ROME UPDATE

ROME UPDATE

Somehow in my narrative report I managed to overlook the fact that we didn'tPan go directly from the airport to the hotel in rome. Instead we spent the first night at the wonderful La Posta Veccecia located on the ocean some thirty minutes from Rome. It is one of our favorite hotels. Previously the vacation home of J.Paul Getty, this wonderful small hotel has beautiful landscaping around it and is right at the water. We were only able to spend one night and then left in the morning for Rome.

This is now Thursday here in Rome. We have been lucky with the weather. There has been some wind and some overcast skies, but we avoided rain at least until last night. In the late afternoon the rain began and it poured very hard all night. This morning the sun was out and is still out. There is a very small bar here in the hotel with room for about four tables, but a grand piano is in the corner. There is live music every night and the piano is very loud in such a small room. The piano player is talented and plays many American songs, but it is difficult to carry on a conversation with the loud playing going on. Last night the small bar area was full. It only takes four people to fill it. Young people were enjoying themselves and taking pictures of each other while I had my scotch and Lita a wine. They were not staying here and wondered off after awhile into the rain.

Yesterday, after the meeting we walked around the area of the hotel. The Pantheon is fifty yards from the front of our hotel and we look out at it. It was constructed 27-25 BC. The dome is some 142 feet in diameter and was the largest dome ever built until the Florence Cathedral construction. The distance from the floor to the top of the dome is exactly equal to its diameter. There is a hole or oculus at the center of the dome which is 7.8 meters in diameter. Some rain does come in but there are drains which remove the water if it hits the floor. In fact, rain seldom falls through the opening.

The columns supporting the portico weigh 60 tons. Each one was transported by wooden sledges to the Nile and barged to Alexandria where they were put on ships to be taken across the Mediterranean to Ostia and then barged up the Tiber to the location.

Around the area there are black men selling fake fine purses. They have no license and pay no tax, so when the law enforcement people show up the swoop them up, putting the loops over their arm and run. One of them almost knocked down Lita who was coming out of a store as he ran down the street from the police.

I am struck by all the Catholic nuns who are in traditional garb rarely seen in the U.S. anymore. Priests and seminarians are all over. Stores are selling religious goods and vestments for liturgy. We are close to the Vatican and there is a seminary close by.

A woman who holds a dish for begging money sits on a corner and as people walk by she holds it out and asks for money. A Franciscan monk with the traditional brown robe and white belt around his waste walks by and she doesn't hesitate to ask him for money. An unlikely source since they take a vow of poverty and she gets no money from him.

Tonight we are going to take a taxi to a hotel near the Spanish steps. The dining area is at the top and the view is supposed to be wonderful. It's highly rated for food so I am anxious to try it out. The Northern Italian chefs seem to like to to apply French ideas with strange sauces and mixtures. I'm looking for good pasta and good wine tonight.

We walked into antique stores and found interesting things, but all very expensive. We bought nothing. I did buy an Italian writing journal, my only purchase on the trip. Tomorrow we leave by car for Amalfi and I am really looking forward to leaving the big city for a small village on the coast and a small elegant hotel.

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