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Monday, May 25, 2009

Rome the Second and First Time - around the Vatican

Rome the Second Time decided to delve into Rome the First Time Saturday night with a trek into the Vatican area, which we usually avoid [btw, this blog has a suggested itinerary, trattoria and film house].

The plan (have to admit, it was Bill's plan) was to take the scooter to the top of the Gianicolo (a favorite spot) and walk from there to the Borgo/Prati. I claimed to know there were stairs leading down - so we didn't have to put our lives in danger on the winding road going down the Gianicolo - past the Bambino Gesu' ('baby Jesus") hospital - where one often wonders how those babies stay alive given the drivers and parking on the sharp curves there.

The plan gave us a chance to see the views from various spots on the Gianicolo - all different and wonderful. My face was saved, fortunately, when a lovely set of stairs, Rampa delle Querce (ramp/stairway of the oak trees) appeared, followed by a street (Salita di S. Onofrio - Salita means way up... way way up or down because it's set at what seemed to be a 45 deg. angle) shooting us straight into Piazza della Rovere and from there an easy 2 steps to the Bernini's colonnade in front of St. Peter's. [cCheck out the new photo of the Anita Garibaldi statue we took on the way, added to the previous post.]

We wound our way thru the Borgo, trying to avoid the tourists while gawking a bit at the Swiss Guards, finding a market set up to benefit L'Aquila - still in great distress from the devastating earthquake (hey, everyone, now you know what you're getting for Christmas). The posters, which are ubiquitous in Rome, read "The eagle (L'Aquila = the eagle) is wounded; the eagle will fly again." The other sign reads "there are 99 good reasons to buy [this product]; #1 - we're from L'Aquila").

Our goal was the cineclub (film club) Azzurro Scipione (via degli Scipioni, 82), definitely a particular place. Azzurro Scipione is in Rome the Second Time because it shows La Dolce Vita with English subtitles every Sunday at 5. We planned to indulge our Fellini habit this time with 8 1/2, showing with English subtitles. We asked the manager of the film club whether it showed continuously, like La Dolce Vita. No, he said, just this month. La Dolce Vita, he explained was a "fissazione" - a fixation or obsession.

Since we had 1-1/2 hours before the movie started, we also asked him for a suggestion of a place to eat a plate of pasta that wasn't for tourists. He pointed us down the street, to a trattoria we had passed on our way, along with giving us a lecture that if we were eating plain pasta with tomatoes, we couldn't drink wine with it, just water.

The trattoria - "da Vito e Dina" at via degli Scipioni, 50 (closed Tuesdays) - was perfect... the service leisurely. When it was time for our second course, the waiter arrived, not with the seabass we had ordered, but with a fresh uncooked whole fish on a plate, showing us the "orato" or gill fish that he offered instead, because the seabass was "finito". That was fine with us, tho' Bill pointed out to me he really would gave preferred not seeing the whole fish. (Our Jewish artichoke arrived 10 minutes before the movie was to start and after all our other food - but it was a good one, and made a perfect dessert). The owner (must have been Vito) stopped and gave us his "business card" and we reciprocated with a Rome the Second Time card.

8 1/2 was wonderful, and we realized how little we understood of it when it first came out and we saw it in Florence in 1962, without subtitles.

We walked back at midnight past the trattoria. It was still open and the owner rushed to us to show us he had posted the card for Rome the Second Time on his door and--at his suggestion, not ours--posed for a photo.

We retraced our path, climbing back up to the top of the Gianicolo. This time the stairway was full of youth - young lovers, young whatevers... with their bottles of beer. Some couples were straddling the backless marble benches and, of course, necking.... we didn't try it ourselves, nor were we bold enough to take a photo. Suffice it to say, it seemed a great use of the benches! And the top of the Gianicolo was jammed again with crowds... the views as wonderful for us as the first time.

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