Sunday, 27 October 2013

Roma arrival

Today we travelled from Ottawa to Montreal to Rome. We were all packed and prepared to leave. Met with the dog sitter, puppies were a little confused with the luggage and this person who appeared to be now in charge. So they of course wanted to be cuddled and petted, we obliged and gave them little biscuits, which always helps a lot. We did take a lot of arrangements for their well being. Taxi took us to the Bus depot in Ottawa, a place I do not recommend, it is derelict, Grey Hound should be ashamed, it has not been updated since 1980 and looks it. They make a parody of security measures none of which are implemented and this after a string of gruesome and deadly incidents on their buses. The trip on a broken down bus to the P.E.Trudeau Airport (formely Dorval) Montreal took two hours.

The airport in Montreal has changed a lot in the last 10 years, I remember Dorval as it was then known in the days of the DC8 when flying anywhere was a luxury and exotic. It had one restaurant the Kebec and the menu was prime roastbeef and a huge buffet. People would come and have a huge festive meal prior to their flight. It was very nice and the food was wonderful. The airport today is many times the size it was then, we went for a bite to eat at the U Bar, the light changes from blue to red to white with the music, the food is good and they have good wines. Our flight on Air Transat left on time. This is the second time we take this airline, they brought us back from Rome in 2011. Good service and a pleasant flight, they do not serve a full meal on the evening flight which takes off after 9 PM, a good idea since most people do not have the stomach for a full meal late at night. The light also in the cabin is shade a light blue which is very pleasant, then it turns to soft pink, more relaxing to help you sleep. There is an attention to small details, including the bread buns and at breakfast nice hot cinnamon buns, good coffee and the fruits were very fresh.

The flight was wonderful and we arrived at Fiumicino-Rome Airport 90 minutes ahead of time and got our luggage in 10 minutes, unheard of really. Shaving that much time on a flight is wonderful.

 The view from our room at Baylon Suites in Trastevere.

 On the old bridge from Trastevere to the Isola on the Tiber
which has been used as hospital island since antiquity. The temple to Aesclepius has been 
replaced by the basilica to Saint Bartholomew (skinned alive).

Ponte Rotto (broken bridge) next to the Palatine bridge.

Looking towards the Gianicolo Hill 

It was wonderful to see the Pines of Rome, those great big umbrella like trees everywhere you look.
When we arrived at our B&B we had a shower and then slept for a few hours. Around 4 pm we went out for a coffee on Piazza Piscinula at Bar Marcucci, the waiter recognized us and greeted us like long lost friends, it was such a pleasure. The coffee Espresso and a Tramenzino (white bread sandwich with white cheese and ham toasted hot).

Next to the bar is a small 4 century AD Church San Benedetto in Piscinula currently housing the statue of the Virgin of Fatima. The statue has been brought to Rome for a few days and is said to be miraculous. It is guarded by a Confraternity who wear highly polished riding boots and a uniform of a penitent knight. The Virgin statue is only a painted plaster statue not very nice looking but of immense importance in the RC Church. The Pope himself blessed the statue in St-Peter's square and thousands of pilgrims came to see it.

We then crossed over to the Rome side of the City by using the antique bridge over the Tiber river and walked into the old Jewish ghetto at the Portico d'Ottavia and the Teatro di Marcello area. The swallows by their thousands were circling above as they do in Rome at this time of the year. It is an incredible spectacle to see at sunset. We had dinner at the Old Taverna of the Ghetto, a favourite of ours. Jewish food in Rome has nothing to do with the European Jewish food known in North America. In Rome most recipes date from Antiquity from the time of Herod and as the Roman Jews say ''We have been here for 3000 years so we got stories to tell. We also went to see two renovated temples in the Forum Boarium near the Arc of Janus, one is the Temple of Virtue Virilis and the other of Hercules often called Vestale temple because it is round but there is no connection at all. The temples have been under renovation for at least 25 years and the final results are beautiful, considering that the building are at least 2200 years old.

 Temple of Virtue Virilis

 Temple of Hercule 

Fountain of the Tritone and the Church where is located the Boca della Verita

Fountain of the Turtles

Prior to our dinner we walked in the old ghetto to the Fountain of the Turtles my favourite and on Piazza Campitelli we went into the Church of Santa Maria al Portico della Piazza Campitelli. There is a shrine there to the patron Saint of Pharmacist, San Giovanni Leonardi.
The bells of the church were pealing as it was the end of Vespers. On Sunday night most churches are open for Vespers and at this time of the year only the immediate area where the service is held is lighted, the rest is in total darkness. I had a scotch and water at a Pub prior to dinner, love it for $7 dollars you get 2 oz of single malt scotch, now that is a drink. Served with 3 small pieces of 70% dark chocolate, goes very well together take my word for it.

Scotch single malt and 70% chocolate

After dinner we walked back to our B&B and will try to recuperate now.


  1. Replies
    1. Is there such a thing as Italian Whiskey?

    2. I really do not know, will have to ask.

  2. I remember that bridge; getting a gelato in Trastervere and the turtle fountain and the restaurant meal there. Sigh!