Tag Archives: passagiata

Mama in Roma

(and also Assisi)

Shortly after I regained my composure following Rome’s birthday week, it was time to pick Momma up from the airport! She arrived early in the morning and although I was exhausted, it was time to celebrate. My mom planned the timing of her visit carefully so that we could spend Mother’s Day together for the first time in five years. Yes, I know. I’m a horrible daughter. But what am I supposed to do when I live in another state and it’s not the kind of holiday you get days off for?

Anyway, Momma and I spent some quality time together in the city, but also in bed watching the Mentalist, a TV show to which she introduced me. Our first venture into the city took us to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, you know, my usual impress-people walk around the neighborhood. The next day we stopped for a little gelato (of course) on our way to Castel Sant’Angelo, a favorite monument of mine. It’s a place that I keep returning to, so look for it to pop up in future (and past) posts.

Momma double-fisting gelato at Castel Sant'Angelo

Momma and I decided to spend that weekend in Assisi, a hill-top town in Umbria. However, we nearly missed the train because May 1st is Labor Day in Italy and the busses weren’t running. So, after our short jog to the short tracks to catch our train, my mom and I were panting and quickly realizing just how out of shape we were. Maybe something should be done about this… Jane Fonda? Jazzercise? More on that later. So, we arrived in Assisi a few hours later only and hopped the bus to Piazza Matteotti. Word to the wise: Do NOT take the bus to San Francesco, you’ll have to walk uphill to see the rest of the town. We started at the top, Piazza Matteotti, and walked downhill while sight-seeing since we are so out of shape.

At the top we met a cute, little old man walking his dog who gave us some tips on touring the city. The first stop was the Roman amphitheater where I found out that my camera battery was dead. So, here is one of the only three photos from the day. At least it’s a cute one.

Momma and me at the Roman Amphitheater in Assisi

After the sting of a dead camera battery wore off, my mom and I trotted about the city admiring hues of pink and yellow limestone and spectacular views of the valley. Actually, we did pick up some disposable cameras, which were kind of fun to use. Not immediately knowing how your photo turned out is kind of a novelty. Dad took them in to be developed, so we’ll see how they look soon. We might be pleasantly surprised!

After visiting San Francesco, the church built in St. Francis’ honor, we tried to go to the restaurant recommended by my old friend, Rick Steves, but apparently some other tourists had heard about it, too. So, we ended up at a trattoria down the street dining on a terrace overlooking the entire Umbrian valley. The region of Umbria is known as the “green heart” of Italy and I can certainly understand why.

After lunch we bought tickets to see the chapel painted by Giotto in San Francesco and we were two of only four people on this tour. All the tourists were still eating at Rick Steves’ restaurant. The chapel is in the process of being restored, so there are three flights of scaffolding set up that you can visit with an entrance ticket, a hard hat and a god-awful audio guide. It was so amazing nearly having the chapel all to ourselves and being able to walk right up next to 700-year-old frescos adorning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd “floors”. But again, no camera. I think this calls for another trip to Assisi real soon…

Back in Rome, my mom and I used Sunday to rest before hitting the cobblestone streets again. Later in the week we took a huge trek around the city that took us through the Jewish ghetto. (Ghetto is Italian is a little different than the English version of the word. See here for info.) We checked out the Portico d’Ottavia, the theater of Marcellus where Sophia Loren used to live and ended up at La Bocca della Verità. In case you don’t know what this is, look at the very end of this clip from the movie Roman Holiday.

Legend has it that this sculpture will bite off the hand of anyone who does not tell the truth. Scary! My mom and I made it out unscathed.

Our recreation of Roman Holiday

Can you believe that I have lived in Rome for a year and have never seen this? Situation remedied.

After our encounter with the mouth of truth, Momma and I wandered over to the Forum and the Capitoline Museums. We just did a quick run though because it was getting late and we were exhausted (Remember, out of shape!) from our walk already.

Momma and I at the Forum

The next night we took a walk in the opposite direction out to the Spanish Steps. If you have ever seen a photo of Piazza di Spagna, the stairs probably had pots of beautiful pink flowers on them. I have a feeling that many tourists are disappointed when they find out that those flowers aren’t always there. BUT the azaleas are there for a couple weeks every spring and it happened to coincide with my mom’s visit. So, we took a few glamour shots and then laughed at ourselves. Check the facebook album for those.

Before long, it was time for our weekend trip to Vienna (featured in the next post) and then time to say goodbye. See you in a few months, Momma!

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EPIPHANY!

