The Older I get

Time just flies, doesn’t it? My last blog post was June 22, and here it is July 3. I’ve been busy as usual, though not particularly MORE busy than usual. I often think of things I’d like or want to blog about, but then I just don’t sit down to do so. Right now I have a couple of hours to fill until it’s time to go to dinner, so I thought I’d make an attempt to talk about myself.

Not that talking about myself is hard! Simply that I’m a bit sleepy, and thinking about how I should be practicing or doing something more productive than blogging. Which is ridiculous, as blogging IS important to me, and is productive enough as it stands.

My parents were in town yesterday and today Louie has a guest of the family visiting us, so we’ve been doing some touristy things. I’ll work backwards.

Today we went to the Cahokia Mounds. I’d been a few years ago, directly after my separation, but this was a much more pleasant day. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? You think you’ll always feel how you do, and you don’t.

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I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be back to Cahokia Mounds a few years later with these folks, because I didn’t know them. But I’m definitely for the better!

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There are nearly 80 mounds in the area, but the biggest is called Monk’s Mound. We climbed up it, and there was a lovely view of the skyline! I presume that’s why the Cahokians built the mounds 😉

The city of Cahokia, a Native American city, was inhabited from 700 to 1400 AD with the peak between 1050 and 1200 AD. There were up to 20,000 people living there, which meant that it was not surpassed in population by any city in the United States until the late 18th century.

In contrast, Orvieto (where we went on our trip in May) had a population of about 30,000 by the end of the 13th century. It’s just really interesting to think of how different people lived in different parts of the world at the same time!

Working backwards. Yesterday my parents and I went to the zoo. I’d only been to the zoo for one other visit with them last summer, so it was great. I sometimes forget how much I actually do like animals, especially when the zoo isn’t terribly hot and crowded.

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Giraffes really are the weirdest looking animals, aren’t they?

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The orangutan was really strange. He or she was wearing a blanket of sorts like a shawl.

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We spent a long time watching this polar bear splashing around in the water playing with a large ball. He was having the best time!

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And the penguins. Love them. It was really cold in the penguin display house though, which makes sense but still! I am allowed to wish I’d brought a jacket.

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My mother brought along my old trip journals from when I was a kid. We took two big “west” trips with my family, one in 1989 and one in 1991, and she encouraged us to keep journals. They are hilarious and wonderful to read! I’d thought it would help with my planning for our August adventure, but it didn’t really. It did make me nostalgic and laugh at how my criteria for a nice campground meant it must have a pool and how I documented every food item I ate. I was blogging but on paper. It makes me want to keep a trip journal on the upcoming trip, but more likely I will just take notes along the way and then blog later.

So what else have I been up to other than doing sightseeing around town? Practicing for my July 31st concert at the Tavern of Fine Arts…Rehearsing for the play I’m in—I am playing the part of “The Fiddler” in a play this month. It’s not a speaking role—it’s a “playing the violin” role, but it IS a role and rehearsals so far have been both fun and really interesting. The acting world is very different but we have similar goals (to say yes to so many things that cut into our actual income sources in order to keep ourselves too busy, I think?) and I’m learning so much…teaching students, RESCHEDULING students due to play practice…doing all kinds of stuff around the house…planning vacations…and feeling like as usual I don’t devote enough time outside of the house to doing things with friends and as a result I have no friends left (I don’t actually think that’s true, but I feel bad not seeing people in forever!).

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There was a ton of housework involved in order to prepare for the guests! But I’m more pleased with how my home looks right now than since I moved in, so that’s real progress. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting ahold of everything I’m trying to do, even as I continually consider that I am trying to do too much! At least I’ve had a few days to relax and regroup, and having an hour here to blog before I want to get a bit of practice in is nice too. We have dinner plans, and tomorrow is a holiday, and I’m trying to remind myself that I’m basically on top of things and I don’t need to be so stressed, but it’s hard sometimes! Maybe it’s a sign that I am taking on too much, or that I need to work on some better relaxation or coping mechanisms, or who knows. I do sometimes think I worry too much and don’t do enough…which is probably a little crazy sounding.

