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Posts tagged ‘Rome’

One Word Photo Challenge: Bulbs

A Bulb in Rome!

Bulbs in Rome!

This photo has everything I love; Rome, a Porch, the Terre Cotta Peach Color, an Icon, old pale blue Shutters, Flowers, a mix of old and new……..And the bulbs of Light!!

Look here to participate the One Word Photo Challenge presented by Jennifer Nicole Wells!

Guest Blog: The Jazziest Tram in Rome

TramJazz Rome, Italy

TramJazz Rome, Italy

Doing tons of research about “things to do in Rome” I came across TramJazz.  This is typically only a little fun-fest known to locals.  Extensive research pays off.  TramJazz is basically what it sounds like.  It’s a “tram” that features “jazz” music accompanied by a traditional Italian 4-course meal.  There are different types of jazz music featured, but on the night I was able to attend with a friend, it was, “Wonderful World”, a tribute to Louis Armstrong.   When booking, you get a choice of sharing a table of four or sitting at a table of two.  We chose to sit at a table of four.  The TramJazz departs Piazza di Porta Maggiore at 9pm.  The tram is really a trolley car that is on a cable track.  When you arrive, they check your reservation and then show you to your table on the tram.  The tram seats 22 guests.  There are 3 servers and a 2-piece band.  Upon being seated we were greeted by our table mates. They were a cute Italian couple that didn’t speak any English!!!  Our server brought us wine and our first course.  The menu was in Italian only, and the tram had very little lighting, so seeing what we were being served was a bit of a challenge.  This was tough for me because I am a very picky eater.  The first course was a type of black licorice bread with sausage, ricotta cheese and honey.  The tram started on its journey.  It was night time so seeing the city all lit up was really nice.  The jazz musicians could only play music when the tram was stopped.  After traveling for about 20 minutes the tram came to a stop in front of the National Museum.  The jazz musicians began playing.  They played 4 to 5 songs while we were stopped.  We also were served our second course.  It was Eggplant Parmesan with tomato sauce.  We knew it had to be really good because all of the Italian people on the tram were licking their plates.  The tram was back on the move.  It took us through the “old city” and landed at The Colosseum.  We were able to get out here and take a few pictures.  The jazz music continued, as well.  We were served our next course when the tram started moving again.  This time we received Broccoli Lasagna, another homemade dish, using the freshest ingredients.  The last course was my favorite, it was Citrus Gelato! YUM!  We also were given unlimited wine the entire night!!!!  The tram was now back at Piazza di Porta Maggiore and we were off the tram and headed back to our hotel.  It was about a 3-hour ride.  The music was absolutely fantastic and definitely a fun thing to experience.  I mean, how many people can say they listened to Louis Armstrong on a Trolley through Roma?  

The price of the tour is $65.00 per person and if you want to have an authentic Italian meal with the locals, enjoy jazz and want to see Rome at night, this is the tour for you!

Ryn Jarrett opened her web business, Roman Holiday Italy Travel, in 2016.  TramJazz is one of the tours she reviewed as a recommendation for Roman Holiday Italy Travel.   Please feel free to check out her business page at www.romanholidayitalytravel.com.    

 

When In Rome………….

 

Rome

I Loved the Umbrella Trees!

As we finish up the Traipsing Through Tuscany tour, I learned two things on this trip to Rome. First, always ask how many flights of stairs there are to the abode you plan to stay in and two, never cut in line when it is raining and there is an older Italian woman waiting in an informal queue or in the shadows. Well, it is never proper to cut in line, but first know if there is a line and where it might actually be. I did witness the results of such a blunder or was it simply a tired wet Italian woman not to be put off?

