Rome 03/2008 Day 8



Sunday March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday, a Sea of Umbrellas

We all agree that today should be easy, given that it's Easter Sunday and our last day in Rome. Yesterday, David and I had stopped in the local bakery and asked if they would be open today for bread (of course we had to buy a pasty then too). They said yes, so this morning, since I am the first one up, I take the keys and head out with a fistful of euro coins to get some fresh bread. I arrive at the bakery and am greeted with a closed metal shutter. Oh no! What to do now? There is another bakery about a block farther down the street. It's more of a chain type bakery, but thankfully, they are open. There are six freshly baked loaves of bread and the two people ahead of me buy up four of them. Looks like I am just in time. I get the still warm loaf and a few cornetti and head back to the apartment.

Morning rain. Photo by Tris

We spend the rest of the morning eating, drinking coffee, and watching the Pope again on TV speak to a sea of umbrellas in St. Peter's square. I can't believe we came all the way to Rome for Easter and never once saw the Pope in person. But the rain is relentless and comes down in torrents, drenching all in attendance. The red plumes on the helmets of the Swiss guards start to bleed red rivulets of water down their necks into their white collars and a young woman in the front of a military brigade stands stoically in her dress uniform as she gets progressively more soaked. Again, the Pope stays dry under his canopy while dispensing the eucharist to a parade of the faithful chosen to receive it directly from his hands.

Around noon, the rain lets up a bit and we decide we can't waste our last day sitting inside. Instead, we're going to go out on a walk and try to hit some of the sights we'd missed this past week.

Campo di Fiori, statue of philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake here in 1600. I love the oddly shaped building in the background.

We start by walking down through the Campo di Fiori and head to the Piazza Mattei to see the lovely little Fontana delle Tartarughe (the Tortoise fountain). The area is really interesting, filled with all sorts of ancient buildings, but today, almost everything is closed. The area must be part of the ancient Jewish ghetto because we see some Kosher restaurants and I can see on my map that the Synagogue is nearby. This is an area I would like to come back to explore.

The Tortoise Fountain in Piazza Mattei. The turtles were added 100 years after the fountain was built.

We continue walking with the idea of heading down to the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin to see the famous "Mouth of Truth". We turn a corner to get onto a main street and suddenly there's another one of those surprises that keeps happening in Rome; the Theater of Marcellus. This ancient theater was built by the emperor Augustus and has been used not only as a theater seating 15,000, but as a fortress, a palace and in the present day there are apartments built into the top. What a cool place to live. Next to the theater are three remaining Corinthian columns from the temple of Apollo.

We admire the theater for a few minutes and then continue walking toward Santa Maria in Cosmedin. On the way, we pass two small jewel box temples; the Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Portunus in the park across the street from the church. When we arrive at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, there is a long line extending down the sidewalk for people waiting to put their hand in the Mouth of Truth. We figure we've come this far, we might as well wait too.

Temple of Hercules, across from the Mouth of Truth. Photo by David.

Waiting in line to put our hands in the Mouth of Truth.

Everyone gets the opportunity to test their truthfulness...

After the Mouth of Truth, we actually went inside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin which, judging by the line of people outside and lack of people inside, probably only gets one tenth of the visitors. It's a small church with inlaid marble floors in a variety of patterns and colors. In addition, it contains the holy relic bones of Saint Valentine.

St. Valentine's remains.

From the church we walk across the Ponte Palatine toward Trastevere, pausing on the bridge to admire the view of the island in the middle of the Tiber and the remains of an ancient bridge.

Bridge to nowhere (the arch of Ponte Rotto), crossing the Tiber (photo by David).

Enoteca Trastevere

Once across the bridge we walk into the Trastevere neighborhood, stopping at a little bar for a couple of Amaro and a bathroom break. We walk down Via della Lungaretta and decide we need further fortification and keep our eyes peeled for a wine bar. Somehow, none of us has the guidebook I put together with the list of recommended places to eat. Just as the skies begin to open again, we find a little place, Enoteca Trastevere.
It's the middle of the afternoon, and we are the only people inside, but they welcome us in. The wine list is filled with lots of interesting choices by the glass, with a lengthy description of each wine (in Italian). We use the translation software in J's Blackberry to decipher some of the details. We all order something different and get a typical assorted meat and cheese platter to share (10 euro).

