Bella Italia

After a month of confinement and limited ability to do anything, the doctor cleared me to go to Rome! I had to wear a specially fitted elastic bandage and take crutches and even take my heavy duty boot but I could go. Now let me tell you–there are advantages to wearing a boot and carrying crutches. You get special treatment all over the place. However, traveling with suitcase, carry on bag, and crutches makes it difficult to handle passport and travel documents and stay upright. Fortunately the crutches were not a necessity to be mobile. They were only to offer additional support to an already weak ankle on a terrain that was not nice and even. I can walk perfectly well without them. However, what in Hades name do you do with them as you are navigating the check in process. One more thing to carry. I need to invent something that straps them across your back–a crutch quiver?

The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps

I arrived in Rome on Saturday night at our little B & B that was very close to the Spanish Steps. It was immediately time for dinner–I had been looking forward to good al dente pasta all week and this would be my first opportunity to have that and a lovely glass of wine. Fortunately, right outside our front door were three restaurants. Take your pick. Tummy nice and full and back to our room. We slept with the window open and listened to the night sounds of Rome–cars driving past, people talking in loud voices, trucks coming by to pick up empty bottles (lots and lots of bottles every night!) and then that beautiful silence which comes just before the night slips away and dawn breaks and the world wakes up to another day.

Roman Skyline

Every day there was an adventure with amazing food and wines. Among the sites visited were the Spanish Steps (of course! they were right around the corner from our B & B), the Trevi Fountain, The Vatican Museum, The Sistine chapel (NO pictures permitted–two reasons: 1. It is a sacred place and 2. apparently they have sold the copyright on the images. Since when do you sell the copyright on great art?), St Peter’s Basilica (huge!), St. Peter’s Square, Swiss Guards, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Castle SantAngelo, ruins, ruins and more ruins. There seemed to be millions of tourists every where we went. The Vatican indicated they get 25,000 per day. And I think they were all there and accounted for when we went. Waiting in lines was insane so we went on a pre-packaged tour. Seemed to work fairly well. We managed to skip lines but it didn’t help with the crowds once we got in. And of course, it felt like 2/3 of the people had selfie sticks in spite of the fact that they were not to be used inside the buildings!

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio
Days of Falconry revisited
Flags in air
Flags in the air

We decided to go to Florence/Firenze/Tuscany for a day. We got on the high speed train that traveled at 250 kph and were there in a little over an hour. Once again, tons of tourists which made me realize that the Uffizi was not going to fit into our trip easily. However, they have the Ponte Vecchio, a DaVinci Museum, and Santa Maria del Fiore which just happens to be the site of the Brunelleschi Dome. This dome was built in the 1400’s after the church was in place. It is the largest dome of its kind in the world. I’ve read the book Brunelleschi’s Dome and I was absolutely blown away by the size of this thing. And it is so high. Unfortunately, it was a religious holiday so we couldn’t go inside to check it out. Found it very interesting that they had a living Nativity scene outside the church as well. I soon found out why. There was a Three Kings Day Parade gearing up which blocked access to the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio. (as a side note, in both Italy and many Spanish speaking countries, gifts are given and received on this day–you leave grass out for the camels to eat and they leave gifts for you) This was also the reason the town was so packed. So we stopped and watched. I’m a nut for parades anyhow but this was just wonderful. I don’t know when I have been so excited about a parade in recent years. It was a very long parade and unfortunately we could not stay for the whole thing as we wanted to get some lunch and knew we had to figure out where we had left the train station. The streets of Florence twist and turn and change names at each corner. Obviously we found the station and managed to return to Rome just delighted with our little adventure. And a little side note, Tuscany is the home of Gepetto, Pinocchio and Collodi.


The Colosseum was a definite highlight of the trip for us.  We took the metro to the stop for the Colosseum. As you walked out of the Metro building, there it was in all of its magnificence. Off to the right is the Roman Forum and just past that is the site of the Palatine Hill–the site of the Romulus and Remus legend. And just beyond that is Circus Maximus–think of the chariot races from Ben Hur. Again, we opted for a guided tour which let us skip the lines. The guide was a virtual walking encyclopedia on the Colosseum. It is amazing to realize how old this edifice is and that it is safe for people to walk all around it.

The food. Ah, what can  I say?  Steven can  tell you all about all the gelato he ate while there. The few I tasted were pretty delicious. The pasta sauces were quite tasty and bruschetta was served virtually everywhere.  The pasta itself was cooked al dente not  al mush. Lots of fish and veal  on the menus. Artichokes in abundance and of course wine  too. I even sampled the local favorites of Campari and Limoncello. Oh so delightful. Delicious bread with a great crust and lots of herbs and garlic used in the preparation of their meals. I could live in Italy!

But alas, the holiday has ended and now I’m back in Macedonia. Oh, but wait–I leave for Istanbul on Tuesday. Poor me–so many wonderful exotic places to see and not enough time to see them.

Ciao , baby!


Trevi Fountain–throw a coin in to guarantee you will return one day.
Firenze-Brunelleschi's Dome
Firenze-Brunelleschi’s Dome
Men in tights!
Men in tights!
St. Peter's Square
St. Peter’s Square
Mosaic Floor in Vatican Museum. Located in front of Hercules
Mosaic Floor in Vatican Museum. Located in front of Hercules


Michelangelo Buonarotti's Pietà
Michelangelo Buonarotti’s Pietà
Colosseum– looking at the floor of the arena.
Swiss Guard at the Vatican
Swiss Guard at the Vatican


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A 60 something woman who has run off to faraway places with the Peace Corps.

4 thoughts on “Bella Italia”

  1. Ahhh, Rome!! We were so happy that you were “sprung” from Macedonia for this wonderful trip!

    Merl and I loved Rome and saw many of the same things you two saw. It appears that we probably stayed near your bed and breakfast as some people from our group walked to the Spanish Steps (my damaged foot wouldn’t allow it). It’s almost overwhelming sensory overload but so, so worth it!

  2. Pigheaded son here.

    Is there any discussion of the veneration of pagan artifacts in a Catholic environment? Or is it just waved away as, “It’s history, man.”

    Just curious. 🙂

    1. Well, I have a couple of answers for you. The Catholic Church incorporates some of these sites in their rituals. I know that the Pope does part of the Easter rituals at the Colosseum. I believe what I read said it was one of the stations of the cross but I could be wrong with that. Just as the church incorporated many of the pagan rituals into Christian traditions like Christmas and Easter.

      As for all of the art which refers to pagan practices, they treat it as an investment. More money for the church. Personally I think they should sell it all and feed third world countries and build hospitals and schools. What happened to the vow of poverty? I was really offended by this display of ostentatious wealth. But that is only my personal opinion. I’m sure others will disagree with my assessment of the situation.

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