Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Piazzale Michelangelo and Santa Croce Church

  Our first full day in Florence started at 9 am when the buzzer rang our room from the front door four flights of stairs below us.  I answered the phone and heard "Posta"...I said Lorenzo?  He was due at 10 am with the second set of keys for us.  Again...."Posta"....again I questioned him.  Finally in perfect English he asked "Will you please open the door?"   I decided I had a second door between us so I pushed the button and heard the door open.  When Lorenzo arrived at 10 am as planned; I told him the story and he shrugged his shoulders and said it was the postman.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and finally at 11 am we were out the door.  I've put some photos of a few flights of our stairs in the slideshow for you.  FYI..all of the photos are ones I took with my cell phone...they are not postcards but the real thing!   Our first quest was to climb up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo that sits on the bluffs above our apartment.  There is a path that is easy to follow with sets of stairs and occasionally along the road that cars drive on.  But in about fifteen minutes we were at the top and had fabulous views of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio.  What you'll see in the slideshow is only a few of the many photos that we took on this beautiful clear day. 
When we could take no more photos we headed back down a different way and ended up at the opposite end of our street from where we'd started this morning.  Now we were at the tower at the east end of the street.  We walked back to the apartment for a few minutes and then started out again towards the bridge Ponte Alla Grazie where we cross over to locate an apartment that our daughter-in-law is considering renting in the fall.  Wow...it's in a great area and we're hoping she selects this one over the other one that is located north of the city near the trains station.

  From there we stopped to view the outside of the National Library and then down the street to the very old and one of the largest churches in Florence:  Santa Croce.  It was built in the thirteenth century by the Franciscans but the marble front was not finished until the 1850's.  We were amazed how large the complex is with different chapels and cloisters in addition to the mammoth church.  The tombs of Michelangelo, Rossini and Machiavelli are here plus a Memorial to Dante who's statue graces the front of the church.

   In 2016 they are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the floods of 1966; there was a wonderful exhibit in the museum area with photos of the tragic damage done by the flood waters that reached the depth of fifteen feet in the square in front of the church.  Photos showed that the water level reached the bottom of the Ponte Vecchio.  There is a memorial chapel in the basement that has walls covered with plaques that have the names of the thousands of people who came to help salvage the paintings and books that were covered in mud. 

     After close to two hours we finally exited the complex and headed back to the grocery store we'd found on our way here to replenish our supplies.  The fee to enter the church was well worth the cost and we still will use the same ticket to view the home of Michelangelo; it is closed on Monday.

     Reaching the apartment about three o'clock we took advantage of some free time and rested.  Later I walked to the local store to look for a plastic spatula to use with our brand new Teflon skillet.  I think the apartment has recently been refurbished as all of the dishes and pots are brand new; but no spatula.  Also miss the microwave but find that the frozen vegetables are actually better when cooked on the stove. 

     We did some hand wash this morning and hung it on the lines outside our windows...it was still damp this afternoon and as I took it down I dropped a sock.   It landed on the lines two floors down.  I walked down and was surprised to find an American couple from Sacramento, California who'd just arrived.  They retrieved the sock for me.   We enjoyed chicken tonight with our dinner; Jim does the cooking and I clean up afterwards.  We have one of the clever cabinets where I put the wet dishes in a rack that has a pan on the bottom; used in place of drying the dishes with a towel.

     I think we'll enjoy a game of hand and foot tonight.  I hope you enjoy the slideshow...sorry...a bit more photos than I usually have but just had to share them with you...Ciao

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Monday, March 30, 2015

Traveling by Train To Florence

     We packed our things last night so this morning was rather simple with putting last minute things together.  We tried calling the taxi company but the number we had was disconnected so we called our guiding light...Riccardo, our landlord; and he arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 10:15 instead of 10:30 as planned because the city was having a bus and metro strike today.   Their strikes generally only last for one day but can create some havoc for travelers. 

     Our driver spoke some English and I asked him about the street closure that we found yesterday on our walk.  He confirmed that yes, they close the street along the Roman Forum every Sunday and make it a safe and fun pedestrian walk for the Romans and the tourists.

