An Adventure A Day

Because "life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all" – Helen Keller

Seeking Green Spaces – Friday Fotos on Saturday

March 25, 2017


Every now and again, you just need to get out of the city.

Every now and again,  I crave more country than the parks of Rome can provide. Fortunately for me, skirting the border of the city is a surprising amount of beautiful farmland. The gently rolling hills of Lazio bear a closer resemblance to the famed hills of Tuscany than the fabled seven hills of Rome.

In these wide swaths of green space, you’re more likely to encounter a tractor than a Vespa, and the traffic – well, sheep may be your biggest problem here.

One overcast afternoon, we needed a break from the city. A short 15 minute drive and we were at a quaint family run Agritourismo, for a delicious organic lunch.  We remained for a while after we finished eating and let the children frolic in the green fields, just soaking in the pastoral beauty – with the Roman skyline in the distance.

Head on over to the Daily Post for more Green.

 

 

Adventure sometimes comes in the most unexpected of places. I enjoy exploring alone. When I’m alone, I don’t need to worry about keeping pace with anyone, or going off schedule, or charging in and trying something new. Sometimes I find a view that takes my breath away. Sometimes I’ll have an interesting conversation. Sometimes I’ll get lost. Sometimes I’ll be the only person in the room surrounded by beautiful, interesting things, and I can reflect. Sometimes I get more than I bargained for.

Bells across Trastevere were beginning to announce the noon hour, I figured the churches were closing, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Santa Cecilia in Trastevere was still open. I slowly walked the circumference of the clean modern viewed the marble likeness of Santa Cecelia and made my way back toward the exit. As I went to depart, I noticed a small gift shop run by a sweet elderly Italian nun who sat quietly in the corner crocheting. I asked her if the Scavi (excavations) in the basement was open, and she said that yes, it was. I handed her my 2.50 and descended the stairs to the rooms below the church.

Immediately, I was lost in the past. I slowly circled the room and noticed a hallway off to one side. I headed down the narrow passageway, which seemed to continue endlessly before me, branching off to the sides as well. I had expected a small excavation site, but this was larger than I expected. The rooms offered more or less what you’d expect to find in an excavated basement, partially finished, roughhewn and fascinating. As I explored, wandering ever deeper into the cavernous rooms, I couldn’t help thinking to myself about all of the eerie places I’d found myself exploring lately. It was at that moment that the organ music began to play, echoing deeply off the cold stone walls. I glanced up at the ceiling, noticing a whole in the floor of the church above. “Not helping,” I stated out loud to no one in particular.

Coming around the final corridor, the gloomy, partially excavated rooms gave way to an extravagantly decorated chapel. Absolutely worth the eerie solitary walk in a damp, partially excavated basement, filled with dark, dank corners.

There were visitors in the chapel taking pictures, so I waited for them to finish before I entered. After the dullness of the previous rooms, the brightness of the colors completeness of the mosaics surrounding me this exquisite little chapel was a lovely, unexpected surprise. I explored every corner, enjoying my solitary walk around, imagining others in this space before me.

Eventually, it was time to my way back. I took one last look at the magnificent colors in the room before I headed to the door. As soon as I turned to leave the chapel, the first light went out. The remaining lights followed before I could react to the first one. Before I knew what was happening, I was standing in absolute darkness. Thinking to myself that I was still an awful long way from the exit. Even better, the organ was still loudly playing somewhere overhead.

I tried to make my way ahead and bumped into something. I needed to find a light, or I was going to break my neck on the uneven floors – or worse, knock irreplaceable relic to the floor and shatter it. I rifled through my purse, my fingers attempting in vain to differentiate the among the objects within, searching the depths for my phone. I will often leave the house without my phone. As I pulled it out of my purse and fumbled in the darkness to turn on the light, I was glad that today was not one of those days.

Armed with a smart phone flash light, I rushed back through the corridor without incident, hoping that I would still be able to leave Santa Cecelia. I entered the final room, and made out the sliver of light illuminating the doorway – the staircase.

