domenica 26 giugno 2016

Bus 116

The bus journey in the next below blog entry is not now available.

Route 116 has been suspended.


sabato 9 aprile 2011

A last item

As a farewell to Rome, here is a little movie shot from behind the head of the driver of the 116 bus, a small electric bus that finds its way through the centre of Rome. The buildings between which the bus drives are built mainly from the 1400s to the 1800s. Writing this now in Seattle, on the way home, I am somehow lost for words to describe what seems from here another world, scarcely perceptible through the film, though for us it carries great memories.... my writing here is dull, we are in mourning...

That's a photo of these buses.

Short, square, with wheels on the corner, quick acceleration and low speed, you will see its qualities shine in the movie.

Note added 2016

Alas that bus route has been suspended. But here's what you can do on foot!

I had enormous difficulty back then, trying on foot to work out the route, but more recently with the google map and street view, I have worked out that that movie runs (I think) from St Eustachio (where Michelle Obama was taken for gelato) down to S.M. sopra Minerva with the wonderful elephant obelisk, then Via del Pie di Marmo, Via del Collegio Romano (also see this) round through the wonderful Piazza Sant'Ignazio, hastening through the Piazza di Pietra without any courteous nod towards Hadrian's Temple then coming to a halt in via dei Bergamaschi at an entrance to Piazza Colonna (also see this). Though this bus route no longer runs, this remains a wonderful walk.... or rather, is indicative of the quality of walks through any number of streets in the centre of Rome.

Some photos from pages linked above

Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk in front of the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva
The Piazza di Sant'Ignazio, from the steps of the church of St Ignatius
"The buildings at the time of [the designer of the piazza] Raguzzini
were working class and craft-makers' apartments
and not the usual aristocratic town palaces that one finds on such piazzas"
Piazza Colonna, seat of the Italian Government.
"The column [colonna] was built and dedicated to Marcus Aurelius after the emperor's death in 180 AD.
In 1589 Pope Sixtus V restored the column and freed it from any pagan significance
 ("ab omnia impietatem expurgatam") by placing a statue of St. Paul on its top."

martedì 5 aprile 2011

art around abounds

There seems an instinct to race from museum to museum in Rome, but there is breathtaking beauty and art everywhere, which we are pleased to slow down and see. You will also see in these photos our affection for the city, the romance of the city. You will understand why Helen in particular does not want to leave... (alas bloggerisation robs photos of some quality)

(I note as we prepare for travel to Rome again in 2018 that the imprint of Rome on us is undiminished)

Here is a glorious ornament on a bridge

and here is another glorious ornament, same bridge

and here is a view of the bank below, 
tree shade and cobblestones
— the river racing after rains

here is glorious lunchtime use of the steps 
of the Chiesa Nuova (New Church), 
in the piazza at our bus stop.
The church was new when it replaced the old church in 1575

Here is part of the  very short walk from the Chiesa Nuova to home

Here is an anonymous wall such as one passes often

Not far from home, 
a small shop window contained these objects, 
rendered more mysterious with reflections

Here was the wall we faced 
when having coffee in Trastevere the other day

Here is the notice of a restaurant, in Cerveteri
that its weekly rest day is Tuesday

not only does she not want to leave 
she becomes a becoming part of the landscape

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

martedì 22 marzo 2011

War in Libya

I have placed in my personal blog text of my comment on an editorial in the New York Times about the new war in Libya. Here is a link to that.

domenica 20 marzo 2011

Saturday to the Villa Borghese

Blissfully unaware that international war had been added to civil war in the next country to the south, we joined families in the Villa Borghese on Saturday...

It was also to be dog-photo-day, beginning with this extraordinary dog-man hand-holding relationship in Piazza Barberini. Bernini's Triton fountain in the background. They held hands long enough for me to get out the camera and take the shot from crowded bus...

It is spring and in the Villa Borghese the grass is green and tiny daisies in bloom, 
this photo from knee height.

An exceptionally lovely morning by the lake

Lots of families in leg-powered vehicles, also a few of these up-market travellers

This photo of boy and dog perhaps captures best the atmosphere of freedom and fresh air

while these photos of an old man (older than I am) seems to call for a novella to be written;
there were in fact quite a number of older single men, in suits or jackets, 
airing themselves alone, 
 within their lifetimes the world has undergone so many upheavals and revolutions


Mussolini planned an "Espozizione Universale a Roma" [EUR] for 1942, but World War 2 got in the way. Wikipedia has some history.

The beginnings of the site, part of it later developed further for the 1960s, is the core of the present centre of EUR, a satellite city southwest of the centre of Rome. It is distinguished by extraordinary architecture of the art-nouveau/Fascist era, but also by some remarkable modern architecture from the post-war period. Two photos of major statuary at EUR are in the preceding blog entry featuring Helen and naked men, here are some more photos taken in EUR Friday.

The inscription at the top of this focal building expresses ideals which were tragically tainted by the violence of the Fascist regime and violence imposed on its opponents. The inscription reads:

A people of poets of artists of heroes
of saints of thinkers of scientist
of navigators and migrants

This is the scale of this extraordinary building

This an astounding figure in the median strip of Via Cristoforo Colombo

... to see the scale of the above, see the bird in the detail below...

and this is a fraction of a postwar architectural marvel