When you are one of the regular followers of Rays of Light, you probably did wonder where I was.
I was in the most wonderful, romantic, inspiring, friendly, gorgeous city of Europe: ROME.
Ever since I saw "I, Claudius" (at age 14) I have wanted to visit this city, but somehow it never happend. Until last week.
My friend Rina and I booked cheap Ryan Air tickets, hauled ourselves out of bed at 4.30 in the morning and stepped out of the plane around 9.30 in warm sunlight, balmy air and fragrant smells of warm grass and flowers.
Only to dive into the not-so-fragrant hectic public transport. The city bus from Termini into Trastevere was so chock-a-block full of people that we could not reach the machine to check in (saving us the tickets to be used the next day. Always count your blessings).
We had booked a charming hotel on the Via del Dei Riari, right on the edge of the Botanical Gardens. And what a good choice this was! A large, clean room with two single beds, looking out over the hotel garden (which doubled in the morning as breakfast room). The 8 communal bathrooms were at the end of the corridor; when I found out the last one was overlooking the botanical gardens I was overjoyed. What better way to start your day at 7 am having a shower whilst you watch the swallows soaring over palm trees and the sun just kissing the top of the hill?
Rina pointed out to me that me showering watching the birds did mean the neighbors could be watching me...Ha! Well, if someone did feel called to watch my almost 57 year old saggy bottom, he was welcome to it.
That first Sunday we opted for a ready-made walk: the Bernini Walk. Since we were situated not so very far from the finish (the Bridge of Angels), we did the walk backwards.
And I must say I was awed! It is said Bernini was so miffed that the Pope took the first two angels for the bridge and put them in his private chambers, that he left the sculpting of the other angels to his apprentices. They did a great job.
This is my favorite angel. If you look closely, you can spot dice in the fold of the cloth he/she is holding (I do not believe angels are entirely male, do you?).
We were very early, so I had the chance to take my iPhone photos in peace.
Our Bernini Walk took us along most famous piazzas with his fountains and sculptures, right along to the end with the famous and controversial one of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. And yes, I do understand what all the fuss was/is about.
But we did take a side street to visit the Pantheon.
I loved it! What an amazing building.
Our walk took us 7 hours, and 21,4 km. along winding cobbled streets and piazzas, up hill - down hill. It caused my unsuspecting Dutch feet to blister something awfully. But it was worth every step. Even when we found out the Trevi Fountain was emptied and scaffolded, and the sweet Bernini elephant was so swamped with tourists that I could not manage to take a single photo which didn't show at least twenty overheated heads.
These are two of the four corners of the 4 fountains.
The photo doesn't show that they are simply four corners of a busy thoroughfare, with taxis, buses, mopeds and cars screaming past.
Still, they were wonderful.
Did you know that the water in Rome is clean, sweet and drinkable? I filled my water bottle at every opportunity from these ancient fountains and taps, when I noticed the Romans doing this as well. Saved me quite a bit of money, as the prices for bottled water are quite steep.
Bernini is a fascinating artist. I must admit I had never heard of him before I read Dan Brown's book of clues about his sculpting, but I have read quite a bit about him in Rome, sitting in the lovely hotel garden just before going out to dinner in one of Trastevere's restaurants. I suggest you start with Wikipedia, if you are interested.
My view from the bathroom window. To die for, right?