Arriving in Rome, we took a cab to the B&B.  Pushing open the heavy oak door, after being buzzed in, there were immediately two flights of stone stairs to reach a plateau area of tables and chairs on the roof of the building we had just walked up. The hostess met us here and took us to our room, in a remodeled villa, up another four flights of stairs, in another building. So everyday in Rome it was up and down six flights of stairs twice and sometimes more. I did not look forward to the end of the day and since we had opted to stay out a little further in the “burbs” there was also a trek each day to the metro station before the exploring began.  The B&B room was new, elegant and very chic, but I would take the room with the nuns at Santa Brigida Convent over this. (See “Off to Roma” post)  https://cadyluckleedy.com/2013/04/30/off-to-roma/

We took several walking tours with Art Viva; “Rome in One Glorious Day,”  the “Masterpieces of the Vatican and St Peters Tour” and “The Original Walking Tour.”  BEWARE, wear your most comfortable walking shoes! We walked well over ten miles, the first day, during the tour alone! I would also take the tours over several days with rests between. They were EXCELLENT and we learned a lot, but we were really pooped at the end of the day and then there were those “STAIRS” to look forward to! 

After one day out, exploring, touring, eating, and walking, it started to pour.  We looked to hail a cab and got in a queue behind a group of six at a taxi stand.  A cab stopped, the six piled in and out of nowhere an elderly woman flung herself at the back cab door, pulled it open and in no uncertain terms, in rapid fire Italian and gestures, ordered the occupants out of the cab. When they didn’t get her message she flew to the front door of the cab and told off the cab driver as well. The cab driver told the occupants they would have to get out, and they did.  The old woman with her wet, soggy pull-cart of groceries jumped into the cab and off it splashed. We left the queue and walked in the rain to the metro station, realizing it might be easier just to take the metro. Soaked through and through, my shoes squeeking, I again had the STAIRS ahead! We did enjoy our time in Rome, but would to do it differently the next time!  Live and learn! That’s what traveling is all about! Here are some of my favorite pictures of Rome!  Enjoy!

 

For more information on Art Viva Tours Look HERE!

Last Night a Roma

Mother Mary Hasselblad of Santa Brigida Convent

Mother Mary Hasselblad of Santa Brigida Convent

How to do you study a nun’s habit without staring?  That is the question.  I am fascinated with the headpiece.  It looks like a halo held in place with a plus sign on top. Or is it an open air battle ready helmet, but made of hard cardboard like the priests collars? The headpiece the nuns wear is fashioned the same as the headpiece that Mother Mary Hasselblad wore. I saw Mother Hasselblad’s picture in the chapel. Their headpiece must determine their association with Santa Brigida.  In the daytime, outside the convent, the nuns walk in pairs carrying an umbrella between them to block the suns rays. In the Rome heat it would be as hot as a furnace under all that get up. I think your head would be sweating from that halo contraption.

The Market Hardware Stand

The Market Hardware Stand

Small Streets for Dining

Small Streets for Dining

Tonight we are walking to Piazza Navona to eat. There are so many people out and about on this Saturday night, but I wonder if it is always busy with tourists? The markets are still flourishing so I look at the hardware stand. I buy little glass jars to put the Italian spices in that I bought at another stall. I also buy a can of coffee to take to the apartment in Montepulciano.   The espresso coffee is four euro for a pound and the date of use is good until 2014.  I’m good to go. We could look for hours here there is so much to see, but we move on after our purchases. We get to the only street corner that so far has a stoplight, although stoplights here are only a suggestion.  Nobody stops. There is a police woman here tonight and I think that is odd.  The polizia wear big thick white gun holsters that cross over the body like you would wear a purse you didn’t want stolen. They don’t holster around the waist. Suddenly we hear sirens.  Lots of sirens.  Two motorcycle police whiz by like they are going to a fire.  The police woman jumps into action preventing anyone from crossing the street. The man in front of me says, “Holy Papa, Holy Papa.”  And sure enough here comes a black Mercedes and in the back seat is a smiling and waving Pope Francis.  Everyone on the street is waving and shouting.  It was quite the moment.  How lucky we were to be at that place at that time! After the Holy Papa passes by the police woman vanishes into the crowd as more motorcycles zip past.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

