Monday, May 30, 2016

5th Century Church near the Colosseum

John and I recently visited the ancient church of Santo Stefano Rotondo situated just at the bottom of the Celian Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome.
Santo Stefano is apparently the largest circular church in the world and one of the oldest in Italy, built by Pope Simplicius (462-482 AD).
It certainly oozes age and magic.
Excavations in the 1970's revealed a temple of Mithras below the church floor. I believe the worship of Mithras often took place in underground temples and was popular with the Roman military so sites have been found throughout the Roman Empire. 
 The later Christian church featured three rings of marble columns. In 1453 the outer ring was torn down and the next ring filled-in and covered with frescoes depicting the martyrdom of saints.
 When we entered, John needed to rest from our walk, so he sat against the frescoed wall and posted a  recent photo to his Instagram site.
 I wandered around the amazing interior. Apparently the building has long needed restoration so I was pleased to find restorers hard at work.
This chapel features one of the building's treasures -- a beautful 7th century mosaic cupula featuring Christ above a cross flanked by saints.
The graphic 15th century frescoes are horrifying in their gruesome detail of the torture of Christian martyrs. 
Here John finds me editing photos on my camera surrounded by said depictions.
 The Seven Sorrows of Mary -- each image a sword in her heart! 
Despite the frescos, the architecture is airy and filled with light.
 Eventually we headed back onto the Via Santo Stefano Rotondo
through the evocative old gate 
and headed towards the 16th century Villa Celimontana to wander towards the Colosseum and our lunch destination. The layers of history in this town are quite overwhelming!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A hearty lunch near the Colosseum

After a visit to San Stefano Rotondo on the Celian Hill, John and I went to lunch at Trattoria Luzzi near the Colosseum.
It's on Via San Giovanni di Laterano just across the street from the wonderful San Clemente church.
We were surprised to find such a treasure in this tourist hot-spot. Luckily we arrived just before the hungry crowds of locals and tourists began to line up.
We were pleased to see a wood-burning oven on the premises.
John likes to take pictures of staff at work. 
Including the kitchen where a wide variety of pastas and main dishes were being prepared.
Luzzi serves up unpretentious, delicious fare like my great insalate mista -- crispy mixed greens and tomatoes
or John's simple tomato salad. Like most Roman eateries Luzzi brings olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the table to allow diners to dress their own salads.
It is a rough and tumble pace with a great mix of diners, attentive, no-nonsense staff and big portions of grub.
The house wine is hearty and suits their rich, cheesy pizzas perfectly. The couple next to us shared a big dish of mixed seafood that smelled and looked yummy too.
We were utterly stuffed when we headed out into the street that looks onto the Colosseum. If you are not an 18-year-old boy you might want to share one of the main dishes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Little Roman Market

John and I love to shop for groceries at a local family-run market in the Piazza delle Coppelle, Antica Frutteria Delle Coppelle.
We consider it to be "our market".
It is run by the Giammatteo family. Front and centre is the gregarious Marco.
The market sells fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, eggs, olive oil and mozzarella cheese
and is always bustling with local shoppers. 
Let's meet the family -- starting with Marco's father 
 and his charming mother who always has fresh strawberries ready for us.
 Then there is his sister
and her husband. Everyone is always busy handling and preparing produce or attending to customers. 
We've been enjoying the sweet cherries
 and lush spinach
 and only wish we had the cooking facilities to deep-fry the zucchini blossoms.
 We enjoy the local lemons.
 Broccolini has been appearing in the menus of local restaurants.
 There are always tubs of clean water refreshing the veggies and herbs.
Signora Giammatteo letting a customer smell her fresh flowers.
Such a welcoming place to start the day! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Walking in Rome

Bill and I have been in Rome for three and a half weeks now.
 But we are not tired of Rome -- just the opposite.
 We walk down the streets and sigh with pleasure.
 Come for a walk with us...
 We'll show you why.