So now, I can choose. Nap, practice, read…what should I do for an hour? How has your July been going so far?

No case of the Mondays here

My last blog post was a little whiny and down so I wanted to write something more upbeat.

I had a pretty good weekend. The only downside was due to all the rain we’ve been getting here…the basement was leaking a bit, the upstairs bathroom a bit too, and then we were going to go for a hike and saw that the park we wanted to go to was closed due to flooding, and decided that any hike would likely be really muddy and unpleasant. I recently bought new hiking boots for our trip in August and I haven’t had a chance to break them in yet, but I guess worse case I’ll start wearing them on walks with the dog or something.

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So instead of going for a hike Louie and I went to the Missouri History Museum. There were two exhibits that we wanted to see and thought it would be a nice day for it. Everybody else thought so too, evidently, because the one exhibit had a line out the door and the other one was very crowded. Now, I’m not talking Vatican Museum crowded, but still more people than are comfortable at an exhibition. We went through the exhibit called State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, but then decided to visit A Walk in 1875 St Louis another time. We also looked at the World’s Fair exhibit, which I believe is a permanent exhibit as I saw it last summer. It was a nice way to spend a few hours, and FREE so the cost can’t be beat.

Overall there was a lot of activity over the weekend. Mostly going out to eat and meeting up with friends. There was a lot of mexican food, but also Ethiopian food and a lovely family birthday celebration (for Louie’s stepdad) at Atlas, a new to me restaurant. That dinner was one of the most delicious meals I’d had in awhile! I had walleye with potatoes and carrots, and a wonderful beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and arugula. It was all beautifully presented and delicious.

You’d think after a nice weekend I’d be a little bummed to get back to work, but I’m not. I have a light teaching schedule this week which means I’ll have a lot of practicing time (yay, desperately needed) and time for other stuff too. Basically I’m happy it stopped raining (though it’s hot now, boo) and ready to get things done! So I’m off to do that now :)

The Days are long but the weeks are short

I grew up in South Carolina.

This latest mass shooting hit particularly close to home. I’m tired of mass shootings. I’m tired of all shootings. I’m tired of our politicians saying nothing can be done, when this really only happens in the US. And I’m tired of people acting like racism doesn’t exist, when it so obviously is alive and well. I feel terrible for the victims of this current shooting, just as I feel terrible for the victims of every shooting. This has to stop. It’s just ridiculous. We have to stop killing each other.

So how do I go from a serious topic to a frivolous one, like what’s happening in my life? How do I blog at a time like this? Then again, if I didn’t blog on the days or weeks of a mass shooting…when would I blog? And that sounds like a joke, but it’s not. How many more have to die before we start getting rid of the guns?

I guess I’ll focus on what I always do. Music and teaching music to other people. They say you can’t hold a gun in your hand if your hands are full of a musical instrument.

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So…this was a busy week. I was coaching sectionals for a local strings camp. The camp had 3 different orchestras, from beginning to more advanced, and I helped with the violin sections of each group each day. I got to practice my excellent conducting skills on many occasions, sing, play violin, and try my darnedest to keep my voice steady and remain patient in the face of adversity (such as children who refused to stop plucking their violin strings after you just asked them directly to stop). You know, a normal teaching day. After a morning of sectionals each day I had my regular teaching schedule…so the days were long! I’m also practicing for my upcoming recital and some other pieces I’ll be doing in the fall (summer is repertoire planning time, I guess) and running and trying to clean up the house.

It’s been raining basically nonstop this week due to Tropical Storm Bill (and no, we aren’t really on the coast, and sending a tropical storm our way just kind of rubs it in) but we finally saw a break in the rain last night, so I got a 3 mile run (or so, I messed up and accidentally stopped my app) in before going out for some tacos with Louie. That’s a long, poorly written sentence! I’m planning to start training for the MO Cowbell Half Marathon next week—I’m going to do a 12 week training program with a 3 week break in the middle for our Western Road Trip. We will be active on the trip but I don’t plan to stress out over running or anything, because I want to hike and sightsee and take a million pictures and relax.