I rushed up the staircase, afraid that I would be locked at the foot of the stairs until they reopened the basement – whenever that was. I was relieved to find that there were no doors on the staircase.

My relief was short-lived. The very sweet elderly Italian nun was standing outside the doors to the gift shop, searching her key chain for the key that would lock me in.

“Scusi” I said as I moved closer to her. Nothing. She continued to search her key chain. The door began to close. “Scusi” I said as I arrived at the door.

Shock and surprise, followed by horror registered on the poor nun’s face as she looked up at me. She hadn’t realized I was still down there. I told her it was fine, I had a light. She apologized profusely, then nodded thoughtfully and in a hushed voice asked me – “Did you see everything you wanted to?”

I assured her that indeed I had, and made my way back out into the afternoon sun.

Friday Fotos: The Road Taken – The Appia Antica

March 3, 2017


In its heyday, the Appia Antica ran from the Roman Forum to Brindisi a port town on the coast of what is today Southern Puglia. Construction on the road began in 312 BC under the censor Appius Claudis Caecus and was completed in 244 BC. While much of the original 350 miles (563km) are gone, within the Parco Regionale Dell’Appia Antica remnants of the original road survive to this day.

The Appia Antica is one of my favorite places to explore. Although it is just to the south of the city, the park seems like another world, where you’re as likely to encounter sheep and horses as you are cars, bicycles and joggers.

Along the way, you’ll stumble across churches, catacombs, tombs and homes – both currently occupied and ancient ruins, like the Complesso di Massenzio. On this enormous complex, that was once the site of the emperor’s villa, you can run along the remains of a giant circus and explore the eerily silent tomb of his son Romulus.

Not far from the Complesso you’ll find one of the most recognizable symbols of the Appian Antica – the tomb of Cecelia. This tomb is thought to have been built for either the wife or daughter-in-law of Marcus Crassus, a contemporary of Julius Caesar. The tomb of Seneca, the Catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano, and the spot where St Peter encountered Jesus in what is now the Church Domine quo Vadis are just a few of the incredible monuments you’ll encounter on your journey. The information center at Via Appia Antica 58/60 is very helpful and offers free maps as well as maps to purchase. You can find an interactive map on the official Appia Antica Website.

The atmosphere of the Appian Way is spectacular. You’ll find yourself transported through the ages as you stand among the same stones that the figures you’ve read about in your history books traveled on over the centuries.

I find it amazing that many of the original stones are still in the ground. In places, they are intermixed with modern cobblestones, but they remain. Etched deeply in places with continued use, but through everything, they are there still.

I have not tried to get there by public transportation, but you can visit the park by bus. The 118, 218 and 660 bus lines all have stops on the Via Appia Antica. If you wish to plan your trip by bus,  I find MouversiRoma and Google Maps to be great help when I travel by public transportation in Rome.

Stop by the DailyPost and see what others have found on their journey down the road taken.

Friday Fotos: Against the Odds

February 17, 2017


The Lipizzaner is a horse whose very survival seems against the odds. These symbolic wonders were evacuated for wars and other  turbulent times, split between the remnants of the Hapsburg Empire following World War I, taken by the Germans during World War II, and finally returned by the US Army. The end of World War II, brought with it the end of troubled times for the horses, which are beloved by many throughout the world.

Today at the Spanish Riding School, there are six recognized stallion families and 18 foundation mare families.

I was introduced to the famous horses in the 1963 film The Miracle of the White Stallion, which chronicles the movements of the horses at the end of the war, and how General Patton was involved in the return of the breeding stock to Austria following the end of World War II.

Since first watching that movie, it was my dream to see the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions, and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

It worked out that I did – but not in the way I expected to. The first Lipizzaner show I went to was in Poughkeepsie New York, sometime in the late ’90s. It was well before the age of the digital camera, but I do remember watching the horses perform unbelievable feats of athleticism and grace. I was spellbound. I saw them for a second time nearly 10 years later in Colorado Springs.

