You never know what a sentence can lead to…. and I mean that on several accounts.  Way back during my ailment of I miss Italy, I had a thread “my Italian scarf intervention” little did I know at the time what some friendly posts were going to start, a ball of thread was starting to unravel and roll with red thread and soon that thread was going to start connecting us and pulling us together no matter where we actually were, friendships started brewing and really it goes back even further than that – I realize now that same ball was bouncing thru trip reports, discussions, Orvieto, Florence the beautiful, Venice, you name it— till one fine day you all wake up, see a thread about life being too short and go to Rome, so that’s what we did.

Here is the original post we saw that spurred us into action:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k2342544-Life_is_just_too_short_so_why_not-Rome_Lazio.html

The Traveling Scarves of Italy began…………word of warning for those who may not know me from my other reports, they can be long, personal, I don’t give a hoot about spelling and grammar I just write….. so today that’s what I’m doing, buy the ticket…take the ride 🙂

Why you have to love Italian men.

Why you have to love Italian men. More about that later and Life.

and I did…….than there was blessed Katina sitting in the land of Oz at 2 a.m. , finger on the trigger, hearts were racing, palms sweating and before you could say hop, skip and jump the tickets were bought…….I was anxious about this, did I have any business going to Rome in February?  I was going to Greece in May.  I had made a deal with myself….Italy every other year a new country in-between, well deals are made to be broken it seems, so far this is my third straight year with the affliction, I blame Michelangelo for it, I love him and Italy .

Katina says…….well I can go in February, how about February?  I stare at it SO HARD and  because of her, I pushed that button, than buttons started pushing from everywhere, some quickly, some slowly after much thought, two more from Australia, one from Ireland, one from England, one from California, one from Utah, two from New York and my tiny little state of Maryland.

Who are these scarves who went to Rome you may be thinking?  Well I’m going to tell you about them.

Katina – lives in Australia but is Greek as well, one thing I know if I ever meet him, I’m going to love her pop.  Anybody who wants’ to tell me what Greek word came from such and such came from is allright in my book !  Windex is for movies!  He is real.   Kat went to Italy with her daughter last year, they met up with Melissa,  TA’s aussie girl–Melissa and I had talked yes we are traveling together,  I believe she told Katina one day we are going to Italy with Jeannette and Katina being reserved and cautious of course thinks  I am not doing any such thing with a stranger !  Never say never ……..Katina looks like Jennifer Aniston to me, dresses in such nice fashions that she could show the Italian ladies a thing or two and that’s saying something because we all know Italian women know how to dress.   Beautiful outside…beautiful inside, that’s Katina.

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Katina 🙂

Lilly – aussie two!

We have nicknamed Luscious Lilly and she is – I am sentimental and emotional it comes with being Cancer the crab.  LL is my partner in crime in that department, we like to touch everything to really feel it, sounds cause emotion, music can make tears – not unhappy ones – the ones that mean your alive and you know you blessed and lucky to see or hear what you just witnessed.   I think booking this trip was a big emotional step for Lilly, she hasn’t traveled without her husband before Henry.  We are not just talking about a few hours flight, this is the real McCoy.  All the way around the world for some 24 hours but she did it !  She can be on the quiet side at times but when she opens her mouth watch out for the zinger because your sides will be splitting with laughter.  A dead-on sense of humor!   I won’t ever hear the words “Ciao Bella” without thinking of Lilly ….ever.

Lilly :)

Lilly 🙂

Yvonne –  aussie three

Yvonne led me to this discovery of the red thread…….she realized it and described it to me.  It hit me so strong that she was right that I even tied a small piece of red thread inside a purse on a zipper.  Me and my Yvonne (yes I have claimed her as my own)  began our red-thread in Orvieto.  We were looking to stay in the same place last year but were going at different times. Yvonne made it there first….same place, same bed, when I arrived I got angels.  Yvonne left me a note on a postcard with angels.  She told me to take care of Aramo our B&B manager and after that – our destiny was sealed and that postcard has been at my bedside ever since – even to this trip in Rome.  Yvonne “has it goinn on as I like to say.”   She is smart as a whip, stunning I say and I had to tell her, ” dear Yvonne,  I don’t know if u ever noticed but you are built like nobody’s business”  Women half your age would die for a figure like that.  How the *ell do you do it?  Seriously guys, tall, thin, legs from here to Ethiopia, dresses smart, loves my man Michelangelo.  She used to be a nurse before she retired and somehow has been given an injection from the fountain of youth.  Her whole face smiles… that is Yvonne !   And she is still there now as I write…

The Red thread from Yvonne

The Red thread from Yvonne

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Yvonne

So that’s our aussies including Melissa who couldn’t be with us.

Now we jump over to England with Julie.  She is luckiest woman alive, she can get those Ryan airfares dirt cheap and be over in Italy so fas.  Me and Julie love Italian romance and man stories.  Way back she was telling me, I’ve got some stories to you know and it starts with a smooch on a bridge in Venice.  Well after that our red thread is tied and glued. Her accent sounds just like the Beatles and I could listen to her talk forever.  I love the stories about her and her mom traveling, especially when she got her mom paranoid about the suitcase weight and her Mom wore two bras on the plane.  That is just the thing my mom would do.

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Julie talking with Yvonne in the red coat

Kathleen is from England but lives in Ireland –  I got to know her much later but better late than never.  If anyone can become a saint for the love of cats, dear Kathleen will be a saint.  She donates part of her salary to them, feeds many strays and pays to get them fixed.  She wakes at the crack of dawn to start this process.  Julie and Kathleen met in Venice so I got to know her thru Julie.  We didn’t get many days in Rome but I’m grateful for the time she could spend with us.  She’s as sweet as sugar pie !

Kathleen sitting next to Yvonne

Kathleen sitting next to Yvonne

The USA contingent – consists of some ladies who went and others who couldn’t but who were there in spirit and seeing us on a webcam by the Pantheon.  I will tell you about them next than onto Rome.  Big intro yes but it had to be done so you can understand why this trip is unique and special.

The American’s –

Ellen is from NY and we got to meet last year actually due to my trip report with me and Kelly’s mothers.  She somehow  found it and sent me a PM.  Of course I write back and to this day we have never stopped writing, thru good times and bad,  we got to meet in here in America and now in Italy.  Frank Sinatra was called “old blue eyes” so Ellen should be called  Ms. blue eyes because they are pretty and expressive.  Ellen has been to Italy many times and knows Rome very well.  She was a very good sport about seeing things she has already done before on previous trips.  She speaks Italian very well and saved us a many a time with her language skills.  She loves Italian romance as well and can tell you her own stories.

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Ellen 🙂

Trish is a retired school teacher and has a great love of Italy.  I always admire Trish’s life so much because not only does she travel there for pleasure but she also stays a good bit and goes to school learning the language.  She stays in real Italian towns.  She gets to know real Italian people and you sense that appreciation about her which is contagious.  We got to meet in orvieto last year and she introduced me to some of Orvieto’s delights as well as dinner at one of her favorite places.  Trish is very organized and saved the day a few times with advise.  I think she is home now and probably in that I’m heartsick without Italy mode.  She also drives in all countries one thing I have never been able to do.

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Trish 🙂

Laura has a great love of Venice.  She does a good bit of traveling on her own because her husband it not of fan of travel in Europe.  For the longest time, she wasn’t going because she didn’t feel it would be right to leave him when she had so much other stuff going on but somehow she got it done with a surprise hey I can come four nights.  She is the virgin and thru her you get excited remembering your first time , (heyyy not that first time)  of your first Rome.  She is excellent with the maps.  I was proud of her.  She got around better than me and I have already been there!  I know Venice has her heart but I think Rome should get a little piece of it as well.

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me and Laura

Barb – I met thru Laura, I did not get to spend a lot of time with her.  She’s a classy lady and funny too!  She has a sense of humor like Lilly.  Barb we needed more time!

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Barb blue scarf on

Jeannette –  I do not know what or why but sometimes I feel like I was just born, maybe it was because I was busy raising my two children on my own, school, suffering and heartache to ever pay attention properly but in the last ten years, especially the last five, I think life is beautiful so I am looking at the world and people with brand new eyes.  I appreciate small things, big things, birds, sounds, sights, smells, stories, history, art, my list doesn’t end and I can’t STOP traveling.  Out of all the countries I’ve been to (still lots more to go) none of them has a hold on me like Italy.  None!  Why is that?  I keep asking which makes me keep going seeking answers.  I love everything about it , the people I meet along the way and trust me I attract the good and the bizarre but I think I figured out why?  Me and puppies are just about the same.  We will charge onto something or someone happily, giddy, wanting to play and explore ALL DAY.  People sense that and get your energy.

singing………..I’m leaving on a jet plane !  next…..

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me (Jeannette)

My flight is from Baltimore to Atlanta, than Atlanta to Rome, I go down the East Coast later watch myself go right back up it on plane #2, for the price I got hey who care’s !

My Day one – Sat Feb 20th

I managed to haul the whole darn closet here.   I’m waiting for the girl with the key to the apartment to show up.  There she is thank God!  I wasn’t in love with the entrance and getting that luggage up the steps but she helped me.  Were both panting and she said, “WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN THERE”?   I told her panting, “everything”!

We turned the heat on (room heaters) and go thru apartment lessons than the locking and unlocking of the door, THE ONLY THING I DIDN’T LIKE!  I have weak fingers, there is a trick and strength needed for this door, something I don’t possess but finally I get it and bruised fingers.  After she leaves, I’m looking around at the place.  It wasn’t warm yet and I am hoping  Yvonne and Julie going to like it here.  It’s nothing fancy and its old.  What didn’t warm up to me the first day warmed up to me later and now I love the place.  It felt like home and the location couldn’t be beat.  Everything you need is there.   I will go back if it is available.  I start to unpack the beasts.  This takes some time.  I have not slept at all and have been awake for about 24 hours.  After freshening up, I get very hungry and its about 3:30 p.m. and I decide to seek food and figure out where am I?

I knew the pantheon was close but where?  I don’t see it but I was walking in the opposite direction but no worry, I found this lively lane filled with café’s, people and quite a bit of pedestrian traffic.  The place that looked inviting to me was sealed when the manager coaxed me in with a very  friendly smile.  He was great thru-out the meal and looked out for me every second.

My buddy gets me the check yelling “see ya tonight” and hugs me big before I leave and again when I was walking away. I like hugs the what they hay!   I make it to the apartment for pajama time and some sleep.  I’ll probably sleep till tomorrow than  some of the girls will be there, so it’s nite nite,  don’t let the bed bugs bite time.  I wake up its kind of dark, no it is dark.  I think it is the next day and come to find out it is 10 p.m. the same day I arrived.  I decide to dress and eat dinner late like the Italians.  I keep walking till something tickles my fancy.  I see it a sign that says “The Black Duke.”  I know that name because Ellen has a friend here and actually one night we are to have a group dinner at this place.  There are a few tables outside with heaters and I talk with a nice young waiter from Naples.  I had tomatoes, parma and mozzarella.  Something light with beer.  I like it here.  It’s not too busy and it’s not too slow either.  I try and tell the waiter I have a friend who knows the owner.  I thought he told me he didn’t know the owner but he was thinking I am talking about the building owner.  I begin talking to another waiter and he is asking me questions.  We have a nice chat.  He suggests when I am finished to come down and see the bar and have a beer.  I said “okay, it’s a deal”!

Later I do go down to the bar.  It’s an Irish bar but serves Italian food. I have beer and nuts and talk with the waiters and now a bartender.  Eventually I tell the bartender that I have a friend that knows the owner and a group of us girls are coming for dinner here.  Well I don’t know it but I am talking to Ellen’s friend.  Now it’s about 1 a.m. and I go back to the apartment. I don’t know whether I will sleep or not.  I did!

Day one with the girls – Sunday Feb 22

I know I need to be at the Albergo Senato to meet Ellen, Yvonne, Kat and Lilly 9 a.m. for their arrival than take Yvonne to our apartment.  Perfect timing, when I arrive they are all in the lobby.  They do not even look like they have been flying 24 hours!

We decide to get settled and meet  in an hour or so, their rooms are not ready, they have much more details about this…me and Yvonne are going back to our place and I’m hoping she’ll like it,  Yvonne doesn’t want to skip a beat , she wants to get on the ground running , so do the girls,  me too !  It’s so thrilling, THEY ARE HERE !!!!!!!!!  and just like I imagined, not a thing different !!  it was a wooooooooooo hoooooooooooo moment!  I believe we kept saying “are we really here”???

Indeed we are here in Rome!

Me and Yvonne sit at the fountain by the pantheon , something is still going on with their rooms, no biggie, we’ve got sunshine on our face , a blue sky  while sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PANTHEON !!!!!!!

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my and Yvonne enjoying Pantheon and sunshine

The rooms are ready, we go and check it out!  I had joked I wanted to throw open those shutters before we left and sing “Don’t cry for me Argentina”  !!!!   I did, just one line and I can’t sing to save my soul!  The rooms are very very nice.  If I stayed there I don’t know that I would leave from those shutters.  The atmosphere is all around you.  The view of the pantheon and piazza down below is SENSATIONAL !!!    Lilly had some adventures with her room.  There was a fighting couple and every time I saw that couple I would think ahhhhhhhh you are the one keeping Lilly up at night!

Once all sorted we head out for a walk.  First to the Spanish steps than decide to go in the church at the top.  Me, and Yvonne are on a manhunt to find work done by one of Michelangelo’s students, Danile da Volterra.  We explore this church for awhile.

Spanish steps

Spanish steps

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Katina

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Ellen

As we were walking we stumbled onto an outdoor museum.  There was a wall filled with the coolest things.  The display was named “open-air museum” and it was, just these tiny objects, with a sign below, the whole stretch of this wall.  What thought and imagination went into this?  Very simple but something interesting.

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open-air museum

Do we like to stop and peer at stuff?  Yes we do!!!!  Can we read the signs “do not enter,” no we cannot!  We became like hunting dogs looking down this lane and that archway, up, down,  sideways all because heavens to Betsy there could the coolest thing in the world sitting right there !!