  Arrived at Termini and spent the next hour sitting on our luggage waiting for the numbers to come up on the big board telling us what track number we were assigned to.  A great time to people watch.  We sat up camp with our backs against a glass fence around the stairs that gave us some protection for the luggage.   We had several offers of assistance when we first walked in but soon they left us alone.  That's the first sign of someone that is going to try to steal your things.  We've learned that lesson the hard way.

  Our train left about fifteen minutes late but only had one stop in our two hour trip north.  I'd made sandwiches which we enjoyed on the trip.  The train car was open and very new; so much nicer than those small compartments.  We each had a reserve seat next to a window.  Jim slept part of the way.  Before we knew it we were pulling into Florence S.M.N. Station.  Out the door and into the taxi line.  While we were on the train we sent a text to our new landlord, Lorenzo, and he responded.  Used the Italian phone when my T-Mobile wasn't connecting.  He sent us a text so we knew that he was waiting for us and would meet us at 2:45 pm at the apartment.   I then discovered that the train had free wifi so I connected and read emails and Facebook while we sped along the track.

     Arrived in Florence and walked to the taxi line; within minutes we were in a taxi where we gave the driver the card that I'd prepared with a map and the address of our apartment.  He spoke limited English but enough that we could converse.  He's only been a taxi driver for a short time and was doing well with his GPS assisting him to find streets.  Probably in his fifties and born in Florence.  It was a trick for him to find his way through the one way streets around the old center of Florence.  Finally we were crossing the Arno River on Ponte Alle Grazie, the bridge just east of Ponte Vecchio.  Our street, San Nicolo,  is very narrow and one way.  Loved the laundry hanging out the window.

We have our own laundry line but it is inside the building in the central tower that allows all of the floors to have fresh air.  Lorenzo arrived right on time; about five minutes after we arrived.  The steps up to the apartment are very old, narrow and uneven.  We climb three flights of stairs to reach our little home at the top with beam ceilings, a skylight and a delightful view out the window. 
Each window has a screen which is unusual in Europe.  Lorenzo apologized for them at first and showed us how to raise them when we didn't want them.  We were soooo happy.   Not really a huge issue right now but the mosquito season is coming and they will be very important for the occupants of this room.  We also have a unit for heat and air conditioning.  But no microwave.  Will actually have to cook all our food. 

Our first adventure out was to the grocery store by the Ponte Vecchio; a bit pricier than our neighborhood stores in Rome when we were out in the suburbs.  But we were able to pick up the things we need for the next few meals.  It is about a fifteen minute walk and we figure about half a mile.  Yes...the pedometer today shows 3.89 miles.  I made the trip to the store twice because I picked up two bottles of Balsamic Vinegar instead of one and no olive oil...which we needed for our salad. 

It's been a good day and we so enjoyed our walk to the store along the Arno River with views of the Uffizi Museum, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Dome of the Duomo and the Tower of Della Signori.  Tomorrow we will cross the bridge and walk some of our memories; it's a few day to just explore this marvelous city.  

Link to Picasa Photo Albums

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday in Rome

  We spent most of the morning at home relaxing and watching Pope Francis at St. Peter's for the Palm Sunday services.  The pope and all of the multitude of Cardinals were dressed alike in red garments for the reading of the Passion and the passing out of palms and olive branches.  I got some great photos off of the television again.

      About 11 am I went to the bus stop and waited for half an hour before a bus arrived that took me down to St. Peters.  The program was still going on and Pope Francis was in his popemobile
making the rounds through the crowds.  I had to go through security but didn't need a ticket by that time.  I carefully moved between the crowds and worked my way over to the nearest aisle for a better view.  The pope had already passed this area so people were willing to let me get near the rails.  It was fun being in the crowds again bringing back memories of years past when I was here during Easter week.  Once I was even up on the stage and another time in the very front row.  Those seats took some very special tickets. 

       I'd hoped to see Pope Francis do the noon appearance at the window that he normally does on Sunday but since the three hour program ended after noon; no appearance happened and I caught the bus back to the apartment.

     About two o'clock we caught the Metro and went all the way to San Giovanni in Laterano for a visit to one of our favorite churches.  We were there the day that Jim lost his wallet and phone but our thoughts were on other things that day.  Today we enjoyed the beautiful church while we were there.  Then we walked the length of the park that stretches between St. John's and our next church.

