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

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



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"


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


The Four Naiads



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


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.


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.


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!


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


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.



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.


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.


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


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.


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




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.




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.


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


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.


Then came the pizza. It was delicious.


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.


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.


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.


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)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Bernini's Moor - Fontana del Moro


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.




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.


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

Small Streets


Interesting street cafes?


Invisible men???


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.


There was a tourist boat in the river.


Beautiful bridges over the River Tiber


And many churches.



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.



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!




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

Two Crazy Guys In Milan - Due pazzi ragazzi a Milano

Finding the soul of Milan

View Due pazzi ragazzi a Milano - March 4 - March 13, 2019 on littlesam1's travel map.

Mark and I made a last minute decision to travel to Milan in March 2019. This was truly a last minute decision. We had been planning for a year to travel to Bulgaria to meet with our Virtual Tourist friends for their annual Euromeet in June. Then suddenly Mark had a drastic change in employment The bank where he works was sold and we had no idea what he employment situation would be for the rest of the year so we put all travel plans on the back burner. Fortunately Mark found a new job before his current job ended. He was to start his new job the end of March. So there was no way we could still plan the trip to Bulgaria in June. He would have no time accumulated for a vacation and let's face it, it's not good practice to start a new job asking for vacation two months later. So we decided to take take a brief vacation between the ending of one job and the starting of the other. But we only had two weeks to make the plans and leave for the trip to make this work. And how do you plan, research,and book a trip in that short of a time span? The easiest thing would be to plan a car trip locally. Maybe the Blue Ridge Parkway, maybe North Carolina's Outer Banks. Even a flight to the the western US using airline mileage and a rental car would not be too difficult to pull off. So what did we end up doing? We went to Milan, Italy.

I always like to name my vacations. It makes it easy to label the file folders for my photos in my computer. It gives me an instant reference when thinking about the trip and reflecting on it months later. Since this was such a crazy last minute idea I named this vacation Due Paazi Ragazzi a Milano which is Italian for Two crazy guys in Milan.

When we plan vacations we brainstorm ideas of places we might both want to see, especially places neither of us have visited before. Many times we mention places to visit and then realize one or the other of us have already been there and we always say "But you have already been there. Let's find someplace we both have not seen." So I was hesitant to mention Milan at first as I had been there in 2002 long before I knew Mark. And also Milan is not always the most popular choice of cities to visit in Italy. I fell in love with Milan on my first visit although most of the guide books warned me there were more exciting cities to visit. Even at the airport when I was checking in for my flight the woman at the Alitalia ticket counter questioned my choice of visiting Milan. So it may have been that I was not expecting a lot when I arrived which caused me to be pleasantly surprised. But I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and have always said I wanted to return one day. However I was concerned when Mark agreed on Milan. I knew it would be his only major vacation this year and I did not want him to be disappointed. I warned him Milan was not Rome or Venice or even Florence. It was unique to itself and its treasures were not obvious. You had to walk the street, keep your eyes open and explore the back streets to find the hidden treasures of Milan. Other than the beautiful Duomo not a lot screams at you Stop Now in Milan. You have to go find it. I think this is what sold Mark on Milan. He loves to walk and explore. Give him a map and he is thrilled to see what he can discover.


We found many churches to visit of course. However we did not get to see DaVinci's The Last Supper. You have to make reservations way in advance. So after two trip to Milan I still have not seen the masterpiece. Maybe I will get back one day to to eventually see it. Instead I saw lots of interesting people like this romantic couple in the photo below. The girl is obviously in a romantic mode in this beautiful city and the guy is obviously more interested in his cell phone. She has no idea.



I also discovered a new beer which became a favorite. I have not seen it here at home so I made sure to have plenty while in Milan.

We stayed at a kooky hotel named Allegroitalia Espresso Hotel. It had a strange subway map motif in the hallway.



Our hotel room had a wine cork screw design on the door.


And the hotel had no morning breakfast which is common is so many European hotel. But we were not disappointed because they had a free dinner buffet in the evening instead. This hotel did everything out of the ordinary. They had a huge lounge area with the food and also a bar. There were huge flat screen TV's where we got to watch soccer live. The employees were encouraged to interact with the guests. So they watched the games with us. Ate at the dinner buffet and also played table top and video games with everyone.


Next subject. Food. We love Italian food. It is my favorite type of food And Mark is Italian so he knows good Italian food. We loved Rome two years ago. We had great meals in Rome. But we both agreed we were more impressed with the food in Milan. We ate most of our meals in our little neighborhood where the kooky hotel was located. And we found a favorite bar and restaurant which was on the unusual side also. It was named Le Biciclette. Small, ecelectic, and very much a small neighborhood favorite. We had great food, interesting drinks and laughs with the bartenders. I love a good Aperol Spritz when in Italy. But I have never seen one made with an olive and a cherry. Always just a cherry. But the bartender added an olive each time and it elevated the drink to a very different and interesting level.


We sat in a rooftop bar near the Duomo on another day for another Aperol Spritz, this time without the olive. But look at my view in the photo. Could there be a more picturesque location for a mid afternoon cocktail?caa527a0-a316-11e9-99ff-313902cae6f6.JPG

Other than Aperol Spritz's and Ichnusa beer we also found time for some of our favorite foods in all of Italy.




We could have planned for months in advance. We could have booked reservations for The Last Supper. We could have taken hours visiting churches and monuments we found on internet searches instead of just finding them by surprise on our daily walks. But we would have missed the soul of Milan. I think this is why so many people do not find Milan to be a favorite. It's a city with a hidden soul. It's a city that is waiting for you to take the time to discover it's secrets. And it was so worth the effort. So if you are planning a last minute trip and only have two weeks to book the trip do something different. Discover the back neighborhoods and side streets of Milan.



Be like the Due pazzi regazzi a Milano, the two crazy guys in Milan


Posted by littlesam1 06:43 Archived in Italy Tagged food italy duomo milan Comments (3)

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