The motto: stay as long as we can, click pictures real quick and leave when they tell us and this became a theme on “residential areas.”   I suppose these are people’s private quarters and I respect that but some of them have these inner courtyards that are EXQUISITE and we surely wouldn’t hurt anything.  We just want to see things.  I like looking at laundry hanging, plants on a terraces, and doors.  I love all that !  They’ve got statues, fountains, gardens,   Some are absolutely lovely!!

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peeking

We finish our walk.  It’s nap-time and the girls have traveled and held out like champs.  We are going to meet for dinner at Da Francesco’s.  I had been there before on my first trip so it was going to be nice to go back again.  Matter of fact, I met Max there on the trip with the mom’s.

So what’s tonight going to be about?

We meet later and guess who is singing in the square at the pantheon, drawing a crowd and going to make us late for our reservation?  Antonio the street performer.  This man’s singing will give you the goose bumps and tears.  I do believe Lilly and her hubby saw him last year and cried.  Ellen has met him before and they had a meal.  Absolutely beautiful singing.

We have got a reservation but as usual it’s crowded.  We have to waiting inside the door.  No worry, we can look at people’s plates see what their having, we can look at handsome men, appreciate pretty women and what they are wearing and we can figure who in the *ell is getting out first so we can sit down?

Finally we get to our table and have have toasts to Jeff.  Matter of fact,  he got too many toasts.  We finally had to say no we are toasting us this time!!  Sorry Jeff……..we took one away from you, were your ears burning?

While enjoying that meal, the waiter or manager I’m not sure what he did, though he was very busy proceeds to whisper something in Ellen’s ear.  We all wanted to know, what did he say?  She said he appreciated something which I thought sounded like breasts, I said what he told you he appreciated your breasts??????????  “No no no”,  she said and they have a little phone number exchange.  Lilly is in shock, she can’t believe about the man stories and says one one needs to see it with her own eyes to believe.  Ellen is exclaiming, “all you have to do is look at them, a few seconds.”  After this, we are all trying our eyes out and laughing.  They probably thought we had eye ailment! LOL

Katina’s works well because we have finished the dinner and are walking and see two guys.  One of them, has  really curly hair and squinty eyes.  He has a unique face, a bit of sexiness about him.  Kind of like Santana I think.  We have introductions, where you from and all that good jazz.  Kat is not really paying attention to him.  She says well you can give me your number and I don’t know how it happened but the next thing you know, he got her number and called it!!!  Kat’s eyes were big!

Well the night is still young, well it’s not really but it’s our first one so we head to the Black Dog, the Irish pub/Italian restaurant I spoke of the day before.  The same people are there as last night.  It’s Sergio the owner, the waiter from Naples  and the other one who I later find is part owner too.  Good good guys!  We proceed to drink ourselves’ into a frenzy!  More toasts and girl talk.  Okay we were telling romantic secrets, stories and tips.  Yes we were and every time I was going to say something that Sergio is looking right at me.  HOLD YOUR EARS SERGIO !!!   He has no problem with it becaue he loves work and romance.  This is said with the most sincere face.  Now Luscious is the star.  I know for the rest of my life, that Henry is a happy man !!  I know why he is a happy man.  Lilly loves him and shows it !

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Sergio’s, formally called the Black Duke, now is Osteria Spaghetti (near the Pantheon)

Lilly

Lilly

That’s all I have to say about that !!!!!!

We all tell our assorted “stories” and “advise” and I catch the young waiter from Naples sitting over in the other dining room on a chair.  I said “ahhh you are listening to us, you devil you!  He just grinned.  The place is closed but we stayed, we did that a lot I think, places would just let us stay!  Earlier I was practicing “eyes” on a guy; Kat said he keeps looking at you so I say okay let me get these eyes going, let’s try it out!  I WAS tipsy so more brave and it worked because he kept looking than I went outside to smoke and I felt he is coming outside too and 30 seconds later  arrived.  We had a good little chat, took a photo and we wanted to know when we were coming back.  He’s the first man I ever roped in with eye lessons from dear Ellen.

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the eyes have it 🙂

We had such a good time with laughter till we cried—-at one point I looked at Ellen and tears were rolling down her face and she is gasping for air.  Me, Yvonne, Ellen, Kat and Lilly did it up nice and proper on Day One.  Henry you better be a happy man and thank you for giving us Lilly !!  Are we really in Rome altogether??? You bet we are!!  Not all the sistahs were there but it was a start!  A great tart !

Day Two – Monday  Fed 23

We are up and at ‘em the next day.  We have a walk planned Ellen organized for us which includes Via Guila, the pretty street which I am excited about because my Michelangelo was involved with the design of this street.  It’s a very pretty street.  As we start out walking to Piazza Navona, it’s nice to see the scaffolding off the fountain.  Ellen and I went down to the end to see if her artist friend was there but he wasn’t.  On the way back to the girls at the fountain, I walk by this guy drawing and stopped in my tracks looking at him, is this the one who snatched Katina’s number? I wave Ellen over, “is that him”?  “Yes,” she says and he sees us.  He is just drawing and smiling and I believe the girl might have been Greek he was doing a portrait of because Kat was talking to her and I snapped a couple of photos of him.  We said our goodbyes and he is clearly smitten with Katina.  Off we go to the busy street, I forget the name but we buy some postcards with Roman Holiday on them which are on my fridge right now !   Yvonne and I didn’t have breakfast so we stop at a corner shop and get a bite.  Ellen is buying some necklaces.  Once she’s back she realizes something is up with her camera, a piece is lost.  Bummer!  Fortified with some nourishment and we are off !!

This is really a lovely lovely walk.  Ellen reads to us from her paper when we get to significant spots. I do believe me and Lilly were like children with curiosity. We want to poke our head into everything, every hole, every nick & cranny, feel each rock, hey btw that rock is so cool, I’ve got a nice shot of Lilly with it, we take our time, we all love investigating these different doors, windows and structures.  This is my street I decide ! We all decide actually.  Now to the arch which I waited almost three-years to see and it had something to do with Michelangelo so of course so I started feeling all over that arch. I decide if I feel anything lose that is going to fall out and be lost than I should rescue it now and take it home for safekeeping.  I am sure Michelangelo would approve.  Well………there is a loose piece, the size of grape and I rescue it to my pocket wrapped in tissue and it is coming home with me.  I have a huge over-sized wine glass filled with green stones and in it are other pieces of items I rescued like the Coliseum ,  Tivoli, Cancun, India, lots of places.  I also have little birds sitting there on the pieces I have rescued!  They are my guards.

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

lovely

lovely

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

indeed

indeed

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Random scenes from the Via Guilia Walk

Yvonne & Lilly

Yvonne & Lilly

Now the gardens at Farnese…WOW…beautiful, what places people lived in huh?  Can you imagine?  Campo dei Fiore is next and a try for Sangria.

Here’s some background on Via Giulia from wiki that I think is very interesting,

Giulia is a street in the historic center of Rome, mostly in rione Regola, although its northern part belongs to rione Ponte. It was one of the first important urban planning projects in Renaissance Rome.

Since we are not too far from Campo dei Fiori, I know a place there that had Sangria—Ellen likes sangria and some of the girls had never tried it so we decide to go plus grab a bite as well.  The place I know is right next to the theater,  The place we go looks like it , same setup, tables & umbrellas but no sangria the waiter says.  Well this is not that place and actually it is right next door (by the theater) but it is closed today and nothing is outside so I could not tell.  The waiter has dreadlocks and pretty eyes.  I got a lighter from another waiter here and still have today.  It’s a pic of a pug dog on it.  While there we meet an American who could pass for looking Italian but he is actually Jewish.  I believe he was from New York.  We find he is in school, lucky, lucky boy!!  He’s enjoying his time and didn’t really get outside Rome yet.  I think he had a Florence trip planned soon.  He guesses Kat, Lilly & Yvonne are Aussies, tells Ellen I knew you were from New York the moment you spoke, Ellen laughs telling him “I don’t know if I like that”?  I said “ok how about me”?  He says, ” I have no idea about you. I say “Baltimore.” He says, “as in the United States Baltimore”?  I said “yes of course”!  He says I would have never guessed you for being an American.  You have an accent, hmmm, my own fellow countrymen do not recognize me for one of their own?

We tried something new here, fried stuffed olives!  I thought they were terrific and we actually bought a 2nd order.  I am not going to forget these olives.  I must have more! The girls had soup and I think Ellen and I had pasta?  It’s a good meal and Campo de Fiorii is lively.  Katina is actually getting a suntan from the heater!!   We’re headed over to the wine and cheese shop next and oh yummy is all I can say.  What I wouldn’t do for that shop to be right across from my house.  This is the wine shop on the corner at campo dei fiori, I believe Lilly headed over there first getting something for Henry.  She is always  thinking of Henry and what to buy him.  Something nice and she found lemoncillo.  She runs back to us with her purchase news so we pay up and off  to wine and cheese mecca.  I love this place and the guys that work there are so nice and helpful.

Yvonne is  thrilled to buy things for our apartment (Julie’s too).  We get cheese, bread, wine, olives and I think coffee?  Bingo!

walk this way

walk this way

not too bad for February, nice weather

not too bad for February, nice weather

hmmm can I fit one of these in my suitcase?

hmmm can I fit one of these in my suitcase?

oh yeah!

oh yeah!

sweet man

sweet man

Say Cheese !

Say Cheese !

It’s been a good day I say !  We leave and head back to our Roman homes.  As always, walking you find a church. We popped in one on the way back.  Each and every church has their own special unique personality and holiness for me.  People in prayer I can stare at forever.  I don’t mean to stare to be rude it’s more admiration really, when you see faith written across someone’s face, to me it’s personal, special and beautiful.  It’s time for a little lay down before we venture out for the night.

Life is beautiful…..and so is the restaurant.

We don’t have a plan for dinner.  Kat find’s a card in her wallet of a place she had been to near the Spanish steps called  “Life.”   The address on the card reads via della vite so we go to check this place.  There is a modern cool vibe and some of the people recognize Katina.  How cool is that?  Now settled at our table, the talk is of handsome Antonio.  Who?  Where?  I didn’t see him!  For a few minutes,  we have signals like look NOW !  I missed a few times but finally BINGO!!!   What bingo it was !  He was indeed gorgeous, really gorgeous, after that I had to take a big sip of wine, wow !!  the waiter sanhir?  I forget his name, Kat will know, is very nice and friendly, he is talking to Kat about when they met last year, and catching up, there is a very cute manager there too, he is tall, longish hair, stocky, we girls were smitten with him too, our “smitten” involves just looking.  I need to smoke outside and Katina comes out with me.  I have her switch places with me.  Katina LOOK IN THE WINDOW !!!!!!   Katina and Antonio met last year and they had some time together for  salsa dancing,  meanwhile the doorman Danielo comes outside with us.  It’s raining.  Katina asks him, “Oh why is it raining”?  Danielo ( who I swear is going to be the next Kevin Spacey ) replies with a slight frown like he’s thinking.  He holds up one finger to wait digs in his pants and pulls out his cell phone opens it and tells us wait, “I’ll call God.”  He speaks Italian into the phone, closes it and tell us, “well God said the apartments need washing.”

Right than and there we know we are going to love this guy !

Scenes from "Life"

Scenes from “Life”

pizzeria and more

pizzeria and more

the handsome Antonio

the handsome Antonio

the restaurant

the restaurant

scenes from "Life" with Ellen

scenes from “Life” with Ellen

the talented Danielo in the center

the talented Danielo in the center

chester & Danielo

chester & Danielo

Katina & Antonio

Katina & Antonio

the bounty

the bounty

sweet waiter

sweet waiter

cheese :)  me, Yvonne & Lilly

cheese 🙂 me, Yvonne & Lilly

Ellen & Katina

Ellen & Katina

I ordered something different this time.  I am a meat & potato kind of girl so I order the chicken with mash potatoes.  It  was really really nice.   I am not sure what the other girls had but I do believe everyone loved their meal and to be honest you could have given me a carrot stick and a glass of water as long as I could sit there and look at the beautiful man, I’d be a happy woman.  I think the girls kinda felt that way too !  Innocent pleasure.

Now Danielo, I love to pieces, I just do, you get his spirit and passion right off!  He is studying acting and has performed in every speck of the globe it seems.  He can sing, dance and act.  A born star if you ask me.  We didn’t find out these things till he later sat down with us.  He’s got a sense of humor out of this world.  Danielo could be my kindred-spirit.  He asks me who my favorite band of all times is and without a blink I say “Led Zepplin”  That’s his too and he proceeds to sing “Stairway to Heaven. ”  in Italy.

We love Italian songs and Danielo comes thru on a whim.  I did record it and will paste it below.  I think the ladies will agree this is one of those most precious moments in time.  Unplanned, you find this just wandering down a street trying to find a place to eat dinner.  Now there is a new person in your life.  Maybe you only have that hour together or 24 but it counts for something and you know you wont ever forget these moments.

I want a photo of Antonio at the bar so I get up with the camera and go to the front of the restaurant.  I had decided I would write a review for this restaurant and tell them so but I need photos.  Holy molly people start moving , getting right out of my way and a customer even gets up from his table so that I can good photos.  I tell him, “no no.”  I hear   Danielo say “journalista”   I come back to the table whispering , “they think I’m a journalist “!!!

Oh lordie, well that title stuck because we used it for the rest of our trip !!!!

The evening was winding down and Danielo is a pistol.  He is speaking about his mother and says, ” my mom is MacGyver,”   Do you know the show MacGyver?    He does everything—my mom does EVERYTHING !!!    He is so proud.   “Are you married Danielo we ask”?    “No,” he says but I will be soon.  He shows us photos of his fiance, a beautiful girl and he is very proud of her too!   The  place is finally closing and bless them I think they stayed open longer for us.