In the Piazza Navona tonight there are artists of all kinds. Some painting absentmindedly, with their palettes of beautiful colors, while others watch. There is also a large crowd gathered around a man in a straight jacket and chains. It is like being at the circus. Young good looking men are selling rubber band rockets that shoot high into the sky, then flash bright colors, before falling back to the ground where they run to pick them up and do it all over again. In the background the huge fountain provides a backdrop for the photo takers. We sit at the oldest restaurant on the piazza dating 1836.  The food is so-so, but the people watching is fantastic. We return to the Convent again around midnight and I wonder what is in store for us tonight.

The Angel on the Corner

The Angel on the Corner

We are not disappointed.  We still hear people walking and talking as they return to their  homes, but around 3am there is a blood curdling scream of “aiutarmi, aiutarmi!” Help me!  Help me! I also hear the voices of people trying to quiet the man down.  My first thought is he is on drugs.  He gets quiet only to start up minutes later, “aiutarmi, aiutarmi!”  I then hear the doors of Santa Brigida open and the soft voice of a nun trying to comfort him. Everything gets quiet then and I finally fall asleep. In the morning after breakfast with the priests, the nun calls a cab for us to take to the train station. A very old man, speaking only Italian, pulls up and can hardly lift our suitcases to the trunk. We are off to Montepulciano!

Late Night in Roma

Via Della Concilazione

Via Della Concilazione

St Peter's

St Peter’s

The wall around St Peters Square

The Wall Around St Peters Square

The front and main entrance to the church at Santa Brigida faces the square of the Piazza Farnese. Looking out from Santa Brigida to the right on the piazza is the Farnese Palazzo, now the French Embassy.  There is a guard house for the armed soldiers, who carry angry looking machine guns.  A utility vehicle painted in camouflage  looks well equipped with anything needed in a crisis.   Armed guards constantly patrol the grounds of the embassy. Two armed soldiers are posted at the vehicle at all times. The piazza is small and quiet with no markets set up during the day and no hawkers shooting off the plastic rockets that glow like firecrackers when propelled into the night sky. During the day tourists sit on the long marble bench in front of the embassy to rest.

Our room at the convent faced the small cobbled side street and as we looked out our tall narrow window of the room we could see the embassy to the left and a small bar in the next block to the right.  We could hear people walking and talking in the street below despite the fact we were up four floors from the ground level of the street.  Sound travels. The serenading began at 1am.  A group of boys, either drunk or just happy sat on the steps of the building across from the convent and sang loudly and with gusto until 3 AM.  Evidently the guards at the embassy like singing and are trained to stay at their posts and keep a look out, never interfering unless there is a disturbance in the piazza or a run on the building. They are not diverted to singing groups on the side street. The side street is off limits. It’s a good thing we got sleep on the flight over.

