Wednesday, September 12th

Because of the limited nature of our Internet connection we are only going to use small photos. So unfortunately, clicking on the photos will no longer get you a larger image. An advantage for Sueann and I is that you won't be able to see our wrinkles as well.


Sueann and I are living at Via Brennero 15, Roma. Itís a pleasant residential area with many fairly recently built apartment buildings. We are on a bit of a hill and we walk down to get to the commercial area, Piazza Sempione. In and around the Piazza there are several bars that serve mostly coffee and snacks as well an assortment of shops and several small food markets. Everyday except Sunday there is an open air food and clothing market right near the Piazza. There is a Tavola Calda (sort of like an Italian deli) that Irene told us was good and convenient since itís open late. Weíve been in there everyday except Monday when it was closed. Weíve purchased wine, cheeses, roasted chicken and my favorites, antipasto type vegetables like peppers in oil, eggplant in oil and spinach in oil (do you see any pattern here?). Today we introduced ourselves to the counterman who told us his name is Olianno. I think we are going to be good friends.

Our daily routine seems to be as follows. We wake up at perhaps 8 and have some coffee at home (I know we are supposed to go to a bar for coffee, but I guess we will get to that later). We shower and dress and are ready to leave the apartment at about 9:30 to go down to Piazza Sempione (only a five minute walk) to do any grocery shopping that is needed. We haul the goodies up the hill and are ready to go into the center of town at any time from 10 to 11.

There is a wonderful bus, the 90, which is an express bus to the railroad station (the Statione Termini) where we can get the metro (subway), or other buses. I think the ride from Piazza Sempione to the termini generally takes about 25 minutes. Itís a great bus.

We usually begin our adventures for the day at the termini. Letís take today (Wednesday) for example. We had a tentative plan to visit a tourist bureau we have been looking for since we arrived. This morning we found the address of the bureau so we would go there and then Sueann wanted to get a look at the Tiber River so we would take the metro from near the tourist bureau to the Piazza Flaminio stop where the river was just a short distance away. So we rode the 90 bus to the termini and walked over to the Piazza della Republica.

But on the way we passed by the ruins of the Termi di Diocleziano (Diocletianís Baths). The ruins are huge and our great guide book (Key to Rome by Vreeland) tells us that the baths were built around AD 305 and could seat 3,000 bathers "and had the full panoply of changing rooms, gymnasiums, libraries, meeting rooms, concert halls, theaters, sculpture gardens, vast basins for hot, lukewarm and cold plunges as well as mosaic floors and marble facades. Todayís luxurious health resorts are but pale copies of the Baths of Diocletian. This complex was built on a gigantic man made platform of 12 hectares (30 acres)."


In 1561, The Medici Pope and Michelangelo converted the core of the baths which they viewed as a monument of pagan hedonism into a religious masterpiece, the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli. We walked into this church and were amazed at the size and quality of the vestibule. Then as we walked further we were astonished by the transept which was formerly the Frigidarium of the baths. Itís a huge high chamber with granite columns and decorative marble walls.

We left the Basilica and once again walked past the Piazza della Republica toward the tourist bureau. We found the bureau and it was not much of anything. We picked up a few brochures and headed for the underground (metro) station. We took a train and soon emerged from the metro at the Piazza Flaminio. Directly in front of us was the gate to the Piazza del Popolo. We are keen on the renaissance artist and sculpture, Bernini since seeing a show on PBS about him. The inner face of the Porto del Popolo (once the northern entrance to Rome) was redecorated by Bernini in 1655 at the request of Pope Alexander VII Chigi. Sueann and I spent some time appreciating Berniniís work here and found it to be lovely in its simplicity. I would have imagined it to be the work of the 20th century.


Sueann and I learned that the obelisk In the center of the large oval of the Piazza del Popolo is an obelisk already 1,000 years old in the first century AD when it was brought from Egypt to Rome.

I will end here. I just wanted to share with you the flavor of the days we have passed in Rome so far. This is an incredible city and we havenít even begun to scratch the surface. We have simply been stumbling into the glorious.

Sueann says: As Jeffrey noted, we take the bus and underground very often and usually manage to get into some kind of a Pidgen English/Italian/Spanish/German conversation with all types of people. Thatís always fun. The other day an old lady pointed out to us a former residence (maybe it was an office, maybe a favorite restaurant) of Il Ducci. Hereís a question: why people from Africa, when asked where they are from, always say "Africa"? When Iím asked where Iím from I never say, "North America". We spoke with a nice man from Africa, actually Gambia, who thought Bush was just fine. We had to set him straight about that. The doctor who lives in Barcelona and his Spanish wife who overheard this conversation had to agree with us. It was clear to me that he wasnít Spanish so I asked him where he was from. Would you believe it, he said, "The Middle East". That required another question to find out he was from Syria. I guess Africans arenít the only ones who often think of themselves as coming from a region rather than from a specific country.


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