Carnival for La Befana in Piazza Navona

So, after I got back to Rome, I had to work my ass off to get things ready for the students who arrived the next day. Luckily, I was able to get everything done and check-in went off without a hitch. On Tuesday,  when I was getting ready to head to Piazza Navona, I ran into Damon, the teaching assistant who lives on my floor. So, together we headed out to the carnival in Piazza Navona. According to Italian legend, on the night of the fifth of January (the night before the Epiphany), children hang their stockings above their beds and la befana (literally a witch on a broomstick) puts candy in the stockings of children who have been good and coal for those who have been bad. So, at the carnival people were selling witches hats, riding the carousel, eating candied apples and over-sized doughnuts. It was so cool! After wandering through the piazza, Damon and I decided to have an evening passagiata (walk) and we happened upon an ice skating rink near Castel Sant’Angelo. As we were renting skates, Damon told me about how he won first place in an ice skating race when he was six years old. Unfortunately, he lacks the blue-ribbon skills he once had. So, we fumbled around the rink for a while before continuing our walk and having a beer. Yay for spontaneity! And yet, I paid for it. Apparently, you get a cold from ice skating in the rain at 11:00pm. My bad. So, I spent the next few days recovering.

On Saturday, I had intended to see a massive pillow fight in Piazza del Popolo, but it was raining and only a few sad souls showed up with pillows in tow. Instead I went on a walk through the Villa Borghese and saw grass again. Living in the PNW you tend to forget how much the presence of plant life really increases your quality of life. Villa Borghese is one of the few places in Rome that I can get my “fix” when it comes to that sort of thing.

Tempietto Diana at Villa Borghese

Today I got my fix for something else I can’t live without: Art. Yes, I know I’m a dork, but I think I’ve kept the sausaging about art to a minimum so far. Bear with me or dare to enjoy it! After work I headed over to Museo di Roma in Trastevere because I saw a sign for a Marianne Werefkin exhibition the other day. I was especially excited for Werefkin because I wrote a paper a few years ago about the self-portraiture of female expressionists. She, like many of the other artists I researched, has very few books written in English about her. If she is in an English book, she’s often just a footnote to Kandinsky or Jawlensky. Most of the books are in German or French; it’s great to know that Italy is catching on to her talent. Next step: America! Here are a few photos from the exhibition: Full album can be found here.

Anyway, I have plans to go to Ostia Antica this weekend. So, stay tuned, I suppose. There’s bound to be a post about my adventures in Rome’s little Pompeii.

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Social Experiments

So, after we got back from Paris we had very little time to prepare for Halloween. My coworkers also told me that it’s not really celebrated here in Italy. However, Leish and I went on our evening passagiata (walk) and saw a ton of Italian kids trick-or-treating. They were running in and out of pubs, bars, restaurants, anything still open at 8:00pm with bags of candy in tow. Yay for Americanization! So, then Leisha and I went home and tried to put together costumes from what we already had lying around. I teased my hair, put on a sweater vest and wore my reading glasses with tape in the middle. Instant nerd. Leish put on a black dress, threw some floss in her hair and drew a web on her face with eyeliner. Instant spider lady. After our glorious costumes we complete, we headed over to Barnum Cafe to meet some of Leisha’s friends. We had other plans, but we ended up spending the whole evening with a group of people we met there. So fun!

Halloween

Spiderella and nerd on Halloween

I spent the next couple days resting and preparing for Dan and Oana’s arrival. Dan and I went to elementary, middle and high school together. Right now he has an internship in Düsseldorf, Germany and his girlfriend Oana is teaching English in Nice, France. They arrived on Tuesday night and when I picked them up from the train station, we began our mission for dinner which took us to 3+ restaurants. I still don’t know why things were closed that night. We had a lovely dinner in Trastevere. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sightseeing with them during the week, but we spent the evenings going on walks that probably passed by the Pantheon and involved gelato in some way.

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Dan and Oana looking at the Forum from the Capitoline

Saturday was the first beautiful, warm, rain-free day of their visit and we went to the Capitoline Museums together, which is the first time I’ve been during my second stay in Rome. I’ve decided that I love that museum. It has two of my favorite sculptures: The Dying Gaul and Commodus as Hercules. The Commodus sculpture was especially fun to see because we drug the mattress into the conference room the night before and watched Gladiator on the big screen. It was perhaps too big. Another great thing about the Capitoline Museums is the wonderful view of the forum.

