Journey – 2011

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Diary of a trip to the Mediterranean – Part Six

Rome – City of Empires

Friday, October 21, 2011
(at Arena House, in Rome)

Rome – city of emperors, and headquarters of the Roman Catholic church.  For a person like me who loves both history and religion, this has got to be a worthwhile experience.

But we are not in Rome under the auspices of Princess Cruises.  Our cruise is over.

At nine this morning we left the ship.  It was a sad, but well organized departure (2,500 people and their luggage all at once?  This has to be carefully done!).  People were sent to marshalling areas within the ship at stated times, then, when directed, small groups proceeded down the gangplank and into the terminal building to collect luggage and go on their way.  Many would be taken by bus to the airport or to other destinations organized by the cruise line.  But not us. We are now on our own.

Long ago I had arranged for us to stay at a bed and breakfast in Rome.  Relying on contacts from friends I had located Arena House, whose proprietor, Vincent, corresponded with me by email over a period of several months.  The next four days have been booked with him.

Vincent even organized a car to meet us at the cruise terminal.  This was important, because Rome is not on the coast, and is, in fact, more than 80 kilometres away from the port of Civitaveccia, where all cruise ships go.

As we got off the Star Princess, I was particularly glad to have had this ride arranged, having just learned that Italy would be subject to an all-day transit strike today.  There would be no railway trains or busses into Rome, and precious few taxis.

Gianni, Vincent’s driver, was not due to arrive until 9:45, so we stationed ourselves in a waiting area provided for people such as us, and entered into pleasant conversation with a couple from the U.K.

As we waited, however, I became acutely aware of how far this terminal was from the actual streets of Civitaveccia.  Friends who had been here before had told us that the terminal is in a secure area, into which some taxis do not have permits to enter.  Did Gianni have such a permit?  Or should we grab our suitcases and begin walking out to the main entrance?  Vincent had given me a phone number for Gianni, so I decided to risk expensive roaming charges and call him.

When he picked up the phone, the matter of permits immediately evaporated from my mind, because he said that his car was disabled on the motorway!!!

This is Italy, where stuff happens, 24  and we were definitely experiencing what it is like to be on our own.

So I used the cellphone again, this time to call Vincent himself at Arena House.  There were several calls back and forth, and Vincent assured me with profuse apology that Gianni would eventually make it to pick us up; perhaps by noon, perhaps even earlier.

So we waited, and chatted with the people from the U.K., who knew from the start that they would not be picked up until noon.

But I was on edge now, and kept walking out to the parking lot to see if Gianni was there yet (will I break out in another case of hives?  please no!?).

Among the various cars and minivans who (with permits) had come to collect passengers, I noticed a well-dressed younger fellow.  He had driven up in a Mercedes, collected people, and driven away; then reappeared after a while, and stood around chatting with some of the other drivers, most of whom were holding up cardboard signs, with the names of specific passengers on them, handwritten in large letters.  He himself wasn’t holding such a sign, so I decided to speak to him.

“Do you speak English?”
“Yes, a little,” he said.  His English was almost unaccented.
“My wife and I were supposed to be picked up, but I’ve just learned that the car that we were expecting has broken down.  If the driver can’t get it going, do you think you could help us get to our hotel in Rome?”

Just at that moment, my cellphone rang, and it was Vincent with an update.  Evidently Gianni’s arrival was becoming less and less likely.

“I’m talking to someone here who might be able to help us...” I was saying, when the young man said, “Here, let me speak to him!”

A rapid-fire conversation in Italian followed, then the young man handed me back the phone and said, “He wants to talk to you.”

“Tony,” said Vincent, “If you would feel better coming into Rome now with this driver, please do so,” which he followed with more profuse apologies.

“Okay, Vincent!  Thanks!”  I clicked off the phone.

“My name is Luca,” said the young man.  “I will drive you to Arena House for one hundred and twenty five euros.”

It didn’t take me long to decide.  Gianni’s bill would have been €100, but I had heard that many taxis demand as much as €200, so Luca’s price was acceptable.  Anyway, he had a vehicle, and it was right there in front of me, and it could take us to Rome.  So I went back into the waiting area, collected Heather and our bags, and very soon the silver Mercedes was speeding along highway A12, on our way to the Eternal City.

