Monday, 28 March 2011

regalo e passeggiata

It has been a busy weekend, a reflective one and an enjoyable one. Birthday Dinner on Thursday night with our friends Walter, Vincenzo and Larry at a Spanish Tapas bar at 79 Via Nomentana, Toros y Tapas. Then Friday night another dinner party this time at the Anatra Grassa (the fat duck), wonderful food with great wines to match every dish an elaborate menu of seafood and fish dishes prepared by Chef Giovanni Scomazzon.
Temple of Augustus, Ostia Antica, March 26, 2011

On Saturday we toured Ostia Antica the old port of Rome only 35 minutes by train from our home, never been there in 4 years but well worth seeing, in the evening we went to the Disco Volante on Via Alessandria with Brigitte and Collette. Today, Sunday it was lunch at the Antica Taverna Kosher del Ghetto at the Portico d'Ottavia, with all the wonderful Roman-Jewish specialties developed over 3000 years in Rome, no smoke meat or bagels here. We then walk across the old Fabricio Bridge to Trastevere for ice cream, the weather has been sunny and so Spring like in the last few days and now with the time change suddenly the days are longer. I have been spoiled by my friends with wonderful gifts.
Toros y Tapas, Via Nomentana, one of many wonderful gifts I received.

I am also reflective, I am at a junction and unsure about the future, I suppose we can never be sure of the future, the uncertainty, the anxiety, has to do more with returning to Canada and getting re-acquainted with life in North America.  Maybe I imagine it to be more difficult than it will really be. Walking today in Trastevere, looking at the Tiber river, I took a long look at it all, we visited the Church of Santa Cecilia built by Cardinal Aquaviva and Santa Maria in Trastevere. You need good walking shoes for the uneven cobbled streets, there is so much to look at, to appreciate. In the last few months this is what I want to do.
In Ostia Antica on the Cardo

Thursday, 24 March 2011

At 55 in Rome

Well another birthday in another great setting. I am really fortunate, to be able to celebrate major birthday in great cities of the world, Mexico City, Cairo, Istanbul, Warsaw, Beijing, Rome.  It certainly makes up for not having a Betty Crocker Chocolate cake my Mom use to make, the icing was so sweet you felt your teeth growing cavities. Had wonderful parties through the years with good friends. This year is the same, lunch today at the Enoteca on Via Alessandria with Linda, Gail and Jolka. Tonite it will be Spanish Tapas at a nice restaurant on Via Nomentana. Tomorrow night we are going to the Anatra Grassa and chef Giovanni Scomazzon is preparing a special menu. This is what I enjoy the most and of course Will who always comes up with a special surprise. Even Nicky and Nora our little hounds came up with a bouquet of flowers, clever dogs. Apparently I can start getting some senior discounts as of today, amazing.

  1959, in front of our old black and white television at home, 52 yrs separate this photo from the top one. My hair is a little whiter.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Today in Rome

La Citta Eterna was very quiet, a National Holiday, a sunny early morning but quickly the clouds came in.
At 09:00 the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano made his way to Piazza Venezia and the Altar to the Nation built in 1890 to honor the first King of Italy Vittorio-Emmanuelle II. The President laid a wreath at the feet of the Goddess Roma. The Vittoriano is the largest all white marble monument build in modern times, it occupies the area formely occupied by the hill of the Arx.

close up of a Corazzieri, the personal bodyguard of the President of the Italian Republic.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano laying a wreath at the Vittoriano.

Then the President of the Republic went to the Pantheon, built in antiquity by Agrippa the able general and friend of Emperor Augustus. At the Pantheon waiting for him was the entire Royal Family of Italy, who nowadays live in Savoy-Piemonte in their former estate. At the Pantheon is the bronze mausoleum of King Vittorio-Emmanuelle II built from melted Austrian cannons, there he laid a second wreath to the King.
The Royal Family of Italy at the Pantheon in front of the tomb of their forefather King Vittorio-Emmanuelle II.

Then he went to the Gianicolo Hill across the Tiber to the mausoleum of Anita Garibaldi the heroic wife of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who fought and accompanied her husband during the war of independence. She died on the battlefield, it is also said that she was the one who taught her husband how to ride a horse.
The tomb of Anita Garibaldi on the Gianicolo Hill

The President then returned to Piazza Repubblica for a mass for Italian Soldiers in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, formely the Baths of Emperor Dioclitian. This evening all the museums and major monuments of Rome are open to the public late. The President is at the Teatro del Opera di Roma for a gala presentation of Verdi's, Nabucco. This 17 March is a unique holiday celebrated this year only for the 150th anniversary and it was the idea of President Napolitano to do this. Bravo Presidente e Grazie!
Auguri a tutti!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


The 17 March 1861 Vittorio-Emmanuelle II of Savoy became King of a United Italian Kingdom. Tomorrow the 17th we celebrate all over Italy this great day under the theme of Italian Unity or Patria Unita.

