NOTE TO READERS: The Rome 2014 trip begins with post #30. Posts #10—29 were Rome 2013. Posts 1–9 were Florence 2011. If you'd like to be notified of new postings by email, let me know at

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#17—Entering the Ruins

Good morning, Everyone,
Looks like another sunny day like yesterday in the Eternal City.
First, it must be said that there are these gluten-free crackers I found that are not the usual semi-delicious gluten-free snacks one comes to expect. I am extremely glad they describe the caloric content in figures unknown to me.
And of course, there is the gelato. Sadly, the pistachio I started with was nothing to write home why then why am I writing about it. Duh. But il cioccolato. OMG. Rick Steves told me that Tre Scalini has the best chocolate, so hey it's Rick. I went. The choice: with or without nuts. Nuts. for the protein, because Rick also said protein is good for jet lag. And of course we all know that chocolate boosts seratonin levels. I had all bases covered. All I can say is that I do not know why I practiced Zen all those years in order to transcend impermanence. It happened for me right there in Piazza Navona with the Fountain of the Four Rivers gushing forth. I was ruined for any other gelato the world over.
All this took place an hour or so after dinner at Scalette Degli Artisti, a small place I came upon while wandering around dragging my invisible chains of jet lag. Sunday night. Italians eat late, so I was the only customer...I like the way waiters and waitresses stand outside the restaurants and hustle business. I pause, having notice the word artisti. The conversation began about vegetariana and senza glutine. Ah, they could make a special risotto for me. Come, come, inside or was a bit chilly, but what the heck, out. They lit a big propane heater next to me. Something to drink...water to rehydrate after my day traipsing about Castel Sant'Angelo aka Hadrian's tomb.
To get there, one has to cross a 1900-year-old-bridge which is in tip-top shape. I am definitely not in Portland or Pittsburgh.

Now, I haven't seen the pyramids. But I have to say, in my view, no one does tombs like the Romans.

I sprang for the audio tour. The highlight was at the end, just below that bell you can see to the right of the statue on top. It's the bell both of mercy and condemnation. It's so Italy! The audio tour ended at the climb to the top level of the immense cylinder by instructing you to look up at the parapet just to the left of the bell, from which Tosca jumped to her death...and suddenly the audio was playing Puccini. And there was Rome all around me at my feet bustling and ruined, dead and alive, tragic and eternal.
Back across the old bridge where some yogis were doing their thing.

See the wooden stick one is holding to support the other?
Earlier in the day, I decided to walk to the Vatican, which is just to the left of the castle. Story of my life: thousands, and I mean thousands of people were walking away from the Vatican as I was approaching. The Pope had just given his first blessing. But I missed it. I was disappointed. On the other hand, I would soon have the blessing of that cioccolato gelato.

I stopped for mass in St. Peter's Square. It was jammed. I was in standing room only. Next to me was a young man who had some mental disorder. Maybe 30 years old, with probably his father. He kept rejoicing and reaching out with his hands, to touch something, it seemed. People were shushing him. I wondered what he may have been touching in that sacred space.

There was a sign off to the left (note for those who care...I can't do accent marks on my iPad external keyboard, so I add them so - e')
Chi a voi e' senza peccato sceglie il primo pietra.

Come on, you can get it...hint: peccato is sin and pietra is stone.

Oh yeah, my dinner. The waitress was a young actress from Santiago, here with her husband who is studying music. I was going to save money by not ordering wine. How stupid was that. I had a white which until the gelato was the ultimate bliss. The risotto was a sensation of sight, fragrance, and taste. What is there about food that .... well, what can I say, I'm such a hypocrite, rejoicing that we now have a pope who took the name of the dear, impoverished saint who lived only for God and social justice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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