Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rome, Italy - More photos on the 2010 Student Protest

I found this protest process very interesting. As we moved further from the apartment and closer to the Colisseum, the crowd (and  barracades) changed.  I also find it interesting that our curiosity took us closer and closer to the hub.

The day started when Kalen came to the dining table and said that he looked out the window and police were stopping cars from entering the city.  The cars and bus on the right side of the photo are leaving the city.  The left side lane is the incoming, or lack of incoming, traffic.  This lane has been full every morning.  Not today. Something is happening!

Rome, Italy - Pantheon

The Pantheon was an amazing building and breathtaking to see.  We were there on a rainy night, which adds to the mystique of the building. And, yes, the circular hole in the ceiling is open to the weather.  The rain was in a puddle on the floor.

The front is being refurbished, which is better than seeing it in disrepair.  The inside is marble from end to end.

Rome, Italy - What a day! Student protests relieve traffic stress for us

Here was the plan for the day:  take the bus from right outside the apartment to the Colosseum, visit the Forum, visit a museum or two, and finish with the Pantheon.  Quite an enjoyable day.

BUT, the day started when Kalen noticed that the traffic was blocked off. He was watching people argue with the police as they told them that they couldn't go on the main street into the middle of the city.  We dressed and headed "to the bus stop" and noticed that no buses were running.  Traffic was very light and soon we came to a police barracade.  We turned to the right and went in another direction, guided by the expert map readers.  Noticing that the traffic was very light and the policy were standing around in riot gear (how we were we supposed to know that it wasn't like this all the time???), we commented that Tuesday was a very good day to pick to go to the Colosseum because it was clear of all of the usual obstructions.  (Note that the woman with a patch over her eye is not involved in the story and is just a coincidence.)

Police secure the monument and area of protest

Well, Sara sweetly asked one of the police what was going on, she returned to tell us that there was a student protest.  "What fun! And we are right in the middle of it all."  Undaunted, as everything seemed to be under control, we continued on (through the rain...did I mention that it was raining while all of this was going on...).

Click here to read what the news reported.  (This link will open in the same window. Click on the back arrow when you are finished reading and you will come back to this blog.  For more info, Google "student protests Rome".  We totally missed the part about the egg and tomatoe throwing, and also the tear gas.  No tour buses in the area, and only the visitors on foot were getting in to the area.

Watch this video to see some of what we saw.

The line of students started in areas around the Colosseum, then past the Forum. They covered the streets, but did not effect our sidewalks so we were able to take photos.  Well, you can't stop from doing the tourist job.  Here we are with the Forum in the background.

Ladee and Kalen, Forum in the background

The Colosseum was wonderful. I took photos with the other camera, so I will need to post them after I return home. Actually, it looked liked all the photos that I have ever seen of the Colosseum, so it was great to be there, but there was nothing unexpected.

We went to lunch at a little place "at the top of the stairs" from the Colosseum. I was starved so I'm sorry about the photo. This was a pizza...remembered to photograph it a little late. Don't you think that this goes along with the 'ruins' theme of the day?

House Grill
Via Nicola salvi 65-66, Roma

Remains of Pizza Funghi
Pizza takes up the entire plate. We had Pizza Proscuito 10€, Pizza Funghi 11€, Lasagna Bolognase 9€.  We also tried some glasses of wine: Syrah 6€, Montepulciano 6€, Caffe Americano 4€, Acqua Frizz (bottled water) 2,50€, and Caffe Espresso 3€.

After our late lunch we decided to head to the Pantheon Tour.  We were slowed down a bit by the Police barracades but were able to get through when they knew that we were tourists (and not students).  Maybe the part that gave us away was that when they asked us "Where are you going?", we said "To the Parthenon".  We heard one say "Tourists. Cleared." as he let us through. I hope that didn't make a comment about the fact that we said Parthenon instead of Pantheon.  We even asked one nice policeman how to get there, since our route had been blocked and changed and he gave us directions. Such nice people!

We trucked on through the rain, trying to skillfully negotiate the sidewalk with our umbrellas.  I was behind Kalen, so the opposing traffic had to try to dodge his high umbrella, then my low one.  We moved smoothly, hopping over puddles on slippery cobblestones and made it to the piazza in front of the Pantheon. We stopped at a coffee shop so that Karl could use the bathroom (oops, TMI?) and had some espressos and Americanos.  We sat outside in the covered area, heated, tables jammed in and took a brief rest. This photo is from the restaurant with it ambiance and candles.

Bar Ristorante Ritorno Al Passato
Pz. Della Rotonda 68, Roma
Espresso at 3€ and Coffee Americano at 4€.

