Monday, May 28, 2007

Further afield

Today Alex, Augustin and I went out the Appia Antica to see a Roman Aqueduct. Before we got there we came upon this mausoleum. It is the tomb of a woman named Caecillii Metelli, the wife of the Roman general Sulla. Unfortunately the tomb was closed, so we initially contented ourselves with taking a picture of it.

Well then, we decided a better picture would be one of us three on the walls.

Alex decided an even BETTER picture would be one with him on top of the foundation.

Not to be outdone, I sent Augustin up there and then came up myself.

And here's a group shot. Don't you admit that's a better picture than the first one? :)

The tricky business was getting DOWN.

Then we finally came to our Aqueduct. This particular one is named the Aqua Felice and was built by Pope Sixtus V in the 16th century. When the barbarians streamed across the Roman frontier they cut all of Rome's aqueducts, forcing the people to rely on the Tiber. It wasn't until the Renaissance times that new ones were constructed and old ones repaired, largely at the expense of the Church.

Here's the aqueduct itself.

Augustin stopping to tie his shoe on the ancient Appian Way.

Another shot of the aqueduct, which is still in use today.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Soccer Game

Today we went to a soccer game with Pietro. The home team is A.S. Roma, which is mine, Andrew's and Augustin's favorite team. This was the last game of the season, so we decided to go, otherwise we'd have to wait until September. The weather was perfect, and we were all very excited. Here is a shot of Alex and Andrew walking into the Stadium.

The fans all wave scarves and flags as the players are introduced.

A shot of both teams on the field. Our team is the red one. The team's nickname is the giallorossi which means "red-yellows" referring to the colors.

A shot of the stadium roof. Even though the stadium isn't a dome, the fans are completely covered.

This is a picture of the team running back after we scored our first goal.

And here's a player trying to head another one in, which unfortunately didn't work.

This is a shot of the part of the stadium where the craziest fans sit. Known as the ultras they are actually members of a society and pledge to attend all games, home and away, and to never sit down during a game, but to always remain on their feet cheering and singing. They also routinely light off flares and various pyrotechnical devices. This is one thing...the atmosphere inside the stadium here definitely topped any NFL game I've attended. Outside the stadium, before and after the game I'd say an NFL game is better, what with the tail gating and all, but you can't beat fireworks inside a stadium.

Pietro, Andrew and Augustin cheering after another goal.

This was the final score; 4-3. It wasn't as close as it seemed. But it was very exciting.

After the game the team walked round the track throwing jerseys and wristbands into the stands, thanking the fans for their support during the season.

The crowd cheering after the game.

The ultras are also well-known for the lavish displays they create. Here they unveil an enormous jersey.

Pietro and I holding a scarf.

A very tired Augustin and dad make their way to the car after the game, Augustin proudly waving his flag.


Well folks, nothing much exciting happened yesterday. They did bale the hay in the field across the street and shear the sheep that graze there. So in the evening after the sheep were gone Alex and I went over there to check things out. Andrew and Augustin had gone to play soccer with a friend.

We discovered that throwing the football while standing on haybales was quite fun.

But we had to move a couple of them closer together.

Alex catching the football.

And Philomena sitting on top of a haybale.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


In the spirit and tradition of the ancient Romans, the I, II, and III cohorts of the II century of the I legion De Piante are moving into the province of Hispania. In plain speak, that would mean that Alex, Andrew and I are traveling to Spain. Augustin remains in Rome to ensure the production of suppli and gelato (by consuming it). Philomena remains in Rome to keep the merchants busy. Mom remains in Rome to entertain foreigners at her villa in Acilii, and the pater familias, Dad, remains in Rome to oversee financial and domestic affairs.

We depart for Hispania a.d. XVII Kal. Iul. (June 15th) and return a.d. X Kal. Iul. (June 22nd). We will be staying in Matrice (Madrid) at the villa of some friends. From there we plan to capture (with our camera) Toletum (Toledo), Segovia (Segovia), El Escorial, Manzaneres, Vallis Tolitum (Valladolid) Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza) and Seville.

Hope y'all got all that :)

A Little Explanation

Just in case you've been wondering....and many of you have.

Budapest, Hungary

Anaheim, California, USA

Paris, France

See the reason dad hasn't been in many of the photos lately is because he's been jetsetting to the above places, all within the last 6 weeks, for work-related reasons. We are of course very sad that he has not been with us in Rome, but we have to wonder why he moved here, since he has in essence been living in an airplane. :) All the same, he's managed to bring back some pretty cool stories and postcards.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Campo dei Fiori

Today we set out to explore the Campo dei Fiori area of Rome. However on the way there we stopped at the basilica of St. Mark. It was built in 336 and restored five hundred years later. Its facade was constructed out of marble from the Colosseum. In this picture you can also see the mosaics of the apse, which depict Pope Gregory IV offering the church to Christ in the presence of St. Mark. The wood ceiling which you can't see here was built in the 15th century. I'm not sure why, but it kind of sags and leans to one side.

The altar is built over the tomb containing the relics of Sts. Abdon and Sennen. They were martyred in Persia and their relics transferred to Rome. If you go to the crypt you can view the bones through a hole in the wood.

Next we came across the church of St. Pantaleon near the Forum. Inside was this huge fresco of St. Joacchim, St. Anne, and the Blessed Mother.

