A Travellerspoint blog

September 2019

O Solo A Roma - Day 8 - The Last Day - Arrivederci Roma


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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The colors of Rome are starting to fade behind me.

The vacation alone in Rome had been a wonderful experience. Although I missed Mark's company and regretted him not being there I will always be grateful he insisted I go. The lost maps, the evasive piazza's, the con artist, and my friend Aldo who owned the restaurant are all apart of the experience that was slowly fading into the past on my last day in Rome. But I still had big plans for the last day. I saved The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum for my last day. And it was the perfect way to finish the adventure.

From my research and also from friends who have visited Rome, I was told it would be difficult to get tickets to see The Sistine Chapel. I was told there were long lines and crowds. I was advised to book in advance before arriving in Rome. So I booked a tour through Viator for a tour of the Vatican Museum. And I was dreading it. I hate guided tours where you are lead around like a large group of lemmings behind a disinterested guide rattling on and on about every little nook and cranny sharing the most boring minute details. I would much rather just tour the museum on my own and read the signs and descriptions on the items that catch my interest. My tour that I booked in advance promised me I could "skip the lines" and avoid the crowds. Of course those tours are their own little mini crowds so I really don't know what you are skipping. I paid $35 over the internet for my reservation. I was booked for late afternoon. My last day in Rome was going to be spent with the thing I dislike most about traveling. Group tours.

I got up that morning and decided to walk down to the Vatican Museum entrance to see where I was supposed to meet my guide later that day. I didn't want to arrive and go to the wrong place and miss my tour. The web page where I booked the tour warned if you are late you will be left behind. It was only a couple of blocks from my hotel so it would not take me long. When I arrived there was no line at the entrance. The ticket office was open. There were people there buying tickets and going directly inside the museum. The entrance price was $17. Guess what? I decided to not worry about the losing the $35 reservation fee I had paid in advance. I just walked up to the ticketing area, not having to "skip any lines", bought my ticket, and was on my way to a morning tour of the museum and then my chance to see the Sistine Chapel. It was somewhat crowded inside and there were many tour groups who chose to skip the nonexistent lines. I passed by most of them as their guides droned on and on and then some self important person would take time to ask asinine questions. Oh I was glad I was not with them.

Everything inside the museum was beautiful. Even the stair case was a work of art.

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And by the stair case, for those of us who were not in a group following a droning guide to warn us, there was a sign letting us know not to fall on the stairs. How convenient.

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Could have been me....the guided tours.

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I passed the slow moving guided tours and continued my journey. The walls, the ceilings, every part of the museum was beautiful and a piece of art in itself.

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And then finally I arrived. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. I had been wanting to see this ever since taking an 8th grade art class trip to see Charlton Heston paint the ceiling in the movie The Agony and The Ecstasy. I even wrote an entire blog about the experience of seeing the ceiling three years ago right after I got home.

Mark, who I wished was there, had told me he was not overwhelmed with the Sistine Chapel when he saw it was a teenager after his high school graduation. He warned me that it was just a crowded box shaped room with Michelangelo's God touching Man way up over head. As I entered the crowded box shaped chapel I was wondering what my experience would be. It was crowded. People were pushing to get inside. And I was only allowed a short time to take in the experience as the guards tried to keep the crowd moving.

And there it was. I was directly under it in the middle of the chapel and it was breath taking. All I wanted was one quick photograph, without flash of course. There were signs saying no photographs. But people all around me were sneaking out their cell phones and small camera's to get a quick photo. And I was not leaving without taking one also. I cautiously took my camera out of the camera bag. I lifted the camera just over my head for the photo and someone taps me on my shoulder. It was a security guard and he said no photos. I looked around and many others taking photos were being ignored. So I waited and when he turned his back I took the photo. And of course he caught me. He tapped me again and said firmly. Put the camera away...NOW.

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Just behind me was Michelangelo's final judgement and I really wanted a photo of that also. I snapped it quickly and then saw the guard looking at me from across the room. I showed him from a distance I was putting my camera away and then quickly made my exit.

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I don't know what I would have done if I had gotten into serious trouble with the guard. How would I explain long distance to Mark that I had been thrown out of the Vatican Museum because I didn't take my guided tour and I needed extra cash for a fine. Luckily that did not happen.

Leaving the museum the view of St. Peter's was beautiful and much different from observing it from front in St. Peter's Square.

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I left The Vatican and the crowds and the guards behind and had to chuckle to myself because I do tend to get into trouble when I am alone. It was extremely hot on this day and I need to take a break and cool down. There was a really nice little cafe just across the street from the museum entrance. I stopped in for something to cool to drink and then noticed they had watermelon on the menu. What a perfect way to relax and cool off and also take a silly selfie.

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So there I am with a quartered slice of watermelon, a mirror behind me, and my cell phone. I probably should have used that cell phone in the Sistine Chapel. I probably would not have been noticed at all.

I went back to my hotel to shower and get a change of clothes as it had been very hot and I was a bit sweaty. I put away my little white hat I had bought to wear in Rome and broke out my Baltimore Oriole's baseball cap. I was slowly preparing to return home. I went to lunch in the neighborhood and to my surprise I found a craft beer. I had not seen any craft beers the entire time I had been in Rome. So I was excited to get something other than a Peroni.

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My last lunch in Rome was a bit melancholy. I still had a dinner coming up later in the evening but something about lunch set me back a little. I started thinking about how much Mark and I had looked forward to this trip. And I felt awful that his father was ill and also that Mark had to stay home. I looked over at the empty chair sitting in front of me and took a photo. This was Mark's chair. And I ordered him a glass of wine and sent him a silent toast and a thanks.

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And then suddenly this typical tourist couple walked past me. I am sure they were part of one of the "skip the line" tour from the Sistine Chapel. And I just got the sillies. I had to giggle. So much for sentiment. Here is what I saw as they passed by me.

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I sure hope Jack didn't lose her.

I went out that evening for my last meal in Rome. I stayed in the neighborhood. I found a delightful little pizzeria named La Tavernella.

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One more glass of wine...

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...One more plate of pasta...

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...And one more Italian waiter.

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And the vacation was over. Arrivederici Roma!

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Posted by littlesam1 21:53 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome michelangelo the_vatican the_vatican_museum Comments (4)

O Solo A Roma Day 7 Hunting for elephants centaurs & giants


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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A Busy Day For Swollen Feet

I planned day seven to be an easy but exhausting day. I knew I would be walking a lot the entire day. But I would not be frustrated with maps or hidden piazza's. I was returning to some familiar places I had already visited and wanted more time to explore them closer. I was off to the notorious Piazza Navona which had hidden from me taking me two days to locate the at the beginning of my time in Rome. This would be my last chance to return to the piazza and take some photos I had missed on my previous visit. I had gone through my photos from my earlier visit and was dissatisfied with some of them. I had some other angles and close ups I wanted to try on the fountains in the square. I was still on a Bernini overload and just wanted more. Also after my first visit I had read a lot more on Google and in my guide book about the church Sant'Agnese in Agone and wanted to go back to try and understand more of what I had seen on the first visit.

Fontana dei Quattro

I felt like my original photos of the Bernini's fountain did not do it justice. I wanted to get some photos that were close up and wanted to examine the figures more in detail. Getting close to the fountain I could feel the movement Bernini created in this work. And once more I was transported. I was glad to be alone this day as I knew my slow examination and time I spent here would have driven someone else crazy. I just felt compelled to study this more and feel the experience.