MacGyver/Danielo video:  http://youtu.be/jL7OSmTFMVM

Antonio comes over to the table where Danielo has been singing.   Antonio is going to be leaving but  Danielo tries to bait him into singing.  Antonio is an actor as well and tomorrow is a big day for him.  He is auditioning for a major part in a film and needs to get home to study and sleep.  Danielo keeps trying to bait him into a song and Antonio pretends he’s stabbing him with a fork.  We like Antonio for me than his good looks and he is grateful for the smallest thing when we  wished him luck on his audition.  His face lit up with sheer appreciation and when he says “thank you”  he means it sincerely.  What a good night.

video of Danielo singing:

http://youtu.be/qavv2-WXlKg

We’re out on the street.

It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and he bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning

And I know of another woman who should have stayed in bed.  Next……

God is washing the apartments pretty heavily as we are walking back.  Elllen and I are sharing an umbrella and talking away about our great night when all the sudden a woman appears coming toward us.  She is under an umbrella too but what makes you blink hard when you see her is a long-blonde wig.  This wig must be so old that there is not Goldilocks anymore.  It really looks like baby doll fuzz hanging there plus her face is all painted up!   It is so pink and blue!  This make-up is heavy and everywhere !   She is no spring chicken, up there in age I would say.   After my glance at her as we are passing I hear this deep LOUD guttural karate sound come from this woman.  She  needed all that guttural inflection because she proceeds to take her umbrella and whack me over the head with it which broke the umbrella.

I AM STUNNED no I am more than stunned really!  We were stunned!!!!   I spin around and she is walking and cussing at her umbrella.  She is shaking it trying to make it come back to life I guess?  My mouth is hanging open and I think I yelled something like what are you some kind of  #$%(^%$@#  !!!  Katina was right behind me when it happened and that’s good to know that Katina has your back as they say !!!  Ms. Katina  held her head down saying  “I’m scared”!!!    Yes Katina is my lord and protector!

I am in shock saying, “did I REALLY just get attacked by a bag woman with baby doll fuzz hair”?  DID I?

As we are walking , we see policeman sitting in a vehicle.  We say hello and than I decide to tell on Goldilocks.  I explain  I have been whacked on the head by a Goldilocks woman in heavy makeup.  They know exactly who I am referring to and it seems seems she hits people all the time or cusses out poles and objects.  I am showing them my sort of fat lip.  The sincere face of the policeman asks “you want to go  hasspidal, I take you okay”?    “What for a fat lip” I said.  We are laughing.   That  night I couldn’t stop shaking my head thinking about Goldilocks in Rome.   Why didn’t she just stay in bed?

there’s a story how this photo was taken of her during the day but that falls into another day which I’ll tell later.

Goldilocks

Goldilocks

Yep she whacked me right over the head with the umbrella !

Yep she whacked me right over the head with the umbrella !

Day Three-Tuesday, Feb 24th

Today starts with a walk Ellen organized for us to Trastevere.  She reads to us when we get to certain spots like she did on the walk the other day.  First, we go to the oldest bridge at the Tiber and I realize I know that bridge because last year when I went to Rome solo I met a fellow who I went on a walk with and he wanted to show me this bridge because it has his name plus a nice view.

Wow it looks nice here during the day too!  We are imagining what it was like a few months ago with the floods that hit Rome while  Tiber was  rising.  There are quite a bit of people around this area enjoying the blue sky and sunshine.

We go into a church to explore.  As we go outside and I don’t know where they all came from but next thing I know I’m in the middle of parades and parades of children.  I just hang on to a parked car.  The children are all dressed in costumes while singing, carrying banners and throwing confetti.  HOW COOL IS THIS?  The teeny tiny things make you want to scoop them up and smooch their cute little faces off!  We wave to them smiling.  I see a little girls with a gown type dress on wearing  “hot pink” little heels !   She was so cute holding up the bottom of her dress and her little heels were going “click, click,  click,  click”  on the road.  What a find we had, the UN-expected.

the kid's parade

the kid’s parade

………

I’m afraid that one of the videos lost on Ellen’s camera was of the children in the parade.    I have very little photos of this day because my battery was dead and I forgot to put in the fully charged spare that is sitting in our apartment,

I had never been to Trastevere except for a few minutes when in 2007  when Kelly’s mom tripped and hurt her ankle so we left.  I was really looking forward to the church Santa Maria in Trastevere.  Once we made it there,  we see lots and lots of security.  I think someone very important was having a funeral so of course we did not go in but we are getting mighty hungry.  It’s getting colder and we need sun.  It’s about the time that everything shuts down so looking for food became a challenge.  We went up and down roads we would not otherwise have walked thru but  we wanted sun, a heater and food.

I run up ahead to scout it out and this fellow passes me looking at something and again I stop dead in my tracks, wait a minute, can there be two of them???  That looks like Antonio from the Life restaurant.  I see him go into a shop and I  decide I will yell his name and if it is him,  he’ll turn around.  Waa laa he spins around looks at me and comes back outside.  I get a hug and one of those Italian smooches on the cheek.  His face is BEAMING !!!!!!!!!   He says, “I GOT THE PART!!!!!!!   ” Tomorrow I go for fittings and this and that.”  I am very proud and happy for him.  I yell down to the girls,”look who I found”!  Of all places, I could have been walking through in Rome who would of thought we would pick the same one as Antonio the handsome soon to be a movie star?  I tell Kat I am here to find all  the men you know.  The other day I spotted the artist and now Antonio.

After this, the rains came and we duck into a small pastry shop.  They have Panini’s too so we grab a bite to eat.  I am wearing dangerous flat boots.  They are good on concrete but treacherous on water.  I’ll be on my *ss before you can say hop, skip and a jump !  Ellen has to meet a friend soon so she decides on a taxi.   Kat, Lilly and Yvonne want to walk, I know I’m going to break something so I better get in the taxi.  So did everyone else in Trastevere because there are piles of people waiting.  Ellen and I are sharing one small umbrella and the rain is just dripping down on our coats.  We stood back to back trying to remain dry till we finally get a taxi.  The girls make it back before we do!

We all turn in for a rest because it’s been a lot today considering we were coming home 4 am the night before.  For dinner we decide on something that will be close to us.   Yvonne and I are dressed early so I say come on Yvonne lets have a drink at the Pantheon café.  I love the people who work there.  I love the people walking by.  I love the Pantheon sitting right there looking at you while you look at it so we get a table and enjoy a nice drink.

I don’t know who came by, maybe Ellen and her friend Julian?   She told us that Barb and Trish are here and out front of the hotel!   So I jump up from the table and go give my sistahs a welcome hug!  I don’t know what their plans were for the evening but they didn’t come with us but I was sure glad to see them.

At dinner we have our usual laughter, jokes and stories.  Thank God we’re here.  We  toast to Jeff, eating, drinking while  piles of people walk by in spurts.  Our mealtimes are amazing.  We click here just as much as we did online.  Wow sometimes that sounds so crazy but we met online and I am very grateful the red internet thread.  Sheila gave us our name, bless you sweets.   We had planned to all wear “red” scarves one night or animal print, I don’t think that materialized but we did wear a lot of scarves.  I know I did and bought two !   Tonight I have my animal print jacket on but no red scarf, well that jacket must of looked nice because before long, I have me a  “suitor”   that completely floored me.  Now let me smoke while I think how to describe him…well  first off he was elderly.  I don’t know what age?

I am smiler.  If someone looks at me more than a second I’m probably going to smile at them.  It’s just my way.  At one point while people watching, a rather large group is walking by and on the outskirts is this man.  He looks at me with a grin and I smile back, he keeps walking … I never give it another thought till later, 10 minutes …20 or 30?   Next thing you know he is standing at the table grinning again.  I get a nice hand kiss.  The table right next to us is empty so he decides to sit right down next to us than turns his chair to face me.  He is sharply dressed for a man of his age.   The girls are looking at me like “what did you do”? I’m say well he walked by earlier.  Ellen becomes our translator, he is an engineer, lots of business in South America, lives in Amalfi and I’m telling you the man fancies me and and the more he fancies me the the more clueless I am.  He says “ohhh bella bella”  with a little soft back rub while doing it.  My eyes keep increasing their size.  I had one plate before he came of parma, tomato etc, than ordered a pasta.  It comes and he wants  to show me how to eat it the “Italian way.”   I decide I can’t eat right now.  I get up and move to the empty chair across from him to smoke.  Ellen is laughing telling me “Jeannette I have never seen you flustered, never, if u could see your face.”  I order a beer, he says no no, he thinks I should have wine, no no I tell him, I’m having beer.   Ellen says he wants me to walk with him and take me to dinner one evening.   I said, “not possible I am here with my friend and he replies “I’ll take them all to dinner with you than and we are having lobster and pasta.  (in Italian)  Katina (who always has my back)  says….. Oh we should go!!!  Lobster?  Oh he’s rich Jeannette you can tell, he’ll take good care of you and we will get lobster and pasta!  I said yes you will and than guess what I’ll have to do?   Well…….they decide I can drink two bottles of wine than can do anything,   matter of fact I could just stay with this man living in Italy in very fancy style.  Nice houses and all I will have to do is consume two bottles of wine every day.   I said “I’ll become an alcoholic”!!!  They say “who cares because your living rich in Italy”!!!  Now of course they are kidding…….

Well I grab somebody to go to the bathroom with me, Kat or Lilly?  We need a plan,  a distraction, what to do???  He wanted my photo with him sitting on his lap, which we took, while he sighed again to me, ohhh Bella Bella with the soft back rub,  so after zooming off to the bathroom , I decide  YOU ALL ARE GETTING ON HIS LAP FOR A PHOTO and here they are!

Senor with Ellen

Senor with Ellen

Senor with Yvonne

Senor with Yvonne

Senor wtih Katina

Senor wtih Katina

Senor with Lilly

Senor with Lilly

Senor and me !

Senor and me !

yum

yum

Now along comes a rose seller.  The elderly man pulls out his wallet and buys me a flower and this is where it gets heartbreaking.  Yvonne had finished her meal but there was some scraps left on the plate.  The rose seller asks Yvonne if he could have it, she said sure and proceeds to give it to him.  I am looking at my pasta I have barely eaten, and say take mine too!   He is taking it home for his bambinos.

We decide to tell my suitor “not interested” and he was such a gentleman about it and I don’t regret our little sitting period.  Before he left, he kissed each of our hands just like a gentleman.

Hey there might be something to older men?  Class.

Day Three – Wednesday, Feb 25th

This is the first day of any real activities that had been planned on our spreadsheet we worked out before we had left which started with interests but by the time we left had become plans.  Nothing in stone, it  was either hop-on or hop-off, you pick, stay in bed, go on a date, it’s all up to you kind of thing.  That’s our motto.  It’s all good.  This is how all groups should travel together in my opinion.

I kind of left something off from the night before after my senior gentlemen.  Right under our apartment is a restaurant.  Actually believe it or not, it is a restaurant I have been looking for that Laura told me about a few months ago.  She said it is close to where I am staying and to keep my eye out fo it, well I did but didn’t see it.  Come to find out, it’s the place below me.   I didn’t know what the name.  The manager said eat there it’s good but I don’t know the name, sometimes their sign is out , sometimes no  but it is small, elegant and has two rooms.  One is heated and encased with plastic one inside dining room that I didn’t even know existed thinking that was an apartment.  I notice  two guys inside and say hello.  They reply and smile as I remember we have no beer left in the apartment.  I ask the waiter, ( cuteeeeee btw)  is it possible to buy beer to go?   “Sure,”  he says takes my hand  and leads me into the small dining room that I didn’t know existed.  I am holding my flower from the senor and  he says something about it what I am not sure.  He than goes to the table and hands me a centerpiece.  I don’t know what I’m do do?  Admire it ?  Take it?  Is he giving it to me? It was pretty!

Yvonne is with me and I say oh grazie –smell it, fuss over it and hand it back.  He tells the other guy ” two beers” and he brings them to me.  As I am opening my purse to give him the money, he says, ” no no no.”  I protest and he says tomorrow.  He walks us out holding my hand and squeezes it for a second.  Our door is right next to their door and I am looking at Yvonne smiling.  Wow you have to love Italy.  Beer and they won’t take your money?

Remember him for later.

Now back to our activities, Day Three continued, Wednesday, Feb 2th

We are up at em’.  Me, Lilly, Yvonne and Katina are going to Campo dei Fiore for the market.  I am hyped about this because I love markets with flowers and food.  This morning market has been on my list forever and I never got up early enough to get there.  The sun is shining and it is pretty which makes the market just sparkle.  The flowers are stunning especially coming from drab Maryland in the winter when everything is brown and yuck.

We get pics by the flowers.  We are roaming together and all the sudden we see a poster of Brad Pitt.  It is a stand-up advertisement.  Brad has been connected with our trip for a long time.  Some of us like him, really like him  and before a certain magazine was pulled off all the shelves here in US because of a court-order filed by him and Gwenneth Paltrow, I was lucky enough to persuade a shop in Baltimore to be so kind enough to hold two copies for me of this magazine.

One is in  plastic never to be opened and the other one is for viewing.  The girls knew I had it and I was told, “THAT GOES INTO YOUR SUITCASE , RIGHT NOW.”  “No waiting, this cannot be left behind,” so I was a good girl, listened and put him in my suitcase and I accidentally took him too Washington DC also for Obama’s inauguration which I didn’t find out till I was already there and discovered at a very awkward moment.  So since Brad is with me in Rome up in our apartment, we see him at the market  so what else are you going to do but give him a smooch.  Me and Kat each get one of his cheeks and get our smooch for a photo.

We all keep wandering the market.  I see a man in a grayish suit with purple in it , odd color for a suit but it at least looks  interesting.  He is being filmed at the market like he’s a news guy.  Maybe he was?  I snap a few photos of him.  We decide to meet back at the flowers in a bit so we can explore on our own.  I like the smells and the chatter.  It’s a real shame I cannot take a lot of this stuff home with me.  I see an older man with a gizmo that is pretty much a tool for open heart surgery, to making tomatoes pretty, it can skin, decorate, hollow out just about anything in the world that has some skin on it, wow this thing does it all !!!!   He makes noises after each thing he shows me it does,.  I like this old guy and his tool.  I wish I would have bought this kitchen gadget!

