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2019 - The good , the bad, the ugly. Year End Review

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Each year on New Years Day I take time to reflect on the past year. Some years are wonderful. Some are uneventful. And some I am just glad to see be over. 2019 was one of those years. There were good moments. And then there were some bad ones. Nothing unusual about that. But the bad ones seemed to be overwhelming this year.

Mark changed jobs twice this year. The bank where he was employed was sold and he had to find a new job. This was a bad situation that worked for the best. He found a new job well before the bank finally closed so he was never really unemployed. He phoned me from work one morning and said to me I start the new job in two weeks. So lets plan a last minute trip before I start the new job. I am never one to turn down a chance to travel. Out of nowhere we decided to go to Milan.

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I love Milan. I had been to Milan once before in 2002. But many people are unimpressed with Milan. On my first trip even the woman at the ticket counter in the airport asked me "Why Milan?" So I was bit concerned Mark might be unimpressed also. But I had nothing to worry about. Mark loved Milan as much or even more than I do.

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Mark chilling at a ristorante in the Galleria in Milan

We also had the chance to take a train to Bergamo while in Milan.

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Beautiful Bergamo

Also on this trip I had the chance to return to my beloved Switzerland. And any year I can visit Switzerland is a good year. While in Milan we took a side trip to Lugano. It was definitely Switzerland but it also had a very Italian feel to it. It's right on the border of Switzerland and Italy. There is just something about Switzerland that captures my spirit even if they are speaking Italian.

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The beautiful Lugano Switzerland

Mark started his new job after we returned and it worked well for him. But then out of nowhere he received another job offer. The job had a good increase in salary and also was a much better commute for him. So after just a few months he bid farewell to the new job and started his adventure to a job in our neighboring county. And he really likes the job and everyone who is working there. Even though I have said this was not a great year for us, work wise it's been a great year for Mark.

Because Mark was in a new job we were not able to travel this summer. But don't feel bad for us. We spent every weekend this summer visiting local breweries in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia area. It was great fun. We were entertained every weekend. And we got to try both very good and some mediocre beers. But even mediocre beer isn't all bad.

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RAR Brewery - Cambridge Maryland

The year was going well. Mark was enjoying his second new job of the year. My daughter Katie was hired for a new position with a large increase in salary. And then the ball dropped. My daughter Danielle was made redundant at her job. She was completely unprepared. She was given a small severance package. And she remained unemployed the rest of the year. Then to add fuel to fire her wife was let go from her job also at the end of year. We are all hoping after the holidays are over they will be be able to find new jobs the first of 2020,

In November we were able to travel once more. Our friend Gillian from Manchester, England joined us for a week in Hawaii. It was Mark and my fourth trip to Hawaii. And once more we were overwhelmed.

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December found us with two more problems. My daughter had to have cervical surgery. She had to have a disc replaced in her neck. Then her boyfriend had emergency surgery two weeks before Christmas. To top all of this, Danielle and her wife were unable to join us for Christmas due to their job situation. We had a very uneventful Christmas missing Danielle and Andrea. We spent the morning on our Iphones with face time opening presents together.

We lost some dear friends this year. A beloved extended family member passed away on Christmas Day. We lost family members in Mark's family. And we lost a beloved little dog named Kobi who has been a part of our family for fifteen years. We have continued to watch Mark's Mom slowly fade away to the monster of Alzheimers. But we still have so much to grateful for. And we have a lot to look forward to in 2020. We are already planning some travel for February. I am assured Danielle will find new employment. I have a 50th high school reunion in mid 2020. 2020 you are the beginning of a new decade. We are counting on you to start of this decade better than the last one ended.

Posted by littlesam1 21:10 Tagged italy christmas hawaii switzerland milan Comments (4)

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 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)

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)

O Solo A Roma - Day Four - The Elusive Piazza Navona

Trying to find Piazza Navona but ending up at the Colosseum. Another day of walking in Rome


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

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I've mentioned before I am not a great person with maps. They can mislead me very easily. I much prefer to just follow along behind someone while they use the map to navigate. Then I can find some humor when the map misleads and frustrates them instead of me. All I needed was a simple tourist map with the tourist destinations singled out and enlarged so they are easy to locate. Or I could have asked the attendant at the hotel for some guidance each morning. But instead I had a very complex street map with lots of small print and tiny streets. And each day I was determined to use this map all on my own and conquer my problems with maps. And each day I struggled.