Luca showed us points of interest as we passed them, and occasionally drove at breakneck speed, but he was accurate, managing to avoid the other drivers who frequently cut him off, or who drove past him on the sidewalks, and I never once felt my life to be in danger!  Indeed, I found Luca to be so interesting and apparently trustworthy, that when he dropped us off at Arena House I arranged for him to take us to the airport next Tuesday, and for him to come back tomorrow morning to give us a custom tour of Rome itself!  (This being our first-ever visit, I thought that I should spend a couple of hours, and a few euros, to get a “big picture” of the city first, in the course of which Heather and I would be able to select places to which we can return later, at our leisure.)

Arena House
Heather, sitting on the bed at Arena House, looking out the window of our tiny room.
Heather, in our room at Arena House
“...the most important thing is, Heather loves it!”
Because I had made all the arrangements for these accommodations, it did my heart good to have Heather exclaim over our tiny room.  I believe her exact words were, “It’s wonderful!”

The room consists of one bed, one cupboard, a small desk with computer, a tiny bar fridge, and a compact bathroom with a shower (but no tub).  The whole arrangement seems to me to be extremely small and cramped, and there is no comfortable chair for me to sit in (I’m sitting in bed to type this); I have had trouble accessing the free Internet from this room, and I may have burned out my power transformer before finding out too late that Arena House has one that works perfectly.  But the most important thing is, Heather loves it.  And, with Heather content, I am content.

It was probably 1:00 PM before we were unpacked and ready to check out our surroundings.  Out we went, and our first task was to find something to eat.  We found a little stand-up pizza bar, which served very nicely.  Then we wandered off happily.

Soon we were exploring the hill of the Domus Aurea (Nero’s golden palace – now in ruins and empty of gold, but surrounded by a very lovely greenspace.  Heather was totally willing to do stairs and inclines.  Whether we knew what we were looking at or not, she was completely absorbed in this experience, and it was a wonderful time for us both.

Domus Aurea is adjacent to the Colosseum, so before long we were wandering about the circumference of that most famous of ruins, taking photo after photo.  Evidently Heather sees no need to go inside the structure, but she exclaimed about columns and porticoes and the manifest complexity of the architecture.

Then on to Constantine’s Arch, and again my camera was put to intensive use.

Beyond the Arch was a beautiful long street with towering trees on either side, so we proceeded along it.  However this street seemed to be a hangout for aggressive Gypsy vendors – large numbers of them – who tried to sell us rugs and jewelry and pashmina scarves.  They would not take “no” for an answer and the experience of them was quite distressing.

As we began to tire, I tried an alternative route back to Arena House that didn’t work out too well (a) because we ended up walking along a tramway that had very little room for pedestrians, and (b) because there were more Gypsies (I even saw the bushes where many of them obviously had slept the night before, fortified by the contents of a number of now-empty bottles).  However, we didn’t get lost, we were not assaulted in any way, and eventually we found ourselves back in our little room.

Heather had a nap at that point, and I went online via the complimentary computer, caught up on email, visited FaceBook, and – most importantly – explored some maps of our surroundings, in an attempt to select some possible destinations for Luca when he comes to give us a taxi tour in the morning.

When Heather woke up from her nap, we went out to find a restaurant.  The weather is a bit nippy, especially after dark, and we found ourselves at a sidewalk table in a very busy place (Luzzi, which is a haunt for locals, although one of the staff does have a working knowledge of English).  Wine was dirt cheap, and each of us had a half litre of the house wine – to fortify ourselves against the chill, of course!!  The dinner itself was most satisfactory, as was the “people-watching.”

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Saturday, October 22, 2011
(at Arena House, in Rome)

We were up at 7:45 AM today.  Arena House does not actually serve breakfast on site.  Instead, Vincent gives his guests vouchers for croissants at a nearby restaurant.  So, off we went, and enjoyed the best coffee I have tasted anywhere.  The croissants were good, too!

Then Luca arrived, and we were treated to nearly four hours of the most wonderful touring.

Luca is an entrepreneur.  He owns three cabs, and his wife operates a fresh pasta dinette in their small suburban town.  He told us that he builds his business on the basis of quality.  If he gives good quality, his patrons will be happy and will recommend him to their friends and use his services again and again.  This certainly applied to us; after our tour this morning I would recommend Luca to anyone 25 and will happily call upon him were I ever to return to Rome.

