Posts Tagged ‘campo de fiori’

Tourists In Ecstasy

May 27th, 2009

May 27

When we awoke this morning for our last full day here, we headed over to meet up with JeanE and Kathie.  Their place is really cool one bedroom, living room, mini kitchen studio-like place right near the Campo di Fiori.  This square in the morning hours, hosts a great swap meet meets farmers market.  It is filled with fresh vegetables, flowers, pastas, spices and of course the soccer shirts and scarves – which have turned into the most popular souvenir to buy in our group.

While my dad was away, my mother sneakily bought a tool that would turn carrots into curly-q designs.  She swore she would use it (**its been almost a year now and she has used it once?).

At 11 am we all hopped on a double decker bus tour again.  We have stops today that we want to hop on and hop off and see more of the city.  It is fun being all together.  Our first stop that we exit on is at Piazza del Popolo.  The old entrance into Rome held a couple of twin churches in which one of them was home to a Carvaggio painting that I love and wanted to share with everyone.  Spoiler alert:  this square and these churches play a role in Dan Brown’s movie and book, Angels and Demons.

In one corner of the church Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo is the pice called The Crucifixion of St. Peter. Across the chapel is a second Caravaggio work depicting  The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus.  I love the way that Caravaggio paints and utilizes light in his works.

From that church we made our way down the street till we reached the Spanish Steps.  Let the crazy begin.  It is appropriate that all the Barcelona futbol fans would meet up at these steps for tonight’s game.  Everyone is in red and blue singing and dancing.  It is quite a scene, and JeanE is taking it all in stride.  If she could, she would change her citizenship and become a naturalized Catalonian.  She is taking pictures with fans, borrowing clothes from fans, and just enjoying the great spirits.

We continued walking down the streets, till we reached the Trevi Fountain.  If the Spanish Steps was the meeting place, this place was the party.  Fan upon fan chanting and singing and dancing.  What an experience.  I am so happy that I am here during this time.  Although extremely crowded, I can’t get enough of the revelry.  I have a little video, however do note that video and pictures only capture about 1/10th of a story.  And indeed, my video is not as loud or as chant full as the experience was.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcKXQDVDEP8

We found a bus stop and waited for the next bus.  We were going to take it near Termini and then stop for lunch.  Although the bus stop says that our tour bus comes every 10 minutes, we wait here for about 40 minutes.  We even have Lisa call the number on the board.  The bus arrives and eventually we find our way to a bad and crowded cafe for lunch.

This big game is in town, and the town –without warning– decides that no alcohol will be sold today anywhere.  So there will be no wine with lunch today.  This is probably a good thing.  But imagine the Super Bowl, or a tailgate party, at the last minute decided that no alcohol could be bought.

After our lunch, we walked over to Santa Maria della Vittoria, so that we could see St. Teresa in Ecstasy, a fascinating piece of art by Bernini.  The church was still closed and would be opening soon.  So while a few of us sat on the steps and rested, the others went on a gelato run.  Thirty minutes later we were all swooning.  This marvelous sculpture represents Teresa in ecstasy after she was pierced by an angel with an arrow of God.  It is a work of genius and is considered one of the masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque.  Debbie and JeanE playfully demonstrated their own versions of ecstasy in a really fun moment for me on the trip.  It will always be one of my favorite memories of the trip.  The best part about visiting art, museums, and churches of old, is when you can find a way to interact with it and make it more meaningful.  I am so grateful for the people on this trip, in the way they want to make, what some may consider boring museum outings, into a fun laughing and most importantly meaningful experience.  Whether it is pretending to be in ecstasy, making jokes about fig leaves on statues, or playfully imitating statues (see Lisa boxing in previous snide), I am blessed by the spirits of each person on this trip.

We got on the bus again and headed towards the Colosseum.  We mainly stayed on the bus for this stop, as I have found the inside of this place to not be worth the wait or the money.  However at this place, they were having a festival for tonights game.  So a stop or two later, Dad, me and Lisa got off the bus and started walking back to see what they had going on.  I did get about 10 feet away from the Champions League trophy that they had under case and guard.  The festival was not as cool as I had hoped, but it was really fun to be there.

We started heading home, and on the way, checked the Internet one last time for tickets.  We wrote down some numbers and made some phone calls.

We met up with Debbie, Kathie and JeanE at their place.  It was time to decide.  We had found some tickets, but they were going to be expensive and the game started really soon.