Moving on to the Pantheon, I thought that the building outside was a little lackluster. The front was half covered with scaffolding in a refurb effort.  But  Takes your breath away.  It is so beautiful.  Kalen listened to the Rick Steves' tape and reported that this was an engineering marvel, not only for the ceiling construction, but for the huge columns outside that were carved from a single piece of marble, and hauled from the quarry to Rome.  Construction and transportation inventions were created.  Here is an inside view:

We spent about an hour at the Pantheon and then decided to go to finish the day with a light dinner at "Cul de Sac", just off of Piazza Navona.  Small place, nice staff, good food, great prices.  I had some pasta with cheese and broccoli, Kalen the same (8,80€ each), Karl had lasagna 8,50 and Sara had veggies and cheese Caprino Caldo 9,50. We finished with 3 orders of chocolates Cialdine cioccolato 10,20€ total (sorry about the photo) and a mousse 4,30.  Oh yes, and a bottle of Syrah wine 19,80with dinner.

Enoteca Cul de Sac
Piazza Pasquino, 73

Pasta with cheese and broccoli

Cialdine Cioccolato (Chocolates) - wrappers
We declared that it was an adventurous day and we went home to rest and prepare for tomorrow.  Net result of the rain: shoes, socks, slacks and coats are wet.  They are scattered about the apartment in an attempt to have dry essentials tomorrow. My Rick Steves' tour book is wet on one of the corners, so I'm going to put something heavy on it and hope that it dries flat.  We are nearly out of coffee for espresso, so we may need to make a morning run to the store. And the Panettone that was supposed to last for a week is gone.  I'll take the camera so that you can see what the city grocery store looks like.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rome, Italy - Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica

Espresso and Panettone Milanese

Yea!! The “Espresso Master” is making the best home brew. Three espresso pots were found and we can make espresso faster than we can consume.

The Panettone purchased last night was thought to last for a week, but we have revised our estimate since we ate half of it this morning. And the guess that “burro traditionale” was butter, was right on. Yummy stuff.

Wow, today was the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We left the apartment as scheduled at 8:30 and started our Monday tour, down two flights of stairs at the apartment, and turned left on Corso Emmanuale Vittorio.  We crossed the bridge, watching for traffic.  The police control the traffic signals and it was fun to watch all of the motorcycles filter to the front of the group of cars stopped for the light.  When the light changes to green, the cycles take off!  We walked the cobblestoned streets and gasped when we saw St. Peter's Square.  It is really great to be here in the off season and be one of the few hundreds in the square, instead of one of thousands.  We looked around the square, then turned right to follow the wall of the Vatican to the Vatican Museum entrance.  Oh, and we were able to get water from the fountains along the way!  We had empty water bottles and filled up as we went. What fun!
We were about 45 minutes early for our time, but with no crowds it wasn't an issue. We turned in the internet tickets, got our little souvenir tickets, and followed the signs.  Our first stop was to step outside for a wonderful view of the Dome.
We walked through the Vatican Museum, ohhing and awwwwing at each turn.  Sara was an art major in college, so she is a wealth of information about the different periods represented in the art collection.  I was very excited to see all of the marble statues.  This view shows a look down the long hallway FILLED with marbles.
This statue is the Laocoon (Click here for info on the statue) and it was thrilling to see this in person.  I was walking through the courtyard, and this popped in to view.  No huge crowds. No big signs...Just another one of the  many wonders of this collection.
Lunch time was in the Museum cafeteria Pizzaria.  Pretty tasty. These were mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant, and some sort of meat and cheese.  The staff spoke English enough to facilitate ordering.  We took a little break, enjoyed a Pepsi and Pizza.
There is a series of rooms that are called "Raphael Rooms".  The walls are all painted with huge murals.  ()
The rational theme of the ‘School of Athens’, is where Raffaello represents the ancient philosophers; in the centre Platone, who is pointing at the sky with his hand and Aristotle answers him pointing to the earth. Pitagora on the left is giving lessons and Diogene is reading on the stairs; finally, at the bottom, Eraclito is in the act of writing on a piece of paper leaning on a marble block, in which many recognize are the traits of Michelangelo, who in those days were intent to work in the Sistine Chapel. (from the website listed below).

Click here for Raphael Room info

Our original plan was to find a recommended pizza restaurant, but we were all tired and decided to come back in the direction of the apartment.

We had dinner at a restaurant across the street from the apartment.
Ristorante Pizzeria da Carlo vittorio Emanuele II, 333

Chianti Classico 18,00€ for our wine.  We each had Bruschetta Mozz+Pomodoro (tomatoes) for 4,00€.
Pappardelle F.Porcini 14
Totrellini 4 Fomaggi 9
Spaghi Carbonara 9
Scaloppine 12
Spinaci Limone 5

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rome, Italy - Wide awake at 2AM

I had a solid 8 hours sleep and woke at 2AM. I've been charging all of my devices, and added a little more content to yesterday's blog post. Thanks for the comments!! It's a joy to know that someone is reading them.  Kalen is awake too, although he got a few more hours of sleep because he crashed on the couch.