  Jim had not visited Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and I'd so enjoyed my visit in 2009 that I wanted to make sure he saw it on this trip.  This is a very old church and one of the seven churches in Rome that are considered pilgrimage churches.  They are the very oldest and to make a pilgrimage to Rome you must see all seven of them.  We've still got a couple to go to in the future.  This one has a room with major relics of the Catholic religion:  thorns from the crown of thornes, pieces of the wood cross, a nail from the cross and several others.

  Leaving the church we cross the street and jumped on the tram and since we each had a seat we decided to see where it would take us.  We ended at the Colosum and it turned to go back and we jumped off at the next stop.  From there we walked around the Colosum and then headed up the very wide street that runs between the Victoria Emunale Monument and the Colosum.  There is major construction in progress as they are finally working very hard to finish the new Metro C line that goes right through this area.

  And today they had closed the road to traffic and it was one great big party on the street.  Lots of fun and by the time we arrived at our bus stop it was five thirty and time to head home.  After dinner we played some cards with our dessert and then pack the suitcases...why did we bring so much stuff!  We've only used a small portion of what we brought.   Tomorrow we leave for Florence on the train.  Hope you've enjoyed our day as much as we did.

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Museum of Villa Torlonia

      Today was filled with sunshine; it had to be at least seventy degrees outside.  The parks were full of Romans enjoying the day off and a rare day of sunshine.  I do think that Spring has arrived for Easter week.  We had a long day today, the pedometer said we did 7.26 miles!  We started about 10:30 am on the Metro heading towards the Museum of Villa Torlonia.
We got there the hard way by Metro to Termini, walked about six blocks and then caught a very narrow gauge tram...only one seat on each side of the car...to Porte Maggorie.  There we took Tram # 3 to our destination that was just one block past a metro station; yes, we could have done it much easier if we'd just stayed on the Metro.  The villa was located a few blocks from the tram inside of a large park that was filled with people enjoying the sunshine.  We enjoyed a free exhibit in the theater building of costumes and then walked to the main house for a tour.  The art was mostly modern, but some of the frescos on the walls were lovely.    What enticed us to see this house was the fact that in 1925 the Torlonia family invited Benito Mussolini to rent the property, which he did until 1943 when he was killed.  During the time he lived here he built an air raid shelter in the basement.  When the Americans arrived they used this property and after the war the State acquired the property.  I wouldn't add it to your must see when in Rome list; but a nice addition if you've lots of time while you are here.

     Back on the tram we continued for three stops to the Buenos Aires Stop; jumped off and decided to take a look at the church rummage sale that was going on in their parking lot.  One unusual item was a table full of white shirts from America?  Also they had a huge selection of fur coats.  Fun to look but nothing special enough to carry home.

  A few blocks down the street we located the buildings that we'd come to see.  A collection of buildings in varied architectural styles that was started by one man and it is called the Quartiere Coppede.  Something free to do in Rome!  There was even an embassy in one of the buildings.

     Back on the tram but just to the Metro Station where we rode back to Termini, switched to A Metro and got off again at Lepanto Station.  We walked from there to Ponte Cavour to find what I think is the smallest museum in all of Rome.  It's a museum about purgatory.  We found it but the doors were locked.  Finally on our bus #49 from Cavour Plaza we headed home about four o'clock.

   Once home Jim got on the internet and discovered that the church would open at 5 pm.  We fixed and early dinner and got back on the bus to Cavour Plaza.  There we found the church open and the little museum.  They were faded copies of items that had purportedly been touched by people who were in purgatory.   There were black fingerprints on them.  These people were asking for prayers to help them get to heaven from people who were still alive.  It took all of five minutes to see and then we walked all the way to Ponte Umbertic and then into the center of old Rome where we attended the six o'clock Mass at Saint Ignazio di Loyola Church.

   It is a beautiful church and we enjoyed the Passion read in Italian before receiving olive branches instead of palms for Palm Sunday.  The church can hold well over a thousand I'm sure but there were only twenty five of us attending mass. 