Campo de Fiori

Campo de Fiori

hot hot hot !

hot hot hot !

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man I spoke about

man I spoke about

more flowers at the market

more flowers at the market

market flowers

market flowers

I make it to a place selling olive oil, bought some of that, than spices for pasta, bought that, than a man who puts some hand lotion on my hand, felt nice, so I bought that,  I’m feeling really good about my purchases.  Now I can’t find my buddies at our meeting time, I do finally see Yvonne who says I’ll look over there and off she goes.

I’m looking too and kind of saying Lilly, Katina, softly as I can without shouting, a man selling things by the t-shirts etc sees me, asking me what’s going on, I can’t find Lilly or Katina, luckily I had the camera in my hand, he gives them both a good shout ! First he is yelling, Lillyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, and I’m thinking what’s Lilly going to think when she hears that?  He wants the next name, I say Katina, he belts that out , he has me laughing than he’s laughing , I got a piece of that in the video which is on “we did it” thread,  it was just a minute or two but that “interaction”  with him was “priceless” for me.

for your viewing pleasure :  http://youtu.be/XtqgGpxGJXs

I love his little chuckle.

We all finally catch up.  I asked Kat and Lilly, ” did you hear a man calling you”?   “No” they said so I am glad I got that video to show them.  We are off to the spice market.  There is a famous spice guy here.  He tells Lilly and Yvonne lots about his spices.  He explains  how to use them.  Lilly is very concerned that  Customs is going to get her.  Kat’s mom has got them thru to Australia no problem so Lilly is feeling more secure about it and she is getting some and will surely tell the authorities what she is bring back to the country.  The spice guy labels them also so when you get home you know what you are dealing with, no wonder he’s the famous spice guy, the smell there…….heaven!

Thoroughly satisfied with our outing, we head back.  Today is churches; San Luigi dei Francesi , San Agostino and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.   Before that they go in for a rest and I wander a bit.  I get to a Panini shop that looked good and get myself a Panini.  At another shop, I see beer and think OK ’ll have that too!  I decide I’m going to the pantheon fountain with my drink and Panini for a picnic.  Meanwhile there  is a fireman’s strike or demonstration nearby.   I get seated at the fountain.  There are lots of firemen and police around, hey that’s okay by me!

There is a policeman going thru the crowds quite a bit.  A kind of character.  I just smile and enjoy my picnic.  After, there is handsome fireman and if you look at the photo you can see him from the back since I was coward.    He  whispers something to me as I pass and to this day I don’t know what he said.  Is that a blessing or a curse?

handsome below:

feb2009scarves 148

Today is church day.  We have San Luigi dei Francesi, San Agostino, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and Cappuccini Crypts on our list.

Prior to going ( this day we start out late)  I go by the Pantheon cafe our favorite, there is Lilly, Kat and Ellen having lunch. I had already eaten so I plunk down and order some vino to chat with the girls.  It’s gorgeous out.  The sun is beating down on me, the piazza is alive with action, everything is sparkling , I’m content as a bug in rug, Kat and the girls are really enjoying their lunch, I love sitting here watching all the people.  As we are sitting a businessman comes up and we have introductions.  Small talk of  how long am I staying for and what am I doing tonight etc.,   He would like to take me for drinks or dinner whatever I can get manage if not today than any of the other days that I am here in Rome.  Great I think, I just might do that so he is going to give me information on how to get in touch with him, pulls out his business card, he does something with the military and shipping.  As he proceeds to write down his cell phone number on the back I notice a  sparkling wedding band on his finger while he’s writing me that number.  Lilly is like, oh my gosh can you believe this?  I can’t believe how they just come on over, it’s really unbelievable, what’s his card say?   I tell Lilly ,” did you see the ring”?  “Ring” she says, “no”  ” I didn’t see a ring:  I told her well I’m not meeting up with him.  Let’s go to church!

So eventually we are off walking to the churches, exploring windows along the way and exploring lanes.  The first church we are looking some say  may not be open.   We see people going in – cool it’s open!  I’ll get to see Julies man’s art.   Caravaggio is her’s, Michelangelo is mine — but we’re into sharing.  Low and behold,  I finally get to this chapel and what’s going on, restoration on his three pieces !  grrrrrrrrrrrrrr,  not happy,  I can barely see his art.

We were disappointed but like with any church there are things to see so we go about exploring, I took a pic of it to show Julie, I tried!!!    Now headed to the other one, I don’t know if we lost our way a bit or we pretended we lost our way a bit, but there is an Italian fellow in a suit with another guy and we ask for directions.  He’s looking at the map with us.  I’m snapping pics right and left because he was a cutie pie in his own boyish way.  I decide to video him and I’m glad I did because if you look at it and watch his eyes and expressiveness,  you’ll see how  my video captured it perfectly.  He came up  with the  “do you love me”  just for the camera I believe.  I’m glad he did because I like the way his “wow” sounds.  His buddy is a rising star and he just does that smooth GQ with his face and sunglasses, we loved it !!    Off we dash!

now wait girls, don't all attack me :)

now wait girls, don’t all attack me 🙂

a man and a map

a man and a map

wow and Brad Pitt

wow and Brad Pitt

smiles for free

smiles for free

studying the map trying to help us

studying the map trying to help us

small video of our exchange:  http://youtu.be/OjX53XqC3YE

We are headed to the next church, ahhh this one is really nice,  first off Caravaggio , than I make my way to the big desk near there, they are selling lots of prints of all the art in the church, the guy was really nice, he points to different things and tells me about them.  He than goes digging thru the desk to find some paperwork for me to read, “in English” he says.  So I start to read it but whoops it’s not English.  He digs more than finds it — it’s a lot more  information so I sit and read the whole thing.  You can tell he is very proud of this church.  I slowly make my way around.  Eventually I make my way back to the front and find Lilly and Kat are sitting at the pews for the Madonna and the children.  There are lots of prayers here, mementos and a photo album with babies and children.  I think it is very touching and special.  I look over and see a small pencil sketch of Christ outside one of the chapels near the door, 8×10, 11X14  size?   It’s not very big.  I’m not right up on it so I decided I want a closer look.  Christ’s eyes are open.  I get up closer to it and am studying it again and  Christ’s eyes are closed and I see the eyelashes.  I check again than look for the girls !   I had chills down to my ankle bones.  They look , than go closer and as I look at Katina  and her eyes are so big.   She says to me “this sketch is so beautiful” and it was.

scenes from the day with Jesus

scenes from the day with Jesus

beautiful

beautiful

God Bless

God Bless

for Julie !  a huge fan

for Julie ! a huge fan

Once we left the church and are walking I see a small group of priests coming toward us.  Sometimes I just blurt things out to people.  Something struck me about them and I wanted a photo.  I stop and ask.  Now priests are generally walking fast, they’ve got places to be, things to do,  I truly didn’t expect them to agree, I’M THRILLED they say yes!   I got a wild hair, I blurt out, a photo with me.  I felt shy and like a bad girl all at the same time.  I dash in-between them as I hear Ellen saying, “I’m hopping in too”!!   I was startled feeling innocent and like a sinner so when you see the photo below you will know why I have such an odd expression.

me and the priests

Life dream photo below, seeing and touching a piece by Michelangelo.

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After Katina finally gets a photo with my camera that is terrible in low light I begin hearing a mass.  I’m hearing the mass than see a woman enter there and you can tell maybe she was rushing from work, rushing from somewhere and I am just kind of drawn to her.  I am focused on this woman and her face.  When she enters, she gets down on her knees, she looks up at the alter and kisses the ground and just keeps her head down there for quite a few minutes.  I can’t tear myself away from watching her.  She sits up on her knees, clasps her hands together.  Her eyes are closed so hard an there is such emotion on her face.  She was beautiful.  Faith is amazing to me.

Entirely satisfied we finished the activities we had on our list today but we did not make it to Crypts.

Laura had joined up with us for this church and Yvonne said she was going to wait to explore it during the morning with it being well lit.  After, I head back to the apartment and have wine with Yvonne.  We like a glass of wine before dressing for the evening,.  Tonight we are eating close.  I  don’t know where yet but  probably it’s going to be an early evening.  Plans have a way of changing and the friend of Kat’s helped make the change.   We decide on dinner at Grano’s Ristorante.  It’s 8 or 830 at night and apparently way to early for dinner because we are the only ones there.

The manager or owner seats us.  Somehow we get on the topic of  Obama’s chef and how much she likes it here.   Our waiter is cute and kind of shy.  His name is Francesco.  We start with drinks and toasting.  I’m snapping pics of Francesco and he is trying to hide !   We start including him with us in the photos and  he likes that much better.  It’s a good meal here, as well.  Out for a smoke and bless them they turn the heaters on for me outside.  More people begin to come and it’s really filling up.  Meanwhile, Yvonne get’s herself a man story !!    As you know, Ms. Yvonne is the bomb.  Nice figure and smile, smart as a whip and if she tells ANYBODY how old she is, well this is a fact you won’t believe her.  No one does ever!  So apparently while I was smoking….. this 40 or so year old has whispered something to Yvonne and she is getting the “soft rub” on the back by him.  ha ha !

smile :)

smile 🙂

Salute!

Salute!

me and Yvonne hamming it up

me and Yvonne hamming it up

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Katina’s friend is getting a text from her friend who suggests we meet him at a club called, “Anima”  near Piazza Navona.  Okay so a drink or two and we can still go in early right?    The decision is made and off we go !

Lilly and Yvonne decide they are going back, so it’s me, Ellen and Katina.   We find the place and it’s got a funky décor but it’s not bad.  We say to Leo do you have any friends here?  He says, ” no but don’t worry in another hour,  you’ll have sixty each to choose from which I thought that was a joke!

Well, it kinda was but not really!!!

This is Katina’s first trip alone away from home and without family.  I’ve gone to Italy alone.  Ellen has many times.  Naturally I am going to look our for Katina.   I give Kat’s friend squinty Clint Eastwood eyes but with a smile.  He says to me “you are always happy and smiling and I reply “yes I am and I’m watching you with my friend !!   He’s wasn’t doing anything wrong but I was just letting him know.

I wind up going out to smoke, it’s me and the doorman and others.  I get talking to the doorman and we smoke together.  He’s a big husky fellow, not one to mess with I suppose but we hit it off,  I don’t mean in a romantic way I mean in I like you as a person way.

Once back inside I realize there is way more men than girls.  The walk back becomes the longest mile.  Gosh they make you feel pretty!   They are not bad aggressive just much more forward than I am used to with Americans.  It’s just a lot of them, all at once !

Later, Ellen has a suitor named Johnny.  He moved to Italy when he was three.  Ellen had theB lack Russians and I don’t know if you have this experience with them but I have.   You can be fine one minute and the next your not.  I think the drinks crept up on her and Johnny would like to be thinking he is going to capitalize on this.   “ain’t happening, I say to myself.

I believe Kat and Ellen are dancing.  The manager is kind of popular and I don’t know why but he seems known.  He’s a cool dude type thing.  We  talk outside and he introduces me to the owner who is an Italian woman, pretty with red shoes to die for, gorgeous!

He tells me come back tomorrow night!    Men dance together here in Europe and I’ve never seen that at home.  Girls do but not guys.  Another thing that is different here is when a guy is with a group and he likes you or wants to chat you up.  At home, his buddies will usually leave you be but not here.  They actually compete with each other.  It’s not bad; it’s just different.

Ellen hurt her ankle here.  There are these steps and different levels in the club so my guess is she twisted it here.  We say our goodbyes to the people we have met.  It’s been a fun evening but very late.

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good times

good times

dance dance dance

dance dance dance

Anima night

Anima night

Anima

Anima

friends you meet along the way

friends you meet along the way

Anima night

Anima night

bad Johnny

bad Johnny

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Johnny

Johnny

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Johnny is going to come with us.  While outside we meet some policemen who want me and Katina to go to breakfast with them.  “No way we say” we are stone cold tired.   Johnny and Katina each have one of Ellen’s arms due to her twisted ankle.  We get all the way to their hotel and  I am staying to make sure they get in safe.  ” Johnny we are fine now thank you,”   I see them to the front door and walk off the wrong way but I don’t know that yet.  I keep walking and my darn boot heels are so loud and there isn’t a soul around it seems.  It dawns on me , this doesn’t look familiar!  Where the heck have I gone?

Well I decide to keep going straight till I see an intersection than maybe I can figure out where I am at.  I see two men come out of a home.  I am walking toward them.   One goes off and the other goes to the left side of the road.  I see him pulling his pants down  and the bugger is facing me.  He pees  RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME !!!    He sees me and says, “ciao  bella.”   CB my *ss I say, jerk !!!   I’ve passed him now and he yells it again.  I keep walking very fast and say in the same tone as the baby in Meet the Fockers movie “ssholeeee” .   It almost sounds like a wolf.  I’m also telling myself to shut up.  It’s late, I’m lost and no one is around.  I don’t hear him coming after me so that is good!  I do see a man coming toward me in a uniform.  It’s a Carabinieri police.  Oh good!   I say hi passing him.  A few steps later  I hear him say ” Senora” “you okay”?   I tell him I’m a bit lost.  Where you staying he says and I answer by the Pantheon. I’ll take you he says and wants to go back the way in the direction of the pisser.   I say no, I’m not going down that road.  He says, “why”?   I am spilling the story out fast to him that a criminal  just pulled his pants down and went pee pee right in front of me, the dirty dog that he is.   He doesn’t understand what I am saying so fast so I try slowly as he watches my face intently.

I point to him — “man” “masculinnney”  I say.

He’s nods yes.

