Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Feast of St. Casimir

[Howdy to all coming here from Amy's blog -- I've managed to put several Rome pictures up on the blog, so feel free to look around! Ciao! Amy, thanks for the link!]

[A prince of Poland.] There's just way too much to give a detailed travelogue for the day and get to bed at a reasonable hour (the clock is already less than 15 minutes shy of midnight). Here's the highlights, with links to descriptions of the churches at the fantastic Churches of Rome website.

Basilica of St. Mary Major
Basilica of S. Praessede
Baths of Trajan (a neat park with the ruins of the baths, with a fine view of the Coliseum)
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Scala Sancta (the steps on which, according to legend, Christ was tried by Pontius Pilate. A plenary indulgence is attached to those who climb up on their knees. And plenty were willing!)
... and my favorite: the Basilica of S. Clemente

After dinner we took the Metro to Piazza Spagna -- large parts of which are under restoration, including the famous fountain (by Michelangelo, who else!). Dinner at a neat Osteria (recommended by Lonely Planet) on V. Marguta nearby. Walked back to the B&B since the Metro apparently shuts down at 1030pm. Through the escalators and tunnels up to the top of V. Veneto, down to Piazza Barberini (past the US Embassy), where there is the famous Statue of the Triton, and then a straight shot to S. Maria Maggiore (round the corner from the B&B).

Some vignettes:

For lunch we got some pizza (easily the most filling and best value for money when it comes to lunch in Rome) and sat in the lawn in front of the beautiful facade of St. John Lateran. Nearby a gypsy family sat and enjoyed the weather, the kids gambolling around the grass. Suddenly J's face had a startled expression. "She was breast-feeding one of the kids. And then ... there was .... um ... breast. Just hanging around!" We tried not to laugh too loud. As a traveler in Rome one tends to be vary of gypsies. The Vatican wants to help combat anti-gypsy prejudice, though.

A little later, as we emerged from the Scala Sancta, I noticed the name on the license papers of a stall selling touristy stuff. Gashwin! (Well, not Gashwin. The other name. The real one.) So I struck up a conversation with the stall owner, who turned out to be Bangladeshi (He spoke pretty decent Hindi) - he's been here 6 or 7 years. Yes, he likes it here. "Where there is work, it's good, after all! If one doesn't have work then it doesn't matter now, does it?" So true. How do the Italians treat them? "Oh quite well. It's the other immigrants, the Africans particularly, who're the problem." The monthly rent is about 1500€ or so. Yes, he makes enough to cover it. Of course it's better during the high touristy season. So, I have a namesake in Rome!

Finally, as we entered the courtyard of S. Clemente, me with my nose buried in Ms. Mason's guidebook, I hear a voice call out. "Americano? South Carolina?" I look up startled. It was this fellow! With one kid strapped to his back, and another peering out from behind dad's legs. He emerged for a high-five though! His wife was in the gift store, along with daugther. She and I had been emailing past each other (neither has phones in Rome) and I'd thought it would probably not work out to meet up. Well, what a conicidence! We spent some 15-20 minutes chatting in the courtyard. They've kept a busy schedule ... packing in way too much than I would. But this is their first trip over, and I recall my first --- almost exactly four years ago! They were just getting ready to leave, so we said farewell. For a month or so, i.e.

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