The wines:
K: Nebbiolo delle Langhe, 2004, Batasiolo, Piemonte, 4 euro
D: Nero d'Avola, 2005, St Anastasia, Sicilia, 4 euro
J: Traminer Aromatico, 2006, Madonna delle Vittore, Trentino, 3.50 euro
T: Pecorino, 2006, Torre Zambra, Abruzzo, 5 euro
Later, when D wants to order an Amaro, the guy behind the counter lets him try a couple of different ones. There's a large outdoor deck with umbrellas and I'll bet this place is hopping on warm summer nights. The tab, with another glass of Pinot Grigio and a couple Amari is 36 euro. Later, I discover this Enoteca is the only one I had on my Google Map list for Trastevere.

Pictures of Puddles

After leaving Enoteca Trastevere, we walk down the street and find ourselves at a church. Perhaps it was the wine, but now I cannot remember exactly which church it was. It should be Santa Maria in Trastevere, given the location, but from the pictures in my guidebook, it looks nothing like that in my momory. No matter, we continue walking and make our way to the Ponte Sisto.

The day has turned truly lovely with absolutely gorgeous late afternoon light. Jessica says, "now I understand what everyone told me about "the light in Rome". Everything is washed clean by the rain and the light on the buildings looks like warm apricot jam.

At the end of the bridge we make a left onto the start of the Via Giulia. While this was initially just for the sake of expediency to get back to the apartment, it ends up being a very enjoyable walk down a beautiful street. In fact, there is a "One Hour Walk Along the Via Giulia" in the DK Eyewitness guide. I wish I'd had it with me when we were walking.

The first thing we see is the beautiful Farnese archway which was designed by Michelangelo to link the Palazzo Farnese with their gardens. We'd seen this arch when riding the 116 bus and both Tris and I are thrilled to be able to come back for pictures. And it can't be more picturesque, covered in ivy and purple wisteria hanging down.

The rain has left big puddles in the cobblestone street, and with the sun now out, Tris notices the amazing reflections of the buildings in the water. We both take way too many pictures of puddles.

Puddle, photo by Tris



The rain bring out things we've walked past but never noticed before. The building below is on the Via de Banchi Vecchi, right behind our apartment. My first impression had been one of frescoes covering the building, but now, with the lovely afternoon light, we can see that it's covered with intricate relief carvings.

Tris and Jessica in front of the apartment, last day.

Back at the apartment, we spend the rest of the early evening packing and waiting for Senora Ornella to return with our security deposit check. She comes back around 7pm as promised and all is well.

Trattoria Polese

For dinner, we decide easy is best and the day before had made an 8pm reservation downstairs at Trattoria Polese. For the wine, we get a bottle of Sicilian Nero d'Avola Rapitala. I appreciate it when the waiter brings better wine glasses than what is already set on the table.

For our antipasti we order a mixed vegetable plate and a fried artichoke since we have not tried one yet this trip. It's good, but I think we all prefer the "romano" version better. I order a pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale (wild boar) and the rest order pizzas. My pasta is excellent. The pizzas are large and we could have made due with only two. One had smoked mozzarella and arugula, and while it was good, the smoked mozzarella was overwhelming for the whole pizza. All of the above, with a 1/2 bottle house white, a beer and bread was around 100 euro.

After dinner we make our final pilgrimage over to Frigidarium. It's hard to say goodbye to Fabrizio. He's been so nice to us and he really does make the best gelato. He seems genuinely disappointed to hear it's out last night there. I get the feeling he may even miss us a little too.

Photos of Frigidiarum by Tris

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Teeny tiny church hidden in teeny tiny

Jessica in her fabulous "new" vintage coat.
Photos above and below by Tris


Santa Maria in Cosmedin (photo by David)










Bridge Dragon (photo by Tris)







Detail on building at right.










Ponte Sisto (photo by Tris)


Via Giulia (photo by David)



Looking down the Via Giulia


The Baroque Fontana del Mascherone, near
the arch (photo by David).



Photo by Tris











Detail on building at right (photo by Tris)








Piazza Sforza Cesarini



Pizza with prosciutto and mushrooms



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