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I also wanted a good close up of Fontana del Moro from the piazza with the Basilica behind it. There was on photo in my guide book of the fountains with the church in the back ground that I wanted to recreate and I was able to do that.

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Basilica of Saint Agnes in Agon

On my previous days visit to Saint Agnes in Agone I was hesitant to take photos because there were signs posted about not using cameras. So I tried to take a few quickly with my phone. When I returned this time I noticed almost everyone was taking photos and no one was asking them to stop so I also took quite a few photos with my camera and was much happier than I was with those from the previous day. The church is truly amazing inside.

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The masterpiece inside of the Basilica is the sculpture Saint Agnes in Agone

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I was fascinated with this work and was very glad I had the chance to go back and take some photos of it. I was fascinated with the story of Saint Agnes. Saint Agnes was a twelve or thirteen year old early Christian martyr whose beauty was her undoing. According to the legend she had many suitors of high Roman rank. She refused their attention by her resolute devotion to religious purity. In revenge her name was submitted to the Roman government as a follower of Christianity. Her body was dragged through the streets to a brothel naked where she was to be raped. The legend goes on to say her hair grew to cover her nakedness and all of the young men who tried to rape her were turned blind. The son of the one of the men e who condemned her was struck dead by was revived by her prayers. She was tried and condemned to be burned at the stake. However the flames parted away from her and the wood would not burn. So the officer in charge drew his sword and beheaded her. The more I learn about the saints the more fascinated I become with their stories and the more the sculptures and paintings of them intrigue me.

On my previous days visit I was in a bit of a hurry as I had other plans for the day and more things I wanted to see. So I missed seeing the Shrine of Saint Agnes. To my shock and surprise there in the shrine is what is said to be her skull. I completely missed all of this on that first visit. Seeing it brought a realness to the legend for me.

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I left Piazza Navona for the last time of this trip and walked down the side street towards Piazza della Rotunda and The Pantheon. I was getting good at navigating these side streets....I thought.

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Searching for Piazza della Minerva.

After my time in Piazza Navona I wanted to go find Piazza della Minerva. There was an unusual Bernini work I wanted to see in that square in front of Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. . From my guide book and also the hotel's tourist map I knew it was located directly behind The Pantheon. And I knew how to find The Pantheon so I did not think I would have any problem finding Piazza della Minerva. Wrong! For some I was unable to find the side street to take me to Piazza della Minerva. I knew I was right there according to the map, but I just could not get my sense of direction correct and find the piazza.

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In my frustration I decided to take a break. And where better than to take a break than in Piazza Della Rotunda in front of The Pantheon.

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I took a break for lunch in the Piazza in front of the Pantheon. It was hot and I was thirsty. So the break did me well before I went back to search for another lost piazza.

Some water...

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Add some pizza and a beer...

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And a good view...

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Now I was ready once more to search for Piazza della Minerva.

I did find it. And I don't know how I missed it. It was exactly where the map and the guide book said it would be. Directly behind The Pantheon. I guess I was too distracted by odd things like Pope lollipop stores

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Piazza della Minerva

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You can easily see the round roof on top of The Pantheon in the back ground from Piazza della Minerva in the photo, I don't know how I missed finding the square. But then remember it took me two days to find Piazza Navona so it's not surprising.

This short column is the main reason I wanted to find Piazza Navona. It's not tall. It's not screaming for your attention. At first appearance from a distance it's very unassuming. But it is another great work by Bernini. The Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and the Piazza were all but deserted. However the Basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is one of the more fascinating churches I have toured. Starting with the Bernini Elephant column in the front and then all of the Bernini art work inside made it a treasure trove for me. There was also a Michelangelo work inside the church. I was surprised that there was not a crowd visiting this church. It's not really mentioned in many guide books. When you mention visiting Rome no one usually asks if you visited Piazza della Minerva. Yet in my opinion there should be as many tourist here as there are at the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain.

In front of the church is one of the most curious and unusual monuments in Rome. It is an elephant statue designed by Bernini.

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The elephant is the supporting base for an Egyptian obelisk. It is the shortest of eleven obelisks found in Rome. The inscription that was chosen by the Pope Alexander VII who commissioned the elephant sculpture is said to represent that "...a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge." Bernini's inspiration for the elephant comes from an unusual 15th century novel by Francesco Colonna. In the novel the main character meets an elephant made of stone carrying an obelisk

As I have mentioned in my other blogs about Bernini in Rome, to me once again, I can see movement in the statue. It's not just an elephant standing with it's trunk in air like so many drawings and other statues.. This elephant's head is turned to look directly at you and his trunk is swinging to his side

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When I returned home within the week I read an article where the elephant sculpture had been damaged by a tourist. Part of the tusk had been damaged. The article said it could be repaired but that Romans were quite upset by the damage. I was very angry also. When I returned to Rome two years later the tusk had been repaired. But I was still angered at the ignorance of people.

Basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

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The church was very beautiful inside and was way beyond my expectations.

The Bernini designed Cardinal Domenico Pimentel tomb in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

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The Bernini detail is evident in this tomb.

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Bernini's Funeral Monument of Giovanni Vigevan

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Bernini's funeral monument for Cardinal Gregoro Naro

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There is also a Michelangelo sculpture inside the chapel. Michelangelo's statue of The Risen Christ stands in the church. The statue was originally nude created in a heroic ancient Greek style. It holds the cross, the sponge and the reed of passion. At a later time a bronze disc halo, modesty cloth and a sandal on the right foot were added. It is believed the sandal was added to protect the foot from being worn away by the touching and kissing of the faithful. Later the sandal and halo were removed. But the modesty cloth has remained in place.

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There are so many items to be viewed in this church that I had a difficult time keeping track of what I was seeing. I found trying to make notes later was a difficult job. There are many chapels all filled with art and sculptures. It was truly overwhelming, in a good way at times, trying to take it all in.

Relic - Funeral Monument of Giovanni Vigevano.

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There are many relics in Rome and scattered all over the world. But each time I see one I have to stop and realize this skull, or this piece of bone, was a living person at one time. I always find it a bit horrific that the bones were ripped and torn and dispersed around the world. But there is also a semblance of sanctity about their display and remembrance.

I could have stood for hours studying the chapel of the Memorial of Cardinal Bonelli. There were many sculptures in the memorial chapel. Some by Bernini and some by other artists. It would have been possible to write an entire blog just on the art inside this memorial.

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I had other art works I wanted to find on this day. I only had one day left in Rome after this and it was on my schedule to see The Sistine Chapel. So I had to reluctantly leave the Basilica Santa Maria della Minerva to allow myself time to visit the Campidoglio Museum. So much art and so little time.

Leaving the church I walked over to a taxi driver who was parked near the church and asked if he could take me to the Capitoline Museums. After all the searching I had done for Piazza della Minerva I did not want to waste any more time getting lost. But he laughed and explained the museums were just around the corner from me. I laughed to myself. I knew that must be very near for him to turn down a fare. But I also knew my sense of direction and wondered if I would walk around in circles looking for but yet missing it. Luckily he was correct and it was just around the corner less then a five minute walk.

Campidoglio Museum

The Campidoglio Museum is the oldest museum in the world. It is the first place where art was opened for public enjoyment. And it was the highlight of an already remarkable day. I spent well over three hours exploring the musuems and all of the beautiful artwork inside them. Even then I had to force myself to leave knowing there was so much more I wanted to see.