     Back on the bus with many others we stood in the aisle all the way back to the apartment arriving home just before eight o'clock.

    We enjoyed our dessert of an apple, wine and chocolate along with a game of Hand and Foot cards.  This is the third time that I have typed this journal tonight...I lost the first two when I hit the wrong keys just as they were about finished.  Hope you've enjoyed the story.

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Friday, March 27, 2015

Palazzo Barberini and Palazzo Corsini

The morning was overcast but dry; but we still carried our umbrellas which was a good thing as about three o'clock we had to use them for about half an hour.  It gave us some glorious skies about six o'clock when we were at the Spanish Steps.  We did 7.1 miles today! 

     But back to our morning that started about ten o'clock as we climbed aboard the Metro for our short trip to Barberini Station.   The walk to the Palazzo Barberini was short and soon we were strolling through another beautiful palace filled with wonderful art and statuary.  Yes, there are three Caravaggio painting here but one of them is on loan at this time so we only saw two of them.

     After about an hour we were out the door and back on the Metro to Termini where we switched to bus #40 for our trip to the tram #8 that would take us across the river to Trestevere.   On the bus I had an opportunity to talk with a group of five seminarians from the USA; they were surprised when I asked them about their daily morning walks to different churches for Mass during Lent.  We had planned to do some but so far have not gotten up early enough in the morning to join them.  There is a permanent list of different churches for each day in Lent.  The priests and seminarians who are living in the Pontifical North American College in Rome during Lent call this their "The Stations of the Cross" and walk from the college each morning to the various churches.  Some of them are up to five miles away and they leave on their walk...rain or sunshine...about six o'clock each morning.

  We hopped off the bus and started walking as we waited for the tram and finally decided to walk all the way to our next adventure at the Palazzo Corsini; a huge old palace built somewhere around the eighteenth century on the site of a fifteenth century villa.  Again, an adventure in fabulous rooms competing with beautiful paintings and some sculpture but mostly painting. There was only one Caravaggio and it was out on loan to another museum. 

    By now it was 1:30 pm and we rushed to the nearby Villa Farnesina just in time before it closed at 2 pm.  It is a small villa so it was easy to visit in half an hour; good art but the walls were what was so great; frescoes everywhere.   You'll love the photos in the slideshow.  The builder of this villa was Agostino Chigi who was the banker for Pope Julius II and became very wealthy.  During parties he would have his guests throw gold plates out of the windows from the top floor into the Tiber River that flows directly behind the villa to demonstrate his wealth.   They didn't know that he had servants with nets to catch them down river.

Walking slowly back towards the river we again crossed the foot bridge at Ponte Sisto to the east side of the swollen river and continued walking north.  We finally agreed to catch a bus that took us along the river to Ponte Cavour where we jumped off to walk over and see the very modern glass structure that houses the very ancient Altar of Peace from the year 9 B.C.   Built and used by Augustus to make sacrifices to the gods.  His tomb is across the street.  We took advantage of the huge glass windows and viewed it from outside; the lines were long and the price was at 14 euros because of a special exhibition.  The site is called:  Ara Pacis Augustae.

     It was starting to rain as we walked across the Ponte Cavour towards our bus # 49 that soon took us home in time for our last trip to the grocery store for supplies for our final two days in Rome.  Since it's Friday we decided to have some fun and at five o'clock we used the Metro to go to Spagna Station where we walked the short distance to the McDonalds for Fish Sandwiches.  They've totally remodeled the restaurant that has been there for at least twenty five years.  Downstairs is now devoted to a very fancy McCafe and the food is all upstairs where there is seating for four hundred.  A woman with perfect English by the name of Jacqueline waited on us and was wonderful.  It was a great experience and when we returned to the Metro the Spanish Steps were ablaze with wonderful lighting from the storm clouds mixed with the slowly fading sunlight.   Each photo was different!

     Soon we were home and enjoying a bottle of wine, fresh pears and chocolate for dessert as I typed this blog and Jim researched tomorrows activities.  So until tomorrow....

