Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The next Best Thing to Being There

is helping a good friend get there. This a transmission from Rome, written by our friend Kim, I fear she may never come home. There are a few beautiful photos she has taken and I will add them later.

Rome: the first 36 hours

The last two days seem like they should have been spread out over a week. I am exhasted and feel like my head is spinning when I think of everything I
have experienced since Sunday afternoon. I was able to fly to Rome out of
Cincinnati and sat in the first row. The flight was smooth and enjoyable
thanks to good company and an Ambien. I managed to sleep for about 4 hours
after a seemingly endless stream of food and wine. The flight attendants
were so kind and when we landed they sent me on my way with a bottle of
champagne to enjoy with my companions later. When I landed I decided to take
a chance on the train even though I had my luggage to carry and can not read
Italian. Thanks to tips from Randall and a few very helpful Italians I was
able to locate my luggage and arrive at our apartment in a little over an

Randall and Wes were just leaving for the Vatican when I arrived so I joined
them and we walked the three or four blocks between here and there. It was
so odd to see the dome of St. Peter's looming above our little neighborhood.
When we arrived at the Piazza San Pietro the crowds were relatively light so
we took the opportunity to tour the basilica. Nothing can prepare you for
the scale of place. As you enter the Pieta is on the right side of the nave
and its beauty is stunning. Michelangelo's dome reigns over a space that is
almost impossible to describe and Bernini's work throughout is breathtaking.
I feel like I am following Bernini all over the city and I can't seem to get

We then decided to climb to the cupola atop the dome. A dizzying climb up
winding and sometimes spiral staricases was a memorable experience.
Sometimes the passageway narrowed to just a few inches wider than my
shoulders and the entire space would tilt to the right as small openings in
the walls revealed glimpses of the city receding beneath me. At the top we
entered a walkway lining the interior of the dome that provided a bird's eye
view of the nave below and the mind boggling mosaics that surrounded us. We
then went to the walkway on the exterior of the dome that gave us a 360
degree view of the city below. It was a perfect way to see all of Rome and
understand how all of it fits together. I have attached a photo of that as
well as my favorite photo from inside the basilica.

After that I was dying to get out into the city. We had a fantastic late
lunch and dinner in the neighborhood where we are staying and I have made a
vow to eat every meal outside while I am here. So far, so good. My new daily
diet consists of pastries, cappuccino, pasta, wine, afternoon gelato, more
pasta, more wine, more cappuccino. It is good that I am walking all day
every day or I would pay for all that wonderful eating. When we came home
last night I finally collapsed and slept for 11 hours.

By the time I woke up this morning everyone else was on their way out the
door. It was nice to have the apartment to myself for a while. It was even
nicer to have most of the day to myself. I set out and became wonderfully
lost for about an hour. I liked it and it felt good to just wander. I think
I located the Roman Howard Finster so it made the detour worthwhile. His
entire house is covered with sculpture and inscriptions. It is enchanting
and creepy all at once.

Once I got my bearings I headed for Trastevere along the river. I spent the
afternoon there and fell completely in love with this city. I got misty eyed
just wandering along the narrow streets and watching the Romans in their
element. The beauty and the grit are so perfectly blended. I found a
restaurant on the Piazza Santa Maria della Scala and spent two hours there
having lunch - wine, salad, pizza with prosciutto and mushrooms and
cappuccino. I just watched everyone go by, read about the place in one of my
guides and planned what else I want to see while I am here. It was heavenly.
After that I set out for the church San Francesco a Ripa to see Bernini's
Ecstasy of Beata Ludovica Albertoni. I was astounded to run into Randall and
Wes along the way and they were going to the same place. What are the odds
of that? The sculpture did not disappoint and I had my drop to my knees
moment in that little chapel. I am grateful a kneeler was provided at that
exact location. I was obviously not the first to need it.

We visited two other churches - it is a blur since there is one on every
corner - and then I set off on my own again. Tomorrow morning I am planning
to take the train to visit the Protestant Cemetery. Randall went there today
and said it is the most beautiful one he has ever seen. I can not wait to
see it. I will spend the morning there and then join them in Trastevere for
the afternoon. We will see the other side of the river next week when we
move to the apartment near the Piazza Navona.

I miss you both and wish you were here with me. Love you -


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