Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rome 27.12.2013 (3): Quiet Churchyards and Jewish Christmas Meals

Santissimo Sacramento Oratory, Christmas Eve 2013

Day three, Christmas day: we walked to the liturgy of the American church of Saint Susanna, held this year in the church of St. Camillo de Lellis, because the Paulist church is closed.

Rome 27.12.2013 (2): Pantheon Solstice and Mussolini Lemons

Rainbow Christmas Lights, Via del Corso, 24 December 2013

Day two, Christmas eve, we took a long see-Rome-on-foot walk from our hotel, the Modigliani on Via della Purificazione near the Pantheon, to all sorts of places: the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona and the four rivers fountain, Campo de Fiori, Piazza Colonna with its famous column, and more churches than one could shake a stick at.

Rome 27.12.2013: Double Kisses and Baroque Holy Water Stoups

St. Peter's, Tour Guide and Yours Truly, 23 December 2013

Waiting to get into the Borghese in Rome, I see a very nice-appearing man assisting an elderly woman down the steps. They've just toured the gallery. I think he's gay, and she's his mother.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Assisi 22.12.2013: Muted Colors and Umbrian Village Churches

Assisi in Mist, 21 December 2013

Sitting in Assisi (more precisely: Santa Maria degli Angeli) train station, awaiting our train to Rome. the mist persisted all the while we were in Assisi, making the place more magical--muting and hiding shops full of tawdry tourist tat, giving the birds singing atop trees a far-away, ghostly presence.

Assisi 21.12.2013: Pilgrim Tchotchkes and Francis in the Mist

Basilica of St. Francis, 21 December 2013

Francis, your name is again in vogue. It's in people's mouths with a pope who now has your name. Francis, they say, as if they know him. Or you. Francis, we say, as if we know you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Assisi 20.12.13: Mystic Fog and Zebras Running Through Manger Scenes

Assisi Evening, 20 December 2013

In Assisi now. We arrived about 3 P.M. and took a taxi up the hill to Casa Papa Giovanni. Absolutely none of the malarkey here about shared rooms, the finger-wagging about two men and matrimony. The nice lay staff member who greeted us and showed us to our room asked if we wanted one room or two, and when we told her one, she showed us to a room with two single beds.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Florence 20.12.13: Little David and Distrait Mary

Fra Angelico Crucifixion, San Marco, 20 Dec. 2013

Sitting in the busy, noisy Santa Maria Novella station (which has one pitiful banquette for the entire galumphing place, a banquette on which my big posterior is barely perched). We're awaiting our 12:10 train to Assisi.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Florence 19.12.2013 (3): Witch Candy and Cathedral Parades

Parade at Duomo, Evening of 19 December 2013

After the Uffizi, a walk to the Central Market, where we found a promising-looking trattoria, Trattoria Katti, in Via Faenza, a side street without any of the restaurants clearly intent on pulling in tourist trade. They had a nice-looking daily menu chalked on a blackboard outside, with reasonable prices, so we took a leap and went in, and were glad we did.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Florence 19.12.2013 (2): Barbarism to Civilization and Flora Morphing

Ponte Vecchio Viewed from Uffizi, 19 December 2013

Now at the Uffizi, having high-priced cappuccinos in the cafeteria and having decided it's worth the price to have a moment to sit down and enjoy the spectacular view. The process of obtaining tickets and entrance a perfect farce.

Florence 19.12.2013: No Matrimoniale! and Porcini Pizza

Duomo Doors, 19 December 2013

In Florence now. We took a train from Bolzano to Bologna yesterday, and then switched to a train to Florence, the latter very well-appointed and brisk-moving, so that we were in Florence in no time at all.

Bolzano 18.12.2013: Last Suppers and Braying Goats

Pass-Through in Medieval Arcade, Bolzano, 16 Dec. 2013

On the train in Bolzano, waiting for it to depart for Bologna, where we'll switch to a train to Florence. We whiled away time this morning going to the cathedral museum in Bolzano, where a very nice docent gave us a guided tour, all in German we both easily understood.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bolzano 17.12.13: Krampus Masks and Titled Train Angels

A long night of sleep. I went to sleep about 7 P.M., and Steve woke me out of a deep sleep and dreams at 7:30 this morning. During the night, I heard the cathedral bells ring 11 and a noisy group of young Italian men arrive at their room next door, but otherwise, I was dead to the world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bolzano 16.12.2013: Christmas Markets and Local Delicacies, Drama En Route

Bolzano Christmas Market, 16 December 2013

In Bolzano now, and at our hotel--Hotel Feichter near the train station, the cathedral, and Walther Square. I just had to ask Steve what day it is, since it's--from our perspective--the same day on which we flew to Italy. Which is, Italian-perspective, now the next day.

Bolzano, En Route 15.12.2013: Plethoras of Plots, Travel and Skin-Slipping

Off this morning to Italy. We're in the waiting room of the Little Rock airport. I realized as I showered this morning that I've come to like long overseas flights. What I don't like is the jet lag afterwards, and the grunginess of being in clothes, unshaven and unwashed, for 24 hours.