Link to Picasa photo album

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Walk through Trastevere

The weather cleared and although we carried umbrellas, there was no rain during our outing today.  However, the Tiber River is very high and all of the walkways along the river are covered with water.   We started the day by taking a load of laundry to the shop on the corner; for only nine euros they will wash and dry them for us today.  We picked them up after we returned home and they were all very nicely folded and bagged in a clear plastic bag for us.

     When we reached the bus stop for # 46 at 10 am the local police were busy towing a cute little car that was parked too long on the busy street!   It kept us occupied while we waited for the bus.  Soon we were at Piazza Venezia and there we hopped on the #8 tram that took us across the Tiber to the very old area known as Trastevere.   When we first started coming to Rome this area was not recommended for tourists and definitely not after dark.   Today it is very popular to visit the old churches in the area and walk the ancient streets.

First we visited the Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome.  In the piazza outside near the fountain we stopped and listened to a woman who played on her cello for those that gathered around the fountain.   We practiced with our selfie stick...see the slideshow and even did a short video before walking into the church to enjoy the beautiful mosaics and paintings inside of the church.  Yes..we added a coin to her bucket!

Our second stop this morning was at San Crisogono where we saw the body of Saint Anna Maria Taigi in a side chapel.  Not too unusual to find these in churches in Europe.

 From there we walked to the Church of Saint Cecilia.  She has an unusual story in that she was a secret Christian and on her wedding night told her husband about her secret and also that she wished to remain both a Christian and to remain chaste!  Eventually he also converted and they were both killed defending their religion.  Beautiful church and along the top of the walls you can see the passages for the cloistered nuns to view the Mass while remaining hidden behind the screens.  Beautiful mosaics and paintings.
The statue of Cecilia under the altar is said to represent the form they found her body in when they opened her tomb just before it turned to dust.

     Walked along the Tiber River to the bridge that took us to the island in the center of the river.  There we visited St. Batholomew's Church  and then started across the pedestrian only bridge when Jim was stopped by a vendor who wanted him to purchase a black bag for forty euros.  Within minutes Jim had made a purchase for fifteen euros.  No bad, but real leather?  I don't think so.

     We viewed the Jewish Synagogue from the outside and started through the Jewish Ghetto.  Mostly stores, restaurants and a few authentic Kosher Restaurants.  We hadn't gone far when Jim got sidetracked by some ancient roman ruins that we began walking through.  By this time I would have given five euros for a toilette; but what we finally did was enter a bar when Jim purchased a soda and I used their facilities.  It had been a long morning; by now it was after one o'clock. 

We tried to get back on track with the Jewish Ghetto but eventually changed and looked for the bus that would get us to the church of Santa Mari in Cosmedin Church that has the famous Mouth of Truth in the entry.  We had to stand in line to give it a try; Jim had me take a second one with a surprised look on his face and his hand missing!   Lots of fun and the church was very interesting also.

     We caught the bus back to Piazza Venezia where we entended to call it a day but then changed our minds and climbed the steps up to the Musei Capitolini.   An expensive museum but huge and impressive.  Both art and statues.  The building, like many of the museums, was originally a palace and also incorporates parts of the early Roman Forum.  This museum dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century.  Yes, it had one Caravaggio painting!

     Back to the bus and home before four o'clock.  Another long day with 5.12 miles logged on the pedometer on the cell phone.  And no rain yet!  Jim is already busy looking for new things to do tomorrow on the Internet.  So even if it rains tomorrow the plan is to get out there!  Monday will be here before we know it!   What happens on Monday?  We leave Rome and travel to Florence.

     Hope you enjoyed our journey today....see you tomorrow...

Link to the Picasa Photo Album 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Villa Medicis in Rome

   The beginning of our slideshow today features my first use of the Selfie Stick; we practiced last night by using the auto timer and did great.  I think I'll save the bluetooth part until after we get home.  Also you'll see a touch of  Eastlake high above our kitchen sink...they've done a great job adding decorative touches to the apartment.

     We woke to pouring rain and news that it was going to last all day and that there would be wind to deal with also.  But, we were still out the door by ten o'clock for our adventures planned for today.  Yes, I'm still wearing my sandals with socks....I'm wet instantly....and Jim is dry and warm inside of his wonderful shoes that he inherited from his brother-in-law John.  They're an expensive pair and well worth whatever they paid for them!  I thought about my tennis shoes but decided to stick with my sandals.   And, once home, they dry rapidly for the next day!