Almost as soon as we set out, Luca stopped in front of a large church, and said, “Ten minutes.  Just go in and have a look.”

I wasn’t so sure.  I was paying him twenty-five euros per hour, and all I had planned to do was take a passing look at potential sites for us to visit later.  But by now I really trusted this guy, so Heather and I got out of his car, and entered the church.

The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran – for a time the primary residence of the Pope (and to this day his actual Cathedral, who knew?) – blew our minds.  Heather was agog and agape, demanding that I take picture after picture (luckily photography was permitted).  Now I am hugely grateful, having gone online and read something about the importance that this place has had for more than a thousand years.  This one we will visit again.

On we went, to another church – Sancta Maria Maggiore, built by a pope who had been instructed to do so in a vision of the Virgin Mary.

looking up at the unsupported dome of the Pantheon in Rome
Inside the Pantheon
...looking up at the the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world
— the circle at the centre is open to the sky! —
Next stop, the Pantheon.  Again, Luca told us to take a few minutes and go inside.  Again, Heather was agog, and I was in seventh heaven, having read about this wonder for many a year.  Here we were standing inside a building that has been maintained – and used continually – since the first Century A.D., and is still an unimaginably extraordinary feat of engineering, being the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world.

From there we went by some of Italy’s government buildings, including one of Prime Minister Berlusconi’s several residences, and we joked with Luca about all the trouble in which Berlusconi currently finds himself. 26

Then, the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.  Breathtaking.  We shall (God willing) come back on Monday to explore the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.

Finally, the Catacombs of Domitilla.  With Luca waiting outside, we had a tour, going deep underground to see burial shelves and little chapels carved out of the walls.  And, I had some myths exploded.  Until now I had thought that Christians had met for worship in the catacombs in order to remain hidden from the authorities, but this is not the case.  These underground vaults were burial sites, and were a system of burial quite customary before Christianity began – a system that was continued by the Christians not only when they were persecuted, but long after they no longer needed to hide.  The little chapels and altars to be found in the tunnels were merely places to pray when people came to give thanks to God for their deceased family and friends.

Luca deposited us back at Arena House, and, once we had bought some groceries and made ourselves a lunch, we fell exhausted into bed, and slept for several hours.

In the late afternoon, off we went again, and had a long walk all around the district where we live, until well after dark.

In the course of that walk, we met two young people who were looking for a place called “The English Hotel.”  We ourselves were unable to help them, but a local couple who, like us, were just out for a walk, came to their rescue and sent them off in the right direction.  It turns out that the young tourists had been robbed.  Of everything – including passports.  It is something that happens, and is no surprise, but still very upsetting to meet the people to whom it has actually just happened.

We ourselves have been very careful, but also very lucky so far.

Back once more in our little room, we made ourselves a dinner of sandwiches, and I have spent the last three hours typing this record and concurrently looking up (in Wikipedia) some of the places that we visited today.

I forgot, and need to add, the extraordinary scene near a restaurant door, where a man stood, dispassionate, while a younger man writhed in agony, down on his knees beside a car.  The young one looked up at us, holding his arm, and groaning in evident pain.  The older man walked back into the restaurant.  I didn’t know what to do, not having the language, so like the Pharisees of Jesus’ tale, we “...passed by on the other side.”  It is not a comfortable memory. 27

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Sunday, October 23, 2011
(at Arena House in Rome)

You go to church on Sunday, don’t you?  Well, I suppose there are increasing numbers who don’t, but Heather and I do.  Even when in Rome.

Rome?  Isn’t it mostly a church headquarters?  There should be a church or two to go to here, if one is so inclined.

Indeed.  There are hundreds of churches, big and small (mostly big).  So which one should we pick?

Before getting to Rome I was thinking that I might attend a Sunday mass, even a Papal mass, if possible.  But I found that I wanted a place to go, not as a tourist, gawking, but as a member being nourished.  Even in Winnipeg, when Heather and I visited every kind of Christian church, we were mostly guests rather than members.  We ended up wanting to “belong.”

Would it be possible to find a church here in Rome to which we simply “belonged”?