The museum contained a magical world of centaurs, and giants, huge equestrian statues, God and Goddesses and yes even some more of Bernini's magic. I used my guide book to make a list of the works I did not want to miss. I made a list and when I got to the museum I mapped out their locations. Of course on my way to find them I found many other amazing surprises also.

Young Centaur, by Aristeas and Papias

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Bernini's Medusa - you could almost see the snakes move.

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Another Centaur. I was beginning to feel like I was walking through a Ray Harryhausen movie on a Saturday afternoon matinee at the movies.

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Equestrian statue of emperor Marco Aurelio

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One of my favorites. The Reclining marble statue of the river god Marforio

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This sculpture of the lion attacking a horse was so realistic I almost wanted to turn my head from it.

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Probably the most moving thing I saw in the museum is the beautiful but sad sculpture of The Dying Gaul or Dying Galatian. The figure represents a Celtic warrior. He lies on his fallen shield with his sword, belt, and curved trumpet lie beside him.

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Boy with Thorn, also called Fedele (Fedelino) or Spinario, This is one of the very few Roman bronzes that was never lost to sight. It was quite amazing to see.

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Much like the museum itself I have too many photos to include in one blog. So I will have to force myself to move on much like I had to do that day in the museum. I think it's fitting to end with copy of Romulus and Remus from the museum.

The End of My Day

After a long day of walking and exploring art I did not want to spend any more time searching for some place to eat dinner. So I returned to my friend Aldo's Taverna Varonne. It is the only place I returned to twice to eat. And for good reason. Aldo had been such a gracious host the previous night I only felt it polite to return his kindness and dine there again.

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And just in case you are wondering, yes he did insist I have grappa again on this evening. And once again he did not add it to my check. Grazie Aldo!

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Posted by littlesam1 07:04 Tagged basilica museum moro dei minerva fontana_ _quattro del_ piazza_ della_ _of_santa _maria_ sopra _minerva campidoglio_ Comments (8)

O Solo Roma - Day 6 - Hunting for the Ecstasy of St. Teresa


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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It was day six in Rome. I had read my guide book the previous evening and found something that fascinated me. So my big plan for the day was to find Santa Maria della Vittoria and see Bernini’s sculpture Ecstasy of St. Teresa. If you have been following my blogs on my trip to Rome you have probably found humor in all of my problems with the maps I had been using. I finally gave up on the ones I had been using and decided to grab one of the tourist maps in my hotels lobby. I needed to find Largo Santa Susanna where Santa Maria della Vittoria was located. The hotels tourist map had the church marked clearly so it should be easy to find.

Domienicoo Fontana's "Fountain of Moses"

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Fountain of Moses

When I arrived to Largo Santa Susanna the first thing I noticed was a very large fountain and sculpture. It had not been mentioned in my guide book so it was a pleasant surprise to see it. From the signs I could read I found this was Domenico Fontana’s “Fountain of Moses” on Via Orlando just across the street from the church I was wanting to visit. The Fountain of Moses was built in 1587-1588 by Domenico Fontana and it has quite an interesting history and mythology surrounding it.

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Although the story is probably exaggerated it is however certain that the statue was ridiculed; the locals even called it 'Il Mosè ridicolo' - the ridiculous Moses. But historians now know that Antichi did not create the statue on his own, most of the work was likely done by Leonardo Sormani, who also finished the statue. But I hate to dispute a good story. So I am sticking with the mockery and suicide story. The statue is a bit overwhelming and domineering of the intersection. And Moses does look threatening.

Santa Maria della Vittoria

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I then walked across the street to see Santa Maria della Vittoria and the Bernini masterpiece The Ecstasy of St. Teresa. The church is not over ornate on the outside. I could have walked right past it with little interest never knowing the master piece that was located inside if I had not read about it in the guide book

Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa

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The sculpture amazed me. I was honestly left motionless staring at it for the longest time. Bernini's works are all amazing. And as I mentioned in some of my early blogs I was on a mission to take in as much Bernini as possible on this vacation. But I was not prepared for the effect this masterpiece had on me. Like all Bernini's work there is great fluid and motion to the sculpture. His works are never static. They flow and move. The statues in this piece depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of a seraph piercing her heart with a golden shaft, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture leave classical restraint and repose behind to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance. You can see and almost feel her ecstasy looking at the sculpture.

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I had a terrible time taking good photos of the sculpture. It was placed over head with bright lights surrounding it. Most of my photos turned out blurry and a bit out of focus. I had to work some major photoshopping to make a few them worthy of the exhibit.

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Another beautiful sculpture in the church was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Giving the Scapular to St. Simon. Although it pales in comparison to the Bernini it still is quite interesting to see. Not being Roman Catholic I had to do some research about the meaning of this sculpture and also to find out what a scapular is Pious tradition maintains that both the rosary and the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel were given by the Virgin Mary to saints Dominic and Simon. This particular statue represents the ones given to St. Simon. I was excited to text home to Mark later in the day to let him know all of the Roman Catholic history I was learning on this day.

Piazza della Repubblica

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I left Santa Maria della Vittoria and walked to Piazza della Repubblica. I was on my way to Santa Maria Maggiore. I stopped in a small cafe in the piazza to take a break and have something cool to drink as the day was very warm. It was a very beautiful location to take a break. There were fountains, churches and to my surprise all of the chairs at the café had Budweiser written on the back.

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Really Rome? Really? Budweiser chairs? How disappointing.

The Fountain of the Niaids

In the piazza is a very unusual fountain that I found very interesting. There is a bit of eroticism to the fountain .In the center is a group of sculptures called the group of the Glauco, sculpted by Rutelli in 1912, depicting the fisherman Glauco fighting a fish, symbolizing the dominion of mankind over natural forces. A tall central spray is shot upward from this sculpture. But the real highlight of this fountain are the four Naiads (nymphs) evenly spaced at the edge of the fountain, each with a jet of water spraying from the center toward them.

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The four figures of the Naiad's were to represent the four water nymphs. The Naiad of the the Oceans, the Naiad of the Rivers, the Naiad of the Lakes, and the Naiad of the Underground Waters, each with an allergorical animal that represented their environment. But nobody imaged quite what the artist had conceived and the population was shocked when the statues were finally unveiled in 1901: four completely naked young female figures whose bodies, soaked by water that gushed from a large nozzle at the back, glittered in the sun in a very erotic manner. It is said the young men in turn of the century Rome like the statues a lot. I did also. But conservative factions of the city rose up and battled to have removed in the name of morality and decency. It didn't work. The statues still remain thank goodness.

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The Four Naiads

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Rutelli's Glauco fighting a fish at the center of the fountain

Although the fountain was not mentioned in my guide, and criticized and almost censored at the turn of century, it was what a delightful to find while resting before heading to my the next church of my day.

Santa Maria della Maggiore

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I followed the convenient map my hotel provided to find my way from Piazza della Repubblica to Santa Maria della Maggiore. There were several small side streets I had to follow and I could only have found it with my map.

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When I arrived to the church there was a lot of security. There is security all over Rome particularly at the famous tourist sites, but this was more security than I had seen any where other than the Vatican.