The next morning broke clear, sunny and very warm. We went to the breakfast room and were greeted by a nun who was serving two priests an early breakfast. We had the choice of frutta, yoghurt, cereali, salami, fromaggio, caffe e spramuta d’ rancia. (I am practicing my Italian) We decided to walk early in the day, while it was cooler, to the Vatican and I am so glad we did. Staying at the convent is so convenient, despite the outdoor noises, because you can walk to all the main attractions. We walked to the Tiber River and crossing a different bridge than yesterday passed Castel Sant’ Angelo and walked on to St Peter’s Square, which is really round.  At this early hour there were few tourists so we could get some good pictures without heads or bodies in the way. The shops and cafes along Via Della Conciliazione were open at this hour too.  The street cleaners were out with witches brooms sweeping away the last bits of dirt on the sidewalks.  The street cleaning machines started up right after the serenading died down. Hey, maybe the singers ARE the street cleaning machine operators!  The Italians clean the streets early every morning with the same gusto as the singers! Cleaning starts in around 4AM.  We walked on to the square and were greeted by hawkers who could get us in the Vatican, no line. I don’t think so.  I know there is always a long line. There is a great deal of construction going on near the Vatican now so there are many detours to get around the  square and up to the museum. When we finally arrived at the museum that entrance was closed off so we retraced our steps back to St Peters Square. When we got there, there were  hundreds of people winding in a line to get into the Vatican.  We passed around the wrought iron fence designating we were now in Vatican City, a country all it’s own.  We stopped to look at the wares of a man selling Vatican novelties.  He told us he was the only merchant allowed to sell inside Vatican City, on church and state property. His family had sold here from 1945 and the license was passed down through the generations.  He was very nice and telling the truth.  We circled St Peters and never saw another vender inside the fencing.  We went back to him and bought rosaries and tiny, tiny bottles of holy water.  He gave us St Francis medals to wear.  He told us business would not be good today since the crowd was expected to be over 200,000 for the dedications of the Confraternity.  There were a bazillion metal chairs set in the square and that is where the lines were winding as they waited to get into the Vatican.  We hi-tailed out of there before the crowds became worse and stopped at more shops along the way.  I was looking for a Nativity scene.  I have a large set with many shepherds, cows and donkeys and of course the Holy Family.  I wanted a little itsy bitsy one and found it.  Made of hand carved wood it is Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus about one inch tall, all in one tiny piece. Perfetto!  We also bought post cards and posted them in the Vatican City post office.  We then found the stop for the red open air double decker buses, thanks to two Italian girls who overheard us talking and gave us directions. We decided to take a tour of the city.  It was beginning to get HOT so we bought gelato and boarded the bus, climbing to the top.  It is a good way to rest and get a suntan at the same time. After the bus tour we walked back to the Convent passing large groups of people dressed in colorful robes and carrying large banners while praying and walking to the Vatican.  These were the Confraternities.  They were being honored with a mass with the Holy Papa.  Time for a nap to rest up for the evening passegiatta!

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

From the Tour Bus in Roma

From the Tour Bus in Roma

DSCN0187

Rome at Night

A Bridge Over the Tiber River

A Bridge Over the Tiber River

Rome at night Is unbelievable! We headed out to Campo di Fiori (Field of Flowers), just a hop, skip and jump from Piazza Farnese, that was used in times past as a market and hostel area for pilgrims making their way to see the Holy Papa. Today it is filled with stalls of goods, hawkers and outdoor restaurants.  There are people everywhere since this time of evening is known for the passeggiata, when everyone, young and old takes a walk. It is still warm out and the glow of faint street lights on the cobblestones and marble buildings is breathtaking and magical.  Around every corner is another small lane with an enoteca or outdoor restaurant. We choose an establishment with red checkered clothed tables and I order wine, which is cheaper here than bottled water. We soon discover our neighboring table mates are Russian Jews who left Russia thirty years ago and went first to Austria, then Italy while waiting on paperwork to get them into the US. Our government took care of all their bills and living facilities while they waited.  They love Italy and come back often. It was interesting to talk to them especially so close to the Boston bombings and since they too sought asylum in the US. They came with two thousand dollars (all the government of Russia would let them leave with) and left a beautiful large home, careers and their families behind. He owned a mining company in Russia. They had their choice of going to Israel or the US. After arrival in the US he drove a cab in New York for twenty years.  She left Russia with twenty pairs of long yellow plastic gloves prepared to clean toilets if she had too. She never had to.  She became a nail technician instead.  They have two sons, who both graduated from college. They now are retired and split their time between Manhattan and Miami where they own homes. She said they could not totally leave Manhattan because they love the pizza too much!  They looked very well to do, spoke very good English and we had fun chatting with them.