Another decade would pass before I had an opportunity to visit Vienna. As I sat down to plan the trip, I knew that if I did nothing else, I would see the Lipizzaners perform at the Spanish Riding School. That was the plan. What I didn’t know before that was that the horses only perform in Vienna in the Winter. I was disappointed, but I found that we could still tour the grounds and stables and watch the horses train. That sounded like an acceptable alternative. When the day of our tour finally arrived, I noticed a small sign near the ticket counter, an apology that for that week only, there would be no training either. What are the odds of that?

For more visions of things that are Against The Odds, head over to the Daily Post.

 

Friday Fotos: Shadow

February 10, 2017


Quite possibly the best thing about living in Rome is access to an incredible diversity of Art. There are more museums in Rome than I could possibly visit in one lifetime, let alone a brief three year stay. That hasn’t stopped me from trying though.

This week I paid a visit to the Galleria Doria Pamphilj on Via Del Corso.  I have walked past this rather non descript building several times, each time thinking I should probably stop in there one day. The Palazzo is richly decorated with intricately detailed decorative ceilings and floor to ceiling paintings in  many rooms. While I found many of the paintings themselves to be very heavy and dark, it was a fantastic glimpse into the life of a very privileged Italian family.

Perhaps because of this particular theme, I noticed a three paintings in particular that played with the idea of shadow and light. The artists were able to create detailed scenes relying on the subjects’ positions within the shadow, created by a tiny illumination in the dark. I was simply fascinated by the fact that they were able to capture so much, with so little light.

Art is more than just the literal shadow. Michelangelo is quoted as saying: “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”  That may be so, but what a shadow it is! Here are some pieces that I’ve seen lately.

The beauty of these works of art leaves me to wonder if perhaps the beauty of the shadow is preferable to the harsh light of reality.

“But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what could the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and living beings. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid.”

― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

Saint Teresa in Ecstasy can be found in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria on via XX Settembre. This was another place I had unknowingly passed many times before stopping in.

Nathan Sawaya’s work in Lego’s is currently on display in the Parco della Musica.

The Knight and the painting Meditation are part of the Scuderie del Quirinale’s show il Museo Universale – Dal Sogno di Napoleane a Canova.

The Klimt and Monet are on display at the  Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. The current show is Time is out of Joint.

 But for all the beauty of  Art and shadow, it would be nothing without the light of the real world to inspire it. For what is one without the other?

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

 

Find more Shadows at the Daily Post

Solitude

February 7, 2017


“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

― Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Much like Thoreau, I crave moments of solitude. I look forward to the times I can spend alone with my thoughts observing my surroundings. Rather than feeling lonely, this periods of solitude leave my soul refreshed. I find this especially true living in Rome, where it can be difficult to find a moment of calm and quiet amid the daily cacophony and frenzied pace of life you find in a city.

Outside of the city, it is easy to find a quiet place. A silent path in the woods, an early morning walk through the empty streets of a small town, a fragrant garden all provide a place of solitude.

 

 

Within Rome, there are pockets of stillness, although sometimes you have to look a little harder to find them.

“I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books.”

― C.S. Lewis

Visit the Daily Post for more examples of Solitude.

 

Friday Foto: Repurpose

February 3, 2017


In my dreams, I can repurpose anything. I believe that I am going to have the time, material, and creativity to transform trash into treasure. In reality, I move far to frequently to hold on to all the treasures I’d like to restore and repurpose. Instead, I wistfully pass along my pieces of inspiration to those with larger storage areas and fewer potential moves.

I do love to see repurposed items, and one of my favorite was the Kunstwald – the art wood in the forest not far from my home in Burglengenfeld, Germany. This hiking trail was truly unique. Much of the art was carved from wood blending seamlessly into the woods along the trail. They added the unexpected to the trail – repurposing a solitary walk in the woods into a reflection on nature and art.

