Rome

Roman elephant

Walking through the various quarters of Rome in summer is a pleasure. Despite its apparent (and real) chaos, Rome has so many facets that every walk reveals new sights. Even old -and apparently commonplace- sights become interesting once we learn more about them.

Although I had walked through the Piazza della Minerva in the past, it had been to get to other of Rome’s main attractions such as the Piazza Navona or the Pantheon. I had noticed the obelisk in the centre but my attention somehow was directed to a plaque informing the public that the Argentinian General José de San Martín stayed at the Grand Hotel de la Minerve in 1846, four years before his death in 1850.

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The plaque on San Martín placed on the front of the hotel.

During this visit, my daughter mentioned that, apart from the Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) -close to her flat- she also enjoyed seeing the small elephant. So one afternoon we walked there and we got to the Piazza delle Minerva again. Not being one of the popular attractions, this small and rather overlooked piazza does not have the crowds and endless tourists’ queues to stick their hands in the Bocca della Veritá or to enter San Peter’s in the Vatican.

So, with time, we had a look at the obelisk. At the time we noted its rather the rather elongated trunk and agreed that it was a rather peculiar sculpture. Further investigation on its origins and development followed and its creation and symbolism is worth describing.

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The rather long trunk of the marble elephant.

The monument consists of two parts, an Egyptian obelisk -unearthed during some excavations carried out before the 17th Century- and the elephant that carries it. The latter is believed to have been the work of Ercole Ferrata, a disciple of the well-known sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini [1].

At the time of the unearthing of the Egyptian obelisk, Fabio Chigi (Pope Alexander VII) wanted to build a monument to display it. Father Domenico Paglia proposed the idea of the Obelisk resting over six small hills, as well as a dog in each corner, the dog being a symbol of the Dominican priests, the Order he belonged to. The hills recalled the six hills depicted on the Chigi family crest. By depicting the latter he hoped to convince the Pope. However, to Paglia’s surprise, Alexander rejected his design.

The Pope then asked Bernini for an alternative design. Bernini’s first reaction was to place four seated figures holding the obelisk at each corner of a pedestal. As this was not to Alexander’s liking, he presented another option showing the Obelisk resting on a rock and a later proposal depicted Hercules with his knees semi-bent as he hoists the obelisk upward and recalls Atlantis holding up the world.

Eventually Bernini got the agreement of the Pope with a design of an elephant carrying the Obelisk on its back, inspired by a popular novel of the time called “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” (“Poliphilo’s The Strife of Love in a Dream” )[2] authored by Francesco Colonna in 1499.

In Bernini’s original drawings, the obelisk’s weight would have fully rested on the legs of the animal. However father Paglia -envious of Bernini receiving the commission and being an architect himself- convinced the Pope that “according to traditional cannons, no weight should rest vertically above an empty space, as it would not be steady nor long lasting” so he strongly recommended that the obelisk should be placed upon a stone block. Bernini was opposed to this modification, especially as he had already proven that he could accomplish such a design in his “Four Rivers Fountain” in Piazza Navona.

Despite Bernini’s opinion, the Pope finally followed Paglia’s advice and decided that a marble cube should be inserted under the elephant. He also had the Latin phrase “These symbols of the science of Egypt, which you see engraved on the obelisk borne by the elephant, the most powerful of all animals, show that a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge” inscribed on the base.

Although Bernini tried to hide the heavy look of the block placed between the elephant’s legs by adding a saddle to the elephant’s back, this was not enough and the elephant acquired a rather heavy appearance that -I am sure to Bernini’s annoyance- originated its nick name of Minerva’s Piggy [3]!

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Despite the addition of the saddle the marble block supporting the obelisk is rather obvious.

The complete work was unveiled in February 1667 and it turned out to be the last commission of Pope Alexander VII as he died a few months later.

There is still a final twist to the story.

Bernini was able to take his revenge upon Paglia and the Pope by shifting the elephant’s tail slightly to the left and in that way pointing its rear end rather obscenely toward the Dominican Monastery sited in the square!

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The elephant’s rear end.

