I hade every intention of doing this before dinner. I had planned to arrive at the Casa O'Toole by 3:30pm. But the thousands of marathoners in Rome had other plans. After only two stops from the main train station in Rome, the driver just stopped the bus and ordered everyone off. "E Chuiso!" he screamed. It's closed. So everyone had to get off the bus and walk the next 4 stops to take the same bus again. I'm understanding Italians less every day.
Anyway, it was somewhat serendipitious. I got to visit two church along the way that I have not been able to see. And they are on the end of the blog later.
So for now, se buon mangiare.
I am back from dinner with Fr. Eric Pannike of the Diocese of Sault St. Marie, Toronto Canada. We went to a very popular place called "Anticha Taverna" or "The Old Tavern". One of the few places where you can get a €5.00 plate of pasta. Father Eric arrived in Rome with a knee that had recently been operated on. He has been going through some therapy here, but its been tough on him. My knee has been screaming at me a bit too. So as we were watching President Obama's speech to the Brazilians, we decided to both limp to dinner. It was a slow walk and an even slower dinner which is par for the course in Italy.
So let me tell you about Naples. I arrived mid afternoon on Friday and went exploring. A small piazza called Piazza Bellini caught my attention because of ancient Greek excavations going on in the center of it. But it is full of trees and has small restaurants and osteria all around the edge of it. I managed to get there after a long walk and experimenting with the subway. That is always a challenge when visiting a city for the first time. But I got the hang of it. I found my way to Piazza Bellini and sat in the open air and enjoyed a pint of beer and snacks and read my Naples travel guide. Sitting beside me were a couple from England. So we chatted for while. That meant another round. After a couple of hours, they were off to meet friends at a restaraunt on the waterfront. I took myself to the Cafe Bellini for a nice dinner. By the time dinner was through it was nearly 11pm. I decided to walk back to the hotel at the Piazza Garibaldi.
The walk took me down the Via di Tribunali. I chose it because it was a straight shot through the streets. What I did not know and the map did not show was that this street is a main hangout on Friday night. It is one pizzeria and night spot after another. The streets (we would call it an alley in the USA)were full of young people enjoying what was the first reasonably warm night of the season. What should have taken me 30 minutes took an hour and a half. Just working through the crowds made it slow walking. But I love people watching and I was in "people-watching" heaven.
Saturday morning was a fairly early start. I headed back in the direction I walked the night before. I had walked past a number of old churches (which were locked up of course). It is difficult to know what is on any street after the shops have closed because they all have these heavy metal roll doors covering the entrance. There are usually not any signs either. Those are covered up by the security door as well.
The first church I visited was Santa Annuziata.
|Via San Gregorio Armeno. Location of dozens of shops with handmade figures for the Christmas manger, including workman, tradesmen. Look back at the picture of the presepio in the lobby of the retreat center at La Sainte-Baume.|
|One of the many presepio shops. I was so tempted to buy some. But I will be returning to Naples before going to Ischia for the Music Festival. I think I will shop to purchase some then.|
|View from the high walls of the Castel Nuovo. The mountain is the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, which destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum on the 24th of August, 79AD.|
|Another view from the castle ramparts looking due south to the north side o the Amalfi peninsula with the Island of Capri visible at the right.|
Apetizer - Marinated Anchovies.
(Not the preserved in a can full of oil with gritty salt. Anchovies are real fish and look like real fish when they come out of the ocean. These are lightly sauted, then marinated in oil and vinegar and spices. They are a skinny version of the smelts my grandmother used to make.)
Primi piatto - Linguine and shell-fish.
(Fresh home-made pasta - I can tell because its much more yellow than the packaged stuff - covered with a dozen different kinds of clams and shellfish which had been sauted in butter and olive oil and fresh parsley. Amazingly simple preparation but as good as it gets. This recipe is a keeper.)
Secundo Piatto - Whole sea bass sauteed in butter and oil with capers and green olives. (The waiter brought the whole fish to filet it table-side.)
This was accompanied by the half-bottle of Falanghina dei Feudi di San Gregorio. Amazing wine. I was introduced to it by Jonathan Farley, waiter at the former ROCCA Restaurant in Boston. Here it was in its original setting.
A bit of limoncello on the house completed an incredible meal at this restaurant that has a total of 30 place settings. (not tables; place settings).
I was on a 1:30pm train back to Rome this afternoon after a nice late sleep this morning.
I arrived in Rome on time at 3:13pm. I hopped on to the now famous bus # 64. This brings us back to the episode of the short ride and the bus that became "e chuiso!"
The serendipitous part came when I had to walk about half a mile around the marathon festivities at the Piazza Venezia. Here are a few more pictures.
|Church of St. Mary of Loretto Near the Piazza Venezia|
|The Church of the Gesu. This is the Jesuit Church in Rome and the burial place of St Ignatius of Loyola.|