Vincent and his wife waving from Arena House window
Vincent and his wife, Barbara
(a photo from their own website)
The obvious way to frame such a question is: “Vincent: do you know if there is an Anglican church here in Rome?” 28

Well, Vincent had not had this question put to him before, but he is an affable man, and wants to help his clients.  “Well Tony-uh, I do not know-uh.  But I will find out-uh.  How do you spell that ‘Anglican-uh’?” (like others that we met on this trip, his English is good – way better than my Italian – but he puts an extra syllable on the ends of many words, particularly at the end of sentences.  It’s cute.).

In due course, he actually found one!  All Saints’ Anglican church, 153 Via del Babuino.  He gave me their website, which conveniently and correctly posts its service times.  So this morning a cab was called, and off we went.

In large part our hopes were rewarded.  There was a real sense that we were on familiar ground.  Although the church and its people were naturally more British than Canadian, and there were almost as many tourists as members – Americans, West Indians, South Africans, and travelers fresh from England (the Rector routinely asks visitors to identify themselves and say where they are from) – this church service today was what we wanted, and needed.

Heather did note with a laugh the one sign that we were in Italy, and not in England or Canada: they served wine at the after-service fellowship time.  Nice touch.

After church we walked back to Arena House.  It took most of the afternoon, but I had figured out a route on a map, and we went by a number of the most famous Roman tourist sites: the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Temple of Hadrian, the Parthenon, and the huge 20th Century Vittorio Emmanuele II national monument.

Along the way, Heather managed to go into numerous shops (thank God it’s Sunday, or she would have had even more to enter!), and she found the gift that she had been assiduously hunting since this all began in Venice!  What a triumph!

Actually, I will admit that Heather’s shopping was not excessive today; besides, it’s her way of having fun, so I am not going to begrudge it.  And I am almost as pleased as she is with her most important find. 29

However, by the time we got back to Arena House I was totally exhausted.  The distance we walked was not excessive, 30 but I think my muscles hurt because of the pace.  To go at Heather’s speed, which is a slow saunter, I think I use muscles that have been ignored for seventy years.  They are complaining mightily.  Although by early evening Heather was ready for more walking, I was not.  We ate what food was left in our room and stayed home.  We spent several hours, both of us staring at my computer screen, trying to sort through and identify the photographs of the past two days (and planning to re-take the failures if we can – particularly in St. John Lateran, which we definitely want to go back to, and which isn’t very far away). 

As I look through those pictures, though, I become acutely conscious of the deliberate attempt by the church to display grandeur; yes, and even power!  I’m not sure what I think of that.  On the one hand, it was probably natural to echo the style of architecture of the Roman Empire at its greatest.  There was also a deliberate attempt to state that the church is separate and independent from the secular authority (and the kings of old were never really comfortable with that idea).  But how do we visibly manifest the humility and duty of service of the Christian mandate?  It’s troubling.

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Monday, October 24, 2011
(at Arena House in Rome)

Today’s project was going to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.  We chose to do the Museum first, and only if we had time and energy would we attempt to do St. Peter’s Basilica next door.  We had no idea of the size and complexity of the Museum, however, and when we finally emerged four hours after entering the place, all we could manage was to sit wearily over a pizza in a nearby restaurant, and then take the bus back to Arena House and collapse in a heap on the bed!

The fact that we went there and back by city bus, was, to my mind, a triumph in itself.

We had left Arena House at 7:45 AM, having been given the impression – from various sources – that the crowds would be negligible before 9:00 AM.  Despite the hour, however, we found ourselves at the back of a line of 200 or more people when we arrived at the museum.

So it was that when a man approached us, saying that he could arrange to get us legitimately to the front of the line, and when he seemed to suggest that he would even stay with us through the museum, I decided to give him money and see what he could do.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a brilliant move on my part.  However it wasn’t a total loss, either.

He walked us away from our place in line, but instead of taking us to the front, as I had supposed, he took us to a storefront on the next block, and there he abandoned us!

It turns out that by paying his handlers €54 we put ourselves into a group of people who were eventually marched to the front of the queue and given direct admission (probably well after the time we would have got in had we entered under our own steam).  What made it somewhat less than a total loss was the fact that the excellent English of the group’s shepherd gave us some information that we would not otherwise have had.  It was from this guy that we learned that there are 7.5 kilometres of corridors within the Museum.  As well, we learned that once inside the Sistine Chapel, there was no turning back and we would only be able to exit the complex, not return to revisit this or that exhibit.  He also warned us to be utterly silent when in the Sistine Chapel, and not to take any photographs.  In my view this was worth learning, though we both think that we were mostly ripped off.

