October 12, 2007

Roma – The Vatican

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:46 am by turandotz

This fascinating tour started early with a brisk walk at 7.30 this morning to the Piazza Risorgimento to meet Oleana (the tour guide).   The Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St Pauls Basillica (whenever I see them on TV etc now I know I will remember this tour!) – the money, the power, the opulence.   The first part of the tour was through sculpture galleries full of marble statues collected by a sucession of popes.   Then through the Hall of Maps which was my favourite – and I asked the guide a very smart question (even if I do say so myself).   300 years before Garribaldi the Vatican had the regions of Italy unified in this Hall – did they know that this was going to be the future?   Then onto the Raphael Rooms and the “biggies” the Sistine and St Pauls.

There were five others in our tour group and about five thousand others, like ants, everywhere!


October 11, 2007

Roma – sketches

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:00 am by turandotz

p1000181__150x150.JPG  Chimneys, windows, domes. 

One of the best things to do is to get out of bed early, before anyone else is up, make a cup of tea and sketch.   What I like about sketching is that rather than just skimming over something you really LOOK at it – the light and shade, the shape, the texture.  I wish I was better at it.  But these memories will last a long time.    

 p1000184__150x150.JPG  Through the window of the apartment.

 p1000182__150x150.JPG  The roof next door.

September 28, 2007

Roma – The Colosseum

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:06 am by turandotz


1. an amphitheatre in Rome, the greatest in antiquity, begun by Vespasian and inaugurated (AD 80) by Titus.

2. (lower case) Also, coliseum. an amphitheatre, stadium, large theatre, etc., for public meetings and entertainment.

The dictionary definitions …. but they can’t convey the sense of being there.   Its huge!  And in its original form it would have been stunning.    Only a skeleton of the orgininal remains.  I love the fact that every seat in it was numbered (not unlike today’s sporting stadiums). 



And here is the tourist photo!     Sal and I outside the Colosseum.    Although I have to say that I think Ali’s photo with the local carabinari is a much better photo op.   How many times do these guys get asked to pose with tourists?   I must say that they were very gracious about it.   



Roma – The Spanish Steps

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:52 am by turandotz


This is my favourite photo, I love it so much that I made it my desktop at work.   Its a bit like a ‘Where’s Wally’.   If you look really carefully I am the tiny figure about two thirds of the way up the stairs in the middle, dressed in black with my arms wide open.   This I’m told is the American tourist pose, I prefer to think of it as my look I finally made it pose.   How amazingly Audrey Hepburn  – except unfortunatley I look nothing like her and there’s no Gregory Peck in sight.  

September 27, 2007

Roma – the Campo di Fiori

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:08 am by turandotz

100_0731__80x60.JPG Campo di Fiori – the field of flowers!   I am so glad that we stayed close to this little bit of heaven.  Fantastic fruit and veg, stunning flowers, great coffee – truely this is Rome that I dreamed of.

100_0665__80x60.JPG Every day during our stay in Rome I would head off to the Campo to buy fruit and veg.   This stall was my favorite!  The Scillian oranges were superb – quite like a mandarin to peel with a floppy skin, and inside beautiful ruby red flesh – sweet with just a hint of tartness.   This started my search for oranges all over Italy!  

100_0654__80x60.JPG Ali and I  and the beautiful flowers in the Campo.  We bought hyacinths for the apartment and they last for the whole stay.

100_0652__80x601.JPG This could be from a photo shoot, but its really the way things are – the old next to the new.    The old  trolley was held together with bits of wire and twine and had, what looked like, pram wheels.

Roma – The Apartment

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:39 am by turandotz

 100_0641__80x60.JPG View from the apartment in Rome.     Roof top gardens are everywhere and vairy from being virtual jungles to very organised ones like this that we can see from our apartment window. Green astro turf and lemon trees in pots – on Google it looked like a green park!

100_0643__80x60.JPG These are Ali’s feet dangling out of the window of the apartment.

 100_0679__80x60.JPG The front door of Via San Salvatore in Campo – next door is a mosque.

100_0760__80x60.JPG Looking up from the window of the apartment this is what you see.   Plants being opportunists will grow anywhere they can – even in the guttering.

 100_0730__80x602.JPG So I’m not the best photographer in the world!   The stairwell at Via San Salvatore.  The apartment was at the very top of the building – lots of stairs but great exercise!

Roma – 4

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:25 am by turandotz

Via San Salvatore in Campo

The exterior : Via San Salvatore in Campo

The plan was to visit the Campo and the supermarket – I have a shopping list wihch I have tried to write in Italian – arancino, pommodoro, pesce and vino rosso.   Needless to say that when the moment comes to ask it all goes out the window and I let them practice their English on me!On the way to the Campo we visit the Palazzo Spada built by a Cardinal with a love of the grander things in life.  This is the home of the Borromini Gallery – an exercise  in perspective in which 8 meters appears to be 34 meters.   The four salons have walls just crowded with art work and extravagant furniture and sculptures.It looks like rain so we decide to head straight to the Campo.  Ali wants dried apricots (at 25 euros a kilo!!).   One of the stalls has the orginis of the all the fruit labelled – pinapples from France, nectarines from Israel and even tropical exotics such as carambolla and rosella fruit.   Being a Saturday the Campo has extra stalls and more people.   We buy a bunch of hyacinths for the apartment.    And its time for coffee – and it was the best.   Now that we have fruit and veg we intend to go to the supermarket via the PALAZZA FARNESE and in the process get slightly disorientated and find ourselves in the BoHo part of town.   At a little boutique called Portobello Ali tried on a 1970s long sunray pleated frock.   It fits beautifully but at 160e its way too expensive, she then finds a great pair of green boots – a bargain at 49e – and she would have bought them except they were 2 sizes too small.  We go to take a photo of the outside of the shop but get shooed away by the owner!We find our way to the supermarket and on the the way buy pizza slices – salmon yum – and because we know where everything is in the supermarket we almost feel like locals.

