Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 – Rome, Italy – Partly Sunny – 84F

Another wonderful day in Rome…

Stayed up too late last night and got up too late this morning.  Not quite on Rome time yet.

Too tired to take a day trip today so we will need a Plan B.  The subways and trains will be running today so that will make things a bit smoother.

Our plan today is to visit the Piazza del Popolo; from there we are either going to take the Metro to the Circo Massimo M Station and walk to the kosher restaurant area; then we will make our way back to the hotel – perhaps stopping off for another low priced, high quality massage at the Sunbeam Solarium.

We decided to take the Metro to Piazza del Popolo – a large public square a few subways stops from our hotel.  The subways are packed with riders – like sardines.  The stop for the square is right at the entrance – Porto del Popolo.  The entrance to the square was part of the Aurelian Wall, which surrounds much of the city of Rome.

 Entrance - Piazza de Popolo (Small)

Porto del Popolo – Entrance to the Piazza

Can you find Ellen in the picture below?  She is standing near the Santa Maria del Popolo Church.

Where is E - Piazza del Popolo (Small)

The photo below is the “big picture” of the Piazza.  The Centerpiece is the Obelisk and associated water basins. 

More Obelisk (Small)

The Obelisk dates back to 1300 BC and was finished under the reign of Rameses II (of Exodus fame).  The Obelisk was taken from Heliopolis in Egypt by the Emperor Augustus to Rome and placed in the Circo Massimo.  It was moved to the Piazza del Popolo as part of the rejuvenation of the square (how they moved this big structure around is some kind of engineering). 

The four lion sculptures surrounding the Obelisk date back to the early 1800s.

I risked life and limb to climb atop of the “Egyptian Lions” for this photograph.

On Lion Piazza del Popolo (Small)

The Pincio and Nymphaeum are shown in the picture below.  Beyond those structures is a large park (Villa Borghese Park).

Pincio Nymphaeum (Small)

As you enter the square, there are two fountains at opposites ends.  These two fountains were added to the square at the same time as the Lions.  To the right is a remarkable fountain depicting Neptune (the trident is a giveaway) and two Tritons.

Neptune Fountain (Small)

Neptune’s Fountain

Directly opposite Neptune’s Fountain is the Fountain of the goddess Roma (below).  Behind the statue in the background is the three arched Nymphaeum.  There is a way up to the top of that structure since we could see lots of folks up there.

Other fountain  Minerva (Small)

Fountain of the Goddess Roma

The other main structures are the “twin” 17th Century churches, Santa Maria di Montesanto (left behind the Obelisk) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli.  They are “fraternal” twins – Santa Maria di Montesanto is smaller and has an oval dome (the other dome is round),

Obelisk at P del P (Small)

Twin Churches (Small)

Santa Maria di Montesanto (left) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (right)

P del P Chruch (Small)

Close up view of the terrific architecture of Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

After satisfying a need for a Coke Light (2.5 Euros – highway robbery), we started our journey to the Synagogue and burgers and fries.  The street that would take us almost all the way there is the Via del Corso.  This street is one of the widest in Rome and home to all of the high end fashion stores – it’s like Rodeo Drive with a bit of Italian grunge.  And worst of all – the cigarette smoke is unbearable.  Everyone was smoking but us.

On the Via Del Corso (Small)

Ellen on the Via del Corso

The Via del Corso is an interesting street in that almost all of the major sites in Rome are either visible from the street (the Spanish Steps) or just a couple of blocks away (the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon).  On the street itself are interesting structures like the column below.  There are pictures of people shown climbing up the side of the column (Tower of Babel?). 

Piazza Collona 2 (Small)

Piazza Colonna

We arrive at the key intermediate destination, the Monument of Vittorio Emanuel II (aka: Vittoriano), a massive white neo-classical structure containing enormous statues and an adjoining church.  On March 17, 2011, this was the site of the kickoff of Italy’s 150th anniversary.  During WWII, it was the site of fascist demonstrations.

Monument to Vittorio  Emmuele II (Small)

I took the diagram below from the internet to illustrate the complexity of the sculptures and other structures on the monument.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is found beneath the Dea Roma.


V E II Memorial (Small)

Vittorio Emanuel II Monument

The monument is on a large traffic semi-circle.  Also on this circle is the Palazzo of Napoleon Bonaparte, which is now a business building, and a church and column (Colonna Traiana).  The column is essentially identical to the one on the Via del Corso.

Palazzo Bonaparte (Small)

Palazzo del Napoleon Bonaparte

 Colonna Traina (Small) 

Colonna Traiana and Foro Traiano (Church)

The circle is also home to a small park at the end of which is located a drinking fountain in the shape of a pineapple (universal welcome symbol).  People were filling up their water bottles like it was the fountain of youth – we will stick with commercial water.  The pineapple fountains were a good place for a photo shoot.  We haven’t found anyone to take our picture together.

