Blog

The Spanish Steps

November 5, 2018

Sometimes you can’t really sort out the sights (and sites) you’ve seen until you revisit them in memory weeks—or months—later. Such is the case when I ponder our brief encounter with the Spanish Steps. They were on our “not-to-be-missed” list for the city of Rome because they are on everyone’s list. See for yourself: Flip…

Read more

Thousands of Coins in the Fountain

November 1, 2018

At many of Rome’s most popular (and crowded) tourist sights—the Colosseum and the Vatican spring to mind—prescheduled tours can save interminable waits in long lines. At the Gallery Borghese, pre-purchased tickets are mandatory. And are often sold out. Our plan for Friday, our third (and final) full day in Rome was built around our visit…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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,…

Read more

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…

Read more