Monday, 28 October 2013


Today is our first full day, this morning we got up, showered and went for breakfast at the Caffè, we had cappuccino and I had a Tramenzino of cheese and ham toasted and then an Espresso. We then went to the TIM Italia Office to buy a new phone card for my cel with 250 minutes only 16 Euros.

We then walked in the neighbourhood, Trastevere is across the Tiber from Rome as the name implies.
This means that most early Christian Churches are in this neighbourhood, most built between 360 and 420 AD. The reason for this is a political one, like so many things in this world. Early Christians were mostly Jews who lived in Rome or had lived in Rome for generations. It was seen as a Cult like Scientology is today by most Romans who worshipped Roman Gods connected to their culture and history. When Emperor Constantine decided to switch Official Religions on the people of Rome it did not go down too well. He had a near Civil War on his hands, no one could understand why the old gods were being abandoned for a new god who was a Jew from Palestine, who nobody knew much about, but was rumoured to have been a criminal. The Army had its official religion which was similar to the Christian Faith, but no one was willing to accept new temples to be built to worship this new god. So Constantine had to do the political thing and had churches built outside Rome in Trastevere or on land outside the City boundaries like the Lateran where the Cathedral of Rome now stands on land that was private and owned by the Emperors family, St-John Lateran. St-Peter basilica was built in a cemetery on Via Cornelia, a place not likely to bring many Romans to look around. In the end Constantine abandoned Rome and moved the Capital of the Empire to his new city Constantinople (today Istanbul).

Tomb of Pope Innocent II, (1130-1143) 

Main Altar, Santa Maria in Trastevere

We visited Santa Maria in Trastevere which is the Church of the Canadians in Rome, Cardinal Ouellet from Quebec is the head of that Church on top of other functions he occupies in the Roman Curia at the Holy See. Pope Innocent II (1130-1143) is buried there. The Church has many different sized columns taken from various temples of Roman gods and its floor is decorated with Imperial Roman Mosaic also taken from old temples. There is a beautiful iconostasis of Christ above the master Altar.

We also had a look at Santa Maria alla Scala (in the staircase) which is attached to the Papal Official Drug Store since many centuries ago. The pharmacy is lovely and it has kept its old decor though nowadays it is a modern drug store. In this church there is also a famous miraculous icon and people leave little pieces of paper with a note to the Virgin asking for a special favour or miracle, there are hundreds of little notes. The priests who administer this church had 500 years ago commissioned the painter Caravaggio to paint a scene with a theme on the Virgin Mary. Caravaggio wanted something realistic and so he used the corpse of a famous prostitute who had drowned in the Tiber a few days earlier as his model of the Virgin Mary. This famous painting is in the Louvre Museum today, the priests were so scandalized when they recognized the features of the dead prostitute that they refused outright the painting.  

Santa Maria alla Scala and Pontifical Drug store 

Side view of the church with brickwork of the 4th century

We had lunch with a friend just outside the Aurelian Walls in our old neighbourhood a 15 minute bus ride from Trastevere up the hill across the Tiber near Porta Pia. It was nice to go see the old neighbourhood. Things have changed and they have not. Restaurants are empty now at lunch time, the owner told us that these difficult economic times made everyone afraid. There is talk that Italy as a country could disintegrate, the wealthy North (North of Rome) could secede and abandon the South (south of Rome) to its own devices. This would be a true disaster. We have seen more beggars now in the streets, many are simply old people who have been squeezed and cannot manage any more.

 Fruit stand on Viale Regina Margherita

Our neighbourhood, intersection of Via Nomentana and Viale Regina Margherita

We had a lovely lunch and then went to walk along Via Nomentana towards Viale Regina Margherita
Will wanted an ice cream and we went to a shop we know well. The owner told us that he sold his business, things are difficult and he wants to do something else. We did notice that one of our favourite restaurant had disappeared and has been replaced by a pizza joint, another steak house had also disappeared replaced by a McDonald, the horror. Our fruit and vegetable vendor was still there and we chatted with him, he is doing great and so is the flower shop. I felt a little disoriented by all these changes, it is visible that people are worried. Many young people are immigrating since there is no work for them here. It is said that for the under 35 year old the unemployment rate is 40%.

This evening we are going further down the Tiber River on bus no 23 to the area of the Pyramid of Cestius to a new trendy restaurant to meet with friends called Porto Fluviale at no 22 Porto Fluviale.

                     Centro Piazza Venezia

On our way home we went through Piazza Venezia, the centre of Rome, and then crossed the Tiber at Ponte Garibaldi unto Via Trastevere. Just a block away from our B&B we came upon a cheese shop, the rich, creamy and sweet smell of Italian cheeses brought us to look at the wonderful assortments. Including hams of wild boar meat. What a fantastic meal you could make right there and then with a few purchases.

Boar meat hams 

Italian cheeses and wines

I still have to talk about EATALY a huge modern food emporium devoted to all Italian made foods on 4 floors unbelievable place. Located in the old Airport Train terminal now a huge food market with 8 restaurants simply beautiful for the gourmand and gourmet. You can also take the High Speed train to Milan, the connection Rome-Milan takes only 2:56 minutes at train speed of 330 Km. More on this later.

Tomorrow we are to meet with a friend who is an historian and archeologist to visit an historical site with special permission to enter. The weather is lovely and we are enjoying ourselves though a little nostalgic.


  1. It all sounds lovely and I am glad to hear you are both having a jolly good time.
    It is intriguing to me to hear about 'good proper food" as the USA has never been into 'real food' like I hear they do in Europe. I can't help but wonder and worry though with all this lovely food one would soon gain a lot of weight !

    1. You can walk it off and the portions are reasonable size.