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I had to walk through a scanner and run my bags through a security scanner also. I placed my map on the belt with my bags but when I retrieved my bags I did not pick up my map. I went inside to view the church and sat down on a pew for moment to look at my map to find my way back. That’s when I realized I had lost the map in security. I was not sure what to do. I knew I would have a very difficult time finding my way back without the map. But I also knew the very serious security guards would be in no mood to hear my story about the lost map. So I went to a gift shop in the church and they did have maps for sale and I bought one. It was not expensive. When I opened it up back in the street outside of the church it was a full map of Rome and not just a convenient map of the tourist locations. It was difficult to read and follow the map and I was a little aggravated with myself for losing the smaller easier map. I walked across the street from the church and found another souvenir stand. They did have small tourist friendly maps for sale here. So I ended up losing my free map and then buying two other maps. The map was really excellent and I used it for the rest of my time in Rome. At the time of my visit I did not realize the church had been the target of a possible terrorist attack in Dec. 2015. That explained the tight security outside of the church. So for all practical reasons I can say my losing my map was due to an act of terrorism.

When I returned home the map was an excellent aid in helping me identify my photos and to map out in writing my daily journeys. I kept the map and used it again when Mark and I returned to Rome together two years later. Guess what? We lost it our second day there!

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Marion Column in front of Santa Maria Maggiore standing in Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore.

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This church had many unusual things about that caught my attention and interested me both inside and outside of the church.

There were several stern and serious looking sculptures on the outside wall of the church. I tried to find some information on them but did not any specific information about them.

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Inside the church is the Crypt of the Nativity. It is one of the more unusual things that I saw in the churches in Rome. There is a very large statue of Pope Pius in front of a golden statue of the infant Jesus that looked very unusual to me. As I have said before I am not Roman Catholic so I did not want to make jokes about the image. But Mark is a devout Catholic and he did find some humor in the image. When I sent a photo home to Mark later that evening he said it looked like disco Jesus. But my research told me later it had a greater significance than I had realized.

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The statue of St. Pius is one of the first things to be noticed inside the church and it was very large immediately capturing my attention.

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This is the image of the Christ child that I found so unusual. This area is part of what is called the Bethlehem crypt.

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Although Mark and I made a bit of irreverent joke about this particular statu,e to our embarrassment, I read later it has a very important significance. Under the high altar of the basilica is the Crypt of the Nativity or Bethlehem Crypt, with a crystal reliquary designed by Giuseppe Valadier said to contain wood from the Holy Crib of the nativity of the infant Jesus. This is known as the Bethlehem crypt or The Crypt of the Nativity.

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The Basilica was very beautiful inside and I took many photos.

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Leaving the church and headed back towards my hotel I was very glad to have bought a new map. There were many side streets, intersections, and small paths to follow getting back. I would have been completely lost with a map.

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The end of my day and making a new friend.

When I finished my walking tour for the day I took a taxi once again from Piazza Vittorio to Piazza del Popolo. It had been a long day walking in the heat of summer in Rome.

Arriving back to Piazza del Popolo I started the walk back to my hotel. I took a photo of two men sitting on a wall near Piazza della Liberta. I have taken similar photos in other cities. It seems to be a theme I enjoy. It's usually a person or a couple with their backs to be sitting on a bridge or riverside. For some reason seeing thsee two men sitting on the wall made me realize how grateful I was to Mark for this trip to Rome and how much he should have been on this vacation also. It's one of my favorite photos from the trip. It's not a church or cathedral. It just captured a moment and an emotion.

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I had a late lunch at a small place with a beautiful wall of wine near my hotel.

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I went back to the hotel to rest a little, take a shower and recoup before going out for dinner. Afterwards I walked down towards the Vatican and saw an interesting little pizzeria. There was outside seating and some steps leading downstairs to the actual restaurant which was in the basement of the building. The owner of the place was named Aldo and he was very friendly. I ordered a Peroni and it came in a very large mug with complimentary bread sticks.

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Then came the pizza. It was delicious.

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I ordered a second Peroni and decided that would be enough as it was late and dark and I was walking alone. I talked with Aldo, the owner a little more. We talked about Rome and where I was from. I brought up the topic of grappa in our conversation. We talked about good grappa and bad grappa. Good grappa is smooth and never burns your throat. Bad grappa on the other hand can burn all the way down. He asked me if I wanted a grappa before leaving. I love grappa but I said "No thank you. I think I have already had enough for tonight." He said but you must have a grappa and laughed. I asked him what kind of grappa. Was it the kind that burned all the way down? He laughed and said "No I have good grappa." So I took his advice and had the grappa.

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It was delicious and had no burn at all. I said to him that it was very good and it did not burn. He said" I told you it was good grappa" and then filled my glass again. Oh boy! I would have to be very careful walking back.

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Aldo's was a wonderful find for me. The evening could not have been better. Great food, free grappa and a new friend..

On my way back to the room it was still early. I knew I would be awake for a while so I stopped at the little grocery store by my hotel and bought some snacks and a bottle of Poretti. Then it was time to relax, check out my guide for tomorrows adventures, and text Mark to tell him all about my day.

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Posted by littlesam1 07:30 Archived in Italy Tagged food sculptures fountains italy rome pizza grappa bernini ecstacy_of_st._teresa santa_maria_maggiore piazza_della_republica naiads Comments (5)

The Beer Trail - Hunting for local Mid Atlantic Breweries


View BHAM - Bar Hopping Across America & The Summer 2019 Brewery Tour on littlesam1's travel map.

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Beer glasses from 15 Breweries I visited during summer 2019

Mark and I are travelers. Anyone who knows us has been told at least one travel story from our many adventures. When we bump into friends at the end of summer one of the first questions we are asked is "Where did you go this summer?" Our answer this year is a bit different. We did not really go away any place this summer. Instead we spent the summer taking road trips each weekend. We sat down either on Friday night or Saturday morning and googled " local breweries". Then we made a decision and hit the road in search of that brewery. Our road trips this summer took us through four states and fifteen breweries. This will not be my usual travel blog. I am going to list all of the breweries we visited this summer and give them my own personal rating on a level from one to five. I fully support the small local brewery industry. And I did not have any real bad experiences at any of the breweries I visited. But I did have some I enjoyed more than others. But there are none I would I really not recommend visiting. Even my lowest rated are so far above the big mass produced beers nationwide that there is really no comparison in my opinion. My ratins are based on the beer of course. I also factored in my thoughts on the tap room itself. Was there food or a food truck. Did the servers add to my experience. I included the appearance of the tap room. And even factored in the design of the beer glasses I purchased.

Dogfish Head Brewery - Milton, Delaware

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Dogfish Head Brewery - Off centered beers for off centered people - Milton, Delaware

The first brewery I visited this summer was Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. My daughter Katie was on a quick vacation before starting a new job. She had no plans to go away for a vacation. She asked me if I would like to do a day trip with her. I suggested visiting Dogfish Head Brewery. We would be able to take a tour of the brewery and then also also have time to go to the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware for the afternoon. We had a wonderful experience at Dogfish Head. This was the largest brewery I visited this summer. It is not your typical small local brewery. It's almost too large to fairly compare it to the smaller breweries. We had a great time touring the brewery.

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Katie and I having fun touring Dogfish Head Brewery

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Dogfish Head is a very large independent brewery

Dogfish head is a very large and successful independent brewery. And they make some of my favorite beers. They have a very good food menu which not all local breweries have. Katie and I had a good lunch and a we each had a flight of four beer samples in the tap room.

