Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Roman Holiday

The City of Rome celebrates its Patron Saints - Peter and Paul - on June 29th. While the rest of Italy has a work day, Rome takes a holiday! The center of our celebration was a condominium roof top Bar-B-Que.
Some prepared food...

while others prepared the outdoor oven.

Everyone had a great time talking, eating and drinking.
(I made Rice Krispie Treats.)

After dinner we walked along the Via delle Sette Chiese to the Basilica San Paolo for an 11:00pm fireworks display.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fast Food in Rome

Yes! There is fast food in Rome. McDonald's and Burger King restaurants seem to be around almost every corner. This sign for McDonald's with it's slogan "I'm lovin' it." has been expanded to say "I'm lovin' italy."
I am not aware of a Burger King near the Colessium, but this mural seems to say that you can have it the same way as Caesar had it.
You often don't see McDonald's in the historic center because the restaurants blend in with the surrounding architecture and monuments. This picture of the Piazza della Rotundo in front of the Pantheon includes a McDonalds! (It is the ground floor of the peach colored building.)
People are enjoying Quarter Pounders, Big Macs and french fries while looking at the Pantheon.

Soccer: an Italian Passion

Even though Italy has been eliminated from the World Cup competition in South Africa, the passion for the sport is always here! In bars and restaurants there seems to always be a screen with a broadcast of a game somewhere!

Today in the market I noticed that the labels of the Peroni Beer bottles were celebrating Italian soccer victories in pervious World Cup competitions: in France (1938) against Hungary, in Mexico (1978) against Germany, in the USA (1994) against Nigeria, and Germany (2006) against France.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Noah's Ark in San Lorenzo

Recently we joined friends for lunch the the Roman neighborhood of San Lorenzo. Near the restaurant was this door for a pet shop. The store was closed because it was Sunday.
Around the corner I found the door of another shop
that had a rainbow for Noah!

Saturday in Nemi

On Saturday we took a day trip to Nemi, a town in the Alban Hills overlooking Lake Nemi,a volcanic crater lake, about 30 km southeast of Rome.
The 1,700 residents of the town live and work
in buildings dating from the middle ages to the 20th century.
The lake was used by the Roman Emperor Caligula for several luxury barges where he would entertain guests. One barge was actually a floating temple and another barge incuded a marble Roman bath complex. (Later in the day we went to the nearby Lake Albano below Castel Gondolfo and ejoyed some time in a paddle boat.)

This is a bust of Caligula in the town piazza.
A street musician greeted us as we arrived in the town.

We were tempted with displays of pork products.

We had a delicious pranzo (lunch) in a restaurant on the cliff overlooking the lake. Of course we had strawberries with gelato for dessert

Nemi is famous for its wild strawberries, which are smaller and sweeter than commercially grown varieties. Nemi's strawberries are grown on the sides of the volcanic crater, which creates a microclimate that retains the warmth of the sun and provides a wind shield.

On Lake Albano

Nestled in the Alban Hills outside of Rome is the volcanic crater Lake Albano. It is also called Lago Castel Gondolfo because of the Papal villa above it. (You can also see the Vatican Observatory on top of the villa!)

Cindy and Vincenzo enjoying the paddle boat on the lake.

Don and I were also in the boat having a great time.

For more about Lago Albano you can see my previous posting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holiday in Frascati

Wednesday was a national holiday, the Festa della Repubblica. It commemorates the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Republic of Italy. In the afternoon we drove to the town of Frascati in the Alban Hills and returned to Rome after dinner.
Frascati is a hillside town of villas surrounded by vineyards. (I remember trips to Frascati when I was in college to get the weekend supply of wine.)

This is one of many wine cantinas, serving only wine and bread. Patrons bring their own meats and cheeses (or Pizza) to eat while they drink.

We had fun walking around the town while dodging occasional rain showers, giving us an opportunity for some shopping. .
These smocks are what many Italian kids wear in elementary school, up to 5th grade! Obviously, the boys wear blue and the girls wear pink.
I was intrigued by the brand "Think Pink," It seems to be a line of casual clothes inspired by Yosomite National Park in California.

Vin found the psychology section of the bookstore.

We bought new hats for the summer.

For dinner we took the recommendations of a local shop owner and ate a delicious meal at Cantina Bucciarelli.

This was our antipasto plate of cheese, olives, meats and porchetta. (This could be a meal in itself!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SPQR: another tattoo

SPQR: Seen in traffic!
This past week while stopped at a traffic light
I noticed this tattoo of SPQR.
I was able to get a picture before the light changed.

Senatus Populusque Romanus
"The Senate and the People of Rome"
It originally referred to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official signature, appearing on coins, civic inscriptions, and on the standards of the Roman legions. Today, SPQR is the motto of the city of Rome and appears in the city's coat of arms, the city's civic buildings, manhole covers, billboards and even as tattoos!

Tomb of Cecilia Metella

The Tomb of Cecilia Metella is probably the least visited of the famous monuments in Rome. It is featured in numerous paintings, old prints and photos of the Via Appia, yet because it is 3 miles out this ancient Roman road, few make the trek to see it.
A section of Via Appia with the original paving stones
near the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.

As with many sites in Rome, there are many layers of history in this one place. The cylindrical tomb was built in the 1st century BC to celebrate the glory of the Metelli family and for the burial of Cecilia, the daughter of a counsul and general who conquered Crete, and the wife of a general in Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.
The exterior of the cylinder was originally covered with travertine and had a decorative marble frieze at the top, all placed on a large rectangular base.
The burial chamber was entered from the outside through a basement corridor and the interior was probably decorated with stucco work.
Reliefs of oxen's heads were part of the decoration. In the Middle Ages these gave the area the name "Capo di Bove," Head of the Ox.

During the Middle Ages the large tomb became an important checkpoint on the Via Appia. In the 11th century it was incorporated into the fortifications of a castle. The castle was restored in the 14th century by the Caetani family.

In 1303 the Gothic church of San Nicola was built across the street as part of this fortified village.

Today, inside the ruins of the castle, there is a collection of objects recovered from this part of the Via Appia.

Funerary Urns for Ashes

These statues would have been along the Via Appia as markers for the individuals who were buried nearby.