There will be demonstrations and concerts, museums will remain open late and everyone except yours truly will enjoy a National Holiday, I forgot the Holy See is not celebrating this holiday, they lost the war against the Italians and the Pope lost all his estates and all of central Italy which came under his direct rule.

Pater Patria, King Vittorio-Emmanuelle II of Italy.

Auguri and Complimenti to all my Italian friends on this great day! Unity came after years of bloody conflict with the Pope and his French and Austrian allies against the people of Italy.  The capital at first was Turin and then Florence and finally after the conquest of Rome on 20 September, the Eternal City became once again after almost 1400 years the Capital of all Italy. This feat was in a large part the work of one great Sardinian, Garibaldi who was very successful at conquering town after town and region after region and becoming the symbol of the aspiration of the Italians to be able to govern themselves.
Tomorrow night at the Teatro del Opera di Roma, the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano will host by invitation only an evening presentation of the great Verdi opera Nabucco directed by Maestro Riccardo Muti, this work is the musical symbol associated with the historical struggles of the Italians to rid themselves of foreign rulers like the French and the Austrians. The famous chorus Va' pensiero sung by the Jewish slaves in Egypt is the allegorical reference in the story and strikes that emotional chord in all Italians. Just a few nights ago, the crowd at the Opera demanded an encore of the chorus, Maestro Muti turned to the audience and invited them to stand and sing with the singers the encore. It was a great emotional moment, many cried, all the newspapers carried the story the next day.
We are going to the opera on the Saturday 19th to see Nabucco, I hope for a repeat of this scene.

Everyone is invited to post in all the windows of homes and shops the Italian tricolore in celebration of the Anniversary. The showing of the flag in Rome is especially significant as a rebuke to the Vatican.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Carnavale Venezia, Marzo 2011

March 5, 2011 in Venice, temperature 11 C, looking at the domes of Santa Maria della Salute (1630) at the entrance of the Grand Canal.

We had a wonderful time at the Carnaval, beautiful costumes, some people work very hard on their costumes. Venice never disappoints, always something beautiful and different.

On a bridge in Dorsoduro.

We also decided that we would go to the Island of Torcello, which is located in the greater lagoon some 2 hours away, by the scenic long route on a motonave cruising along the Canale della Giudecca out towards the Canale di San Marco past the Giardini Biennale and then towards the Cemetery island of San Michele, Murano (blown glass) and Burano (lace) and across to Torcello, the original settlement abandoned due to malaria, only the great cathedral remains today built in the year 1039 for the first millenium.  We had a wonderful lunch by one of the canals with a view of gardens and small farms and the house of the Onorevole Basilio of Milan where we stayed one night 12 years ago during our 3 day cruise of the greater lagoon on an old Venetian sail boat. I remember on arrival at the house, the keeper served a white wine made from the grapes of vineyards on the island, meaning that there is a slightly salty taste because all the surrounding water is sea water. Torcello is very peaceful, few tourist come to it. It is simply charming and makes you realize how the lagoon must have been before mass tourism.

view from our table at lunch, the house of the Honorable Basilio where we slept one night 12 years ago.

hotel and restaurant Cipriani, a very exclusive address on Torcello

The bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (1039) and the round church of St-Fosca.
The cathedral only has religious services on 15 August and on major religious feast days, where
St-Fosca is used daily. Torcello only has a population of 60 persons.

We spent most of the day on water going from one island to another but it was so much fun and so beautiful.
Venice during the carnavale is at its most colorful but we also had one great surprise, we arrived at St-Mark's square around 4:30 in the afternoon and decided on the spur of the moment to enter the Basilica of San Marco (1063), the great Byzantine style church modeled of the Agia Sophia of Constantinople (Istanbul).
The basilica closes at 5 pm to tourists and remains open only for prayers and religious services in the evening, don't try to go in and pretend that you want to pray when all you want to do is take a few pictures and look around. Anyway we went to look at the treasury of the basilica and on coming out of the room we were all alone in the great church, with the late afternoon sun streaming in through the great windows it was so quiet and peaceful, it was like taking a step back through the centuries. Under the great main Altar is the body of St-Mark the Evangelist, brought back (stolen) from Alexandria, Egypt by clever Venetian merchants.

St-Mark's Basilica in late afternoon as the sun shines through the church.

The high Altar of the Basilica with the body of St-Mark the Evangelist lying below.

Beautiful colored marble floor of the Basilica. A very ancient style of floor from antiquity.

There is nothing quite like a visit to Venice to make you smile and feel a million miles away from the world. Venice is truly a special unique place.