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My favorite in my flight was their new beer for the season SuperEIGHT fruited sour gose. Although all four beers were excellent. I bought my first souvenir glass of the summer in their gift shop. Their beer glass is a local classic here in the Delaware/Maryland area. So I have to give Dogfish Head major points for this. Also in Dogfish Heads favor is the fact that I won a raffle the week before our visit at my local pub. Dogfish Head was visiting for a tap take over that night and I won a portable phonograph player with a Dogfish Head design. Their facility is large with ample parking. The tour was very extensive and educational.

My rating for Dogfish Head Brewery - 5 out of 5 Pints.

Diamondback Brewing Company - Baltimore, Mary;and

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My next brewery of the summer came on Fathers Day weekend in June. My daughter Katie took Mark and I out for lunch on Father's Day. After lunch I suggested going to a local brewery. We had such a good time at Dogfish Head so I started reading a lot about local breweries. Just off the top of my head at lunch I suggested that we might want to go visit Diamondback Brewery in Baltimore after lunch and sample their beers. So off we were to our next brewery. We had no plan at this time to spend the rest of the summer visiting breweries. But we enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to locate and visit more.

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I had two beers at Diamondback Brewery. I had their Ostend Sudays Blonde Ale and their Green Machine IPA. I have an app on my cell phone called Untapped. It allows you to list and rate beers that you drink. I rated both of these beers very high on my Untapped phone app. We had already eaten lunch so we did not sample any food at the brewery. They do have a limited supply of pizza and snacks at Diamondback. And they were all out of food when we arrived late on Sunday afternoon. I did really like their colorful Greenfest beer glass they served their Green Machine IPA in. I purchased one for my now budding beer glass collection. The brewery and tap room are small but very welcoming. There was a large outside patio with lots of seating. The servers were very friendly and inviting.

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Katie, Mark and I at the brewery

My rating for Diamondback Brewery is 4 out of 5 pints.

Union Craft Brewing - Baltimore, Maryland

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We continued our summer brewery tour on June 2, 2019. But we didn't have to drive very far. We went to Union Craft Brewing on 41st Street in Baltimore. I was familiar with Union Craft Brewing because I frequently drink their Union Duck Pin IPA. The brewery uses icons of Baltimore for inspiration in the beer names. I had a Divine IPA. It was labeled as perversely hoppy and free spirited on their menu and that description was correct. They also had a unique and fun glass to serve the beer. I bought one for a souvenir.

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I also reied their Rough Drafts Ginger Sour Ale served with a habanero pepper sauce shot. The combination sounded scary but fascinating. As I was first sipping the beer a lady from behind the counter asked me what I thought of it. I said I was surprised at how much I liked it. She smiled real big and said thank you. I created that beer.

Not all of the tap rooms we visited this summer had full kitchens and food available. So Union get points for a very delicious pizza and good sandwiches.

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The tap room is very large and there is a huge patio outside for summer drinking hours. This is a local brewery I plan to visit again.

The staff was very friendly and made us feel like regulars even if it was our first visit. I guess you can see I will be rating this one very high.

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My rating for Union Craft Brewing is 4.75 out of 5 pints.

Waverly Brewing Company - Baltimore, Maryland

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We started out the first weekend in July with a trip to Waverly Brewing Company. Once again this is Baltimore brewery. We had visited the tap room previously for a birthday party for one of Mark's cousins two years ago. It's a small brewery in an old warehouse area on the banks of the Jones Falls River. The building sits just beneath a bridge on the Jones Fall's Expressway. The inside is interesting. Part of the drinking area almost looks like the set for a TV sitcom where characters meet to laugh and tell stories.

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had a Mango'at fruited sour beer at Waverly Brewing. It was a good choice. I rated it a four on my Untapped phone beer app. The atmosphere was fun. From the sitcom set seating area to finding minature babies all over the bar we had a good time. There had been a baby shower the previous day and they left tiny plastic babies behind after their clean up.

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Hey! There's a baby on my beer glass. Que the sitcom audience laughter.

There is no kitchen at Waverly Brewery. But they do have a rotation of food trucks on the weekend. We did not eat here as we had lunch plans later in the day.

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Larry having a Mango'at Sour beer.

I liked the souvenir beer glass. It was colorful and not just with a black or white logo. The beer was good. And the tiny babie's made me laugh. Parking can be a problem if they are busy. All in all a fun afternoon.

My rating for Waverly Brewing - 4 out of 5 pints

The second weekend in July we were off to the country where we found two breweries in the hills of northern Harford County, Maryland.

Slate Farm Brewery - Street, Maryland

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We took about a forty five minute drive from our house in Baltimore County to the Street, Maryland in Harford County to find Slate Farm Brewing. This is a new brewery that just opened this past year. I was unsure what to expect. I knew it was on a farm. I knew it was in the country. And I knew they had live entertainment. We found the brewery to be very nice. Wide open windows overlooking the farm. A large outside patio area. And the beer was excellent. It was way above our expectation. All of ingredients in the beer were grown fresh on the farm.

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Patio and recreation area at Slate Farm Brewery - Pets are welcome on the patio area

The live entertainment was a very big surprise. It was a blue grass band from North Carolina. The group was very eclectic. It was three men and two women. One of the women was dressed in middle eastern clothing, the others were dressed in typical blue grass band type clothing. She was playing the bass fiddle. The groups harmony was spot on. We requested one particular song and they took time to find the music on line to play it for us.

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Blue grass band playing at Slate Farm Brewery

The beer was excellent. The freshness of the ingredients had to have added to the flavor. I had a Quarry IPA and afterwards a Strawberry Blonde Ale. There was just something special about meeting the brewers, seeing the ingredients being grown out on the farm, and tasting the freshness in the glass.

They also had a very good permanent food truck attached to the brewery. Mark had tacos and I had an excellent bacon cheeseburger.

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My burger and the Strawberry Cream Ale

Great experience. Excellent beer. Beautiful farm location. Fun entertainment. Good food. This was a perfect afternoon. We will be returning.

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My rating for Slate Farm Brewing is a big 5 out of 5 pints.

Falling Branch Brewery - Street, Maryland

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Just around the corner in the same area of Harford County we found Falling Branch Brewery. Unfortunately for this brewery it followed an excellent experience at Slate Farm Brewing. It would be all but impossible to top or even equal that experience. Falling Branch is also on a local farm. It's a bit larger than the farm at Slate Farm Brewing.

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There is no kitchen or permanent food truck at Falling Branch Brewery. They do have a rotating schedule of food trucks. The band that was playing outside was very loud and made it difficult to hear inside the barn where we were seating. Had we not visited Slate Farm Brewing first we might have enjoyed the experience here much more. I have to rate this brewery lower just due to the comparison of the two. But as I said in my introduction to this blog I support all small independent brewers. And compared to the watered down tasteless beer you get from the big mass produced national breweries this brewery was far better than any of those. I had one IPA because I had already had two beers previously. The beer was good but not memorable. The beer glass souvenir was not memorable either. Their name was not even on the glass.

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My rating for Falling Branch Brewery is 2 out of 5 pints

Victory Brewing Company - Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

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The first weekend in August we drove north into Pennsylvania to the town of Kennett Square to go to Victory Brewing. I have been a fan of Victory Brewing for several years. Their Summer Love beer is one of my favorite summer beers. So I was looking forward to going to their tap room near Philadelphia.

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Victory Brewing is located in a large industrial building in a shopping area in Kennett Square. The space is large. There is a parking lot so parking is no issue. They have a full menu which a lot of smaller breweries do not have. And they have a huge selection of beer on tap.