 

Occasionally, though, you’d encounter something unexpected. Something truly magical – something repurposed.

 

Head over to the Daily Post to see more examples of Repurpose.

 

 

Friday Fotos: Graceful

January 27, 2017


This week, the Daily Post is taking a look at all things Graceful.

Every crag and gnarled tree and lonely valley has its own strange and graceful legend attached to it.
 Douglas Hyde – First President of Ireland

I find that I am often surrounded by graceful beauty. Step back and take a look, you’ll be surprised at how many graceful things you’ll find.

 

It may be Graceful Art:

It may be Graceful Nature:

 

Or possibly Graceful Architecture:

It may be Graceful Science:

If we’re lucky, perhaps you’ll cross paths with a Graceful Soul:

 

You can find more Graceful photos at the Daily Post.

Friday Foto: Ambience

January 20, 2017


This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge takes a look at Ambience.

I took a look at some of the photos I’ve taken during the month of January over the years. The dark chill of the month is captured in many of the photos I’ve taken, regardless of the location. But what is it about a place that creates the Ambience?

Sometimes Ambience comes from the color of a scene:

Sometimes Ambience results from the atmosphere of a place:

Other times the texture:

And sometimes it’s all of those:

If you’d like to see more examples of Ambience, head over the Daily Post.

 

 

 

More than 2,000 years of history ensures that you’ll stumble across a familiar name or two in Rome.

A walk down nearly any street is a chance to mingle with the names of people, places, and events found within the pages of travel guides, histories, myths, and novels.

Perhaps its emperors you’ll encounter, like Augustus, Caesar, Hadrian. Maybe you’ll find the apostles Paul or Peter. You’ll undoubtedly encounter an artist – will it be Michelangelo, Bernini, or Caravaggio? Will your encounter be with a more modern ruler – Mussolini, or Vittorio Emmanuel?

In time, you’ll become familiar with the names Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal the cities fabled seven hills. These names hold within them the treasures and secrets of both the ancient and modern city.

I love encountering names in the city that unravel the past, making things just a little clearer. Last year, I read a fantastic novel about the early history of Rome called Roma, written by Stephen Saylor. What I really liked about this novel was the way Saylor wove myth, history, and oral tradition together to explain the foundation and early years of Rome.

Although I lived in Rome when I read it, I found it difficult to place the names on the page with the locations in the city. Rome is a vast city and centuries of history overlap making it difficult to extrapolate specific periods of history. This changed a little for me following a tour of the Palatine Hill.

Often overshadowed by other more familiar sights, the Palatine is an unexpectedly enormous space. The size of the grounds and the popularity of neighboring attractions make this a less crowded place to explore. It was here on the Palatine that something became more than just a name on a page, and the story became much clearer.

In the early myths of Rome, a monster named Cacus was said to inhabit a cave on the Palatine. He was defeated by Hercules, and a temple was built to honor the mythical savior. Later Rome’s founding father – Romulus lived in a small hut on the stairs of Cacus. In time, the Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia were thought to have lived here as well.

These events and places remained a jumble of names for me, until that tour of the Palatine. As we searched for the site of the Hut of Romulus, we stumbled upon the stairs of Cacus and the area of his mythical dwelling. As I reached to apex of the stairs, I glanced over the outlying area where I was surprised to see the Temple of Hercules. Suddenly, the novel I read took on new meaning. Being able to bring these names out of the book, bringing the story to life, gave me a more intimate perspective of this ancient city.

This is what the best of travel is; taking the names of the past off of the pages of the book and bringing history to life.

Visit WordPress for more examples of Names. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/photo-challenges/

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Here are a few of the other Names you’ll stumble across in ancient Rome!

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*The photos this week are a wrap-up of the shots I’ve featured on my Instagram feed. Stop by and check it out! https://www.instagram.com/an.adventure.a.day/