Searching for Bernini was my big plan for visiting Rome. So far I had spent three days and not found any works of Bernini. My plan for day four was to locate Piazza Navona and see the famous Bernini Fountain in the square and then cut over to see the Pantheon which would be very close. With the help of my guide the night before I studied the map. I saw that I could walk from my hotel to Castel Sant'Angelo. I knew this neighborhood so this should not be a problem. From there I planned to cross the bridge behind the castle and walk over to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It appeared this would take me directly past Piazza Navona. But I was wrong! I saw some interesting churches and a few statues.

I saw a memorial to Marco Minghetti.

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I had no idea who Marco Minghetti was but the monument was interesting. It would give me some research to one once I got home from the holiday.

I saw a man who looked tired and had taken off his shoe to rest his foot. I was going to ask if he also was trying to find Piazza Novona but then decided against it. Why let someone else know I could not follow my map

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I continued to walk down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II I and saw Basilica Sant'Andrea della Valle. It was not on any tourist maps. It was not in my guide book. It had no art by Bernini. But it was beautiful inside and had some art work that made me question what I was seeing.

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Statue of Child of Prague inside Basilica Di Sant Andrea Della Valle

This is just to prove to anyone reading this that I am not Catholic. I have learned a lot about the Catholic church from Mark who is Catholic. But I was alone. He was not here to keep me from making uneducated guesses about things I was seeing. I saw an amazing painting. At first I thought is was the crucifixion was of Christ which amazed me because it was so unusual. It depicted a very large man instead of the Christ we usually see. It made me think a lot and question myself about the images we see of Christ and what he must have really looked like. I was amazed by this depiction. Later that evening when I returned to my hotel I researched to see who the artist was on this amazing portrait only to find out that it was not Jesus but St. Andrew. I still felt I had received an important spiritual message anyway and still felt my mental image of Christ left a lot to question. And then I realized this was the Basilica Di Sant Andrea Della Valle so of course the portrait was of St. Andrew.

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I stopped for some lunch and did some people watching. I saw an older man wearing dress clothes and some expensive leather shoes with no sox having an intimate lunch with an attractive young girl. There is a story to be written about this photo some day.

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After lunch I kept walking thinking Piazza Navona had to be just down the next block. But I never found it and ended up back at Vittorio Emanuele II Monument where I had already been the previous day

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I had planned on seeing the Colosseum on the next day. But as long as I was already at the Vittorio Emanuele Monument there was no reason not to walk behind it and explore the Colosseum now instead of waiting for another day. Besides I would have to search for Piazza Navona tomorrow instead of seeing the Colosseum.

I have seen hundreds of photos of the Colosseum but no photo does it justice. Nothing prepares you for it's majesty.

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I had walked a lot. I never did find Piazza Navona. So by the time I got back to my room I was very tired. I stopped at the grocery store near my hotel and bought myself a couple bottles of water, a Coca Cola and a large bottle of Peroni. Luckily I had left a bottle opener in my travel bag from my last trip. So I popped the top of the Peroni and broke out the guide book trying to figure out just how I has missed the elusive Piazza Navona.

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I decided to walk down to St. Peter's Square for some night photos of the Cathedral. My hotel was very near The Vatican.

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Before going out I asked the hotel clerk for a suggestion of a good restaurant near the church. The hotel desk clerk recommended Ristorante Almafi which was just down the street for dinner. It was a perfect choice. I had a delicious bottle of Vermentino which is one of my favorite wines. The brushcetta was probably the freshest I have ever eaten. And I my daily dose of pasta for dinner.

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When I finally returned to my hotel for the evening I was very tired. It had been an eventful day. And I had no regrets. It was still a perfectly fascinating day, just not the day I had anticipated. I took some time to text with Mark before sleeping to tell him about my day. He laughed at my problems with the map and said he was sure he would have found Piazza Navona. And then came the question. Did you get to Trastevere today? No. Once again I did not go there. But I promised I would try tomorrow.

And yes I did buy a new selfie stick after losing mine the first day in Rome. There were available for sale in all of the tourist areas. They still aren't the best photos but I had fun talking them.

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Showered after a hot day and dressed for dinner

Posted by littlesam1 15:55 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome wine colosseum pasta piazza_novana evasive_piazze vatican_at_night vermentino brushcetta Comments (5)

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