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It’s All About the View

October 8, 2018

Castel Sant’Angelo. It started out as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian. A massive cylindrical drum sitting on an equally massive stone base and topped by a golden quadriga—sculpture of a chariot pulled by four horses running abreast. Visualize a giant stone birthday cake with horses on top! To connect his future burial place with…

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Mr. and Mrs. Penfire Stop for Lunch

October 5, 2018

When we first contemplated traveling to Italy, we thought we simply didn’t know enough to be do-it-ourselves travelers. Looking back now at the itinerary, I see that the tour we nearly booked would have been a big disappointment. The tour offered only a thirty-minute “orientation walk” on the day of arrival in Rome, with the…

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The Vatican Museums – A Treasure Trove

September 16, 2018

Getting there The lovely young manager at our hotel explained how to get the bus to the Vatican. We walked the couple of blocks to Piazza Venezia, found the recommended Tabacchi (think corner convenience store), which is the place to purchase bigletti (tickets for the city’s buses) and headed for the nearby bus stop. On…

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The Vatican: Planning Ahead – A Necessity

September 8, 2018

A visit to the Vatican—mobbed, daunting, and overwhelming as it might be—is not to be missed, because, quite frankly, if you have traveled all the way to Rome and do not experience this place, you might as well have stayed home. For devout Catholics, the Vatican is a place of religious pilgrimage. For all of…

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Where have you been, Mrs. Penfire?

August 27, 2018

Earlier this summer Mrs. Penfire was truly enjoying sharing the story of her adventures in Italy with Mr. Penfire. And then: life intervened. So far, you have met only one Mrs. Penfire: the outspoken I-will-do-it-myself persona represented by the flame-defying Little Red Hen. She is often compelled to post commentary; in addition she occasionally calls…

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THE COLOSSEUM…AND THE CIRCUS

June 5, 2018

The Colosseum is the largest amphiteater ever built—a massive oval of brickwork, tufa (a type of limestone), travertine, and concrete. At its base it covers six full acres. One of the wonders of the ancient world, it was the site of spectacles (and horrific cruelty) that are almost beyond the imagination. Over the centuries, two thirds…

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Mr. & Mrs. Penfire Start Out Early, Arrive Late

May 31, 2018

If there is one iconic structure that symbolizes Rome—and Italy—more than any other, it’s the Coliseum. Along with the Vatican and Saint Peter’s Basilica, it was at the very top of our “things to see in Rome” list. My guidebook recommended purchasing a tickets* or Roma Passes** in advance to avoid long lines. Another suggestion…

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