilica late in the afternoon after the crowds left and was able to take a couple of photos of the Holy Door without the usual crowds.

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The walled up Holy Door from the inside:

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In 2000, during the Jubiliee Year, I was very fortunate, honored, and excited to walk through the Holy Door while it was open. It was very crowded. This was the best photo I could get with my cheap film camera before I was ushered through the door.

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Click continue to see close up views of the panels of the door. These panels are from a cropped photo I took of the door.

Continue reading ""lock"~ PhotoHunt " »

December 26, 2009

"twelve"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


Twelve mannequins wearing twelve red outfits standing in twelve windows
in a building near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy.

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*Click on the photo to see a larger version. You will have to expand the photo (drag the corner out) after you click on it to see the entire image.

February 12, 2011

"education"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


During my visit to Rome a few years ago, I was heading to the Castel Sant' Angelo one morning. On the way, this elementary school caught my eye.

I wonder how old the building is? I wonder how long the school has been open? I wonder what the rooms look like inside the building? I wonder what it is like to work at this school and what it is like to attend this school as a child?

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