Our visit has been a whirlwind of weather and visits to museums, churches, and notable places.  The Palazzo Barberini turned out to be a highlight for some incredible paintings and the Borromini stairway, also a trip by bus to the town of Frascati in the hills southeast of Rome.  It was a beautiful sunny but cold day and we decided to get out of Rome.  At an osteria in Frascati overlooking the Tiber Valley I drank young wine right out of the barrel (it includes some bugs which swim in the top of the wine, perfectly normal.  You just skim them off with a napkin if you don’t want to drink them.)  The wine was great, and so was the pasta.

A decorated shop window in Rome.

A decorated shop window in Rome.

We tried to go to St. Peter’s last Friday, but the crowds were too much.  The holiday season is in full swing now, many parts of the city decorated with strings of lights arching over the streets so you walk down a lit boulevard, beautifully decorated windows, and holiday cakes and candy being sold everywhere.  St. Nick is in evidence and there are creche scenes in some of the churches (baby Jesus not there yet, however….).  A very large chreche scene is being built in front of St. Peter’s, between the two fountains, at the foot of the obelisk.  It is still behind walls, and may not be opened until Christmas.  We will go back again to see if it is on view before we leave.

Yesterday we went to calcio (that’s football in Italian, soccer to Americans.)  We went and watched Roma play Palermo, in the Stadio Olympico in the north of Rome.  The stadium was built for the 1960 Olympics, and it really needs someone to take a firehose to all the ranks of seats and walkways… it was very grimy.  The trick is to sit on a newspaper.  It was raining and the players got wet, but we were dry since there is a roof over the seating areas. The game was fun to watch.  We had some season ticket holder Romans in front of us who followed the game closely and, lucky for us, they were not smokers.  At the far end of the field in Curva Sud (the

Fans of Roma in the south seats demonstrate throughout the game.

Fans of Roma in the south seats demonstrate throughout the game.

cheap seats in the south curve) were The Fans, about 10,000 mostly men, who stood throughout the game and sang and waved flags and banners and set off flares throughout the game.  At the Curva Nord were the Palermo fans, about 1,000 (Palermo is a long way away) who were almost as loud as the Roma fans, set off more flares, and were very spirited.  There were many security officers, and the Palermo fans were not allowed out of the stadium until after all the Roma crowd was gone, to avoid the possibility of fights.  Palermo won 2-1.

Saturday was another beautiful day, and we went to Via Appia Antica, the Roman Appian Way, and walked on the Roman paving stones.  We visited the catacomb of St. Callixtus, a very interesting slice of late Roman-early Christian history.

View of Rome from the Janiculum Hill above Trastevere.

View of Rome from the Janiculum Hill above Trastevere.

We have had several opportunities to overlook the city of Rome from high places – there was a distant view from Frascati, and also from the top of the Janiculum hill behind our neighborhood, and then from the front porch of the church at the top of the Spanish Steps at sunset.  Rome is a lovely place in December.  The weather has occasionally been tough, with pouring rain, but we brought enough clothes, and we are on our second umbrella.

Now we are embarking on our final week, and we still hope to fit in an expedition to Ostia Antica, but it will depend on the weather, because the site is undeveloped and we need a sunny day so it won’t be a quagmire.  The 5 day forecast does not look too good for it, but the forecast has been wrong before.  We have reservations at the Borghese Gallery for Wednesday.

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