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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Don’t forget to look up,

While walking through the historic center of Rome it is easy to get distracted by all the things to see:  people, gelato signs, police cars weaving through the tourist with their light flashing, grand doors and door knobs, graffiti, just so much to see.  But I will recommend that from time to time you just stand still and look up. 

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be sure to plant your feet to avoid a bit of vertigo, what you see soaring above your head will astound you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

the mysteries of Rome….

This will be my final FSO post from Rome.  I return to Houston next Wednesday morning.  Like one of my blogger friends DSCN4056pointed out this stay in Rome has been bittersweet.  Memories of visits here with Camillo from the past 20 years; knowing that he would love the things I’ve done that are different than we had done together; renting the apartment would be one of those.  He always wanted to go, see something new or to show me something wonderful that he remembered from his past lives.  Staying in Rome for a month is something he never wanted to do, but I did.  We didn’t argue about it, there is too much to see to stay in one place, that is a given, but I know he would have loved my little apartment in the middle of a Roman neighborhood with its small supermarket and butcher shops.  He would love the daily walks, the few meals with his sister and he would love hearing my enthusiasm for what I have done.  And the bittersweet; missing that he is not here to learn I was right, a stay in one place can be wonderful. 

DSCN2574Sorry sidetracked.  This week’s FSO topic is Mysteries in Your Town, and Rome once again being My Town for the Week has caused me to be on the look out for a mystery, A Mystery Look around town, can you find something that makes you feel bewildered? Or leaves you wondering what's up with that?”  as I have walked and walked about Rome.  I have big questions like, ‘how has a city survived since 700 years before Christ’; surviving wars, pestilence and governments, and changes in religious fervor.  (governments and pestilence being basically the same thing)  There have been a few things that astounds me though, however does that man sit on a pole held in one hand of another man, for hours and hours.  Doesn’t that pole hurt after a while, doesn’t that man’s arm get tired.  I saw six of these …..  course they were all dressed alike, did not have the usual cup to donate to their pain, so it could have been the same men just moving from square to square.    I don’t see a trick, they are in a different state of consciousness?


We have all read of the economic climate in Europe and in Africa, and the boat people swamping Italy, often dying in the attempt, and if arriving safely moving northward in an attempt to find a better life for their families.  It is a tide, a tsunami, and on a humanitarian level I understand the governments allowing this to continue, though I fear there is no humanitarian motive DSCN2572just inaction.  But if humanitarian motives prevailed, how do you not let them come where there is food, and lodging - except there isn’t.  There are no jobs in which they qualify, and old buildings are being invaded  for housing with no proper plumbing, running water or heat but are still perceived as better from where they come, a safe roof over their heads.  So they squat where they can; they sell things – trinkets, and junk made in china, purses with designer names but made of plastic, and they clog the streets; stepping into your path to try to sell a ‘silk’ scarf or a plastic toy.  Desperation in their movements. 

To me Rome is a museum of world history, beautiful and full of grace; housed in Rome but belonging to the world.  And now it is being invaded by a new foe, and invading army of poor and displaced.  The masses blocking the streets, letting only a little path through.  I wish I had my 35mm photos so you could see this bridge from 20 years ago, one of the most beautiful sights you might ever see, and now junk. 

The mystery:  can the governments not stop this tide?  Can action be taken that allows these travelers to stay at home and survive. This is such a similar story as the illegal immigrants that find their way into the USA.  Why can’t these problems be solved.  We have put men on the moon, taken photos of the rings of Jupiter, found new galaxies, waged wars with multimillion dollar weapons; why can’t we feed the hungry in their own home towns?  This is my mystery.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Yesterday’s walk–new and old bridges

Only 10 days are left to my 30 day visit to Rome.  I have walked miles and miles, meaning hours and hours.  I have seen things I remember from my trips here with Camillo, and have seen even more that I didn’t remember that I’d seen but just know that I have walked that street before.  Yesterday, I walked twice, once in the morning and once at dusk and full dark.

DSCN2220For the morning walk I decided to walk away from the historic center (centro storico – “Chentro storiko”), along the river to area north of the Center.  I have become somewhat saturated with old, old, old buildings and wanted to see more Italians at home in their neighborhoods and less Germans, French and Japanese eating gelato.  Okay, I know, and one Gringa Americana eating gelato also.   Walking basically west of the apartment then cutting over on a main avenue to the River,  following the river north on its curving path, I saw families riding their bikes, skaters, dog walkers (ewww watch were you step) and a few just strolling, ambling like I was.  I make the assumption that these are locals but could be Italians visiting from other cities.  I base my assumption on having heard only Italian spoken.    