After dinner we decided to do Rick Steve’s Heart of Rome Walk which took us through the major piazzas, winding cobblestone streets and then to the really fancy shopping areas of Gucchi and Pucci, ending at the Spanish Steps. Most shops here open at 10AM, close at 2PM for a couple of hours and then reopen and stay open until 10PM. Except for the restaurants that open early or late deciding if they do breakfast or not, then close around 2PM and reopen for dinner and are still open late into the night.  We rested on the Spanish Steps and then retraced our footsteps and also meandered on some different small streets back to the Convent of Santa Brigida. The Convent is locked at night but there is no curfew.  Inside, at the desk, was our key to the room on a big wooden orange spinning top that designated our room. The key fob looks like a Pinocchio toy. When you leave the Convent the nuns take the key to your room so you don’t lose it. We settled in briefly  around midnight before all the excitement began. Next…… Late night in Rome

The Cobblestone Streets of the Historic Center of Rome

The Cobblestone Streets of the Historic Center of Rome

The Stalls in Campo di Fiori

The Stalls in Campo di Fiori

Food Stalls at Campo di Fiori

Food Stalls at Campo di Fiori

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain at Night

The Streets of Rome

The Streets of Rome

Streets of Rome

Streets of Rome

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

Rome Is Magical at Night

Rome Is Magical at Night

Rome

Our Room at Santa Brigida

Our Room at Santa Brigida

Day one. Off to Rome. My daughter surprised me with an early Mother’s Day present and updated my ticket to first class!  I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!!!!! Everything is so much nicer in first class.  I could select meals from a menu with several choices and eat delicious food with real forks and spoons.  I ate steak. To sleep I just pushed the button for the seat to maneuver into whatever position was comfortable for me.  I slept great! In no time we were landing in Rome.
We took a cab from the airport to St Brigida Convent in the heart of historic Rome.  The cabbie didn’t fail my expectations by stopping or even slowing down at stop signs.  The signs are only suggestions in Italy. Sister Gertrude met us at the huge oak doors and let us into the convent/hotel located in the Farnese Piazza next door to the Palazzo Farnese, which is now the French Embassy.  In the meeting room we were greeted by an older nun who could not have been over four foot eight and spoke only Italian. Sister Gertrude is the only fluent English speaking nun here at the convent.  Most of the nuns are Indian or Italian. Showing us to our room on the third floor we managed to get our luggage and three people in the elevator meant for one. I was so thankful for that elevator though!  Our room was spotless and the size of most Italian hotel rooms. To get there we passed a small television room and chapel. My daughter and I unpacked and quickly headed out to explore Trastevere, an old neighborhood where the locals live just across the Tiber River. The streets are narrow and the crowds are not here so it is great to explore.  We stopped at a small restaurant with outdoor seating called Gabriels and Gabriella’s right next door to the Church of Santa Maria.  With the bells tolling we dined on fresh pasta and homemade foccaccia with rosemary served in a paper bag.  As it was getting hot we went back to the Convent to rest before going out into the piazza at night.