After way too much debate, we decided to go for it.  When else would I have this amazing chance?  Little did we know the headache that would then occur.

We borrowed my parents Italian cell phone, and made some calls.  The tickets were going to come to our place, so we had to start running.  Lisa and I took off running to our place.  All the while waiting for a phone call confirmation from India that the tickets were ours, and they were on their way.

Then the buyer needed a copy of our passports.  It is 7pm at night, the game starts shortly, how would we accomplish this?  We fortunately found a Mail Boxes ETC and got a copy and faxed it off.  But now our cell phone died.  We tried to find a pay phone to make a call.  We found one, and then phones were going in and out.  They had already taken our money and the tickets were ours, but now we had to meet them at the game, find the gate, and get through traffic to get there in time, all without a cell phone that worked.

Spending that much money to only get there by halftime, and maybe not at all was not worth it.  So we cancelled the order at the very last minute.  We were so close.  If only I was more decisive earlier in the week, and bought some then.

Our View For The Game, Outside In Campo Di Fiori

We walked dejected back to my parents and Kathie and JeanE.  We decide to watch this great game at the bar–the Drunken Ship–near their place.  When we arrived there,  the place was packed, so we stood outside a little window, and watched the game on the TV on the far wall.

What a thrilling game.  At one point, we turned around and people stretched about 50 yards back.  So exciting, though, so tiring standing there holding our spots.  At halftime, we figured we had enjoyed the spirit, and decided to go back and watch the 2nd half on their little tv.  The best club team in the world this year, won the game deservedly.  Barcelona swept all the trophies and played like magnificent champs.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFZfSFtT0YY

We walked home, through Piazza Navona one last time, and packed up.  Tomorrow morning will be sad.  I hate when great trips end.

The Lonely Roman Soldier

The Worst Part Of Being A Tourist

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tIWMNDPQ-4

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Z1GK7NU60

St. Peter’s And The Vatican Museum

May 26th, 2009

May26

Statue of St. Peter in front of St. Peter's Cathedral

We were scheduled to meet up with JeanE and Kathie at about 9:15 am on the Bridge of Angels, near the Angel holding the crown of thorns.  We succeeded in that, and it was then a picture fest.  The sun was already beating down, and we were taking tons of pictures while walking towards the Vatican for our appointment at the Vatican Museum.

A Vatican Boxing Match

The walk took us 2 hours.  Wow.

I had ordered our tickets for the museum online, and although the lines weren’t gigantic today, we would have been able to avoid them because of this.  I highly recommend ordering your tickets online if you ever go to the Vatican museum here in Rome, or if you go to the Accademia or Uffizi in Florence.
We hit the last couple of rooms of the museum first, so that when we got to the Sistine chapel, we could duck out the back door directly into St. Peter’s Cathedral.  I pretended to be the group’s tour guide, holding my folder aloft so that they could follow me.

After the last couple of rooms (that we saw first), we were already famished and we would not be able to complete the 6 miles worth of museum unless we ate something.  So we stopped at the cafeteria and had a lunch and a rest.  The first 2 rooms alone seemed like a forever amount of museum.

It is always an interesting experience trying to explore a museum with others.  Everyone has their own style.  Some are fast, some are slow, some like to sit and stare, and others just like to sit.

JeanE was really excited to see the Sistine Chapel, and so around every turn, in every room, she would ask “is this it?”

We reached the Raphael room, which is probably one of my favorite rooms in this museum.  I love his School of Athens painting.  Actually, I think I like all artists that paint archways, or have a similar feel. I’m a big fan of Veronese’s paintings that are similar.

We finally, to JeanE’s delight reached the Sistine chapel.  We hung out there with the crowds for awhile.  They no longer even allow non-flash photography and I thought I would be sneaky and take a non flash photo by holding the camera at my waist.  Well, one of the guards caught me, took my camera, and kicked me out.

OK, the last sentence wasn’t fully true.  He did catch me, and he made me put it away, and he gave me an italian look of disappointment.  But I am used to that sort of look.

We snuck out the back door so that we would get directly into St. Peter’s rather than having to wait in the long line at the front of the church.  Inside the church, we walked around, touched Peter’s toe, enjoyed the mosaic art and most of all the cool temperatures.

Debbie and Steve sat down, and Kathie, JeanE, Lisa and I took the winding narrow stairs to the top of the church for the lookout.  This hike up is really cool, as you get high within the church, within the dome.  You can look down over all of the tourists.  We took the moment to do Owl noises so that we could try to get Debbie and Steve’s attention.  While doing so, we hiked right by mosaics on the wall that you could just reach out and touch.

