10/11/2003 Italy in Fall 2003 Day 4
Jim and Diana write:
Another sunny and warm day in Rome....we jump into a cab to go back to the Museo at the Terme di Diocleziano where we are meeting our friend Margaret at 10 am. Margaret is a licensed guide in Lazio and has offered to take us around the museum while we spend a couple of hours together. We first walk around the large cloister which was designed by Michelangelo for Santa Maria degli Angeli. The walls are lined with a collection of Roman sculpture and inscriptions...Margaret points out some of the most interesting pieces and tells us that the cloister is more notable for its peace and quiet right in the middle of busy Rome. The most interesting pieces inside are the collection of epigraphs on display, that have been translated and give the reader an interesting insight into the Roman lives that the epigraphs describe. There are probably 300 in the gallery....nicely displayed and translated into mostly very comprehensible English. There are epigraphs from a wide variety of sources, included a number from Jewish graves. Several of the pieces have carvings of menorahs and Jewish religious symbols and one has the Hebrew word "shalom" clearly inscribed on the stone.

The museum is very nicely arranged....light and airy...and has almost all of its signage in both Italian and English. But the sheer volume of the items on display wears me down after an hour or so...even with a guide who is showing us the high points of the exhibitions. There are also galleries with Roman sculpture and artifacts from the pre-Roman peoples who inhabited the area that is now known as Lazio. We spend some time in a nicely put together exhibit that details specific aspects of the life of the pre-Roman peoples in the area. One of the most interesting panels explains how archaeologists make determinations about who is buried in graves, based on the artifacts found in the graves.

We're so happy to see Margaret again, since we weren't able to get together in the spring.

We then head over by bus to the Venerable English College (school for English priests) to have lunch with Monsignor Patrick Kilgariff, whom we had met last spring in Lazio. The English College is located in a grand palazzo on Via Montserrato, just off the Piazza Farnese. We are few minutes early so we do some window shopping. We have a nice lunch with Patrick and some of the students in the College's refectory; the menu is a combination of English and Italian cuisine (pasta with a red pepper tomato sauce, baked chicken and cauliflower, green salad and fruit. After lunch, Patrick gives us a tour of the building and takes us up on the roof for another great view of the Rome skyline. The College has served English pilgrims beginning in 1579 and has a lovely interior garden, a church with a beautiful, elaborate tomb of a 16th century Archbishop of York and a nice chapel as well. It was a treat spending time again with Patrick.

We make a quick stop at the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo to say hello to the other desk clerk who we have become friendly with--Americo, and then head over to the Piazza Navona in search of the chocolate covered ice cream speciality at Tre Scalini--"tartufo". Usually we buy our "tartufo" at the take out counter and eat it on the piazza, but they are just finishing redecorating the bar area and are not open yet--so we sit down at one of the tables to have our rich dessert (at twice the price--you pay for "renting" the table) and survey the scene in the piazza.

Back at the hotel, we sit out on our terrace, after climbing the four flights of steps...reading and writing and resting. As nice as the terrace is, we are not sure it is worth the extra cost for the room and the extra effort to climb the four flights.

We are supposed to meet our friend, Frances (the Roman Tour Goddess), in the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere at 8 pm and then go to dinner at her favorite restaurant, L'Archetto. We leave early and walk taking a round about route to Trastevere over the Ponte G. Mazzini...the bridge leads into a less savory section of Trastevere--somewhat dark and forbidding. NOTE: Looking at the map now, I see that we were walking in front of a prison (Carcere Regina Coeli) wonder it was less than inviting. The atmosphere changes as we walk through the old city gate; the streets and cafes are packed with Saturday night crowds.

Arriving early, we sit in a cafe and have a drink. Frances arrives and we catch up with each other....and then make our way through the streets to have dinner at L'Archetto. Frances is a regular there and she gets a royal welcome. L'Archetto is a very attractive restaurant-pizzeria; we get a nice corner table and have a very good start Diana and I share a plate of assorted salume and Frances has a bagna caoda (raw vegetables with a Piemontese dipping sauce of olive oil, garlic and anchovies); we all share a delicious ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella. We all have pasta dishes....Diana has tortelli stuffed with meat in a light cream sauce, I have a pasta dish from Basilicata with a tomato and cheese sauce, and Frances has the pappardelle with asparagus. We have a very nice Nebbiolo d'Alba served with flair--decanted, swirled in the glasses, and then poured. For dessert, we have a light chocolate cake, ice cream stuffed into walnut and chestnut shells, and sgroppino, a very refreshing drink of sorbet mixed with vodka.

The company is lively, there is Ella Fitzgerald playing softly in the background, and the food is good--a great evening in Trastevere. At midnight, we walk back through even more crowded streets to find a cab. When we are unsuccessful (the lines are very long and there are few cabs to be seen), we walk back across the river to the Largo Argentina and luck out when a bus to the Piazza Navona pulls up right away. We slowly make our way up the stairs to our room.

Tomorrow we are off to Le Marche.