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As I mentioned above I an a fan of their Summer Love seasonal beer so I did not try it on our visit. I wanted to try something I had not tasted before. So I chose a pilsner and also a strawberry cream ale. It would be interesting to see how their strawberry infused cream ale compared to the one I had the previous weekend at Slate Farm Brewery.

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I had no complaints on the beer. Both were very good. So on to the food. They do have a full menu and full kitchen. The place is more like a restaurant than just a tap room.

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.The bacon cheeseburger I ordered was made to perfection. And the french fries were fresh cut potatoes not a frozen restaurant variety from a plastic bag. The servers were very friendly and glad to talk beer with us which always is nice in a brewery. This does not always happen but should.

It was a great day. We enjoyed the ride in the country to get there. We spent some time shopping in Kennett Square and also in West Chester, Pennsylvania. And we completely appreciated the experience at the tap room. We liked it so much that we returned two weeks later. We went to tour Long Wood Gardens in Kennett Square and stopped back at the brewery for another good meal and beer that day. They also get points for a colorful souvenir beer glass.

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There is a smile on my face so you know this is going to be a good rating.

My rating for Victory Brewing Tap Room is 4 out of 5 pints

Lancaster Brewing Company - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Two weeks later we once again ventured up into Pennsylvania to go to Lancaster Brewing Company. I had family that lived in the Lancaster area so it was like old home week driving back up into the Amish Country of Pennsylvania. I had several aunts and uncle who lived in the Lancaster area while I was growing up and I spent many weekends in this area.

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Lancaster Brewing Company is on a side street in down town Lancaster. And it was very busy the day we visited. The seating area is on a level above and around the actual brewing floor so you get the feel of being in the brewery when you are there. They have a full menu and kitchen which made us happy. After our drive we were hungry.

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This was the view from our table where we sat.

For my first beer I order a a Hefeweizen. Mark always laughs at my Hefeweizen's. He calls them the Lemon Pledge beers because of their citrus aroma. But I really like a good Hefeweizen. And the one at Lancaster Brewing was excellent. It had the required banana/clove after taste and was very light. Perfect. I also ordered their crispy chicken sandwich for my lunch. It was a perfect compliment to the Hefeweizen. Fried chicken, cheeses, pickles, and mayo served with chip. I am always won over by a good crispy chicken sandwich.

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After eating we decided to order a flight of beers to share. They had a large selection of beers to try and we were so happy with our first choices we wanted more. Also we were glad to see they serve a full six glass flight where most breweries only serve you a flight of four.

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On our flight we had a Milk Stout, Strawberry Wheat Ale, Double chocolate milk stout. I did not get the list of the other three written down. But we enjoyed each one and did not find an unpleasant one in the entire flight.

Our server could not have been nicer. He was very busy still took time to explain each of the beers to us. The food was good. I liked the souvenir beer glass I purchased. This was really a very nice experience. We would gladly return here again.

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My rating for Lancaster Brewing Company is 4 out of 5 pints

Black Walnut Brewery - Leesburg, Virginia

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We had a busy weekend. We went to Lancaster Brewing in Pennsylvania on Saturday and then we headed south into Virginia on Sunday. We took a drive down to Leesburg, Virginia in search of our next brewery. I had never been to Leesburg before so it was fun driving some place new to discover beer. We went to the Black Walnut Brewery. There are several breweries in the Leesburg area. We saw several in our Google search before leaving that morning but for some reason Black Walnut Brewery caught our attention the quickest so we decided that would be the one. And it was a good choice. It's a relatively new brewery in Leesburg. The owner was in the taproom talking with us and was very friendly. He was surprised we had driven all the way from Baltimore to visit his brewery. They have an outside area this has a roof over it if you would to sit outside. But it was early in the afternoon and it was not opened yet when we arrived. The tap room is small but it did not have a crowded feel to it. Most of the people there were locals that day.

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The tap room was in an historic building but it had a very modern feel to it inside.

They do have a small kitchen and small menu. But it was not disappointing. The food was very good as were the beers. I ordered pork sliders which came in a very good barbecue sauce. And they paired very well with my Peach Ale. The ale was not sweet at all. It had a nice hop taste to it with just a slight peach after taste. Not at all what I expected but just how the owner described it to me.

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We also ordered a flight. Our first beers were very good so we wanted to sample a few more.

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I'm smiling again so that must mean a good rating.

I give Black Walnut Brewing Company a rating of 4 out of 5 pints.

We took a long time walking through Leesburg taking photos and doing some window shopping before departing back to Maryland. However on our way back we had one more brewery to check out.

Smoketown Brewing Station - Brunswick, Maryland

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We stopped at Smoketown Brewing Station in Brunswick, Maryland on our way home. Brunswick is located on the Potomac River and the tap room was in one of the more interesting buildings we had seen all summer. This brewery was in an old fire station.

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We'd had a long day. It was a long drive to Leesburg. Then we did a lot of walking around in the heat. So when we got to Brunswick we were a little tired and it was going to take a lot to please us. And sadly Smoketown Brewing just did not want to go out of it's way to make us happy. The setting on the Potomac River was pretty. The idea of a tap room in an old fire station was interesting. And the beer was not bad. Yet it was lacking something. There was no table service which was fine but there was no indication or sign saying this to us. Finally a lady cleaning tables told us that we needed to step in the next room and place our order. Mark was still a bit hungry so he ordered some chicken fingers to snack on. And we ordered our beers. I ordered a black IPA named Smokestack. It goes with the fire station theme. Also we were in Patsy Cline country and they had a canned beer named Patsy. This place had so many fun ideas going for it. It really should have been a much better experience.

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The Patsy was a fun name and an ok beer. The Smokestack black IPA was interesting also. But neither were outstanding beers. Then the problems started. We waited for a long time for Marks food and were ready to just ask for our bill and forget the food. We thought they had forgotten it anyway. Then the server suddenly found the food and brought it to our table explaining to us it was burnt and she hoped we didn't mind. Well we did mind.

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So we said goodbye to the interesting themed brewery with the somewhat interesting named beers.

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This is me with a forced smile. Not a good sign for a high rating.

My rating for Smokestack Brewery is a 2 out of 5 pints. Had the food not been burnt I would have given it a 2.5 or maybe a 3 for creativity and an interesting beer glass.

Pig Iron Brewing Company - Marietta, Pennsylvania

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The third weekend in August found us journeying back north to Pennsylvania once more. We seemed to have good luck with breweries in Pennsylvania so we decided to check out one more. We drove to Marietta, Pennsylvania which is a beautiful little town on a hill just above the Susquehanna River.

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This is a rural area. Lancaster to the east is the largest city in the area. So it was nice to see someone starting a brewery in such a small town area. We did not expect anything fancy. We thought it would just be a nice little unassuming brewery. And it was all of these things but something more also. It was warm and welcoming. We were obviously not local people yet we were treated inside like regulars. We immediately felt at home.

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I loved the looks of everything inside. Our bartender could not have been nicer. It was all a little rough but fun. The bartender asked where were from and we said Baltimore. She said that's a long way to come for a beer but I'm glad your here. Some other folks at the bar asked us what brought us up there and we explained we had been hunting down breweries each weekend during the summer. They all were interested in this and asked us where we had been the previous weekend. Then they wanted to know where we were going next weekend. We felt like Travel Channel celebrities.

