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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.


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.



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


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.



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.


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.


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



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.



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.


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


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.



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.




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)

O Solo A Roma - Alone in Rome

My first two days alone exploring Rome

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


Just my cap on the bed. Alone at Hotel Relais dei Papi in Rome

I don't mind traveling alone. I've done it on many occasions. Mark and I had planned a trip to Rome. We were very excited about it. We have talked about it for years. I had never been to Rome. Mark had been in Rome when he was eighteen and traveled there with his sister when he graduated from high school. We really wanted to go together so he could show me all of the places he visited with his sister. His sister died very young in her forties. So there was a lot of nostalgia for him going back to Rome. Mark is Italian and he speaks Italian fluently. So I was also looking forward to watching him talk to the waiters and bartenders in Italian. We really had planned a very special and romantic vacation to Rome. But things don't always go as planned. Mark's parents were both elderly and having major health issues. Just a couple of weeks before our planned trip his father took very ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized. With only one child still living his parents needed him home so there is no way we could do the holiday together. Do to some complications with our travel insurance we were unable to cancel without losing a lot the money we had paid in advance. So we decided I would go alone to Rome and not lose the entire investment in the trip. I hated going without him and although not thrilled with losing the money on his part of the trip he was very supportive of me going. That brings me to this holiday in Rome I called The O Solo A Roma Trip.

Day One In Rome - Exploring the neighborhood

Rome had never been on one of my must see lists. I had not really thought much about Rome at all. I had lots of thoughts about Rome but they did not include visiting it. I had read many times online and in guide books that Rome is well know for petty theft and pick pockets. I had one friend who was in Rome for an extended period tell me how her husband was pick pocketed within an hour after arriving in Rome. She told me if you've never been pick pocketed then you've never been to Rome. I had also read it's always very crowded with tourists. There are lines for everything. So Rome was always on the back burner for me, someplace I would see someday but not today.

I was very conscious of being alone. With my history of bizarre accidents when I travel I was somewhat concerned what might happen to me if I had any problems and no one there with me. Suppose I tripped and injured myself, which I have done in the past. Suppose I do get pick pocketed and lose my credit cards? I would be alone with no one else near with money. So I was extremely cautious when I first arrived. Then I took a walk my first afternoon in Rome. Just a few blocks from my hotel I found Piazza del Popolo.




And with that Rome had captured me. I forgot all about my concerns and doubts. Rome was beckoning me. And then I saw this restaurant in the Piazza and they had this excellent wine and pizza.


At Trattoria Ciampini, First pizza in Rome and first of many glasses of wine for one

I returned to my room happy and full. I was ready to conquer Rome. And then I realized I had lost my credit card. My first day. The art, the piazza, the pizza, the wine. It all distracted me. I let down my guard. It all worked out though. It was my error not Romes. I immediately called my credit card company and notified them and then went on to my back up credit card the rest of the trip. Then before falling asleep I texted Mark to let him know about my first day adventures He asked me if I had gone to Trastevere, his favorite section of Rome. I had not. So he said make sure to get there tomorrow.

Day Two - My first full day in Rome. St, Peter's Square. Food and Selfie Sticks


My second day in Rome I walked to St. Peters Square. It was only a few blocks from my hotel which was convenient for me. I was expecting massive crowds. I went early and it was not crowded at all. I had plenty of time and space for photos and selfies. You never quite get over that first glimpse of St. Peters Basilica.

Everywhere I looked there were sculptures. There were nuns. There were Swiss guards in colorful uniforms. It truly was awe inspiring




Leaving St. Peter's Square it was time for some lunch. I found a small restaurant just across the river from Vatican City called Mela Stregata, Mela stranslates to apple and the pizzeria was decorated with a Disney Snow White Theme dealing with the evil queen and the apple. Not what I was expecting in Rome near the Vatican but interesting to say the least.


So there I sat surrounded by Snow White's woods drinking wine and eating lasagna.


The lasagna was very good. So I guess Snow White must have a little Italian in her ancestry. Leaving the restaurant I had a car stop next to curb and the driver called out to me. He asked for help locating something on his map. I had just been approached by my first scam artist in Rome. He offered me a leather coat from his store in Paris if I would be kind enough to help him locate a near by location on his map. Luckily for me this was the only scam artist I would see in Rome.

Castel Sant'Angelo was also nearby so this was my next stop. The views from the top of the castle were amazing.


Castel Sant'Angelo


Flemish sculptor Pieter Van Verschaffelt's bronze angel on top of Castel Sant'Angelo


Viewing the River Tiber from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo


Viewing Vittoriano from the top of Castel Saint'Angelo

There was a small cafe inside the Castel Sant'Angelo. And yes they did have wine.


I did see some unusual things my second day in Rome. Nothing too shocking but still interesting.

I saw a bear begging for money near Castel Sant'Angelo


I saw a man napping on a bench with a rubber duck on his stomach


And I saw a blonde baby Jesus in a shop window.


Because I was alone I made sure to take my selfie stick with me to make sure I could get photos of myself during the day I had a great deal of fun with it. I know they drive people crazy when you are in crowded tourist areas trying to use a selfie stick. But I am a tourist. And i was alone. So I ignored everyone who was offended. My first tries with the selfie stick came out a little awkward. Yes I know you are not supposed to see the stick in the photo. But I was just getting the hang of using it. I got better as the week progressed.



I was still a little jet lagged from the time change so I had an early dinner before returning to my room for an early sleep. I had supper at Pizzeria San Marco. This was located very near my hotel. I had a delicious pasta with cheese and bacon and some wine of course. For dessert I had an excellent panacota with another shot of grappa. A pattern is forming here. Good food, good wine, and a shot of grappa to end my day.