Indeed, a young man from Alaska, who had been fetched into our group under circumstances similar to ours, had made note of some distinguishing items of clothing on a person somewhere behind him when he left the queue, and, to his chagrin saw that man entering the building quite a bit before our little high-priced flock were able to gain admittance.

Oh well.  You can’t win them all.

Once inside, we followed our noses, and enjoyed a number of galleries that had virtually no one in them.  Wonderful Egyptian mummies, statuary and artifacts, and fascinating Etruscan archaeological finds.  And I found and photographed the Laocoön statue – a sculpture that I have known for years, through books, and did not actually expect to see.

Most tourists just go to see the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.  When we had seen as much as we wanted of the unoccupied galleries, we joined the throng that was headed towards these two most popular exhibits.

The Sistine Chapel
The curators have thrown in a number of interesting statues (I photographed a very handsome satyr with a baby Bacchus on his shoulder), some huge tapestries, some giant 16th Century maps, and a gallery of modern art, all on the route to the Sistine Chapel.  But essentially the mob – and it was a mob when we joined it – proceeds like a great single-minded snake, through these galleries until it reaches the Raphael Rooms 31  (where it pauses for a while) and finally gets into the Sistine Chapel itself.

First, I have to say that, once inside the Sistine Chapel, I stood in the middle of the place and tears filled my eyes.  I have known images from Michelangelo’s great work all my life, and many affect me profoundly.  I could easily say that the Creation of Adam, in particular, touches me in a religious way.  Heather asked me, while we were in Greece, if I wished to purchase an icon, and I answered almost impulsively, “Icons have never touched me, despite the fact that many of my peers love them.  The religious painting that moves me most of all is the two hands almost touching in Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ in the Sistine Chapel.”

So when I found myself gazing up at it, and then studying the myriad details in the great Last Judgement fresco, it was a very powerful and emotional experience.

That being said, the experience was also at the same time jarring on a purely worldly level.  As we had been told, the standard of behaviour in the Chapel is utter silence, and this huge mob would not stop talking.  Guards (and there were plenty of these) kept shushing the group, or yelling Silence! in various languages, but to no avail.  The crowd would hush down for about 10 seconds, and then the murmur would once more turn into a roar.

The worst offenders, it seems to me, were tour guides.  One that I saw was even talking about silence, while continuing her yammer.  I tried at first to give her the evil eye, but realized that worrying about my neighbour’s offense was distracting me from enjoying the place myself, so I went back to my more tranquil absorption in the art.  And in the history.  Almost all popes for the last four hundred years have been selected by cardinals in conclave in this sacred space.

Of course, for the cardinals it would have had a little more silence, and none of the press of ten thousand people per day (I’m guessing at the number, but bet I’m not far off), and thus would have some semblance of sacredness.

What is noteworthy is that there is no electric light in the chapel.  The only light is natural, from clerestory windows high up in the nave.

Another piece of trivia is that the chapel seems to be a little smaller than I had expected.

A third small thing is that the crowds are admitted from the altar end of the room – we had to turn around in order to see the great Last Judgement fresco.  But Michelangelo had painted everything to be looked at by a person standing at the rear of the church and facing towards the front!  ...which you only get to do as the crowd presses you to exit the place!  Awkward.

And what a crowd!  Most of the time we were shoulder-to-shoulder, although Heather did find a place in the very centre that allowed us to stand still and gaze upward without being jostled.  It was like the centre of a wheel, or the eye of a storm!  There were also benches along both sides of the room that people were free to sit on.  I never saw anyone get up from the bench and move away, but I’m sure that it did happen from time to time.  But mostly the immense crowd pushed shoulder-to-shoulder slowly from the front to the back, talking all the time, while the guards yelled “Silence” and hissed their shushes like snakes.

One man pushed really hard.  He was holding a woman’s hand, and she was very evidently having a full-blown panic attack.  He had to get her out of there, and it was like pushing through sand or gravel, for the crowd did not easily part before him.  To his credit he did not yell, and respected the intended silence of the place, but he pushed with determination and eventually got to the exit.