Mirella (Camillo’s sister) lives in this northern area so I am pretty familiar.  I knew that very close to her apartment is an ancient Roman bridge – yes you can laugh at me here but you need a destination and an exit plan when taking one of these walks into unknown areas without a map.  DSCN2428

Once close to my destination, I passed 3 bridges, one after the other that I found interesting.  The first, Ponte della Musica, opened in mid of 2011, is a foot bridge linking east and west banks of the Tiber (Tevere).  It is such a surprise I walked all the way across and back, enjoying it every minute.DSCN2432







Next:  Ponte duca D’Aosta built between 1939 and 1942 – I recognized it right off, it is clearly identifiable as a ‘Mussolini project’.  On either end the two main posts depict WWI scenes; no curves or softness, no romance, reminiscent of Roman construction styles:  part if  ‘the new Rome’ as envisioned by Mussolini.
















and finally:   Ponte Milvio  built originally in 226 BC and torn down and rebuilt in 115 BC. That structure, with several rebuilds and restructurings after the birth of Christ, still stands today.  A place of battles and of love stories; a bridge that connects the generations. 

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Maybe I am too Romantic but imagine walking (not on the same stone because this base is new by a thousand years or so), but imagine walking the way that people traveling to Rome walked since 100 years before Christ.  A true testament to life continuing even as governments make grave errors and topple, even as wars are fought and battle are won and lost, life goes on.  DSCN2482














Seen from the center of Ponte Milvio – another Mussolini project.  Ponte Flamino or Ponte di Mussolini OR Corso  Francia as it may be called.  Started in 1938 but after Mussolini stopped the construction several times for design changes that himself drew, the war, change in governments and war reconstruction, the bridge was finally finished in 1961.  This bridge is also worth walking across just for its neat structure and works of art. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roman Sky

Still thinking Rome as my hometown. 

cropAs I have walked around this week I paid special attention of the monuments and the sky.  On cloudy days the sky washes to white and is not at all interesting.  Of course, rainy days are rainy days and there is not anything you can do about it.  But before the rain and DSCN2131after the rain, ah, now there you can find extra texture for your photos.  I find that I prefer some cloud to all clouds (rainy white gray skies), or no clouds (bright endlessly blue skies).  Big fluffy, soft looking clouds or dark and dramatic clouds, those are my favorites as a backdrop in my photos; and the best layers and layers of different types of clouds













Friday, October 11, 2013


I am in Rome for the month of October and have made the assumption of it being My Town for the purposes of the FSO.  This past twelve days I have walked miles and miles, through open ancient cities and through museum after museum, always keeping in mind our topics for this month.  I found one small, very small, sample of handwriting in this city of carved marble, etched travertine and bronze plaques.   On this ancient piece of stone from the 1st century ad, DSCN2110came one …..









miniscule handwritten note left for future visitors.  But really this didn’t meet the intent for this topic…. sadly, this is more graffiti than an interesting handwritten document. 

So back to my archives.  In 2003, when Camillo and I first moved to Brasil my mother, then 79 or so carried on a 3 year correspondence with me, ending in 2006 when she wrote, “I can’t hold the thoughts to write".  She handwrote her letter, and I “word’ typed mine back.  She sent hers on a 10 day journey through the mail…. snail mail … and I sent mine on a 10 minute trip through cyber space.  One day I found a packet of her letters, scanned them into my computer and matched the dates with my letters before and after; thinking one day I could write a story of her words to me, my questions and her answers.  Yes, there are bits and pieces of wisdom, but mainly the letters are just full of news from home, much needed in those first years in Brasil.  After spending a few days reading and re-reading this file of letters, I found one that you could read…. not full of family gossip but a recipe she found in one of her files….  I love the way she pieced it together as she wrote, maybe this recipe was given to her in the same order, maybe from her mother in her early married life, maybe I am just romancing the idea  …. I hope you enjoy as I have reading her letter.  Handwriting the forgotten art. 

apple jelly

apple jelly (1)



Thursday, October 03, 2013

… through the open door

This is not my first visit to Rome and, if lucky, it will not be my last.  Camillo and I had our first trip to Italy together around Easter time 1993.  I would have to go through all my photos to count the subsequent trips and the towns visited.  Although he is not my guide this trip, he is still here: a coupleDSCN1663 days ago I found a small store that was selling fresh cheese, sweet olives and pepperoni that he would have loved, and thought…..  There is now a museum in the Piazza di Popolo of work of Leonardo da Vinci: he loved all things da Vinci..  We talked many times (I talked?) about renting an apartment for a month here but he wanted to wait until we were older and could no longer visit many towns in one trip as was our habit…but he would have enjoyed this neighborhood – the Italian-ness of it.  Yes he is here enjoying my visit. 

DSCN1750With Rosemary I am walking the historic center of Rome once again.  Seeing it with new eyes because I am not just following Camillo about with my camera to my eye, but am needing to really see where we are going and to be sure I can find our way back to the apartment.  Rosemary is never worried  but I worry, of Course. 

Over the years while walking about, I have thought it interesting to see bits and pieces of the life behind the walls.  The old, exterior walls of the buildings have to be maintain in the original style or condition but the interiors can be fixed in any style pleasing to the owner.  Every once in a while you walk by a door propped open and you catch a glimpse of the life going on behind scenes; behind the tourists that crowd the streets.  This walk-about I have pulled out the camera and invaded the internal space whenever I got the chance.  Here are a few; a visitor’s view of life in Rome through the open door.