Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Day 33 – Rome (Sept 30th)

From Florence to Rome was a pretty quick trip. We utilized another high-speed train that brought us to the main terminal (Roma Termini) in just about 2 hours. Not realizing that we were booked into an apartment just outside the city, we then took another regional train from Roma Termini to the Maccarese-Fregene station, about a 30 minute ride. Our host Paola was waiting for us at the Maccarese station in her little Fiat 500. By now we have not only our 4 backpacks, but an additional “checked luggage suitcase” to handle anything extra we purchase. However tightly you imagine us scrunched into that little Fiat . . . it was tighter!

Once we got settled into our apartment, (which was amazing!) Paola invited us to ride into town with her. She had something she needed to do and suggested we ride along. We did. But before I tell you about that, let me briefly describe the apartment.

It was a complete apartment with kitchen, bath, bedroom, living room and covered patio (shown here). The entire space had been recently remodeled, so that everything was brand new. It was by far the most comfortable place we’ve stayed so far.

when in rome . . .

OK, so Paola took us into town, drove around and “showed us” some sights . . . Let me say here that Paola was the consummate host. She was so kind and attentive, wanting to make sure that we got to see everything important and didn’t lack for anything, nor suffer at the inconveniences she described as, “this is Italy!”

I don’t know about you, but when I’m exposed to lots of new information, even beautiful sights and historical facts, if I don’t have a context for the information, it seems to simply run through and OUT of my mind. I can’t seem to grab and hold on to it. That’s how that first drive into town was with Paola. She talked about Mussolini, and how he’d built all the red houses and buildings we were seeing – and how he gave the houses and land to the peasants to farm. Then it was more information about “Fellini; you remember him, right?” I had no idea what she was talking about!

Before long, we were on some back road where Paola said, “OK, here’s where I drop you. There’s a church and some catacombs you can visit. Then you take the 118 bus to Piazza Venezia (and she pointed up the road where the bus stop was supposed to be) and walk to your next appointment at the Galeria Borghese.” And she was gone.

I found out later we were actually dropped on the old Appian Way, and basically left on our own . . .but it turned out to be beautiful. We found the Church of St. Sebastian and visited the catacombs, and then the church. I’ll let Sherry tell you more about that!

But this Appian Way was so scary! Cars whizzing by on an incredibly narrow road with no sidewalks and little walking room. We headed in the direction Paola had pointed and found a little inset in the road that had a bus sign. So we waited. When the bus showed up, we got on. No ticket. There wasn’t a way to pay – and we found out that the fine for riding with no ticket is somewhere between 50 – 100 euros! Fortunately, the driver never asked and we didn’t volunteer. Phew!

galeria borghese

After our bus ride, we departed at the Piazza Venezia and walked the mile and a half to the Borghese. This place is unbelievable. The original Scipione Borghese was an early patron of the sculptor Bernini – and collector of pieces by Caravaggio. 

Leaving the explanations to my better half, I’ll simply post a couple of the photos showing pieces that were interesting.

Each of these is finely crafted marble, 3 of them by Bernini. It was once said of Bernini that he made the marble as malleable as wax! The third image is of Pauline Borghese, sculpted by Canova; when asked why she would defy protocols and (as an aristocrat) pose naked, she said simply, “It wasn’t cold.”

By the way, we’ve seen photos and statues of more naked men and women (not our spouses) on this trip than most people see in a lifetime and thus we’ve become just a bit immune to the naked body . . . fully expecting to see more of them in the next museum or gallery!