Pineapple drinking fountain 1 (Small) Pineapple drinking fountain 2 (Small) 

From the monument, we made our way down the hill toward the Tiber River.  Across the street, I recognized the Archeological Dig near the Synagogue (also visible from the street). 

 Archo dig on way to Shul (Small)

Archeological Dig near Rome Synagogue

Behind the Monument to VE II, we passed another archeological site.  This one was unusual in that some of the more ancient column pieces were right out in the open. 

An old column (Small)

Ellen with an ancient artifact

Samson (Small)

Samson with hair cut

Tivere (Small) Tivere and Isola Tiberina (Small)

The Fiume Tivere (Tiber River) (bottom:  Isola Tiberina)

We indeed found the Synagogue (below) and made our way to the restaurant for our much anticipated burger and fries.

Sinagoga del Roma (Small)

As we walked to restaurant, we were amazed at the large number of kids in the square.  We originally thought that these were kids on a field trip to the synagogue but actually there were students at the Hebrew School of Rome, located right there in the Ghetto.  Some of them had logos on their shirts and they all looked like they were in uniforms.

 Kids from Jewish School in Ghetto (Small)

School kids from the Rome Hebrew School

Hebrew School of Rome (Small)

The Hebrew School of Rome

The restaurant had changed its name from some of kind of fast food name to Bocconcino (to give it more class) but the menu was the same.  I shouldn’t have but I ordered the double burger (only 1 Euro more than the single burger).  We also got a single burger,fries, a much needed salad (first one in days), and two coke lights.  Grand total: 19 Euros ($26.60) – blame the weak dollar.  Too much food but it was worth it even though I had to make my own Thousand Island Dressing.  We captured our calorie barrage in the photo below.

burger and fries Bocconcino (Small)

Chowing Down –Kosher Style

Kosher Restaurant Row (Small)

Looking back toward Bocconcino’s Restaurant

If I had known that the Ghetto had free WiFi , I would have brought my phone – I did not see a laptop anywhere.

WiFi and no laptop (Small)

The Archeological Dig near the restaurants and synagogue are still being studied – the tall column in the center is the same one I shot from across the street earlier.

Dig near Shul (Small)

After viewing the dig, we plotted our course back to the Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral and Via Cavour.  In the past, we might have taken the Metro from Circo Massimo but that walk is about the same as the one to the church. 

When you are trying to construct a new building and a ruin gets in the way incorporate the ruin into your design as the architect did in the picture below.

ancient meets new (Small)

As we walked back up the hill to the Vittoriano, we passed the adjacent church (below).  We were too tired to hike up all those stairs to get more detailed photos.

Church behind V E II monument (Small)

Ara Coeli (Church) near Vittoriano

Our route took us past the Colonna Traiana

Colonna Traiana (Small) 

and a theater called Mercati Traianei (below).  I thought it was quite creative to construct a mural (photograph) of the wall it is covering.

Mercati Tralanei (Small)

Our map told us that the Via Panisperna would take us directly to the Santa Maria Maggiore Cathedral on Via Cavour.  The street was narrow but interesting (e.g. ivy growing on the power lines straddling the two sides of the street (below)).

Ivy on Via Panisperna (Small)

We also spotted the Coliseum from the street.

Colisseum from V Panisperna (Small)

The Coliseum from Via Panisperna

Many of the buildings on this street were in disrepair (some actually unsafe for people),  The one below was from 1828.

ca 1828 (Small)

We arrived at the Sunbeam Solarium an hour early hoping that we could get in earlier than our 5 PM appointment.  They were all booked and we were too tired to do any more walking so we went to an outdoor cafe to chat away an hour over a single Coke Zero.  It was nice except for the constant table changing needed to avoid the omnipresent cigarette smoke.  We never saw the waitress once in that hour – when we were ready to leave I went in and paid at the register.   Tips are included so that was that.

While we were inside the cafe at one point dodging cigar fumes, I took a picture of the menu.  Check out the unusual dessert item.

Cream of Grandma cake (Small)

The massages were very good.  People on the ship get massages daily so our pampering was similar just a lot less expensive.

It was cooler when we walked back to the hotel.  Still pretty full from dinner, we dined on crackers and cheese commandeered from the restaurant.

My pedometer told the whole story of our journey.

Steps: 16,397; 8.03 miles; 829 calories; 3 hrs – 10 min.

Tomorrow is Embarkation Day.  We have a wake up call for 7 AM and I am pre-checked out.  We are all set.

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