I said, he peed in front of me while speaking to me.  (I have no idea what the Italian word is for that)

He’s not understanding so I point to him again and I say “masculine male”

I pretend to pull my pants down some and hold my imaginary hose while directing it right and left making the “sssss”  sound.  I than point down the lane than to myself.

“cremminal, ” I say and I point in that direction again.  “He peed on the roman street at me” !

Now he gets it!  I’m telling you he ROARED, he laughed so hard I thought he was going to bust a gut !!!  He had tears.

He takes me down that road and the *isser is gone.  We talk on the way or I do and finally get to the pantheon.  I’m coming around the corner and who do I see?   Johnny and Ellen !   I had to look twice and so did she and Johnny.

I say, “what are you doing”?  Ellen has to get up early.  Ellen says, “yes, I’m going to bed.:  Johnny says, “no, stay a bit.”  “NO JOHNNY, Ellen is going in and you are going home.”  “I’ll watch you in Ellen” and off she goes inside.  I tell Johnny” if I find you cam back here me and this policeman are coming to get you.  Johnny swears he is going home.

I can take it from here now and tell the policeman thank you very much but he says he will go the rest of the way with me.  We get to my street in front of my apartment.  Again I say “grazie.”  He gives me an Italian kiss, the cheek, the cheek, ok than the cheek and cheek again and again.  I tell him I really have to go my friends are waiting for me.  Now he wants a hug, I give him the hug but he’s not letting go anytime soon with a sighing noise.  I’m like frozen in this position.  He lets go so I grab his hand and give him a firm handshake and thank you very much and I dash into the apartment entrace.

Poor Yvonne, she always has to put up with hearing me come in late.  I try to be quiet but I have a medieval door.  There is nothing quiet about this door.  Actually there are two doors.  One door is to the building and another to your room.

99 ¾ of the time, the apartment building door is unlocked or sitting open.  I’ll tell you later what happened when it wasn’t but for now I get in and  heaven’s it’s morning.  I felt like I just closed my eyes and hear Yvonne’s voice, “Jeannette it’s 8:30 not sure if you knew.”  We have Santa Costanza today and the other church.  My eyes felt like I had just shut them.  That’s the price you pay for being an “anima.”

I get up and try and get myself together as quickly as I can with coffee and fill Yvonne in on last night’s activities.  I can talk to Yvonne about anything.  I am not even a club kinda girl at home.  We make it to the pantheon and our meeting spot  or maybe I dashed up last.   Trish is there, Lilly, Katina looking bright eyed and bushy tailed.  How?  Why?  I’m dead.  I believe Trish went and got the bus tickets ahead of time and that sure worked out nice and saved time.  We take a bus to Termini than a bus from termini to Santa Costanza, get off the bus thinking okay, where is it????

Actually the bus driver said, cross the street, it’s a big busy road there.  We need to backtrack a bit to find a crossing spot.  I am the crossing wimp.  I like crosswalks and walk or do not walk lights clearly illustrated.  Many, many times I have a death grip on someone’s arm crossing streets in Italy.

Me and Lilly are in the back and Yvonne Kat and Trish are up  front.  I heard a horn and Lilly screams.  I look up and a bus is seven hairs from hitting Yvonne.  I swear to you angels must of lifted her.  That bus was speeding and not slowing down and going right for her.  We are having mini-heart attacks.  It took us a minute to get our composure and when we did  Lilly tells Yvonne, okay now are you ready for a good telling off?  Out of love?   I don’t know how Yvonne got in front of that bus but the most important part is she is safe.   We hunt address numbers on the buildings and btw there are a lot of embassies on this road as well as uniformed guards and machine guns.  I think the first one we was Iran’s.

So in my room I have many things for this trip, I was very very good about bringing all what I needed or might need but maintained a consistent problem in getting that needed item with me for it’s intended purpose.  Like reading glasses, 1.5 cheapies from Wal-Mart.  I had them in the purse forever.  I removed them the day I needed them!  That also happened with my lovely notes on Santa Constanza.   I have no notes but Trish saves the day again.  She is highly organized and she has hers.  There are things you need to pay attention to in this place like what is on that ceiling , what does it it means, the walls,  the history and thankfully Trish reads to us.  I don’t know how the other girls felt but I like this place.  I go around the whole circular thing trying to take it all in, even peeking in stuff I shouldn’t, read the link I gave you and Google even more if you are interested.  It was chilly in here.  Of course, there is no heat on.  Back outside and there is a group of people, I don’t know if it was a tour or a very large family.  I like signs and any information that is written on them.

I do think Italy needs more English on some of them though.   I am trying to duck around these people to read this sign, the big white one.  It has some pictures on it so while looking a man says something to me in Italian , I am trying my best to remember my beginner’s Italian eight-week course, scuziiiiiiii, non parlo italiano, englize !!  non-capish italiano,  hmmm hope I said it right I’m thinking.  He starts rapidly talking to all in his group.  There is a little commotion going on in their group and they are all looking at me.  Someone steps forward and says “I can speak English some.”  I said “ok  that man has a question for me”?   She tells him that in Italian.  He speaks back to her and others chime in too!  She than looks at me, “ummm he say, he thought you had a question”?   I just crack up laughing!  “No, I was a reading a sign when he spoke to me”  She translates and now the whole group gets a good chuckle !  Bless him for trying to help though!

The Mausoleum of Santa Costanza is named for Constantine the Great's daughter Constantia (also known as Constantina or Costanza), but the latest scholarship suggests it was actually built for her sister Helena, who died in 360-61.

The Mausoleum of Santa Costanza is named for Constantine the Great’s daughter Constantia (also known as Constantina or Costanza), but the latest scholarship suggests it was actually built for her sister Helena, who died in 360-61.

off the beaten path but worth it

off the beaten path but worth it

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

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Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

After this exploration we go next to St. Agnes.  There is a small alter outside and a few pews.  A man is sitting there and he is praying and again I am struck by watching the “faith” on his face.  I don’t care what religion it is even at the Ganges River in India, I felt the same watching their faces.  I think it’s kinda beautiful really.

We head into the church and go about our exploring, I have to tell you I like this church too, I believe Yvonne like’s it as well because I am pretty sure I remember her grabbing me and giving me a big hug saying ty for bringing us here.

We cannot go into the crypts because we have missed the timings.  Lilly says ok no worry, that’s something for another time.  I did manage to ask the lady to let me take a pic of it that they had a photo of in their office.  The church is closing at 1230 pm, lights out , time to go.

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, right next to Santa Costanza

Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura, right next to Santa Costanza

Two informative links I want to share with you on Santa Costanza and St. Agnes.

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-santa-costanza

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-sant-agnese

We are out on the big busy street where the angel walked Yvonne across.    We are going back to Termini than onto another train.  Yvonne is staying at  Il Colle degli Ulivi  (The Olive Tree Hill)  a wonderful b&b outside Rome.  She will go there at the end of her journey.   Yvonne is going to store some of her things there.

I’m excited to go here because I have heard about this place forever.  I get to visit with my own eyes.  Ivano and his lovely wife, Terhi say sure no problem please come!!   We are taking a train to Zagarolo.  We make our way thru Termini and grab a bite to eat before getting on our train.  Trish treated us to a chocolate treat with cherries that she discovered and loved on a previous trip.  I believe she had it while driving thru Italy.  With three hours of sleep, I do kind of nod off in the train.  I miss the aqueducts that you can see from the windows.  It’s about thirty-minutes on the train and we are there.  Ivano pops up on the platform with a big hello.  We have introductions and big hello’s than jump into his SUV.

Me and Kat are steadily looking out the windows from the back.  We arrive to the little road that takes you to Il Colle degli Ulivi (The Olive Tree Hill B&B)  A perfect name for it.  Wow, so this is the famous Ivano I’ve been reading about and it’s all true!  I’ve heard he treats you like family.  I can get a person’s “vibe and energy”  pretty quick and if you ever look at my astrological chart it is clearly written there that I can do this.  He loves his country, he loves Rome, he loves people and sharing it with you.  I got that right away so it’s no coincidence his life path led to his B&B, it has a homey feel.  I went out several times for a smoke and to experience the “vibe” of the lawn, the land, the air and the views.  Wow!  I could so this!!!  I could sit right over there feeling the warm summer breeze with a glass of vino or beer and be at home in Italy.

I was already planning my trip in my head, I’ll go to the village Zagarolo and explore and make friends.  I can train into Rome for sightseeing.  I told Ivano and Terhi, one day I will be coming here !  Ivano and Terhi bring out the bubbly and pop goes the cork !  We are having toasts and nice conversations.  Ivano’s wife is lovely and warm too!  Ivano’s English is very good and  why we ask?  With a kind of shy smile — he looks at Terhi and says “love.”  Well of course we need to know exactly what does that means?    He explains that  Terhi is from Finland.  She came to Rome on a  solo trip.  A friend of Ivano’s asked him “to look out for this girl”  Well he has, I would guess some twenty-years now because they have been together ever since.  Ivano really did learn English for love, how cool is that???

We would have loved to stay longer but we had to get back.  We have a dinner planned with our other sistahs who are now in Rome.

We hug Terhi goodbye thanking her for all their hospitality.  Ivano takes us on a drive thru the village.  Katina and I are snapping pics yelling “WOW”.  What a village!!!  Ivano explains some of it’s history.  I believe the gladiator helmets or body gear was produced here.  The village is charming and we are glued to the windows.

Headed back to the train station, Ivano says “no one stop”!!!  He parks the vehicle and jumps out than comes back with a little gift for all of us.  It was beautiful pastries/croissants filled with cream.  They were heavenly and gone QUICK!!   We really wish we could stay longer.  We ask Ivano if he can come to dinner Saturday night.  We have the whole group plus Danielo and Cinzia the Italian women from TA and we are going to have our webcam waves from the Pantheon to all our arm-chair scarves at home.  (plus whoever else might be watching at home)  but alas he has a prior commitment, I believe a wedding or a party so he takes us to the platform and waits with us for the train and it comes.  What special people and places I have seen.

Here is their website and if you book a stay please tell Ivano and Terhi a big hello for me.  There are truly one of a kind.

http://www.olivetreehill.com/

views of Zagarolo on our way to Olive Tree Hill B&B, I highly recommend a stay here and exploration of this area

views on our way to Olive Tree Hill

views on our way to Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

Olive Tree Hill

it's time to toast Ivano

it’s time to toast Ivano

Ivano the owner

Ivano the owner

Kat and Lilly stay at Termini, she had decided to change her Milan ticket for a different time, me.  Me, Trish & Yvonne jump in a taxi and head back, we need a rest, I’M BONE TIRED!!!  Those froggie pj’s of mine couldn’t get on fast enough, blankets, eye patch mask which makes me feel like Zorro while wearing but it’s a must because I can’t have a speck of light while I’m trying to sleep.  Naps are very hard for me to do anyway, so we nod out, well I didn’t sleep but still got to rest and stay in that suspended la la land of not awake and not asleep.  Our dinner is going to be at Armando al Pantheon. It’s our first dinner all together with Laura,  Barb and Trish.  We made a reservation for 8 pm.

Now I do believe this is the first time I see Ellen since last night and i ask how did you get wind up in front of the hotel with Johnny?  I saw you go in !   She is asking me where in the world did you go?  I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing you round that corner with the Carabinieri.  I explain the “cremmmm minnnn nnnnnnnal.   We are having a good laugh and  I give her the hose demonstration.

This place is pretty crowded.  The are having a special called oxtail and it’s been cooked for hours and hours by a special method.  We ordered one for some of us to share.  I had a couple of bites and the sauce is very good but it’s a little too much work for me when I’m hungry.  It’s like spare ribs with an odd shape.  Ellen and Katina get one beautiful salad I tell you.  It began with an F and it had corn in it as well.  It’s a word like fantasia but I don’t think that’s the word?

I made a mental note, I will come back here one day for that salad.  I got wild boar app and truthfully wasn’t pleased with it, it was a piece of dry bread toasted hard and one or two pieces of the meat. (small)  I should have ordered that fantasia salad and for the love of God I cannot remember what I had as the main course ?  I know I saw Ellen with the oxtail  and asparagus because she gave me some bits of that.  I don’t know I ate something that was much better than the dry toast with a tiny piece of meat.

I make my way around trying to get photos of the group.  I tried my best to take a lot of photos of this trip and videos but memory was becoming an issue.   I had two – 2 GB and one 576 and it wasn’t enough really I had to spend some time deleting, next time I’m coming armed to the teeth in GB’s.

Yvonne's dessert

Yvonne’s dessert

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Yvonne

the gang

the gang

the gorgeous girls

the gorgeous girls

more gorgeous girls

more gorgeous girls

the gang

the gang

I’m pretty sure it’s this night after dinner that we wind up at our usual Pantheon cafe.  I love the people that work there.   I would go there at times for breakfast “spaghetti carbonara, drinks, whatever, anytime, it’s always good.  The guy who usually always takes care of us is,Massimiliano, he’s a cutie with a personality to boot.  He’s got salt & pepper kind of hair, thin build, twinkly blue eyes, every time I visit he always gets me a good table and makes sure I’m comfortable.  He talks to you, a good good guy.  We wind up after dinner with him and  now there are others there we like also.  There is a Spanish or Cuban girl, she is so darn cute and pretty, big big smile, great personality and we tell her, “you look like Penelope Cruz”  she says, “yes Penelope Cruz little sister”  so that name stuck and she will always be that to us.  There wasn’t a time when she didn’t come up and hug you big and smooch you,  the owner is a good guy too, he is always standing near the door watching us and smiling.    Here’s a link and if you are near the Pantheon I do suggest to treat yourself to a drink here (or food) and take in the splendor around you.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d2321614-Reviews-Ritorno_Al_Passato-Rome_Lazio.html

the beautiful Annelys who we call Penolope's Cruz's sister in black

the beautiful Annelys who we call Penolope’s Cruz’s sister in black

our Massimilano at Ritorno Al Passato (the Pantheon cafe)

our Massimilano at Ritorno Al Passato (the Pantheon cafe)

So now we are at our night spot.  Laura and Barb are there, Katina,  Lilly and I am unsure if Yvonne went back to the apartment ?   We want drinks and Laura is after grappa which if you ask me is straight moonshine, Massimiliano is getting us snacks too, peanuts, olives,  chips and he also wants to correct me on how I say his name because he comes at me with a piece of yellow paper which I’m looking at right now, with MASSIMILIANO written on it, so I say wait…..let’s sound this out, written this way better for me than just listening, so I wrote under Mass see me Lee Ano,  say it out to him like that and he is happy and smiling big.  I never messed up his name again!   Laura had one grappa but I don’t think the one she liked so Massimiliano  brings her another one.  Barb I think is drinking ozo (sp)  These ladies like the hard stuff.  I’m having beer and we are laughing and carry on and usually whereever we are sitting  we at sometime will break out into woooo hoooo’s shouts and this makes everyone turn to us looking like  what are they doing?  I think they like it because they usually smile.