Later in the day we went to see St. Clement’s basilica, which is quite near to Arena House.  Luca, our cab driver, as well as some of the guidebooks, had said how important St. Clement’s is, so we went dutifully.  But doing so was a bit like trying to eat more cake when you’ve already eaten too much.  We were suffering sensory overload.

We didn’t regret going, but we didn’t “do” it, the way one “does” an important site.  We just went in and sat down in a pew, remaining silently there for quite a while.

Later on, Heather explained what she was feeling: throughout the Vatican Museum she had been experiencing greater and greater levels of disquiet.  The art and the exhibits were lovely in themselves, at times exquisite (and Heather loves beautiful things), but it bothered her that this was in effect a massive private collection.  True, it is on view to millions of the public each year, but it is owned privately; and the organization that owns it is officially committed to poverty and humility, not grandeur and ostentation, and that wonderful collection had the same feel for her as if it were privately owned by the world’s richest man.

Two places stand in contrast to the Vatican: the British Museum – a public place with public treasures (albeit many of them looted from their countries of origin), and a plain and ordinary church (or even a stately and grand cathedral).  We sat still in the St. Clement’s Basilica not only because we were exhausted from touring, but because this was primarily a house of worship, and one felt it immediately upon entry.

The interest, by the way, of St. Clement’s is that some of it dates back to the first Century.  In the basement, rooms have been excavated that were once a private home and very likely a place of prayer for the earliest Christians.  Later, bigger and bigger churches were built upon the site because the first owner (Clement himself, or “Clemens,” a Roman patrician and early convert) had become a noted saint and ecclesiastic.  The most recent church was still almost 1,000 years old, so it is really quite a wonder even in itself.  However, the archaeological finds are exhibited in the basement, and we didn’t go down to see them.

For Heather, and also for me, it was as much like a church as anything we’d been in, and it was good just to sit there.

Tomorrow morning first thing we will walk over to revisit St. John Lateran, and re-take some of the photos that did not come out too well when we were there on Saturday.  Then, at 11:00 AM, Luca will come to collect us at Arena House, and take us to the airport.

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Next: Return home – Raphael – Ruins – and Riots


24  Well actually, the more precise expression is: “s__t happens,” but this is a family-friendly blog, so I must speak with refinement.
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25  If you ever go to Rome, call Luca at 39 340 8709438.  I’m serious!  You should.
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26  We were referring, of course, to Berlusconi’s reputed activities with underage women.  Little did we know that only weeks later Berlusconi would be forced to resign, not because of his sexual antics, but because of the growing economic chaos that has been swallowing Europe.
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27  After much thought, I think I know what was going on:  There are many Gypsies in Rome (we were accosted by several during our time there), and I got the impression from Luca that Gypsies are heartily disliked by Italians.  Gypsies have a reputation – deserved or undeserved – for stealing and picking pockets.  Maybe the young man in pain was a Gypsy, and maybe the restaurant worker, acting as a ‘bouncer’ for his establishment, had just given him the heave-ho, with an invisible punch or two thrown in for good measure.  Had the young fellow been trying to put the touch on the restaurant’s patrons?  Had the bouncer observed him attempting to pick a pocket?  I’ll never know, but such a scenario would explain why the hurt one was not crying out, and why the older one, although standing only a few feet away in the door of the restaurant, made no move to assist, or even to speak to him.
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28  I suppose this is the equivalent of an American looking for a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris, but there you have it.  Like Popeye, I yam what I yam.
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29  So was the recipient, when we got home and gave it to her.  She was both astonished and delighted at how accurately Heather had matched a necklace that she herself had bought when she was in Italy last year.
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30  When we got home to Winnipeg I measured the distance that we walked with some exactness, using online mapping software: we covered a grand total of 3.99 kilometres.
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31  The “Raphael Rooms” are some large rooms in what must once have been Papal apartments.  In them, walls and ceilings are covered in frescoes that were painted by the great Renaissance artist, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, and some of his students.  I’ve put my photos of two of these frescoes – “The School of Athens” and “The Donation of Constantine” – into my photo album of this adventure.  Also, in the Epilogue I think out loud about the message that is proclaimed, particularly by Raphael’s Constantine panels.
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