Our first stop on the Metro was at Barberini where we walked directly into the Capuchin Crypt and church.  The photos from the Crypt are taken of post cards as we were not allowed to take photos inside.  Amazing...totally different from what I'd expected.  Bones were used to create art!  And for an extra bonus; there was a painting by Caravaggio in the Crypt.  We spent some time in the church admiring the beautiful paintings and a place to while away some time as we were early for our next adventure.  I noticed that the church has padded kneelers that automatically fold up when not in use so that no one steps on them!  Very creative!

  By half past eleven we were back out in the rain to the nearby Metro Stop; once on we got off at the very next stop of Spagna and rode the elevator from inside of the Station to the top of the Spanish Steps.  From there it was only a short walk to the former Medici Villa that is now owned by the French government and is known as the Academie de France a Rome.  I was wrong yesterday when I told you how Napoleon acquired this property; when the last of the male Medici family members died the property was sold and he purchased it.  Then he donated it to the French Government.   In 2009 we learned today; the government decided to let the public have more access to the property.  They now rent rooms to a few guests and have instituted tours for the public.  They still have about twenty artists that live on the property with their families while they produce new art for the world.
There is an English Tour at noon every day.  We really enjoyed our tour through the gardens and into a select series of rooms in the tower. We also visited beyond the garden a retreat that had been built in a quiet area for study and contemplation in the 1500s.   In 1985 they discovered under whitewash paint in these two small rooms, remarkable painting by Jacopo Zucchi in the sixteenth century.  Because of the rain the guide was allowed to also take our small group of six into the Grand Salon that is not normally on the tour.
Beautiful tapestries from the fifteenth or sixteenth century that have recently been completely restored decorated the walls.  But best of all for me was the view of Rome from the balcony...we were not allowed to step out onto the balcony, only enjoyed the view from the window.   What a sunset that view would be on a good day!  The doors into the room are original and in the lower corner of one was a small door for the cat to go in and out of. 

     Thoroughly soaked we jumped back on the Metro for a fast trip home.  Lunch, dry clothes and we were back out in the rain.   This time we took the bus # 46 and headed for the area around  Largo di Torre Argentina where we had about three blocks to walk to the Crypta Balbi.  Yep...the final free museum using the ticket that we purchased on Sunday!  We'd managed to use all four within the required four days!

   The Crypta Balbi was very interesting; various building were built on this site from the fifth century including a theater at one time.  Many historical pieces of information and several floors above the crypt area that housed displays of artifacts found during the archeological excavations.  Something to see on a slow day when you've seen about everything else; but it was fun and challenging to get there on a rainy day!   We walked several blocks over to Via Venezia where we caught the #46 bus towards home.  Everything we had with us was soaked by the time we arrived home. 

     The evening was spent in a very warm room drying out our clothes and things while we searched the Internet to find a new lodging in Paris.  Seems as though the owner of our apartment had to cancel.  Airbnb is being very helpful and even gave us a few extra dollars to help find a new place at this late date.  We seem to have located a very good one right in the same area and have already been accepted by the owner.   The Internet is wonderful!

     And so another day is over and we're closing this journal.  See you tomorrow.

Link to Picasa photo album

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Borghese Museum

     A glorious day of sunshine here in Rome as we read about friends who spent last night on cots in the airport in Chicago because of snowstorms.  Hopefully they are safely back in California by now.  We headed out the door without umbrellas in our bags about ten o'clock.  Half way to the Metro I remembered my watch and then when we were ready to enter the Metro I realized I'd forgotten my cell phone/camera; Jim waited while I went back to the apartment again.  I found it under the umbrellas that I'd taken out of the backpacks! 
Soon we on our way the Republica Metro Stop where we walked around the corner and visited the Museums of the Baths of Dioclesian.  I walked by this so many times in the past and WOW...it's a great museum and we really enjoyed our hour.  And, it was free because we discovered that the seven euro ticket that we purchased for the Museum on Sunday is also good for entry over four days to three additional museums.  We did two of them today and will do the other one tomorrow!  What a bargain!  It pays to read the back of your ticket.