Here is the high altar.

Next we stopped to get some lunch. I saw a guy making arrancini and suppli so I had to take a picture. I prefer suppli so I'll tell you how those are made. :) You take a short stick of mozzarella cheese, and wrap it in rice that has been mixed with tomato sauce. Then you bread the whole thing in bread crumbs and fry it. Hungry yet? Arrancini are similar only the rice is mixed with saffron and I think these had ham in them.

Look at the size of these mounds of gelato.

Finally we got to the Camp dei Fiori. Here is one of the many outdoor markets there.

Next we crossed the Tiber near the island resting in the middle of it. There used to be a temple there dedicated to the god of healing, and later a hospital was built on the island. It was very nice in the hot sun with all the pine and palm trees.

Here is a picture of everyone on the bridge.

The bridge is named the Ponte Fabricio and was built in 62 BC. On it are statues dating from Roman times of the two-faced god Janus. Janus was the god of beginnings and endings, the keeper of doorways. It is from his name that we derive the month of January (a month looking both back at the old year and forward to the new) and the word janitor (keeper of halls).

On the island we went to the church of St. Bartholomew. It was built in the year 1000 by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. In it are the relics of St. Bartholomew. They were brought from Armenia in 809, and placed inside this Roman bathtub where they have remained ever since. The bathtub has been converted to an altar.

Here is this fresco of the saint's martyrdom. He was flayed alive...that is his skin was cut off him. I think the artist did a great job picturing the sadistic faces of his martyrers.

This is the bowl that his skin was brought back to Rome in. You can't tell, but it's really quite large. I would guess it's at least 2 1/2 feet across.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Howitzer on Janiculum

Yesterday we went up to the Janiculum Hill to watch the cannon being fired in person. As I posted several days ago, they roll a howitzer out every day at noon and fire it from the Janiculum Hill. I am posting a short video of the howitzer being fired so that you can hear it. It was LOUD! Just click the arrow in the middle of the clip twice and it will play.

May 20th

Sorry I'm a little late with this post! On the 20th mom took the 3 younger kids to Ostia where there is a mini amusement park. They all had fun riding the rides including these bumper cars.

Just like Andrew and Augustin found "their" car (the Ferrari) Philomena found "her" car. Pink Smart Car!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cultural Week Day 4

We went out today for another day of sightseeing. This time we went to the Caelian Hill where there is a lot to see in a small area. We started out with the Baths of Caracalla. The baths cover an amazing 33 acres, and contained a library, a gymnasium, and a swimming pool . They were built in 216 AD and were supplied with water by the Marcian Aqueduct over 90 kilometers away. Here is a shot of the baths.

Not much of the original grandeur is still visible today but this intricate mosaic work is.

This is a piece of mosaic from the second floor which caved in. It shows a charioteer and his team.

This would be the equivalent of a jacuzzi today. It was a shallow pool that had a fountain in the middle creating a stream of moving water.

After we left the baths we walked along this pleasant street to our next destination.

Unfortunately our next destination was being occupied by a couple getting married, so on we marched once again.

This time we came to the Villa Celimontana. Contrary to thought, this wasn't an ancient Roman villa. It was created in the 1530's for the wealthy Mattei family. Here is a picture of the gateway.

The gardens inside are typical of Italian gardens, all laid out in geometric patterns. Here is a little path which leads to a large urn.

Two pillars, one of wood, one of marble.

This little area had steps leading up to a terrace.

After we left the Villa we went down the street, pausing at this GEN-YOU-WHINE Ferrari for Andrew and Augustin to have thier picture taken.

The next church we visited was Santa Maria in Domnica. This basilica was originally built in the 7th century but was restored and improved by Pope Paschal I in 822.

The church had a great theme..the Litany of Loreto. There were frescoes along the wall, and the ceiling was sculpted with various representations of Our Lady's titles. See how many you can make out. Ark of the Covenant? Tower of Ivory? Mystical Rose? Seat of Wisdom? Vessel of Honor?

Then we went to the church of Santo Stefano in Rotondo. It was finished in 483 and is completely round.

In the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII commissioned 34 frescoes to adorn the walls of the church. Here is one of the 34, showing the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Anticoh. Each scene contains a frescoe illustrating the martyrdom of a saint, along with a plaque containing a description and appropriate Scriptural verses.

Here are mom and Philly admiring the church.

This is the papal chair of Pope Gregory the Great.

And here is part of the ancient floor which has long since collapses and been replaced.

The railing around the altar is decorated with various images of St. Stephen's life and death. Here is his martyrdom. Notice St. Paul in the foreground holding the cloaks of the Jews.

Our final stop of the day was the church of Sts. John and Paul. These men were Roman soldiers who were Christians, and were martyred under Julian the Apostate in 362. Later, a church was built over their home.

Here is the interior of the church. The chandeliers were pretty impressive, as was the coffered ceiling. Under the altar is a porphyry reliquary containing the soldiers' relics.

The whole floor is done with this Cosmatesque style mosaic.

Recognize this famous painting?

And here's the incorrupt body of St. John of the Cross.

Just as we were about to leave a small orchestra and chorous came in and performed various pieces including Vivaldi's Gloria which was a great way to end a great day.