The Wedding Cake

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:19 am by turandotz


The Victor Emanuel Monument – most Romans love to hate this glorious piece of decadence.   I always thought it looked like a typewriter.

June 27, 2007

Roma – 3

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:48 am by turandotz

Passaggiata – a lovely sounding word that means to walk.   And walk is what we did today.    From the apartment to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, through the Forum, up the Capitoline Hill and the Victor Emanuel monument.    And then after dinner a walk with a gelato through the Campo to the Piazza Novona, past the Palazzo Farnese and the Palazzo Spada and home.

Today was ancient Rome day.   It’s fantastic when you only have a sketchy plan but it all works out anyhow!   We had through to queue for tickets to the Colosso but were persuaded to join a group.  A good idea because this meant that we were fast tracked.   No queueing and the cost was really reasonable and included admission, the tour guide as well as a guide around the Palatine Hill.    Our guide around the Colosso, Oleana, was quite inspiring and a wonderful story teller.   Lorenzo was the guide for the Palatine Hill, and I have to admit that I don’t remember much of his story, apart from the fact that so many different Romes co-exist side by side – Ancient Rome, Medieval Rome, Baroque Rome and modern Rome!     And I think that this is the wonder of Rome.

On the Palatino this a quietness, a stillness that is quite at odds with the rush of Roman traffic all around it.   You can even hear the birds singing.     From high on the hill you can see all of Rome (except I expect the modern bits on the outskirts), and as you follow the path down through the Forum and past the Basilica of Constantine it is hard not to be amazed – all roads in the civilised world once lead to this place!

100_0711__80x601.JPG The Forum from the Palatine Hill

After ancient Rome, we visit the monument to the Unification of Italy – the Victor Emanuel, or the wedding cake as I heard Romans refer to it.   To my mind it looks a bit like an old fashioned typewriter.   All of the regions of Italy are represented in the bas reliefs on the outside of the building.   On the very top floor there is another magnificent view of Rome and a museum that tells the story of Garribaldi and the ‘risogiomento’.   Unfortunately many of the exhibitions we labelled in Italian – but I understood enough to decipher the tag on a pair of trousers.   The were Garribaldi’s pantaloons – complete with patch.  Imagine that the father of Italian Unification and there in pride of place his trousers!  I can’t imagine this translating to any other country.   It would be like seeing Edmund Barton’s trousers.   Maybe Ned Kelly I could understand.

After their evening mean the Italian habit is to go for a passaggiata – a walk – and we did that this evening.   Through the Campo, which had turned into a haven for young travellers with bas with very twee sounding names – Sloppy Sams, but in the side streets on the way to the Piazza Navona you would see Italian families – walking and talking.

June 26, 2007

Roma – 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:45 am by turandotz

Surprises are everywhere and are amazing – an arched entry way frames a statue, Roman men hang out chatting in the shadow of a passage way much the same as I would imagine they did hundreds of years ago.    Not far from the apartment on the via Arenula is the Argentinian ruins actually at the Torre Largo di Argentina, this is a sacred site that has become  a haven for stray cats (all very well fed and looked after) .   It was a Roman square that was discovered during excavations for a building in the 1920’s.  I suppose if you dig a hole anywhere in Rome you will find history.   From the ‘sacred site’ down to the PANTHEON.   


 My first introduction to this building was a tiny monochrome picture in an art book nearly 40 years ago.   To see the real thing is awe inspiring.   Beautiful, majestic and sooooo soooo old!  Gelato at a Gelateria recommended by a friend and then off to the PIAZZA NAVONA (the one with three fountains ) and from there a short walk to the CAMPO DI FIORI. 


    I loved this … all the fruit and veg…. a place to visit every day to buy fruit.    The markets are really vibrant and the shopkeepers friendly and helpful.   Many of the speak English which is good because I can manage to ask for the basics in Italian and start the dialogue but what happens next is scary.    I must practice numbers!    Lunch more often than not is on the run – slices of pizza bought for a few euros or bread, olives, milano salami, tomato, onion and cheese.    A huge chunk of parmesan bought on the first day is quickly being erroded.    Sicillian oranges have become a passion – arancia – they are more like a tangello crossed with a blood organge, tart and delicious.   

 Most Italians have a rest after lunch, so like most Italians we rest until 3 and the head off on a planned walk to the PONTE S’ANGELO, but we get side tracked when we see a sign that points to the VATICAN.   We decided that this is probably a sign from above and join the thousands in and around ST PETERS SQUARE.   When Bernini designed this he really created a monument which says grandeur.   Surprisingly it isn’t flat more like a basin.    Looking at the queue we decide to leave seeing St Peters for another day and head back down the Via della Concilliazione towards CASTEL SANT’ANGELO  and the PONTE SANT’ANGELO.   In the Piazza in front of the castel a film crew is shooting a video.   About 30 people in Wiggles coloured tee shirts are dancing to a soundtrack in English “Happy Birthday Jesus”.  

100_0659__150x150.JPG On the Ponte Sant’ Angelo.

The footpath in front of the castel and the ponte are lined with hawkers.  I buy a ubiquitous sketch of Rome (Trevi, Palatine and the ponte), for 15e from a fellow called Angelo who says that he painted it.   Ali finds a 2e print of a Vespa and Sal buys some ‘dancing’ Disney characters.   Many of the hawkers seem to be African.

Everything that say about the Roman traffic is true, and at 5 in the afternoon it seems to be more manic than ususal.   If you don’t remember that Italians drive on the wrong side of the road there is a strong chance that you could get cleaned up by a Vespa or a little smart car.

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