Saturday, July 14
Today's adventures could come with a soundtrack – The Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi, last movement titled The Pines of the Appian Way. It is a march that starts quietly and mournfully, but soon gets cranking and ends with a blaze of brass. The music represents ancient Roman Legions returning to the city.
So, yeah, I was on the Appian Way today. The main purpose was to visit the catacombs where early Christians met to worship and bury their dead away from hostile eyes. These underground rooms have niches for the dead and rooms to hold services. There are decorations on the walls. One room had contained the remains of several of the first 10 popes.
The catacomb tours take a break from noon until 2:00. I had a leisurely morning and got out there at 12:30, ready to have lunch nearby before an afternoon tour. Alas, this large stretch of the archeological Appian Way is one big park and there is no “nearby.” I was glad I had bought crackers that morning.
After the tour I continued walking the length of the Appian Way before catching a bus to take me to the subway stop, and back into the city.
I stopped at the Santa Maria Maggiore Church, one of the oldest around here. It has some beautiful mosaics, but they are high on the wall and not well illuminated.
Come to think of it, one could have added Respighi's Fountains of Rome as a soundtrack while viewing the Trevi Fountain and the Festivals of Rome while in the Colosseum. And then there is the march from the movie Ben Hur for viewing the Circus Maximus, but I didn't see that.
On of the few emails I have read (thankfully, no emergencies) asked what I have been eating. So...
Breakfast is provided by the hotel, but I'm rather limited to the cheese, ham, and breadrolls. The rest of what is available would have too much sugar.
Lunch is usually what I can find “on the street” and might be a panini sandwich (usually ham and mozzarella) and maybe some fruit (watermelon is in season, pineapple frequently available). Sometimes I also have a panini for one or more afternoon snack. I've also gone to a cafeteria a couple times – reasonably tasty but the hot food was not all that warm.
Dinner is at a restaurant. I skip the pasta course and go straight for the meat course. I've had veal, chicken, and tonight was turkey. Most of the time the meat is in a pleasant sauce, perhaps with a hint of lemon. Sometimes the meat comes with potatoes, sometimes not, and it is hard to tell which from the menu. Most of the time they serve bread. I try to add a salad, usually mixed greens (though tonight included pear, cheese, and pinenuts). To drink I have frizzanti, fizzy mineral water. That usually comes in a bottle of almost a liter, a lot to drink in one meal. It does take care of any dehydration problem I might have. Between the meat, salad, water, maybe fruit, and service fee the bill usually comes close to $30. I would expect to pay about half that back home.
I carry a water bottle with me. There are a lot of drinking water springs throughout the city. That has (for me) implied that I should have finished the bottle from the previous spring and be ready to fill up when I see another one. With the heat, frequent bathroom breaks are not an issue.