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There were lovely raspberries from the garden though! The rain kind of ruined what was left, but this picture is from last weekend.

Other events of the week:

Brunch at the Botanical Gardens with April and other friends.

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Dinner later in the week at Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant.

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Lobster ravioli from Trader Joe’s with a butter/garlic sauce with perhaps a bit too much garlic…

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This guy

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On a follow up note to my previous blog post …thank you for your comments. I’ve decided that I’m tired of being polite and nice to people who are being rude to me and won’t leave me alone about whether or not I am planning to have children or when I’m getting remarried. After writing that post, I had a very frustrating conversation with a colleague who kept badgering me about my life and whether I was going to have children, and he didn’t take the hints that I felt uncomfortable in the conversation. Reflecting on that has led me to feel like, yeah, I’m done. Unless you are my grandmother, I’m done validating my choices, I’m done answering your questions and I’m done with you all telling me that I need to have children before it’s too late, and I’m done with you all judging me for my divorce and worse, asking me what went wrong when you don’t even know how to correctly pronounce my last name or what state I grew up in. Guess what, you don’t know me well enough to ask those questions, and if you did know me well enough, you wouldn’t have to ask because I would have already told you.

Don’t worry, I’m not even that angry, I’m just getting worked up. Well, I am angry about the state of our country in many respects, but I hope that we can channel our collective anger into progress. As far as nosy and rude people, well they are everywhere. I feel more relaxed having made a decision on how to deal with them…I’m sure I’ll get to practice that soon!

Getting home is never really worth the trouble

Here we are. The last blog post about my trip to Italy in May. It’s the end of an era, and then you’ll just have to hear about my regular life again, at least until our road trip in August.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will I blog about it in one day

The Appian Way

The Vatican Museum is just one long line to see the Sistine Chapel

The Colosseum

All sorts of good things

Skulls and Femurs and Tibias, oh my?

Onward and Upward to Orvieto

We woke up in Orvieto. Unlike our previous hotel, this one didn’t do breakfast in the room, but they had a nice spread in a room off the lobby. They had a cappuccino machine, which weren’t as good as our previous morning cappuccinos. They also had a weird little machine that would hard boil eggs, but we didn’t try that. Evidently it took about 15 minutes! I had some pastries which were pretty excellent though.

After breakfast we went to the farmer’s market in a nearby square.

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We wanted to get food for our lunch, but we also wanted more espresso…we averaged 3-4 espresso shots per day and they were always good, with the exception of the espresso at the Vatican.

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Look at these adorable peach pastries!

We split up again because Julian, Louie and I wanted to go to the Orvieto Underground tour, which would tour some of the caves and tunnels under the city.

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The holes in the wall were for pigeons to nest. The Orvietans learned that you could just provide a place for them to nest and you wouldn’t have to feed them…and then you could eat them. Kind of mean, but cheaper than chickens. I wonder what the pigeons thought of all of this. I guess they kept coming back anyway.

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Our tour guide told us that place in the distance that looks like a castle is now a fancy hotel.

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We learned about the caves, and how some of them were originally used by the Etruscans who were the original founders of the town, and then they were expanded in the Middle Ages when more “modern” people built on top. They dug out the rock to build houses on top, and often used the caves for wine cellars or to make olive oil in a temperature controlled place, or to raise pigeons, or simply to store extra junk like a basement.

The tour was interesting and definitely worthwhile.

Back on top at Piazza del Duomo.

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We met up with the others and decided to have our picnic back near the edge of town in a nice little park area. There were several stray cats around who were very cute and wanted food—well mostly cute. One of them had a sad eye problem happening.

This one resembled my cat.

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We enjoyed some porchetta sandwiches we’d gotten at the market earlier…until I noticed an ant, and then another, and then realized we were surrounded by giant ants! They say you can’t have a picnic without ants, and indeed this was true.

After lunch we had a little more time to wander around before needed to get the funicular down the hill to catch our train. We were headed to Fiumicino which was a coastal town right near the airport.

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Beautiful courtyard we wandered into.

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Three wheeled trucks.

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An archway with a smaller archway…filled in to make a wall.