We got up to the top and enjoyed a spectacular view.

We were there till about 4:30 pm, and then we trekked back to Campo di Fiori and picked up some happy hour snacks.  Following that we walked to dinner to an interesting calzone and pumpkin place.  Yes, a pumpkin place.  Most entrees had pumpkin in it.

It was now bed time.

Being A Big Baby

Playing Duck Hunt

Playing Duck Hunt

Even My Sweat Is Sweating

May 25th, 2009

May 25

ronaldhinohat_smWe decided to take the double decker bus tour today since we were denied that yesterday.  Once again it is a really hot day.  We sat on the top deck so that we could enjoy the breeze.  However, each stop was rather long, and everytime we stopped we absolutely were baking.

Part way through, to get out of the sun, we went down to the lower level thinking it would be cooler there from the air conditioning and we wouldn’t continue to bake.  We soon found out that there was no air conditioning downstairs and it was even hotter.

I feel like even my sweat is sweating.

When we reached the Termini Station stop, there was a 15 minute turnaround before the next bus was scheduled to leave, so Lisa quickly went over to the souvenir vendor and bought whatever hat they had to sell.  She ended up with a cowboy hat that said “Ronaldinho” on it.

pineapple_smWe now went back upstairs and rode the bus till we reached our beginning stop, near Piazza Navona.  It was lunch time so we decided to go have lunch near Campo De Fiori so that we could familiarize ourselves with the area that JeanE and Kathie were going to stay when they arrived, as well as scout out their apartment location so that we knew where we were going to meet them later that evening.

We ate at this little resteraunt where the owner/waiter kept teasing Lisa because she would have one bite of each item she ordered.  Our meal was finished with a pineapple cut in half-one half for each of us.  It was very juicy.

We started to walk back to our place, but stopped by the internet cafe so that we could look for soccer tickets.  Its a pipe dream, but one worth exploring.  Not often in life will I find myself in the european city where a “super bowl” is going on between 2 of the best teams in the world, with 2 of the best players in the world.  Both Barcelona and Manchester United had won their respective leagues this season, and with Messi and Ronaldo playing, it was sure to be an entertaining game.

We emailed a few different sellers and would check back later.  It was a few hours now till we were to meet up with my parents.  So we decided it was time to hit the Thai Massage again.

After yesterday’s massage, we had the clever idea that we could utilize the massage for a clean refreshing shower.  Our shower and bathroom at our place is rather disgusting and a massage followed by a private shower seemed like the perfect recipe for comfort in this hot and mucky town.  So we first went back to our apartment and grabbed a change of clothing and toiletries, and then walked back to the massage place.

They were much more crowded today, but were able to fit us in.  Lisa opted for the foot massage today, and I went with the oil massage, since I knew that one automatically came with a shower.  Lisa was given the sweet cotton outfit that I described yesterday, and I was given, um, this strange cotton/plastic underwear thing.

thaiunderwear2_smIt was tiny and there was a bigger side and a smaller side.  I wasn’t sure which side to put in the front.  The smaller side didn’t really cover much, so I went big in the front, which left it tiny and crammed in the back.  It was a nice massage, but I think if I do it again, I will go back to the traditional thai massage.  The traditional felt much more beneficial to my body with muscles being stretched and kinks worked out.  The oil massage felt too meager.  However, the nice comfortable hot shower afterwards felt fantastic.

Our massage ran a little long, and we were 30 minutes late in meeting my parents.  We had setup a meeting time at 6 at their apartment, and that if they were not there by 7 we’d meet them at Piazza Navona at 8.  We were thirty minutes late now so I wondered if they would still be there waiting, or would have moved on to the backup meeting point.

We got there, and my dad was waiting, for 30 minutes, outside their place for us.  Their place was really nice, especially considering that we booked this only a few days earlier.

fountainfishes_smWe grabbed their bags, and took the 4 of them back to our apartment to show them, and drop off the bags.  We then went into Piazza Navona and found a resteraunt there and enjoyed a nice meal and some wine together.  It was a great and fun reunion.

We meandered around the square for what seemed like hours, looking at Bernini’s great fountain, and all of the artists selling their stuff and doing chariactures of people.  We walked Kathie and JeanE back home, and then made our own way to bed, not without one more shower to wash all the sweat off.

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This Week I'm Thinking About: Kari Embree