Blog

Saint Peter’s Basilica

September 16, 2018

From the Sistine Chapel it’s just a short walk to the portico of Saint Peter’s Basilica, where perhaps in a different year we might have acquired a bit of surety on truly making it to Heaven one day. The Holy Door on the north end of the portico is cemented shut and opened only at…

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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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Puzzling and Bumbling on the Palatine Hill

June 30, 2018

The word “palace” is derived from the name Palatine—the hilltop where Roman rulers and aristocrats lived, high above the busyness of the Forum. The ruins of their grand homes and the chance to look out over the city just as they did make the climb worthwhile. As it turned out, Mr. Penfire and I ended…

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The Roman Forum – Then and Now

June 25, 2018

Years ago I bought a book called “Then and Now.” It features images and brief histories of twenty ancient sites—the ruins of great civilizations. Facing the title page for each is a full color photo of the ruin as it looks today: with an overlay showing what the site looked like in its heyday. Oh,…

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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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The Pantheon

May 22, 2018

It was beginning to rain. And of course, our umbrellas were back in our hotel room. So we headed back in that direction, soon found ourselves in the Piazza della Rotonda, and noticed that the line to enter the Pantheon—endlessly long an hour earlier—was now nearly inconsequential. So we nipped inside. Because this iconic structure—built…

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Mr. & Mrs. Penfire Venture Forth

May 20, 2018

It was four in the afternoon in Rome. Yet for us, still on LA time, it was six in the morning, and we had been up all night. (At least I think that’s right. For someone who is still asking, “What time is it, really?” for several days after the clocks are moved an hour…

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