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Orvieto selfie!

It was downhill to the funicular, and we made quite a loud group each rolling a suitcase on the cobblestones. It was a bit embarrassing but we had no other real option as the bus didn’t run for several hours in the afternoon.

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Getting on the car. It ended up being completely packed, and I was crammed in the front.

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I had a great view so I took some pictures!

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You can see where the other car passes on the way down/up. The weight of the train car going down powers the one going up, and halfway through they have a double track so they can switch places. I found it a little nervewracking!

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We didn’t have assigned seats on the train like we did on the opposite route—this time we had a few more stops getting into Rome than before. We were taking the train to the airport actually and then had plans to get a cab to our hotel.

It turns out that taking a cab from the airport to a nearby hotel is nearly as expensive as taking the cab into Rome. I suppose after the taxi driver waits in the taxi line, they don’t want a cheap fare, so they just charge a minimum so it’s worth their wait. It was annoying but I found it understandable enough.

We stayed at the Hotel Tiber which was nice and had a lot of orange. It overlooked the sea (according to the map it is the Tyrennian sea) and was clean and modern. We wandered around the pier area for a short while before choosing a seafood restaurant for dinner.

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There were dozens of fisherman out when were walking around.

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Neat little drawbridge.

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The view from the hotel.

We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant called Il Moro. It was packed and felt hectic, but the food was delicious and in huge quantities. We totally overordered and left feeling a little sick from overeating. I ordered a dish that was supposed to be fried local seafood. It included what looked like entire small fishes. I thought local would be the best thing to order but I’m not so sure!

We went to bed after dinner, and then woke up to find out that our flight was delayed. After a breakfast on the rooftop floor of the hotel (which was an odd mix of Italian and American breakfast foods), we headed to the airport anyway to check in in case things went back to non delayed, but we ended up taking off at least 1 1/2 hours late.  That meant it would be incredibly tight for our connecting flight. The person at check in said there was a later flight that had space so we didn’t worry.

We should have.

Louie and I watched nearly the entire season of Downton Abbey on the plane ride home. We’d watched one episode on the way out, then 7 on the way home, leaving only one! We just ran out of time. Like on the flight out we’d ordered the Asian vegetarian food, which again was a curry and then some random things later like a vegetable sandwich.

Anyway, we got off the plane and started booking it through customs. We got our bags without too much trouble and then had to take a little train to the right concourse. We had about five minutes until the plane left, but we hoped they would wait on us, and we started running. We got there with two minutes to spare, and the gate was empty. The door was closed and no one was there. After a few minutes a person came out and said she tried to get them to wait on us but that they didn’t believe we would make it in time so they left…basically early. We went to rebook, and only Elliot (alphabetical order) could be rebooked on the next flight. The rest of us were booked through Chicago (from Detroit) to St Louis and would arrive home around midnight. That meant that we’d been up since around 7 am Italian time and would be basically 24 hours of traveling. We were pretty angry at the airlines, and especially at the gate agent in the morning who could have gone ahead and booked us on the next flight home which would have saved us a flight and about 4 hours of traveling. What can you do though!

We had a few drinks and a snack ($50 for four drinks and a sweet potato fries…tuna is very rare here) and then flew to O’Hare, the armpit of America. Well, unless you consider LaGuardia. I hate O’Hare though.

Finally we got on our last flight. I was so tired I felt nauseous, and I tried to sleep on the flight but it was very bright and cold and uncomfortable, and they kept making announcements. Honestly, Delta, don’t make noise on an 11 pm flight! Do like Southwest and dim the lights and SHUT UP. And if you are delaying people for 4- 5 hours I think that drink tickets are in order, but I don’t run an airline. I’m a decent human being.

We got a cab home.

And there you have it. 8 blog posts. 9 days. Italy with my boyfriend’s family. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I’m so grateful and lucky!