At some point , I believe it was Lilly who noticed a solo-young guy sitting a couple of tables away.  She says, “Jeannette look at that guy staring at you.”  I look over and might of smiled to him,  I’m not sure.  Still chatting away and I might have been telling a story about something and Lilly’s says, he has not stopped staring at you for a second,  he’s like in trance !!!  I look over again and he is staring rather intently.  This goes on for awhile  now and I believe Ellen has joined us too,  he is drinking a beer and smoking cigarettes.  At one point,  he comes over and ask “can he use my lighter”  “sure” I say and let him light up.  I don’t know how to quite describe this  but the whole time, he won’t look away from my eyes , not while lighting, not while anything, he goes sits back down and resumes his staring.  Meanwhile another gentlemen or two, can’t remember exactly  — who are walking by the restaurant come up to our table and ask me if they can use that lighter, sure I say and Lilly is so funny because she does running commentary on everything and she is saying,  “my that is one popular lighter, that’s all you need here, you just get yourself a lighter, ”  Ladies out there, remember what Lilly said and get yourself a lighter!  The young fellow is still at it with his gaze.  He  gets up the nerve or something and comes up again and asks me ” may I talk to you”  I tell him well I am here with my friends , a very special trip and we came from all around the world to be together”  He listens than says “can I talk to you:?  Well ummm I’m here with my friends I say than something he says something like please, than goes  back to the table, intense staring resumes.  The ladies are saying, oh my gosh he is young!!!  Again he comes up to the table, this time wanting a walk.   “Please make I talk to you just one minute, one minute, at the fountain, pleaseeeeeeee,”  With that, “ok I say, one minute ” and walk over to the fountain with him.   “Please walk with me” he says.  I answer, “no , I have friends I’m not leaving.  “Please” “no” ok than may I have one kiss , PLEASEEEEE , his eyes are begging, his face is begging,  just one.   I blink my eyes for 2-3 seconds thinking “what to do”????   so impulsively I lean over , smooch him on each cheek, lips, grab his hand, shake it hard, now I must go back to my friends.  We had discussed that this one was really “young”  and I can attest to that because during that impulsive smooch on his cheek, my hand to God, NOT ONE FACIAL HAIR, not a whisker or peach fuzz in sight but he had a beer?

Oh my gosh Jeannette you are smooching teenagers, well I didn’t do it for me, I did it for him.  He gets up eventually from his table and now he is just sitting at the fountain still looking, he gets up and walks by sometimes, still looking, Ellen at one point had talked to him in Italian, he would not answer her or even look in her direction while talking, he won’t break the stare.  Lilly is saying “look at that, he wont even respond to Ellen,: A bit later Ellen says he is going for one more try, he is going to stay around here till we leave and try one last time I think.  Well the waitresses and Mass see me lee ano (Massimiliano)  have been noticing all this too, the waitress comes up to me, whispering in my ear, you okay? Shall I send him away?   “No no”,  I say,  “he’s not hurting anyone, he just likes looking I suppose”  than Massimiliano a bit later is asking me as well and I told him the same.  Massimiliano doesn’t like it and I notice him go out to the young fellow and tell him something very quietly so the boy gets up with a torn up look on his face and leaves.  Strange huh?

Massi

Massi

Pantheon - cafe

Pantheon – cafe, beautiful waitresses that work there, lovely girls !

snacktime

snack time

pantheon cafe time

pantheon cafe time

I think the table looks lovely here with the snacks, drinks and candles burning,.  I did snap a photo.  At some point after talking to Laura about the restaurant below me being the same she said to keep an eye out for we decide to go there and make a reservation for Friday night’s dinner.  (btw) the waiter is CUTE and my age!   He’s the one who gave me the free beer.  In we go plus I wanted the girls to check him out.  I tell him I am here to pay for my beer and make a reservation.  He smiles so nicely every time he sees me, smooth, very smooth, he takes us inside, we make that reservation, he walks us out into the outdoor part of the restaurant saying goodbye’s and he takes my hand and gives it this kind of squeeze.  If you can imagine it, it is a sexy kind of squeeze.  You would have to feel it to know what I’m talking about but trust me I could feel it, so while leaving I whisper to Kat, “you know I’m going to have trouble coming up Friday with him,” laughing.

Off to bed, the next day activities are,  Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Peter’s in Chains, San Clemente , San Giovanni and the Scala Santa PLUS Julie and Kathleen will be arriving !!!  woo hoo !!   Julie will be staying at the apartment with Yvonne and me.  Kathleen has her own apartment near Piazza Navona and  Trish has her own apartment near the Tiber.  All the rest are staying at the Albergo Senato.

I don’t know who or when but I do know I had a conversation with a local about Santa Maria Maggiore and they like that the best.  First order of the day is to get to Albergo Senato and meet Julie and Kathleen around noon. Yvonne and I head over there and alas we finally get to meet face to face after many many months of knowing each other online.  Kathleen is not there.  She  had a flight delay and left word with Julie for us to please go to the the churches and we will catch up later.  We get Julie back to the apartment and she is very tired.  The previous night she went to a Metalica concert and had a very early taxi to the airport.  Yvonne has been to SMM already, so they will stay and we will all meet up later at San Clemente.

Ellen is still limping from her injury so she takes taxi’s to the places to meet us.  I have to say SMM is beautiful I think, well worth seeing for me.  I like to study sculpture and this place has some beauties and as I’m intently staring, that’s when you start to notice things with sculpture.  I can see one piece that has the figure actually standing on someone’s head, eyes bulging, tongue out,  wow!  I get Kat and Lilly over to have a look asking “do you see something”?  I don’t know if they noticed it before either but both were equally amazed.

We finish in the church and now are outside on the steps.  There is a group and I don’t know how it came about but maybe Kat asked them to take a picture?  in all honestly I was having that memory problem on my camera and deleting so I’m half-way paying attention, the next thing you know they all come running up to us and sit with us on the steps to get in the picture.  I LOVE that photo.  It was spontaneous and that’s how the boys from Napoli are, God love them.

spontaneous boys from Naples

spontaneous boys from Naples

us and the boys from Napoli

us and the boys from Napoli

Laura is very good with the maps and has been a tremendous help with the buses and routes to get where we are going.  Along the way,  we happen a long a demonstration and literally squeezed our way thru them searching for San Clemente.

We are early, so we decide to find a restaurant and a place to go to the bathroom.  We are getting hungry.  Julie and Yvonne are not there yet or so we think and keep walking till we find a spot.   Laura had us laughing because she had trouble with the bathroom sink.  We get some food.  A text comes in from Julie that they cannot find us.

And before I forget, on the way walking to this place we went thru a bit of a park, and you can see the Coliseum and also there are some very nice houses with interesting pretty colors.   We dash over to San Clemente to meet Yvonne and Julie inside the church.  Yvonne is not wearing her red wool which is fantastic for multiple reasons.  It keeps her warm and we can always find her.  She has a dark short one on now and yes it could get warm during the day, real warm but that changes right quick so I always kept all my stuff on, I go to hug Yvonne and my heavens she is frigid.  Her little body is ice cold.  I want her to take my coat, scarf or something  but she won’t!  She won’t!  She says she’s okay and I’m telling on her right away to Lilly and Kat, go feel Yvonne she is ice cold!

After admiring the present church we finally find the doors for the rest, I also bought a great book on San Clemente with photos I’ll never be able to take (Lilly can )  Here is a website for information:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-san-clemente

I don’t know how but me and Lilly are together with everyone else up in the front.  Kat is now with us, this place is MARVELOUS!  I  can’t rave about it enough, I just can’t, so please anyone on the fence, my advise, please go!  Iit kind of reminds me of the Scavi tour which in absolutely incredible.  Lilly has kind of left us now me and Kat are together.  We are in dark tunnels and scary looking places saying “I’m scared” with the famous Katina line.  We backtrack to find Lilly and the others are way up ahead.   Lilly had got herself an American plus a Frenchman!

She is kidding  “well go on…I’ve got the American and the Frenchman who can’t speak any English,”  I cannot remember how those three hooked up but me and Katina were laughing !!!   The American was from the Midwest and I believe Lilly had to correct him on breaking rules like picture taking.  Lilly is kidding saying “see I get the farmer from the Midwest”!

San Clemente

San Clemente

San Clemente

San Clemente

San Clemente

San Clemente

When we finally come up we see Laura, Barb, but no Yvonne or Julie.  Laura says well we’ve been sitting here we didn’t see them come by so we guess they left already to get to San Giovanni.  Laura and Barb decide to turn back at that time and head for the hotel.

Me , Kat and Lilly walk to San Giovanni.in what we think is the right direction, it is but we enter for the back, I would like to see San Giovanni because all I saw of it from my first trip was at a distance or from my rooftop at Sante Croce of Gerusalem which is down the road (more relics there than anywhere from Jerusalem) a neglected church but shouldn’t be….plus the first place I  ever slept in Rome AND where I saw the first nude man doing something he shouldn’t do to himself outside the privacy of his own home in front of a church.  That story is below in my first report of going to Italy with the moms.  *I rather like the smooches of Italy report*  Here is the link: (it’s not edited) but one day I will!

https://giannettaj.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/i-rather-like-the-smooches-of-italy-how-a-2007-trip-changed-my-life/

Now San Giovanni I think is beautiful and it was spiritual as well.  A mass starting and me and Lilly wind up at a section where a man is kind of waving us back , in other words move, the organ is going, the singing and chants, these door open and in come the priests in procession and I don’t know how else to describe it…..it was just beautiful.  I’m not Catholic though I did go to catholic school but no matter I appreciate spirituality and here it was flowing and Lilly starts crying.  I can’t look at her or I’m going to cry and I’m rapidly blinking trying to hold it back.  The organ music was sensational.  I  am wondering where is Yvonne and if she is here already.  I hope so,  she’ll go crazy over this organ music.

Finally able to move I go about exploring the grand hall of sculpture there, again study it, you will see things.  There are hidden faces and expressions in the sculpture.  Ellen was here but I only saw her very briefly.  At this point I know she has lost her camera  but she leaves with a friend.  Ina bit, me, Kat and Lilly make our way out front.  We jump in a taxi and head back.  We’ve got dinner at the place under our apartment so we need to rest and get ready.

We meet for dinner.   I might have arrived a few minutes late.  Tonight we get to meet Kathleen!!  Julie who I always loved from was not one tad different, absolutely funny, endearing and everything I kind of already knew.  Kathleen I met much later so it’s very nice that we finally have her presence and she is a delight too!  She has bright sparkling eyes, rosy cheeks and a sense of humor all the while being the most sensitive down to earth lady you could every want to meet.  Very very caring and all the ladies will attest I’m dead on with this description.  We’ve got a nice long table inside.  This is not a big place but seems to be a very popular one.  I can’t count how many people asked me something about it while I was going in and out of the apartment, mostly all Italians.  There is outside dining too, a small area, canopy and heaters going and I always knew when I should start getting ready because I could always hear the propane heaters going on before dinner, they warmed it before they opened.  If you out of that than there is our apartment door.

It’s pretty busy and  tables are filled up quick inside and out.  My hand squeezing buddy is there, looking very nice in an Antonio Bandera’s kind of way.  We get apps to share.  A nice variety of things.  There is a little bit of a situation if everyone orders different pasta in timing of it to arrive so they gave us choices about that.   I ordered spaghetti carbonara.  Poor Julie is hungry enough to eat a horse because I don’t know what she consumed if anything before the dinner .  I didn’t learn of  that till the dinner.  Julie and I head out  to smoke, we were going to go outside and my hand d squeezer says no you sit here and gets us seated with an ashtray.  We go back there several times for this and smoke while being warm which is a real treat nowadays.

So our dinner continues on with laughter drink and  food, what Italian evenings are made of.  At one point, my hand squeezer comes into the bathroom while I am there and I was kind of startled looking at him while I’m standing there with soapy hands.  He left.

After the dinner, me and Kat want some more wine, I don’t know how many bottles we had already finished but cutie pie swiftly sticks another bottle in front of us and wouldn’t put it on the bill, ok  we are not complaining !!!!

Now here is where I get iffy, did we go to the pantheon café, mimo? The black duke?  I don’t know for sure???? And who went with us???  Maybe Julie and Yvonne went to bed, I think they must of because later, much later, I come back alone, to the lane with our apartment, we have the key hidden outside the apartment but……not outside the apartment main entrance which is generally always unlocked, I approach, go to pull the door and it’s locked, I remember saying right out loud, ohhhhhhhhh *hit !!!!!!  Than I hear movement in the restaurant, guess who?  My hand squeezing buddy, he comes to where I am standing, what’s wrong?  I am locked out I have no key !!  oh no worry he said I have a key, I said oh good !! can you get me in?  he says sure but first please please come in, have vino, u like a birra, come come, and he has a hold of my hands pulling me in there, no no no I say, can’t, ohhhhhh why? I have a tour in the morning , ostia antica, no no no, please come vino with me, no u see I have ostia ant…………………………and at that point I never got out the rest “ica” out of my mouth,  he started smooching me with a vengeance I kid you not, QUITE THE KISSER I MIGHT ADD !  I’m absolutely shocked and now a double triple shock because heavens this man is a good smoocher.