About noon we headed for the bus # 910 that took us right to the gates of the entry to the Borghese Museum.  There we picked up our tickets that we'd ordered months ago and then found a place to sit and have a snack while we waited for our entry time at 1:00 pm.  Every two hours they clear the museum and a new group enters for the following two hours.  We also had to check all bags including purses.  They asked if I had a camera when we checked the bags and I said only my cell phone.  He said the rules had just changed and contrary to the signs you are now allowed to take all the photos that you want without flash.  Another WOW for today!
I've been in this museum many times before and I definitely made up for the photos that I couldn't take then during my visit today...you are only going to see a small portion of what I took as there were way too many of them for the slideshow!  Jim was intent on seeing the Bernini sculptures and the Caravaggio painting; he was not disappointed...they were all there waiting for him.   I had fun with my photo shoot!

     Before three o'clock we were back outside and walking through the park all the way to the bluff that overlooks the Piazza dei Popolo and in the distance Saint Peters Basilica.  Had a fun photo of a group of kids taking a group shot with many of them holding their selfie sticks.  I have yet to learn how to use mine but will soon.  They are the rage here in Rome.  Vendors everywhere try to sell you one.  From there we continued to walk towards the Spanish Steps.  Just before we arrived we checked in at the Villa Medici,  now owned by France and is labeled the Academie Nationale De France....Napoleon inherited it when he married into the family and then he gave it to France.  You can only tour it on a tour and the English Tour is at noon so we'll go back tomorrow.

Down the stairs, through the crowds, and then continued walking towards our next museum...yes another free one from Sunday's ticket.   It took us a while and became necessary to use google maps on the cell phone but we finally found it just north of Plaza Navona.  It is called the Musee Nazionale Romano Palazzo Altemps.   Lots of statues and a beautiful restored palace from ancient times. 

On to the next stop even though our feet were barely moving by now.  Very close by was the Basilica of Saint Agostino where we had a beautiful painting by our friend Caravaggio above one of the side altars.  By now my cell phone battery was drained and I attached a power pack to it...worked beautifully and I continued to take photos, etc.  Holding both the phone and the tethered power pack.

     To find a bus home we walked across the Tiber River, walked around the Hall of Justice...a massive building...and on Piazza Cavor we found our bus #49 that would take us home.  Long day.  By the time we arrived home we'd logged 7.20 miles.  Dinner was soon ready and we're enjoying our evening.   Rain is predicted by midnight.

     I hope you've enjoyed our journey today...the link to photos is below:

Link to Picasa Photos

Monday, March 23, 2015

Visiting Cinecitta and the Aqueduct Park

     It's Monday morning and since most of the sites in Rome are closed on Monday we headed back out to the end of Metro A for another delightful day.  The weather was cool and we carried our umbrellas but it's now after 4 pm and it hasn't rained all day....yes...we're back in our apartment after walking five miles per the pedometer.  We started our journey at 10 am and arrived home just before 4 pm.  A full day for us old travelers!  We're looking forward to a nice dinner at home and a good game of Hand & Foot this evening.

It took just over half an hour to travel to the Cinecitta Metro A stop, the second from the last one, and the stop was right outside the door to the large movie studio by the same name that has existed since  before WW II.  It is now being used for television and commercial in addition to movies; both Italian and foreign including many American productions.

     Ben Hur....the remake with Morgan Freeman...is currently in production and since they are using the largest sound stage, Number Five, we could not see inside of it but did walk around
it.  A really large building.   We also got to see the creative arts people..but no photos allowed, making the chariots for the big race scene.   Everything is fiberglass now and stucco...nothing that we saw was real.

     Another film that has just finished and is being released soon, Christ The Lord, had some beautiful outdoor sets that we again were not allowed to take photos of.  But the slide show is full of many old sets including ones used in The Gangs of New York.  The large pool used for the harbor scenes was there and a portion in one corner held a container that will be used for Ben Hur.   Because of cg in today's world they didn't need the huge lake and will add in the background after the filming.