I ended my day back in my room. I took some time to text with Mark and tell him all about my day and what I had seen. He had lots of questions and was very excited for all I had seen. He asked me again did you go to Trastevere. I had not. He insisted that I make sure to go there. We had this same conversation every evening when we chatted. After talking to Mark I reviewed my thoughts on the day and I was glad to find that I had not lost any credit cards. I had avoided getting ripped off by the con artist with the leather coats. And then I looked at my camera bag and there was no selfie stick attached. I had lost it. My first full day in Rome and my selfie stick was gone.

Posted by littlesam1 08:20 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome wine the_tiber grappa castel_sant'angelo selfie selfie_stick the_vatican Comments (8)

Don't Trip Over That Mountain - Hiking while in Zurich

Exploring the trail at Uetilberg and enjoying the views and lunch at Uto Klum above Zurich.

View Virtual Tourist Meeting - Germany and Switzerland - May 2017 on littlesam1's travel map.


[center]View of the Alps surrounding Uetlberg Switzerland

If you have read any of my blogs or if you follow me on Facebook you probably already know that I love Switzerland. You will probably also know that I have a tendency to trip or fall when I am on a vacation. I've tripped in Paris. I've broken my ankle in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I broke my camera falling over a sand dune in Ocean City, Maryland. I don't consider myself clumsy. As a matter of fact I think I am quite agile. So after three visits to Switzerland it was just a matter of time before I tripped over a mountain.

We visited Zurich, Switzerland in 2017. I was excited. I had first visited Zurich in 2003 several years before I had met Mark. I fell in love with Zurich. While there I took the train up to the top of Zurich's only mountain Uetilberg. I had read there was an easy hiking trail there with a beautiful view of Zurich below. There was also a famous restaurant at the top of the trail name the Uto Kulm. Before out trip in 2017 I had told Mark all about Uetilberg and Uto Klum so he too was looking forward to going there. Our trip to Zurich was part of one of our Virtual Tourist travel group meetings. Most of our friends in the group had planned a day trip out of Zurich. We decided instead of taking the planned bus tour we would take the day to hike the trail at Uetilberg and convinced our sister from across the pond, Gillian, to go with us.


Mark and Gillian on the trail to the top of Uetilberg

It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect for the hike. It was not a long trail and was an easy hike. There are other more aggressive trails from the bottom of the mountain that can be taken, but we took the train to the Uetilberg station and walked from there instead. As you can see I am usually behind Mark and Gillian when we go somewhere taking photos of everything. I have many photos of Mark's back in cities, trails, and beaches and quite a few of Gillian also.

In the photo of Gillian and Mark walking you will notice some unusual deer like sculptures with lights on their antlers lining the trail. I became fascinated with them on my first visit to Uetilberg in 2003. During our brief train ride up the mountain I think I must have told Gillian and Mark about them too many times and about how excited I was to see them again. The sculptures are odd and unusual and that's probably why I like them so much.

Your subheading here...


Bruno Weber was a Swiss artist and architect. From 1991 to 2003 Weber was responsible for the sculptural decorations on Uetilberg mountain leading up to the Uto Klum. The decorations include the fantasy deer street lamps and the park benches on the summit.


Larry on Bruno Weber bench 2003 - Uetilberg

Mark, Gillian and I had fun arguing about what the sculptures were supposed to represent. I said moose. Mark and Gillian said they were deer. We decided they were Dermoose's. When we returned home my internet research proved that I was wrong. They are fantasy deer and not moose. But to me they will always be a moose. Art is how you interpret it.

After hiking the trail we found ourselves on top of Uetilberg where I had promised Gillian and Mark a beautiful view and a glass of wine at Uto Klum.


And there is the view I had promised them. You can see all Zurich from the top of the mountain and you don't need a drone for the photographs.


Uto Klum - 4 star restaurant and hotel on the top of Uetilberg

Then to keep my last promise we had a wonderful lunch and that glass of wine at Uto Klum. It is a beautiful 4 star restaurant with a beautiful view of the Alps behind it and Lake Zurich and the city below it.


Wine with a view - Uto Klum on the top of Uetilberg above Zurich

We took some time to climb the tower on the summit also. There is a small fee to climb the tower but it is worth the cost for the view.


Larry climbing the tower at Uetilberg

After lunch it was time to start our decline and follow the trail back to the train station. The trail is not too steep. But still I took my time and was cautious. With my history of tripping while on holiday I did not want to take any chances. We laughed at the deer/moose sculptures once more on the way back down. And we reached the bottom of the trail without incidence. There were some small steps at the end of the trail which should not have been an issue for any sane agile person. But we are talking about me here. I reached the very last small step and turned around to say something to Gillian and Mark and it happened. The very last step and down I go. I ripped the knees out of my pants I was wearing and cut and bruised my knees. Gillian went into the train station to get some wet paper towels and Mark helped my put the wet towels on my sore knees and helped stop the bleeding. So I spent my last two days in Zurich limping and grumbling about my knees hurting. But the good part was that I had a great story to share with the other Virtural Tourist friends at dinne r that night. We went out for fondue at a very nice restaurant in Zurich and I got to share the story of me tripping over the mountain in Uetilberg.



Mark and I are traveling with Gillian in November 2019 to Hawaii. I am requesting she bring bubble wrap for me so she and Mark can wrap me up for protection.

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Larry with Bruno Weber Fantasy Deer 2003 - 2017

Posted by littlesam1 09:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged wine switzerland zurich falling tripping virtual_tourist uetilberg uto_klum bruno_weber Comments (7)

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