People ask, what was my favorite thing? It’s hard to say. I love traveling internationally. I love seeing places that are unlike where I live. I love the history of Europe—I think my favorite thing is seeing how stuff is built on top of other stuff. I loved seeing Orvieto, though I grew up in a small town and I imagine that small town Italy is much like small town anywhere, but with more pasta. I loved the energy of Rome. I loved wandering around. I loved the cheese and pasta and cheap wine. I didn’t love all the people trying to sell stuff on the streets, or how the men are aggressively flirtatious, or all the throngs of people. I loved the espresso and the pastries…

Traveling just makes me want to travel more. The older I’ve gotten the more I appreciate beautiful landscapes, architecture, good local food, and just soaking up the experience of being somewhere else. I take it for granted a bit less than I did in the past, and I can’t wait to get out into the world again! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my trip blog posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them :)

Onward and upward: to Orvieto (Day 7)

As much fun as we were having in Rome, we were all excited to leave the crowds and the hustle and bustle and move into the countryside.

And really, so much more than fun—so much learning about history and art and architecture…and relationships and getting along with people (not always my strong suit, but always trying to improve!)

So far, though I imagine most of you have read my other recaps, here are the links in case you haven’t.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will I blog about it in one day

The Appian Way

The Vatican Museum is just one long line to see the Sistine Chapel

The Colosseum

All sorts of good things

Skulls and Femurs and Tibias, oh my?

With that: let’s continue. We checked out of the delightful Hotel Suisse after our last breakfast there and started on our walk to Termini Station. We made it in plenty of time and even got to spend a euro using the toilets.

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The five of us had our own compartment on the train which was nice. It was approximately an hour and 15 minutes to Orvieto so we settled in for a somewhat scenic ride.

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As nice as it is looking out the window of a train, I found that it made for lousy photographs, at least when I am the photographer. But we went through the countryside, and went through many tunnels (where our ears popped, sometimes painfully). We were nearly there when the train had to stop for about 15 minutes due to some issue, but we got moving again and arrived without further incident at the station in Orvieto.

Orvieto is a medieval town on the top of a hill. It wasn’t covered in my guidebook on Rome (odd, right?!) so I didn’t have too much information, but luckily Louie’s mom had copied a bunch of stuff and shared it with us all. Once we arrived, we bought our return tickets for the next day and got our funicular tickets to go up the mountain to the old town. The town has expanded to the lower parts, but the fun, touristy stuff is up the hill.

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The Funicolare is conveniently right across the street from the train station.

At the top of the hill we caught a little bus to take us near our hotel. The bus was jam packed and we were in the back, and when we got to our stop it was a disaster trying to get off the bus. We were telling people, in English and Italian, that we needed to get off, along with some other people, and the people blocking us didn’t understand what was going on. We finally managed to squeeze our way onto the street and got to a very cute hotel, Albergo Filippeschi.

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We quickly settled into our rooms and then headed out to sightsee. Orvieto was very small and walkable.

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We headed for the Cathedral first since that was the most impressive place, and we had a terrific lunch on the Piazza Duomo. I ordered a sandwich with pancetta and truffle oil, (pancetta sandwiches seemed to be THE thing to get and were advertised everywhere, so when in Rome…) and honestly, it is the food item I most dream about today. I could eat that sandwich every day of my life and be so happy.

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After lunch we toured the inside of the duomo. It was spectacular, and had some really intense frescoes depicting the Day of Judgment.

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The Duomo was started in 1290 and not finished until the mid-1400’s. Imagine if our construction today took that long.

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Louie and I took off on our own to simply wander around the town. We wanted to stretch our legs after the train ride and just explore. It was much cooler, temperature wise, than it had been in Rome and in fact was raining off and on.

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Also Louie’s camera broke so he took some pictures on my camera. He is a better photographer than I am (I need to get better!). See if you can tell which ones are his!

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The detail on the Duomo walls is breathtaking, isn’t it?

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This was a very tiny van.

You’d think with all the money they put into the Duomo that there wouldn’t be too many other churches, but there were! None quite so fancy though.

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We walked down towards the funicular and found some excellent views.

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My fear of heights was in full force.IMG_3765

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You can see St Patrick’s Well there. They needed to find a water source to use while they were under siege. They dug a well 175 feet deep in order to reach the water. There are stairs down inside it and the stairs form a double helix so that the mules that carried the water could be going down and up without running into each other. And then we paid 6 euros for the privilege of walking down and then up the well.