Loved the scenes of Rome and other Italian cities.  We saw the set used for Romeo and Juliet...but the balcony had rotted off!   There was a cathedral that is constantly changed to make it look different, they even used it on a production recently about Assisi.  We had an English Tour for an hour in the back lots and then spent unlimited time in several buildings that gave the historical exhibition over the last eighty years.  We enjoyed the spaghetti westerns stories and of course Federico Fellini was one of their most famous directors.  He used this studio so often for his films that he was allowed to create an apartment in the area of the dressing rooms in Stage Five.  Those are the upstairs windows in my photos.  We were there for over two hours and enjoyed every minute.  Even got a ten percent discount on our tickets because we came out on the Metro. 

After leaving the studio we climbed aboard the Metro for only one stop.  We left the train at Subaugusta Station; used Google Maps to see where the Aqueduct Park was by showing the map to a lady...it had the Italian spelling...and she told us which way to go.  Soon we could see the ancient aqueduct in the distance.  It was only a ten minute walk from the station.  They have created a long and narrow park that is a favorite with locals for running and biking.  A golf course borders the far side.  Very impressive and worth the walk to and from.  Soon we were back on the Metro and decided to call it a day.   It looked like rain but so far it hasn't happened.  And we may get lucky again tomorrow when we have tickets for the Borghese Museum.

     Here is the link to the photos:

Link to Picasa Photo Album

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rome 2015 Marathon

Yes...it's the day of the Rome 2015 Marathon and it's raining steady since early this morning.  No problem with over-heating today!   I washed my hair early and we settled in to watch the race on the television in the comfort of our apartment.  Great morning.  Our landlord dropped by to pick up the linens that we'd just changed (he'd left us a second set per our request) and we had an opportunity to chat with him for a little while.  He is still on crutches...has a hair-line crack in his hip.  Painful but only time will heal it properly and it's important that he keeps moving.

There were two Italians that came in 3rd and I think 5th but definitely in the top seven.  The sun came out shortly have eleven o'clock...just after the winners finished.  The first woman came in about twenty minutes after the first man.  We watched until the laural wreath was placed on the winners head before turning it off.

      We decided to head into town on the Metro...buses were not running today!  There were several different races, the Marathon, a 5 K and several others so many different streets were being used.  By two o'clock we'd arrived at the Termini Station and walked across the street to the National Museum of Rome.  It was reasonable and crowded! 
The museum is all sculptures and one whole floor is the recreation of several different ancient homes that have been uncovered over the years during excavations for new buildings.   Entire rooms, walls, floors, etc.   It was four floors of double height rooms with no elevations.  We left late in the day but we accumulated about three and a half miles on the pedometer on my cell phone by the end of the day!

It was nearly four o'clock when we headed over to the Termini Train Station and stood in line to purchase our tickets for the train trip to Florence on March 30th.  But nice to know that we have them now and can confirm our arrival there with our new landlord.  We also took time to purchase a seven day pass for each of us for the Bus/Metro and that will take us to the end of our stay.  We should have done that a week ago but got lazy.  The difference:  24 hour pass is 7 euros....a 7 day pass is 24 euros.  But you have to go to the Tabacco Shop in the Train Station to get the seven day pass.  We were lazy and purchased our daily passes locally.

      Soon we were back on the Metro B for one stop as we jumped off at Cavor stop and walked the short distance to visit the church of St. Peter In Chains.  It required a walk up a flight of seventy-five steps to reach the church.  But, it is beautiful and there is a huge altar that was designed by Michelangelo and recreated death by his assistants.  It was designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II, there is a famous statue of Moses and a special one of Pope Julius II in a reclining pose, making him look a bit lazy.
His assistants cobbled it together with stray pieces of sculpture but using his directions.

     From there we walked back down the seventy-five steps and over towards the Victor Emanuel Monument by walking down the center of the streets in the midst of the cleanup for this mornings Marathon Race....right under the banner at the start/finish line.  Arrived in Piazza Venezia and found that our bus # 46 was finally running again since the race was now over.

     By 6:30 pm we were back in our apartment....no rain all afternoon.  A fun day and we soon had dinner on the table complete with wine and chocolate for dessert.  It was a cool but dry outing; our gloves and hats felt good.  I hope that you've enjoyed our afternoon with us....the link for photos is below:

Link to Picasa web photo albums