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View of the Forum from the Capitoline Museums

After the museums we made the trek to the Spanish Steps where they had constructed a fake Berlin wall in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the wall. I wonder if they knocked it down, too. We didn’t stay long enough to figure it out. Exhaustion.

Berlin in Rome

BERLYN / Spanish Steps

Our evening was a wonderful social experiment. After our huge Chinese dinner, we decided to go out to Anima, a dance club, so that I could demonstrate how persistent Italian guys can be. Dan, Oana and I had some good laughs that night. Unfortunately for them, they had to wake up just a few hours after getting to sleep to catch their flights back to Düsseldorf and Nice respectively.

On Sunday evening I met up with a German photographer named Chris and unfortunately did not practice German. Maybe next time! We went out for beers at a hole-in-the-wall bar and then took a passagiata before dinner. Mmmm saltimbocca.

Last night was Leisha’s birthday, but she is just getting over the illness from hell, so we took it easy. We went out to dinner in Trastevere and I ate my second baby cow of the week. Why does veal have to taste so good?!

Anyway, it’s finally less than a month until I will be back in the US for Christmas break. I’m starting to get very excited and also very broke. See you soon, America!

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Turning Acquaintances into Friends

For those of you who have been dying for an update (Mom, Hallie, Liv?), I sincerely apologize! I don’t know why it has taken so long.

This update requires a little history. Rewind four years: I was inspired by an MXPX song (can’t believe I just admitted that!) and joined my friend Jon on a day trip to his hometown of Bremerton, Washington. It was there that Jon first introduced me to his friend Meghan Rowley. Afterwards, Meghan and I hung out a few times and went to a few concerts together, but unfortunately she went to Western and we didn’t keep in touch. Fast forward four years: I find out via facebook stalking that Meghan is backpacking around Europe and invite her to stay with me in Rome. This is the story of our whirlwind weekend of rekindling our acquaintanceship and feeding the fire of friendship.

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Travel Buddies: Meghan and Becca by Trajan's Forum

Meghan and her travel buddy Becca arrived on a Friday night and I met them (with a few complications) at the train station. They were very exhausted from their day of travel and after our night walk/passagiata through the neighborhood (Campo, Pantheon, gelato, Piazza Navona), we all called it an early night. On Saturday, we woke up early and made the trek out to St. Peter’s, where they were setting up for a canonizing event the following day. Apparently, the first Hawaiian ever was canonized that Sunday. (Leisha attended the festivities.) We also walked by Castel Sant’ Angelo before heading back to the market in Campo de’ Fiori for some snacks. A little siesta was in order and then the girls did a little solo sightseeing until we met up for dinner with Leisha and Mia at one of our favorite restaurants, Bar Trilussa.

fausto

One piece from Fausto delle Chiaie's sidewalk exhibition

On Sunday, we did a little shopping before sightseeing. We visited the Trevi fountain, the forum and the Colosseum. In the evening we took a walk up to Piazza del Popolo and ran into the infamous Roman street artist, Fausto delle Chiaie. He had set up a small “exhibition” of works just outside the Ara Pacis. It was so cool to see Rome’s less-ancient, less-pretentious art scene. We took a detour via the Spanish steps before our glorious five-course Chinese dinner. Yum! After dinner we dragged our mattresses into the conference room and watched the wedding episode of The Office on the big screen. Pam + Jim 4ever.

big screen

Big Screen Fun

I had to work on Monday, but Becca and Meghan tried real Italian coffee and visited the monuments from our night walk in the daytime, such as the Pantheon. Monday was the first really cold day in Rome. I’m talking coat, scarf, gloves kind of 55 degree weather. 🙂 While it was pouring down rain, we stayed inside. Leisha and I taught the girls how to play Briscola, an Italian card game. We also whipped out the Phase Ten cards and I lost miserably. When the rain died down, we headed out to Bar Trilussa again, only this time we ordered a 4.5 liter giraffa of beer and it went to our heads. The walk home was quite fun and Meghan and Becca were a little tipsy when they caught their midnight train to southern Italy.

After Meghan and Becca left, Leisha and I spent the next week trying to get pumped for our upcoming trip to Paris. We watched one movie every day that takes place in Paris (or just France in some cases). Here’s the list: Night on Earth, Paris, je t’aime, Before Sunset, Ratatouille, Two Days in Paris, Beauty and the Beast, Last Tango in Paris, Frantic and Amelie. I think it worked! We leave tomorrow for Paris and we’ll be staying with Elyse, a friend from high school. She is a nanny in a suburb called Asnieres, which is only 15 minutes from Paris.

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