Rome, Italy - Piazza Navona

Great and smooth flight.  I didn't sleep much and watched three movies (Salt, Letters from Julia, Avatar).  US Airways gave us a cup of coffee and a little croissant.  The flight was smooth, and the pilot came on to tell us that we were going to begin our descent in to Rome.  Five minutes later, he said that we were cleared for land and swoosh, we were coming down fast. The crew didn't even get to my seat to take my coffee cup.  But the landing was good and we pulled our big plane up to one of the terminals. They wheeled a stair case up to the plane (WOW!) and we had to drag the luggage down the steps. We were all pretty cool with our carry-on luggage, but Sara wins for having the least.

We walked past the luggage belts and out of the international doors. There were several drivers with name cards so we knew that we were in the right place.  Yea!  We looked around and finally found a young girl with "Ledee K Rickard" on a card.  Close enough.  She was a really nice guide and spoke English so that was very helpful.  She led us down to the Tourist Information so that we could buy our Roma Passes and then out the front door to meet Stephan, our Italian English Speaking driver. He loaded the van with the luggage and off we went, to Rome!  The sky is a little overcast, but the air temperature was really nice.  We chatted with him about the weather and other things and were at the apartment in 40 minutes.

We rang the doorbell and the attendant for the apartment rang us in.  We put the luggage (and me) in the elevator and the others took the stairs to the second floor.  We toured, selected rooms, and got ready to have a really late breakfast...or a slightly late lunch.  Off we walked east on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.We went through a few side streets until we got to Piazza Novona.   The Piazza is filled with booths with Christmas gifts and decorations. We decided to eat on a little side street, and went to a small place that was large on atmosphere.  It was in La Scaletta, antica trattoria, that we had our first meal in Rome!  We decided to eat large, and that maybe this meal would also cover dinner.
La Scaletta
Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima 56
Piazza Navona Tel: +39

Here is what we ordered.  The numbers are prices in euros.  Multiply by 1.35 to get an idea of the dollar cost. 
Ladee and Kalen split Bruschetta. 7
We had a wonderful bottle of Italian wine that is only served in November and December. 16
Sara had spinach ravioli 11 and tiramisu 7 for desert.
Kalen had fetticine with seafood 13, I had gnocci (so yummy) with eggplant pieces 11. Karl had veal saltimbucca 14 and a side of spinach 5 and Americano coffee (Espresso with hot water added) 2.5 and cannoli 7 for desert.
Kalen and Ladee finished the meal with cannoli and espresso 2.

Anna was our waitress and she was very personable and extremely fluent in English.  Frank Sinatra was singing in the background (Francesco!!)

After dinner, we walked around Piazza Navona and took fountain pictures.  This is Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi  (or Fountain of the Four Rivers). I bought three umbrellas for $2 each (I drove a hard deal!!).  We then headed to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to look for the hop on hop off bus.  We couldn't find it, it was raining lightly, so we stopped at the grocery store to buy some milk and sugar, panetone (can hardly wait for breakfast tomorrow!), and other odds and ends.  Then we went back to the apartment, all very tired and ready to go to sleep at 4:30 PM!  Beware, Rom, Wild tourists are here!

Karl fussed with the drip coffee system, and then discovered that the glass was broken and it generally did not work.  That was the best thing that happened.  He found several espresso makers, those metal two tiered gadgets that sit on the stove, and proceeded to learn how to use this device. I googled step by step instructions and by the time I heard "It worked!!" from Karl, we had awesome espresso.

We had an espresso and Americano to stay awake the best we can until 7PM, and then we are going to crash!!  The Vatican is on the agenda for tomorrow.  We gathered at the dining room table, spread out the maps, plugged in the laptops and opened the Rick Steves books...what a team!!

So, good night to Rome. This is the view from the bedroom window, looking towards the Vatican.

Rome, Italy - In Rome at the Apartment

Just a fast note to say that we had an incredibly smooth flight and a responsible driver from the airport to the apartment.  We are in the apartment and ready to go out in search of food!  More later.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Great dinner cooked by Kalen and his Sigma Nu buddy Ryan. Shared with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Neighbor Kelley turns 50!!

Happy 50th Birthday to Good Neighbor Kelley!!
Thank you to her wonderful friends for creating an exciting day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social Media Class at ASU Lodestar

I'm attending a two day class at ASU about social media in the non-profit sector. I except to leave with great plans on combining the tools to meet a strategy.