 

First, looking down the well…

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And then, looking up. I preferred looking up, personally.

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We needed to head back towards the hotel in order to meet up, so we headed back up. The town was basically one big hill on a hill.

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They had some walkways around the edge. I think they might have gone all the way around, but we didn’t have time to explore. (Also I became slightly terrified of the edge.)

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We had dinner at Le Grotto del Funaro, which was basically a restaurant in a cave. We learned more about caves the following day, so I have some hindsight information here. Most of the houses in Orvieto were built out of the rocks that were dug out from underneath them, so each house has a cave underneath of varying size and degree. Caves are used for various things such as storage, wine cellars, and those on the edges used them for housing pigeons. In this case we had a delicious dinner in one. I ordered the chef’s dinner which came with 4 courses, including a selection of antipasto, a polenta dish, pasta, and dessert. I didn’t like my dessert but others at the table did, so it didn’t go to waste.

Rome is great, but Rome is full of noise—voices, traffic, and crazy birds. Orvieto is full of peace and quiet. I slept well.

Skulls and Femurs and Tibulas, oh my? (Rome Day 6)

Our last day in Rome. (There’s more to the trip though, can you believe it? This is a truly epic recap series, I do believe.)

We decided to split up the group for the morning. Louie, his brother Julian, and I wanted to go to the Capuchin Crypt, which was very near our hotel. This place is NOT for the faint of heart. It is described by Frommer’s as “one of the most horrifying images in all of Christendom.” I’d read about it ahead of time, and thought it sounded fascinating, amazing, and awful.

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Basically you pay a few euros, go through a little museum telling you all about the Capuchin monks and all about their lives and backgrounds, lots of the funny monk haircuts (called tonsure), tons of gory Christ images and lots of hard times. Then comes the real treat: the crypt. There are six crypts, each with a different theme. All but one contains the bones of more than 4000 friars who died between 1528 and 1870…artfully arranged on the walls and ceilings. No photography was allowed but you can find plenty of pictures online.

It was pretty unique, to say the least. I’d never seen art made with bones. The Capuchins claim that they don’t even know who made the displays or why. I say claim because it just seems like it had to have taken a very long time to catalog all the bones (they are arranged mostly by sort of bone, for instance, skulls, or vertebrae, or tibia), organize them, plan the art, and then actually do it..and how could they have done all of that without people noticing or keeping a record? But who knows.

After spending more time in the crypts than any of our fellow museum-goers seemed to (we started to really get interesting in the anatomy, and some of the mummification we saw)…we headed out into the sunlight to continue sightseeing. We headed to the Piazza Barberini with plans to walk down the Via XX Settembre to the Piazza Quirinale, and then to see the inside of the Pantheon.

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Piazza Barberini. I have so many pictures of random people, don’t I? It’s easier to just take the picture with whoever is already posing for it rather than trying to organize members of one’s own party to do so.

We saw approximately one church per block. In fact, this was the day that Louie became obsessed with going into as many churches as possible. There was an earlier day in the trip where he had said he was “churched out” but on our last day in Rome he got a “second church wind” and probably nearly converted to Catholicism.

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I didn’t even really know what these churches were when I took the pictures, so I’m not too concerned about trying to look them up. Is that horrible?

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(unfortunately I got a little smudge on my camera lens…ugh)

We passed by a very busy intersection with the four fountains, the Via delle Quattro Fontane. Rick Steves tells us that it was a very big deal for the poor 16th-century pilgrims coming into town. They didn’t have guidebooks like us, but instead would navigate the city by using various obelisks and domes. I suppose we do similar things today as well, but we didn’t drink from the fountains. The intersection didn’t give much room for pedestrian traffic though, so pictures were challenging. In fact, without any cars, it would definitely be easier to take these outdoor pictures…

I snuck into an old guard tower right near a new guard tower. The guard tried to pretend that we didn’t look like crazy tourists while taking this picture, but he didn’t succeed.