The Main Entrance Santa Brigida

The Main Entrance Santa Brigida

Flowers in Trastevere

Flowers in Trastevere

Trastevere

Trastevere

Santa Brigida

Santa Brigida

Off To Roma

Rome

Rome

Off to Italy!  First stop Rome and Santa Brigida Church and convent where I will be staying while in Rome. Santa Brigida Church is dedicated to Saint Brigida of Sweden and the Swedish National Church (Lutheran) in Rome. The order of St Brigida is found in many countries and their convents serve as a rest, retreat and educational facility for  people of different faiths.   Birgitta Birgirsdotter was born in 1303 in Vadstena, Sweden into a well-to-do family and married Ulf Gudmarrson, a knight, at the age of 14.  They had eight children and one of the girls Karin, also became a saint, Saint Catherina of Sweden.  Ulf died following a pilgrimage taken by both Brigida and Ulf to Santiago di Compostela in Spain. Following Ulf’s death Brigida joined the Order of St Francis and started a community of both men and women in Vadstena.  The idea of men and women serving and working together in the church was unheard of.  In 1350 she and her daughter traveled to Rome, a strenuous trip during the plague, to seek permission for an official order of Bridgettine Sisters and stayed in the Palatium Magnum, the grand palace. Here she remained and served the poor until her death nineteen years later while waiting for permission to start the order, which was granted in 1370, after her death. St Brigida is also know for her visions that started as a child. Some believe she was epileptic, though I am skeptical of this idea.  To survive in the 1300’ s, have eight living children and live well into middle age, in addition to having epilepsy would be a miracle itself.  She wrote down her visions in her book of revelations, especially of the Nativity of Jesus which influenced the scene to be painted as art. In another vision, she was given a prayer later known as the Fifteen “O’s” because in the original Latin verse each prayer started with the letter “O”.  This prayer honored the wounds of Christ and were prayed over the course of one year. This prayer was later recited throughout Europe.  She also wrote many letters to the Pope, who lived in Avignon, France, encouraging him to bring the Papacy back to Rome.  He did.  Under Catherina and later her granddaughter, Casa di Santa Brigida in Rome served as a pilgrimage stop in Campo di Fiori (Field of Flowers) for Swedes coming to Rome on pilgrimage and then as a refuge for Swedish Catholics fleeing the Reformation in Sweden. The convent in Rome changed hands among many different orders of nuns over the years, including the Sisters in Santa Maria in Trastevere, then to the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a French congregation that restored the rooms of St Brigida and her daughter St Catherina.  Next the convent was given to the Polish branch of the Carmelite Order until 1930 when it was restored to the Brigidine Order and Mother Mary Hasselblad.  Mother M. Hasselblad was a Swedish girl who immigrated to the United States for work to help support her family in the early 1900’ s.  She converted to Catholicism, became a nun, and was sent to Casa di Santa Brigida and worked relentlessly to restore the Brigidine Order in Rome.  Later she returned to Sweden and opened a convent in Vadstena  with a group of Brigidine sisters who were now thriving in Rome under her leadership.  It was the first Catholic Order to be restored to the Lutheran country in 400 years. Later the order would expand into Mexico and India, where many of the nuns living at Casa di Santa Brigida are from.  The relics of St Brigida and St Catherina are here in the church. The rest of St Brigida is buried in Sweden at the convent of Vadstena.
Italy Sep _ Oct 2009 832
Italy Sep _ Oct 2009 683I have never stayed in a convent before or a hotel operated by nuns. This will be a new experience and the location is fantastic. On our previous trip to Rome we stayed in a newly remodeled villa near the US Embassy that had been converted into lovely big rooms with posh furnishings and marble fixtures. It was a bit further out from the major sites and the Vatican. Our room was situated on the top floor with a great view but also up four flights of stairs.  Believe me when I say at the end of the day and after walking miles, I did not look forward to the stairs. Santa Brigida has an elevator, a treasure in any hotel in Europe. The rooms will be smaller, and with no TV. Since I don’t go on vacation to watch TV this is perfect for me. The description given by guests is, “the casa is spotless, a safe refuge in the heart of Rome and the nuns very friendly and helpful to everyone.”  Located in the Farnese Piazza, near Campo di Fiori, it will be close to restaurants, shopping and the sites.  I want to do two things in Rome, besides dwelling in Casa St Brigida.  One, is to walk and explore the Trastevere neighborhood.  This neighborhood is what most Americans think of when they think of Italy.  The walk includes twisting cobblestone streets, local cafes, gift boutiques, and wine, cheese and coffee shops. I’m sure there will be a gelato stop or two. People watching should be ideal. The second item to do is Rick Steves, Heart of Rome Walk.  This walk starts in Campo di Fiori and ambles through narrow lanes to the most colorful neighborhoods of fountains, piazzas and shopping, ending at the Spanish Steps.  This walk passes by the Pantheon, the Parliament, and the Trevi Fountain but since I have seen these sights before I will be focusing on the walk and the people.  I want to get a glimpse of the lifestyle and stroll among the rich and Roman before I move on to Montepulciano and Il Sasso, the Italian Language school.

Next a post from Italy!

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