Now to the important things. Beer. I ordered a Pig Iron IPA. Looking back at my Untapped phone app I see that I rated this IPA 5 stars. And thinking back I was correct. It was probably the best IPA I had all summer long. After the IPA we ordered a flight as had become our pattern.

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Our flight contained a Pig Iron Amber which was an American Amber Red Ale and I rated it 4.75 stars. A Pig Iron Vienna Lager which I gave a rating of 4. A Pig Iron Citra IPA which I gave 4.75 stars and finally a Cucumber IPA with a 5 star rating from me. Mark and I disagreed a bit on the Cucumber IPA which was not a favorite for him but that was alright because I was glad to finish it.

We also ordered food. The have a kitchen here and a full menu. Surprising because it's not a big brewery. But the folks here just don't seem to realize this. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and some mac and cheese. As you can see from this photo this was no small plate quickie sandwich. This was a full meal.

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We really thought his little place was a great find. Mark never smiles in his photos but trust me he was happy here.

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We are planning to return here and maybe take my daughter Katie with us later in the fall. This place bears repeating.

They have ample parking. There is outside seating behind the building. If I have one tiny complaint, after all no place is perfect, its the beer glass. They only had beer mugs to sell. And I really wanted a glass for my collection. But I bought the mug any way. And it's unique. Just like the tap room. So I'm not complaining.

My rating for Pig Iron Brewing Company is a big 5 out of 5 pints.

Olde Mother Brewing Company - Frederick, Maryland

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The last weekend in August we headed to Frederick, Maryland to visit Olde Mother Brewing. I did not find this one on Google. Instead I saw it's logo on a sticker on a telephone pole in Parkville, Md. I liked the logo. It made me laugh. I thought to myself that brewery is calling me.

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Located in downtown Frederick, Maryland Old Mother Brewing is an interesting brewery in an old store front. They take their beer serious but they have a great sense of humor at Olde Mother's. From the small beer glass in the flight that says listen to your mother, to all of the photos of their logo in the tap room I found it a fun place to visit. There is no food menu at the brewery but I did not mind as I had such a good time here.

We each ordered a flight of beer as we could not agree on which ones we wanted to try.

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My flight contained four beers. White Satin was one of the best witbier's I had tried all summer. I rated it five stars on my Untapped app. Next I had a Sips of Summer: Peaches and Cream Wheat beer. Once again I really liked this one and rated it 4.75 stars. My third choice was Queen of Swords which was a pale ale. This one I rated 4.5 stars. And finally a Nitro Cho Cho which was a silky chocolate milk stout. I gave it four stars. Mark was not as impressed with the beers as I was although he did say he had no complaints and liked the brewery a lot.

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Their selection was smaller than some of the other breweries we visited but for me they were still top quality.

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And I enjoyed the humor in their art work and logo which was on display all over the brewery.

The beer was very good. The atmosphere was fun. The servers were friendly and knowledgeable. And I bought a beer glass with the logo that originally attracted me to the place. So all was good.

My rating for Olde Mother Brewing Company is a solid 4 out of 5 pintts.

With a food menu this would have easily been rated at a 4.50 or maybe a full 5 pints.

Rockwell Brewery - Frederick, Maryland

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We left Olde Mother's Brewing and drove a little farther down the street to find Rockwell Brewing. It's located in a strip mall shopping area. The name Rockwell Brewery seemed to be a little stuffy to me. Not exactly fun or exciting sounding. However I was fooled by the name, as this was a fun brewery. The do not have a kitchen, but there is a restaurant owned by Michael Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame, located right in front of the brewery. The brewery has the restaurant menus available for you and the restaurant will deliver your food directly to you. And although owned by a Top Chef star the food is very affordable and of course very good. So this was a good first impression for us.

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I ordered a flight. The beers all had fun names. I had a Cyborg Bette which was a New England IPA. I liked it very much. It had nice hop taste but not overwhelming as some IPA's can be. It was a solid 4 star rating on my Untapped app. Next I had a Rapture Blonde Ale. The name was inspired by the record by Blondie. The beer was once again a solid 4 star rating for me. Then I had an Atomic Blue Wheat Beer which was once again named after a Blondie record. And once again a solid 4 star beer. My fourth beer in the flight was called My Little Way. It was a sour. I like sour beers or gose beers. And this one was very good with a big 4.75 stars from me. My food arrived as I was finishing my flight so I ordered a fourth flight sized sample named Capital Offense. It was an American Pale Ale and it paired well with my pulled pork sandwich.

This brewery was a lot of fun. From the Blondie inspired beer names...

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...to this friend I met on my way to the men's room...

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...I have to rate this brewery high. The beer was all excellent. The atmosphere was fun. The nearby restaurant delivery was a big plus. And this all helps me to over look the somewhat simplicity of the beer glass design I bought.

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We are all smiles here at Rockwell Brewery.

My rating for Rockwell Brewery is a big 4.5 out of 5 pints

And yes this is a tap room I could easily return to visit.

We extended our summer beer journey one weekend past Labor Day. We spent Labor Day on Maryland's eastern shore with friends in Rock Hall, Maryland. We did not visit any breweries. So we decided to do one last brewery search the following weekend to finish off the summer.

Independent Brewing Company - Bel Air, Maryland

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We stayed somewhat local for this weekend driving only about fifteen miles from our home to Bel Air, Maryland where we visited two breweries. These two are very well know locally but we have never visited them previously. We started out with Independent Brewing Company. Their name is somewhat generic but their tap room is anything but generic. It was a fun tap room! We are dog lovers and this brewery is pet friendly which made us very happy. There were dogs every where.

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There was even a man with his pet bird.

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The tap room was decorated with bicycles which also gave it a fun feeling.

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And they had a sense of humor with their merchandising.

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I really liked this brewery. They have a rotation of food trucks for food which we did not sample. They also have a nice outside patio area both in front and in the rear of the building. And they have a large parking area. I only had one beer here. We had a lot to do on this weekend so we were kind of rushed. But the beer was very good. The beer was Off Your Gourd, Pumpkin Imperial Red Ale. It's now pumpkin spice season here and all of the pumpkin beers are appearing. I have a love hate relationship with pumpkin beers. To me they are either very good or just plain nasty. I don't find any middle ground with them. And fortunately I will say this one was excellent. My only problem was that I was so busy watching the dog and taking photos of them that I forgot to take a photo of my beer.

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So what's my rating? This one was difficult to rate. I would like to return and try more beer and perhaps the food truck also. I did not get a real good sampling to make an opinion. I liked their glass and their other swag they had available though. I am sure on a return visit I would rate this one very high. It was a fun tap room.

My rating for Independent Brewing Company is 4 out of 5 pints

I started to go 3.75 just because I only tried the one beer so I did not have a big sample to compare it to the other breweries. But there was no doubt I would have like the other beer here. So for now I will leave it at 4 pints

Alecraft Brewing - Bel Air, Maryland

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This leads me to our final brewery in our summer brewery tour. And I wish I could write great things about this brewery. But I just can't. The beer was excellent. Their web page looks like it can be a fun tap room to visit. The outside patio also looked lively on their web page. It appears they have bands that perform here and also trivia night. The web page was fun.

We pulled up to the brewery and we both thought the outside of the building looked like a former funeral parlor. I am not sure about this but I have a feeling it just might have been. We went inside and the air conditioning was very cool giving us that funeral parlor feeling also. There were people at the bar and a few couples at the tables. But you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was talking in whispers. There was no interaction between people at the bar. We were almost afraid to talk above a whisper ourselves for fear of disturbing the strange vibe.