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The Obelisk outside of the Palazzo del Quirinale, where the president of Italy stays. There is a flag outside that indicates if he is there, which he wasn’t when we walked by. Too bad.

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I always liked seeing parts of buildings that were obviously older than other parts of the same building. I love the idea that they just build around or repair things rather than tearing down and beginning new.

We were heading downhill the whole time to the Pantheon, which was nice. Going back to the hotel would be more difficult, but we’d let our future selves worry about that!

We made it inside the Pantheon. The Pantheon is overwhelming to think about. It was built in 27 BC originally but there were a few fires and the structure was completely rebuilt (wait, what did I just say earlier) by the emperor Hadrian around AD 120. Some say he helped design it. I suppose others say he didn’t. It is the most influential building in art history: its dome was the model for the Florence cathedral dome, which basically started the Renaissance. Basically it was the dome that inspired all later domes! And all done without machines or computers or any of the helpful stuff we have today! (flush toilets, coca-cola, you name it!)

Another fascinating thing about Rome that you definitely noticed with the Pantheon is that it is lower than street level. Over the 2000 years, the streets have gotten higher and higher, and the older buildings just seem to get lower and lower.

We were hungry by then so we decided to eat lunch at a restaurant on the square. We had mediocre pizza but a great view!

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Then naturally it was espresso time. We went to Tazzo d’Oro which was recommended by my sister Leslie and by Rick Steves. The espresso did not disappoint and indeed we had more than one before moving on.

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We next decided to walk towards the Jewish Ghetto.

We passed some windows for stores where I guess priests shop?

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Random ruins…

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We walked around the Jewish Ghetto, which definitely makes you start doubting mankind, and then wandered even further, with Louie getting excited about every ruin and church and honestly, his infectious enthusiasm was a bit contagious, even though I was getting exhausted and I think Julian was too. We knew we needed to start heading back to meet up with their parents for dinner soon, though, so after a few more random ruins, we headed back towards the hotel.

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The lens smudge definitely takes something away from my photos…sorry about that!

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This particular bird was thoroughly enjoying a bath in the fountain.

That reminds me, I don’t think I mentioned the bird outside my hotel room window. Every morning, and by morning I mean the wee hours of the morning, there was this cry that sounded like a crazy baby—crying and screaming. It woke me up on many occasions. I finally decided it was a deranged seagull, or perhaps an evil deranged seagull, or a seagull that was stealing babies, or perhaps had the soul of a bunch of babies, because it really sounded like one! I should have recorded the sound to share with you because I’m sure you don’t believe me.

We finally got back to the hotel to rest and freshen up for our last dinner in Rome. Just so you know, people eat dinner in Rome on the late side—8 pm is early for them. This is a nice contrast to St Louis where often when I finish teaching between 8 and 9 there are only a handful of options left for dinner. I imagine though, that the violin teachers in Rome actually have to teach until 10 or 11 pm and have the same issue.

We headed for a vegetarian restaurant called Il Margutta Restaurante. Since Julian had been somewhat deprived of all the delicious food we’d been enjoying all week, we felt it was fair. Well, nobody was deprived tonight either! I had a delicious salad and a wonderful cheese filled ravioli…topped with cheese, with more cheese on the side. (It had a lot of vegan options, but I wasn’t going to avoid cheese unless absolutely necessary!)

After dinner it was time to hit the hay. The next morning we had a train to Orvieto to catch. We asked the guy working at the front desk of the hotel about getting a subway or taxi to the Termini train station, and he informed us that probably neither would be easy…because there was a metro strike planned. Which meant that the metro (subway) wouldn’t be running and that taxis would be few and far between! Luckily the train station was “only” a 20-30 minute walk away so we could do that. I say “only” because while that isn’t a terribly long walk, it is an annoying walk with luggage. We all had smaller bags with wheels, and since we would likely have no other option (unless they canceled the strike, which SPOILER ALERT, they didn’t…).

Anyway, that was our last day in Rome. I was sad to be leaving, but looking forward to the train ride and seeing a small hill-town in Italy the next day. The week was flying by, but we saw and did (and ate) so much that it definitely felt like we were there for awhile, if that makes sense.

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.