I was getting my 9 ½ weeks in 9 ½ seconds.  I tell him I must go, “no” he says, takes my hand, places it on X marks the spot if u know what I mean and apparently he is a “happy” actually no question about it, he is happy and I am kind of jolted with like an electric shock !

We were like the Tasmanian devils spinning from there to the apartment door, I can’t even breath right, can you just unlock the door ???  More smooch fest, key key please, ok I say, tomorrow, I will meet you tomorrow but not tonight!!!  ok, tomorrow????  He unlocks the door and I run in finally getting  my bearings and found the key to our door.  The next morning I am telling Julie and Yvonne, well let me tell you what  happened right under your window!  ha ha !!   We think and of course we are not sure but it’s possible that he locked that outer door and had been waiting or it was a big coincidence. No matter, I got a good smooch!  No regrets.

I’ll figure out “tomorrow” with him tomorrow !!

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he who “smooches” unlocks the key to life and apartments 🙂

We have a cute American girl who will be joining us.  She is a college student and she studies in Paris.  Sweet girl.  Rossa get’s us onto all the necessary trains and metro’.  On the trains we are going over some of our stories and hoping we are not scaring Rossa.  He is laughing and tells us “I’ve lived here for and NEVER had the experiences that you guys do in a matter of week.

Rossa is very tall btw which is great for trying to follow someone.  (So are red coats like Yvonne’s)  we arrive, get off the train, rossa babes we need photos, u mind?  He snaps I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY CAMERA’S!!   I think we all must have handed him a camera!!!   He is such a good sport !

One of the first things we see in Ostia is the old Roman roads of stones.  They have groove marks.  Rossa goes into detail explaining this and how it would have been which is a very dirty smelly affair.  Not like we see it today.  He shows us how the shops were and where you would walk so you are not on the smelly stinky part of the road that is filled with lots of unmentionables.  He was creating for us ancient Ostia’s shopping district, warehouses, very very interesting.

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

students from Spain

students from Spain

students from Spain dancing for fun at Ostia Antica while there friends made the music

students from Spain dancing for fun at Ostia Antica while there friends made the music

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

wow can you imagine doing this for real?

wow can you imagine doing this for real?

it's "potty time"

it’s “potty time”

cool!

cool!

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

walks after Ostia Antica, such charm!

walks after Ostia Antica, such charm!

Katina looks beautiful in Italy doesn't she?

Katina looks beautiful in Italy doesn’t she?

wandering back from Ostia Antica, Julie and Yvonne

wandering back from Ostia Antica, Julie and Yvonne

Rossa the warrior

Rossa the warrior

the gang

the gang

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

feb2009scarves 599

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

We talk of how it was designed back in the day, adding depth to what is missing before our very eyes.  Walking on we get to burial spots, the customs, how the most important were buried, how families would come for a picnic with their loved ones leaving food items for the deceased.  There is lots and lots of fascinating information on these family plots and their customs.

Rossa explains the well systems, the plumbing that was in place and we even peer into the ground thru a grate to see some ancient piping, how they got their water, these Romans back in the day were very smart.  It’s amazing without modern technology what they accomplished.  We visit the different living quarters, how they would be arranged, who lived there from the privileged all the way down to the servants. We admire the ancient mosaics, still there and so visible, we learn about the Turkish tile man and see this ancient tile.  Rossa is a fountain of information.  We go to the theater section where the emperor loved the acting and play.  An actor was considered one of the mostly lowly professions that there could ever be, he tells us about actors and death scenes and the “extra” who is going to really get whacked.

We investigate the roman baths, how they were maintained, who got in them, what ones would have been slimy and filthy, how they heated them, the work of servants, ancient hygiene, we go down below and we are the servants, Rossa stands up top showing us how it would have been.  We are looking up at our master!  It’s all coming alive for us.

Now back to the amphitheater, a group of students are here on tour from Spain.  The acoustics here are phenomenal, still are to this day.  The group from Spain is taking advantage of it because the whole entire group is singing song after song while clapping their hands loud and we are getting a free show.  The girls get up and are doing Spanish dances;  some doubles, some group dancing, couples, it is really really something, we take a break here and sit and just like they did back in the day, we enjoy the show!

I’d like to add a bit about the gift of weather that day.  Ostia’s sky couldn’t be any bluer, the temperature warmed up to I would say 70s, it felt like a warm spring time day and the green around , couldn’t be any greener!

While walking back in time, we visit what would have been the ancient café, art still there advertising their specialty, we see how wine and oil were stored.  One thing that has long captured our attention before we even left for this trip was the communal toilets.  Yvonne actually fired up that curiosity in us and yes we were obsessed with them/  We ask Rossa early on,  we want our photo sitting on the potty can you manage it?    He laughed…..sure !  He explains how it was done.  The hygiene method and vinegar.  There’s water, a sponge, ewwww  but we’ve got to know!  How does one sit with so many people around “going”?  We make our way to what would have been a large villa for a very rich man and guess what?  He’s got his own private potty!   This is pretty spectacular for the times.

The gift of sunshine blue skies and warm temps stays with us as we make our way through Ostia.  This place is big.
Rossa is hoping the museum is open so we can have a look at that and we’re in luck, it is !!!!!   This is filled with pieces found during excavation at Ostia , some pretty neat stuff in here I say !   We had also wanted to check out a bit of the village of Ostia so Rossa takes us there.  The lanes and homes are very charming.  I could live here and Rossa too because he told us so, he loves Antica often comes on his alone and just explores more and more.  He would love to get a place here but so far has not been able to.  We stop at a shop for a bit of nourishment.  Yvonne is making friends with the locals going in and out of the shop.  There is a man with a big dog, a German Sheppard and some little old ladies.  While talking to them we ask about getting a place to rent here because now we are trying to find Rossa a place !   Well they say you  really need to know someone.  Darn, that’s why we are talking to you !!!

I believe our tour went on till like 4:00 maybe later?   Bless Rossa, never rushing us and teaching us lots!!!   He is worried about Ostia Antica.  He feels it’s often overlooked and underfunded and a treasure that Italy should never forget about and see to preserving.  Now that I’ve been there, I agree.    After a wonderful fulfilling day, we head back.  If anyone is thinking of going to Ostia during your Rome trip, I highly HIGHLY recommend Rossa, just write Angels than tell them you want Rossa, say Jeannette and the girls sent you,  if you want someone with passion he’s your man.  Actually when you contact Angels, tell Sean and have him arrange it for you.  He does all mine and he is brilliant.

Here is the website and tell them Jeannette sent you!   http://www.angeltoursrome.com/

After returning to Rome from Ostia, it’s time for some rest and to get ready for our dinner.  We are going to meet Daniela and Cinzia than our big finale, the Pantheon webcam wave and send greetings to our sistah’s at home, family and any stranger who happened to click on during that time, wonder if there were any?

We head to dinner.  We are going to sit outside with the heaters and have a nice long table.  It’s a nice atmosphere in this place and the dining room is very large.  It’s good to know for future trips.  One thing we have often heard about is the antipasti bar.  You fill up on one plate as much as you want.  It is pretty extensive and a lot to choose from and  I ate things I didn’t even know what was- who cares, you are in Italy, how could it be bad?  I think I pretty much had a spoonful of everything.  Lilly and Kat ordered some beautiful dessert and not one but two pineapples!  Which are always good for a woman’s soul and more.  We got a call Daniela and Cinzia are on their way and before you know it they show up and if you don’t get it from their posts than I am here to tell you  what wonderful wonderful women.  Full of spirit, smiles, humor and of course the passion that we see in Italians that we so love and adore.  If not, why would we all keep going back and back.

We also had Carla join us also !  Three beautiful Italian women, all the sistah’s and good food  makes for a very special evening.  We are making plansfor  what time to leave to be at the Pantheon for the webcam viewing.  Cinzia has a list of all our screen names reading them out, finding out who is who, that was so funny !!!!  Cinzie is a huge contributor for Rome assistance and has always helped me many times with her good advise.  Daniela is also a huge contributor and I don’t know how many tips I have copied in my notes that they she has given.  I can tell you it’s a lot!

Daniela does tours and has a vast amount of knowledge.  She also is married to a Swiss Guard and lives at the Vatican.  Now how cool is that??    The bells I miss so much she must be hearing each and every day.  Later in the trip, Yvonne and Lilly meet Daniela for some walks and I know both of them were very happy with all what they saw and learned.   Yvonne was excited telling me how each new pope has his coat of arms done in the gardens and later ( when I climbed St. Peter’s)  not this day, I was really looking around for this, I took some photos and can’t wait for Yvonne to see if this is the part where Daniela took her?  I remember there being a white rose, so that mystery will be solved later !

Daniela, Cinzia & Carla

Daniela, Cinzia & Carla, the beautiful Italian ladies who joined us

With a brisk walk we are there with a few minutes to spare.  Me and Julie  both need some cigarettes and dash across the piazza to get some, happily chatting away and walking back I stop dead in my tracks, Ivano???  Is that Ivano?   I was so surprised because I thought that he had a wedding party.  Daniela and Cinzia had arranged this little surprise for us and what a wonderful surprise it was NOW the webcam wave can be complete!!

We start at the fountain.  Laura is so enthusiastic and says we should be doing the NY NY dance.  There are tons of people around the Pantheon and everyone is looking at us.  Trish was flashing her camera, that’s a signal to know its us, the light wasn’t so bright there so we climb down next to our favorite pantheon café which has pretty bright light and wave our scarves like crazy people.  So while waving frantically, taking photos,  it just felt so good, we had a plan, some fate brought us all together and here we all are in Rome by the Pantheon sitting there in all it’s glory.

waving to folks on the webcam, hey try it , it was fun !

waving to folks on the webcam, hey try it , it was fun !

Ellen, Ivano & Daniela

Ellen, Ivano & Daniela

the wave

the wave

no picture captures Daniela's lively personality better than this one, (on bended knee)

no picture captures Daniela’s lively personality better than this one, (on bended knee)

Now it’s time for a little drinky.  Daniela takes us to a place that has a funky groove to it and we make a note to go back there.  We take more photos, enjoy our drinks and wonderful company.  ,  now confession time for me, this is the night, that all my trip has caught up with me, Sheila you had said, I don’t know if I could keep up with that pace ( and late late nights ) well this day, it all caught up to me, I know it’s Saturday but I was getting that feeling of “who am I? and where am I supposed to be” so I made a decision, when Yvonne leaves I’ll go back with her to our apartment, so after our drinks I went back with Yvonne, our party actually starting breaking up than and we all said our goodbye’s with hugs and I hope and pray , we get to do it again,  Daniela, Cinzia, Carla and Ivano, it was truly a complete honor to meet you and to know you and thank you for making our trip special.

me and Trish taking pictures of each other taking pictures :)

me and Trish taking pictures of each other taking pictures 🙂

drinks

drinks

nice nice time !

nice nice time !

Sunday opens with Katina leaving for Milan to visit her friend. Things aren’t going to feel right without our Katina. Today’s activity planned is the Borghese.  We have a reservation and it’s raining cat’s and dog’s because apparently God thinks the apartments need washing again.  I love the Borghese !

Once we arrive by taxi and are getting sorted out with the audio, tickets, bags checked I’m standing not too far from the door which busts open and there is Lilly, huffing, puffin and out of breath but she made it in the nick of time.  The place is very crowded I suppose because of the rain, it’s not the most comfortable thing waiting in the line but finally it moves and we are inside.  I can go into descriptions of the things  here forever but for your reading pleasure I won’t.   The sculpture is stunning, the art , the decorations.  Can you imagine this was actually someone’s home???? I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I can remember Ellen waiting for me till I got to one particular room because she said I have to see your face once you go in and all I can voice about that one  moment is “wow wow wow”  STUNNING!!!!!

I have plans in my head for the next time.  I want my two hour slot but I am spending that on one floor.  I than want to come back again with another two hours on another floor.  I bought a book while there called Guide to the Galleria Borghese and I plan on devouring this book.  Another thing to get back to is the park there.  Even in the rain it still looked beautiful.  My “to do” list is constantly growing.

After this what I consider an extremely rewarding experience despite the crowds and overheated rooms we head by taxi to the Catacombs of Priscilla.  Here is a bit of info on it I don’t think it is visited as much as the other catacombs which is good. We wait for a good bit for our guide.  They take you in with a flashlight, thank God for that because this place is dark and while we went thru all different sections there are many many many more paths and catacombs, some of these chambers have not been opened to this day. Ellen had said can you imagine if the power went out? No I just can’t, Lilly brought up a good point how would you find your loved one here? It’s so big and there is so many! The guide said, they knew and had their own record keeping system.  Can you imagine walking thru here back in the day with torches, it gives me goose bumps.

Here is a bit of info for you on that, I suggest visiting here if you can. I really do.

The Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria in Rome, Italy , is situated in what was a quarry in Roman times. This quarry was used for Christian burials from the late second century through the fourth century. Some of the walls and ceilings display fine decorations illustrating Biblical scenes. The Catacombs of Priscilla are believed to be named after Priscilla, a member of the gens Acilia and who was probably the wife of the Consul Acilius who became a Christian and was killed on the orders of Domitian. They contain a number of wall paintings of saints and early Christian symbols. Particularly notable is the “Greek Chapel” (Capella Greca), a square chamber with an arch which contains second century frescoes of Old and New Testament scenes, including the Fractio Panis. Above the apse is a Last Judgment. Near this are figures of the Madonna and Child and the Prophet Isaiah, also dating from the second century.

The catacomb of Priscilla, mentioned in all the ancient liturgical and topographic sources, has its modern entrance on the Via Salaria through the cloister of the monastery of the Benedictines of Priscilla. The Catacombs of Priscilla is divided into three principal areas: an arenarium, a cryptoportico from a large Roman villa, and an underground burial area of the noble Roman family Acilius Glabrio. On account of the fact that seven early popes and many martyrs were buried in the cemetery, it was known as the “Queen of the Catacombs” in antiquity.