Now on to the important matter. The beer. We ordered a flight.

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My flight included Treated Streetts Salted Carmel Porter which Mark seemed to like the best of the ones we tried. I liked it also but not my favorite of the four. Our second one was a Horchata Cream Ale. This was my favorite. Mark only had a couple of sips and moved on. Next we had Shoestring which was a German Klosch. It was also quite good. And our last one was White Rock which was a Witbier. Mark left this one to me as he does not like the Witbiers and I had no problem finishing it. All of beers were quite good. I had no complaints about them at all.

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They have been recognized as one of Marylands best. And I have to admit the beers were good.

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But it was very empty on this day. And so very quiet. We should have stayed longer with the dogs and the man with the bird at Independent Brewing Company I guess.

So how do I rate this? For their beer I have no question but to rate them high. But for atmosphere on the day we visited I don't have much to be enthusiastic about.

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One picture speaks a thousand words.

My rating for Aleworks Brewery in Bel Air, Md is 3 out of 5 pints with a qualification

. The beer was very good and on a better day I am sure we would have liked it much more. They also get points for having a store for home brewing inside the tap room.

This was our summer. Four states. Fifteen breweries. Many beers. Lots of food. Some fun times and some nap times. And on plate of burnt chicken fingers. Will there be a fall brewery tour? Time will tell.

Posted by littlesam1 21:14 Archived in USA Tagged baltimore breweries tap_rooms milton_delaware lancaster_pennsylvania marietta_pennsylvania brunswick_maryland leesburg_virginia street_maryland @slatefarmbrewery @dogfishheadbrewery @oldemotherbrewingcompany Comments (6)

O Solo Roma - Day Five - Piazza Navona and Trastevere

A day of fountains, bridges, and Trastevere


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Piazza Cavour

I never did find Piazza Navona and the Bernini fountain the previous day. So I started out again today to try to find it one more time. Although it did not help me the previous day I once again studied my guide map before leaving the hotel. I realized there was a more direct and closer path to follow than my one of the previous day. So I left my hotel on Via del Gracchi and walked to Via Cicerone. This lead me directly to Piazza Cavour. Somehow I had missed this Piazza on my previous days of walking . It was located right next to Castel Sant’Angelo so I do not know how I missed it. It’s a beautiful Piazza with a large bronze monument to Camillo Benso di Cavour.

I saw a beautiful view of the River Tiber and the beautiful Pont Sant Angelo. There is so much to see just walking through Rome with or without a destination in mind.

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And then finally I found Piazza Navona. The streets I used on this day were a little more direct and made it a easier to find. When I finally arrived I realized that I had just missed it the previous day. I had to have walked right past the side street that led to the Piazza. The streets I used on this day were a little more direct and made it a easier to find and I realized it was a lot closer to my hotel than I had thought.

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Fountain of Neptune - Piazza Navona

I entered the Piazza from the north end. Here I saw the first of three fountains in the square. And much like my previous days experience at the Spanish Steps, the first fountain was closed for cleaning. Go to Rome they said. Sit on the beautiful Spanish Steps. I went to Rome. The steps were closed. Go to Rome they said. See the beautiful fountains. I went to Rome. The fountains were closed. Well at least this one was closed. I saw an empty fountain with workers cleaning the sides of the fountain. This is The Fountain of Neptune. It was created in 1574 by Giacomo della Porta. The statue of Neptune in the middle is the work of Antonio Della Bitta and was added much later in 1878.

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Fontana del Moro or Fountain of the Moors

The fountain on the south side of the Piazza is the Fontana del Moro or Fountain of the Moors. The basin and four Tritons were sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575). But right there in the middle is a Bernini. I had been waiting for four days to see a Bernini. Berini's statue of a Moor wrestling with a dolphin was added in 1673.

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Bernini's Moor - Fontana del Moro

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Giacomo della Porta's Triton's

The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the central and largest fountain, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). This is one of the Bernini masterpieces that I was looking forward to seeing.

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Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)

The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent - the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. The statues are at the base of a rock supporting an obelisk, originally located at the Circus of Maxentius, near the Appian Way.

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The fountan was amazing. To me Bernini is all about the details. The facial expressions, the positions of the bodies, and the draping of the clothing all grab you attention. Bernini's works all show motion. They are never static. And for me I could see the movement in my minds eye. I just stood there for the longest time trying to take it all in. This was one benefit of being alone on this trip. I was able to take the time I needed to experience the moment without a thought of holding anyone else up from something they might want to do.

=ark and I returned together to Rome two years later. Guess what? This amazing fountain was closed for repairs and renovation.

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Sant'Agnese in Agone is the church in the center of the piazza. Interesting enough is the fact that the church was designed by one of Bernini's main rivals Borromini making both masters remain in competition throughout history for dominance in this square. I returned to Piazza Navona two days later so I will wait to talk about this church on that days blog.====It was time for a break. After a morning of beautiful squares and monuments I took some time to rest from the heat of the day. I stopped at a little cafe in Piazza Novano that faced the fountains. It was time for a bottle of water and a chilled glass of white wine.

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I left Piazza Novana but stopped in a little restaurant on one of the small side streets just off the square. Cafe di Marzio. I had a wonderful lunch there of linguine with another glass of wine of course. I asked the waiter about directions to The Pantheon. He said it was very near and not difficult to find. Well I never did find it the previous day so I was not sure if I trusted his answer or not.

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I followed a sign for the Pantheon that had an arrow pointing down a small street. With a couple of turns I luckily found myself in Piazza Sant’Eustacia. It was just behind the next Piazza which was Piazza Rotunda where The Pantheon is located.

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The Pantheon was amazing inside and out. I returned two days later for more photos. I'll be posting more about it on my day seven blog.

So where next? This was turning into a long day of walking.

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What is this behind me? Did I finally find my way to Trastevere?

Small Streets

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Interesting street cafes?

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Invisible men???

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Yes. It must be Trastevere. Mark will be so happy when I get back tonight and tell him I finally got to see Trastevere.

Mark had gone to Italy when he was eighteen after high school graduation. His older sister went with him She died very young right after Mark and I met so I never got to meet her. They both fell in love with the Trastevere area when they were in Rome. So it was very emotional and important to him for me to see it. It was sad because he was not here with me the day I saw Trastevere so I took lots of pictures to text him when I got back to the room later in the evening.
=My walk back to the hotel from Trastevere was very interesting. The scenery along the river was beautiful.

I saw people sitting by the water front.

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There was a tourist boat in the river.

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Beautiful bridges over the River Tiber

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And many churches.

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Saint Giovanni of Fiorentini

Later in the evening I had dinner in a really nice little restaurant near my hotel. And for the first time I did not have pasta or pizza for dinner. I had one the best veal dishes I have ever tasted.

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To sum up my day. I finally found Piazza Navona. I saw some Bernini. I visited The Pantheon. And I reached Trastevere and thought of Mark's memories of his visit with his sister. Each day of this holiday seemed to get better. I could not wait to see what tomorrow had in store for me.

So did I take any photos with my selfie stick on this day? Of course I did!

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Posted by littlesam1 18:19 Archived in Italy Tagged bridges food fountains italy rome piazza_navona the_pantheon trestevere river_tiber Comments (5)

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