martedì 29 marzo 2011


We have not maintained this blog well. The purpose of life has been away from blogging. Rome has been seductive, as has been an end to travelling and weeks of staying in one place. The combination of the two seductions is very powerful indeed.

There is much to do, much to experience, in trips in the city, as with previously posted visit to EUR. Also the discovery that from 200 metres away, we can catch the 116, a small electric powered bus which travels through the centre of Rome in a giddying whirl through very narrow streets, to emerge in the Villa Borghese - and return home via the Spanish Steps and, if we don't get off at our door, be carried on to the Janiculine Hill. Having the monthly bus pass means we tend often enough to get off Bus A and get on the next arriving Bus X, to go places ordinary people go in their ordinary lives in this remarkable place.

The little 116 electric bus weaves through springtime 
Saturday afternoon in the Villa Borghese.
It is licensed to seat 12 and have 22 standing, plus a wheelchair. 
We counted more than 20 standing, no wheelchair, on this afternoon, 
and happy it was, with folk in the middle having only each other to hold on to. 
In the Field of Mars the bus has millimetres to spare on many corners.

We have also made more extensive day trips. Friday 2.5 hours on the Pescara train through the mountains of central Italy towards the east coast, to get off at Goriano Sicoli. Helen had said "we must take a train" and in researching I looked at the stops trains took. Goriano Sicoli is a strange place for an express train to stop; a perfect place for us to visit.

From the station we set out down the hill a little more than a kilometre to the town. M C Escher had visited the town and been inspired; his first lithograph, made there, shows how the reality of the town (see Helen's photo following) may have contributed to Escher's work.

You will see that he etched as he saw, hence printed in reverse. 
The technical people also note that he made it very hard to print 
by working all the way to the edge of the stone. 
Helen's photo from a position slightly to the right...

The way of small places: Going down the hill into town, we fell into conversation with a woman called Wanda [Varhnduh], whose mother as a child came from Croatia with her family, as had Wanda Newby, wife of Eric Newby, come with her family from Slovenia, in the great transmigration program imposed by Mussolini.

Then we fell into conversation with Roberto, who proceeded to put us into his car and give us a tour of the edge of town before taking us to meet Donato [Don], an Australian returned in the 1980s from Adelaide, born same year, same school as Robert, who has established a pizzeria - BandB in Goriano... and who asks we send all his friends there... which without hesitation we do!

Helen and Robert, in front of the Appenines just south of the Gran Sasso d'Italia.

Don in his restaurant.

Yesterday we went by semi-suburban train to Anguillara Sabazzia, on Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. And got caught in a hail storm. But enjoyed ourselves. Helen has become increasingly enamoured of photography and, indeed, made her first film yesterday.

And where next? — see below these pics from Anguillara.

and yes, this is a photo of the film being made

We are wanting to go, later this week when the skies clear, to the Alban hills [Colli Albani], a 30 minute train ride to Frascati, south of Rome. Many of the towns destroyed after the Anzio landings in WWII; not for the first time. Frascati (or then, Tusculum) took the wrong side, against Rome, in 1190, and was obliterated. We do our research. We wanted to know if we could find any ruins of the great country houses such as of of Cicero and Lucullus. Beware, when you research these places in Italy. Like the Anzio beachhead (pardon the comparison that sprang to mind, no disrespect to the thousands and thousands who died there in 1943-44) you can get bogged down. Here follows a Memory and Pronunciation Test from something just read this morning. More than anything else, revel in the expression " is well known..." in the last sentence:

"... From the tenth century onwards the Counts of Tusculum exercised a preponderant influence over the Government of Rome and the papacy itself. Theophylactus, Senator of the Romans and founder of the family, was the husband of Theodora, who under Sergius III was absolute mistress of Rome, and whose daughter Marozia married Alberic I, Margrave of Camerino and Duke of Spoleto, father of Alberic II, who from 932 to 954 ruled Rome under the title of Patrician and Senator, and obtained from the Romans the assurance that after his death his son Octavian should be made pope (John XII). When John XII was deposed (963), the Counts of Tusculum yielded for a time to the Crescenzi, but their power was soon restored to them. From 1012 to 1044 three popes of the great Tusculan family succeeded one another: Benedict VIII, his brother John XIX, and their nephew Benedict IX. The Tusculan domination, it is well known, was far from creditable to the Roman Church..." accessed  29 March 2011, emphasis added

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