I bought some postcards of this place from a very nice older nun behind the counter, don’t know how much she understood me but I can tell you she had a nice smile.

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Catacombe di Priscilla

Reviews and info:  Catacombe di Priscilla  , 

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187791-d246072-Reviews-Catacombe_di_Priscilla-Rome_Lazio.html

I get back to the apartment and there is Julie and Yvonne’s smiling face to greet me.  I like this apartment and  it does feel like coming home.  We get on the Brad Pitt topic somehow, and I decide to break out the magazine and of course Playgirl is not just filled with just him.  There’s lots of men with their “unmentionables” displayed in every kind of manner, the sight of these two sitting at the table, I won’t ever forget ever !  Julie’s head is wrapped in a white towel.  Yvonne is sitting next to her  Now  Yvonne 73 but not a day over 40 I say and Julie is the “page turner” now Julie being ever so discreet, lifts a page, looks it all over before she lays the page flat so Yvonne can see, LOL, she is trying to screen it and save Yvonne from any shocks.  At one point I hear Yvonne saying, “give me the  damn, she’s hold pages back from me, ”  There are no words to describe how hard I was laughing, there are no words to describe another roar out of me listening to them go over all the advertisements and trying to figure out what it is and how’s it used.  There was one thing Julie couldn’t figure out, what is that ???? I hear Yvonne in her lovely soft voice saying, ” now Julie I think that is meant for the man, now that’s a vagina of some kind and I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard.  I took pics of them and that magazine and cannot post it here of course.   If this was ever shown on the big screen, the theater would be roaring with laughter when they got to that part !

time for studies

time for studies

cheers :)

cheers 🙂

Tonight’s dinner is going to be a treat for me,  unlimited apps is just my thing.  We are headed to the popular L’ Orso 80,  I meant to come here way back on my first trip with my friend Kelly and our mom’s.  As far as I’m concerned, I could eat here just about every night.  Just about the time our drinks hit the table, it was also filled with lots and lots of bowls filled with everything under the sun.  The waiters are lively and have personality which adds more to the dinner experience.   What I really love, is if I go next door to the other section, I can smoke!!!

restaurant

restaurant

L' Orso 80 restaurant

L’ Orso 80 restaurant

feb2009scarves 568

restaurant

L' Orso 80 restaurant

L’ Orso 80 restaurant

L' Orso 80 restaurant

L’ Orso 80 restaurant

posing 🙂

Momma is there smoking , the sons, they are arguing about the game that is on the radio.  It must have soccer one.  Bet’s had been made for cash, some were smiling , some not, now this is atmosphere, me and Julie kept going back and back, saying “you want to eat here tomorrow”?   ABSOLUTELY!!!!!

Now the treats don’t end there.  After dinner, they did something I hadn’t seen anywhere in Italy.  They set not one but three bottles of liquor in front of us with glasses.  There was one bottle lemoncillo, one grappa and I don’t know what was in the other.  I have a brief sip of the moonshine as I like to call it !  We also we get another drink  that is Kathleen’s suggestion.  It was kind of sparkling wine and on top of  it bits of fruit.  They give you a spoon for the fruit.

My friend Kelly couldn’t make it to this trip and would be dying a 1000 deaths if she knew what she just missed, so I ask the waiter.  I want to make a small video.  Will you say to my friend at home, “Kelly we miss you”,  that’s all I asked him him to say and  now I will post what I filmed.   He did much more than I asked and I think that’s what makes the video so precious.

Monday is free day, no plans I don’t believe we even had dinner plans. Yvonne is leaving for Florence the beautiful and taking a piece of my heart over there to share with our Michelangelo.  It feels lonesome seeing her go but thank god I still had Julie who cracks me up constantly.  Case in point, you know there was two books always sitting on the kitchen table, #1 that magazine with the men it, #2, a beautiful book I have by national geographic traveler on Rome.  After coming back from my free day which I’ll get into in a bit Julie is home.  She says well, ” I’ve read the whole book from front to back in her lovely British beatle accent!!”  “You did,”   I say?  Now while she is saying this I think that she is referring to the National Geographic Rome traveler book till she says: “thought I’d learn some new tips before meeting PP on Tuesday”!   I crack UP laughing; than asks me ” have you read it”?    I answer no but now I must will for sure!

For free day,  I decide to go to St. Peter’s for the Dome climb.  I stopped by the Senato hotel because Ellen was going to go with me but than not to because with her foot injury.  That climb kicked my ever loving you know what but guess who I saw on the way in the bus as I had a window seat?   The bag women Goldilocks who hit me on the head with the umbrella!  There she stood right on the street facing me while mouth drops open and I want to SHOUT “oh my gosh, THERE SHE IS”!

There was quite a line for the climb, not too bad though, maybe I waited 45 minutes, an hour?   The day’s weather is weird, one minute black rain clouds the next bits of blue and sunshine.  I was really hoping when I got up to the top, I could get a little of that blueness.  I took the elevator and I’m so glad I did.  I don’t care what kind of leg and butt burn you get, this climb is worth the price.  A good amount of people are up there but I still had no problem in getting to the rail and seeing the views.  A German comes up to me and says I’ll take a photo of you and snaps one for me.

I wander all the way around, sit when I want, watch people taking photos, try to study what’s down below and not forget this. I’m looking for the gardens Yvonne told me about with her visit with Daniele.  I was feeling so satisfied that I did this, standing at the top thinking, there it is before you, Rome !

I got my blue and a bit of sun, and the way it lit some parts of Rome I thought was extremely beautiful.  I try to snap fast because it was fleeting.

St. Peter's Dome views

St. Peter’s Dome views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

the stairs to the Dome

the stairs to the Dome

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day

St. Peter’s & free day

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day

St. Peter’s & free day

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

St. Peter's & free day views

St. Peter’s & free day views

here comes the sun♫

here comes the sun

After the climb, I head back into St. Peter’s , there is no way I’m leaving without seeing my man’s work again.  I stand there thinking and feeling pretty much the same way I did the very first time when I saw the Peita.  I wander thru St. Peter’s more, the familiarity is nice, I can do this now more slowly; I touch St. Peter’s foot. For me, this church puts me in awe; I find some holy water and ask God, “can you just forgive for everything”?  I don’t have a lot of time to name all the sins.

Michelangelo's stunning Pieta

Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta

St. Peter statue

St. Peter statue

I leave St. Peter’s and head back.  I don’t know where everyone else went for free day? Laura is gone, Yvonne and now the lovely Kathleen.  Kat went to Milan yesterday, I don’t like anyone leaving.

Well Julie had free day being scared that she was going to get struck by lightening for her thoughts in church!

(should have read that National Book on Rome instead Julie !!!)   🙂

There’s something about sipping wine in your home in Rome that feels really nice, oh and I get beer too, that’s how I met sexy hand squeezer now with the added bonus title of “good smoocher” (who I have been ducking since that night) every time I’m coming home, he is coming out and I always have Julie or Yvonne with me, ha ha !

We are dressed and at the pantheon and Julie has not really got to experience the Pantheon café life with our wonderful Massimiliano and Penelope Cruz so I say come on Julie , “you’ve got to have that”!

At some point I see Lilly who comes walking by saying “I’M DRUNK”!!!  Who? When ? How on free day?  I ask “are you sure Lilly”?   “Yes” she shouts with the cutest face on!!   It really means…. she is just tipsy.

We are deciding should we just stay here? I don’t know how what was decided but we wind up going around the corner to see our beloved Mimo at Zio’s.  I think it must have been getting late.

free night at the Pantheon with Julie

folks you meet along the way

folks you meet along the way

Pantheon cafe

with Mimo

the fantastic Mimo in blue

the fantastic Mimo in blue

our wondeful waiter

our wondeful waiter

After dinner, Julie is keen on trying out the Roman club experience.  It’s her last night and we want her to go out with a bang!  So where?  Well we know of Anima , let’s go there!

We fully prepared Julie mentally for this place.  They are going to swarm you like bees.  They mean you no harm and they are competitive with each other so in we go, bring it on!  I’m much more confident on visit number #2 since I now  know how this works.  I see the manager, cool dude Francesco, “hey Jeannette,” he says.  I feels nice when someone remembers you.  The doorman and the manager really looked out for me.  If somebody was getting too close or cheeky, they would be right there inches away from them basically telling them “back off.”

We get the drinks, our same couches and the dance floor.  I believe we may have started dancing at the couch than made it to the dance floor.  I don’t know a lot of these songs, maybe they are European?

I can tell my sistah Julie is having a good time, she has a smile on her face and is enjoying herself, we make some requests to the DJ and he did play some of what we asked,  of course the swarm is around, lots of new faces, I did see some old faces from the first night, a David from England who I met last time, we had good talks outside than when I saw him much later in the night,  he yells out to me “I’m getting *issed” !!!  with a smile, so this night, I say David u getting *issed?

I like saying “u getting *issed” ??   it makes me feel very British,

Now I don’t know Napoli, never been there but it seems to me all the boys you meet, the most forward ones seem to come from Napoli,  maybe it’s something in the water there?

Now did I say we were supposed to only go to the club for a little while?

I think we left at closing are near to it,  I had told the doorman and Francesco that tomorrow is my last day,  “Jeannette you come back tomorrow ok”?  I’ll try my best I yell!  Francesco gave me his card to add him on Facebook.

police

police

Anima patron

Anima patron

girls night out

girls night out

having a dance :)

having a dance 🙂

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

cheese :)

cheese 🙂

Julie

Julie

Don’t do the crime if can’t do the time.  Ouch!!!  Tomorrow is here to remind you of that  !!

What’s left for today, important , very important ????  The Trevi fountain!  We must insure our return.  While we were walking there Ellen or Lilly was explaining what each coin means that you throw in the fountain.  Katina had me laughing because she said, “ I’ll throw my whole damn purse in there” !       I loaded up my hands too actually both hands.  The way I figure it, I’ve got like 24 trips to Rome coming and I pitched them both at the same time !!! BAMMMMM !!!!

BONIFIED insurance I am coming back to Rome! woo hoo !!!

Sadly Julie is gone now to meet PP ——- boy I am going to miss that girl and I do!    The apartment is now quiet and weird without Yvonne and Julie.  I feel like singing that song “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”   matter of fact,  I hummed this tune.

I’ve told the girls I won’t meet them for dinner tonight, my plan is to come in at 8 pm.  I will pack than go to bed.  I’m getting real real nervous and emotional about our “goodbye.”    I feel like if I go to dinner it’s going to be worse on me.

With that decision made I start packing, it took me three hours.  I’m done before the evening and I cannot stay away from them any more than the man on the moon so I get dressed and head over to their hotel but I am not feeling like myself.

I would guess it’s a depression and I start to brood these thoughts:

How did this go so fast?

How am I going to be able to go home?

What am I going to do at home?

I don’t know how to be me at home.

What about the church bells?  I’ll have no church bells.

What about that man at the market yelling, “Lilly, Katina!!   How am I going to be able to go away from him?

Than the pantheon each day, how am I going to make it without that each day?

And what a about Lilly’s voice asking “did you touch it Jeannette, ”  “Did you feel it”  like she does when we explore.

And what about Katina and the way she says “beautiful” or “beautiful darling”?

And Ellen’s Italian and heels clicking?

Julie’s laugh and Beatles accent

Kathleen’s flashing eyes and the goodness that beams from her and get’s all over you.

Yvonne’s hugs and notes on the table “Good morning sunshine” I’m off  to………..in her red coat”

The other sistah’s I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with but still very important too —    Laura, Barb, Trish, ???

HOME???  How?

So this is how I feel while I approach their hotel.   I see Lilly but I don’t tell her I feel like iI am losing it.   Barb and her cousin are there some drinks and snacks.  The other girls are getting dressed so I tell Lilly I’m going to the Pantheon café to have a drink.  Lilly says they will be over as soon as they are all done.   There is Masimiano with that smile and getting my beer.  I’m going to miss them too!

I decide to eat dinner there; I can’t stay out late, if the girls come for a drink than go to dinner, than I’ll go back to the apartment. Once they come we sit and drink just like all our nights but this time more than ever I’m saying to myself “take it in”  “don’t forget a thing”.

I eat , maybe half of it because I tell you with the state I get myself into it starts affecting my appetite,  That time has come, I stand up and say, “ I have to go now”  Kat hugs me hard first there’s no containing it anymore I just start crying, Lilly hugs me, than Ellen, than Kat again, I don’t want to let go and there’s no use in wiping the tears, there not going to stop — so I left them and walked back to the apartment crying all the way.

So this ends and I am home and as I write this to you today, I don’t know that I still know how to be home.

I’ve booked a trip to Paris in August and since I got back I beat myself up mentally everyday thinking,  “WHY DID YOU DO THAT”?   I could have gone to Rome but I know there’s something I’ve really got to do and that is to go to Normandy and pay my respects.

The End!

The names have not been changed to protect neither the innocent nor the guilty.

It is what is ………. our story!!

It is a true story.

Thank you for making my trip beautiful girls!  Thank you Italy!

Travel video of  our photos with music.  Some are in the report of above and some are not:

UPDATE:  2013

I am going to update this every few years with where we are now in life.  You will be amazed at some of the changes in the last four years.  That is coming soon!   We’ve come a long way baby!

Comments
  1. Pat says:

    Ahhhh, loved reading this again. I soooooooooooo wanted to hit that button and join you guys at that time, but just couldn’t. No matter, got to meet you all the following year and you are all the best sistahs!

  2. Katina Janakis says:

    Wooooow…… I still can’t believe I was part of this dream…. This adventure. I have saved this, and will save it again. Just love what you have done J and how you told our story. A true story. I still think it’s a best seller and then a movie.. Tanti, tanti grazie bella. This is magnificent and you have relived this journey for us. It’s been 4 years…. Mama miaaaaa!

    To many more meet ups 🙂 x x x

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