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The elephant with its rear end pointing towards the Dominican Monastery.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gian_Lorenzo_Bernini

[2] https://echoesofegypt.peabody.yale.edu/hieroglyphs/hypnerotomachia-poliphili

[3] Today the sculpture is popularly known as Minerva’s chick as the Roman dialect word for piggy (“procino”) has been replaced by chick (“pulcino”).

 

Rome – Food processor seller

Another character from the streets of Rome and one of the most engaging. He is called Mustafa and spends his time selling gadgets to prepare veggies in an imaginative way. We had heard and then seen him in earlier visits at the Porta Portese flea market. This time he was trading at the Campo di Fiori market. I can assure you that you cannot fail to stop and watch!!!

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Mustafa’s stand.

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Mustafa blowing bubbles to demonstrate the versatility of his ware.

While selling ,Mustafa mentioned that he had over 5 million hits in his video at Youtube so I did not film him but went to Youtube where I found many videos of “Mustafa Patata e Carota” performance.

So, rather than filming him yet again, I decided to embed the video where he speaks English. There is another one in Italian with 2,5 million hits in Youtube! [1]

 

 

Mustafa was so convincing that we ended up buying his tools without really needing them! I am now practicing and destroying a few veggies but I am getting there…

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[1] The video in Italian can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbPBN6kvnCU.

 

 

Rome – Gladiators

If you know a bit about Rome, you will also know that it is full of surprises. This visit has been no exception and I found this scene during some rains we had yesterday while walking through the historical centre towards our rented flat in the Jewish quarter.

IMG_3474 copy.jpgThese two gladiators took advantage of the rain-break in their fighting to the death activities to catch up with life events and have a puff rather than sharpening their swords! This is something expected of the current Millennial generation but they are clearly beyond that, probably Xennials[1]

Whatever their generation, the sight was really amusing!

 

[1] The term “Xennials” is a portmanteau blending the names of Generation X and the Millennials to describe individuals born during the Generation X/Millennial cusp years of the late 1970s to the early 1980s. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xennials)

The nasoni of Rome [1]

Rome is packed with attractions, some of them world famous and others less so but not less interesting. We have all heard about or visited some of its famous fountains such as the Trevi fountain, Turtle Fountain at Piazza Mattei, Fountain of the Frogs at Piazza Mincio, the big fountain on the Janiculum Hill and the Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona to name some of the better known.

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The fountain of the four rivers, Piazza Navona.

While the above have great cultural and ornamental value there are other water fountains that, although not great looking, serve the purpose of delivering free ice-cold water to the city inhabitants and visitors. These are the small drinking fountains that are found all over Rome supplying water non-stop.

There are 2,500 drinking fountains scattered all over the city, and almost 300 of them are inside the city walls. Although there are a few exceptions, they mainly follow a standardized model known by the locals as nasone/a because of the drinking spout on its side.

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Technical drawing of a drinking fountain. Scheda Tecnica del Nasone Fontanella di Roma. Released into the public domain by its authors via Wikimedia Commons.

These simple but clever contraptions allow the water to run continuously through their “noses” but blocking the end of the spout sends water in an arch that is ideal for drinking as well as for surprising the unaware visitor with a summer splash!

The 100 kg and 100 cm high nasoni are in place from 1874. They are made of cast iron and marked with the ubiquitous S.P.Q.R. that, in Latin, means Senatus Populus Que Romanus (the Senate and the People of Rome), the official city “logo” that also appears in many public buildings.

Most drinking fountains are found near the outdoor markets and plant and flower vendors and it is very common to see their water overflowing buckets and other containers placed under their water stream. The purity of the water is assured by the Azienda Comunale Energia e Ambiente (ACEA) [2] through over 250,000 tests a year [3].

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Picture of nasona by User: Lalupa (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

A novelty for us during this visit to Rome was the discovery of the “nasoni maps” put together by various organizations such as the ACEA itself that presents the public with a map of the nasoni in the historical centre of the city and beyond. [4]

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A “special” nasone with a bottom plate that enables pets to drink!

The constant flow of almost ice-cold drinking water the year round in Rome through the nasoni (and even the non-drinking water from the fountains) has always been a mystery for me. Writing this post I learnt that the water comes from the Peschiera reservoir through a 130 km aqueduct that runs deep underground. Although the underground element would be important for the coldness of the water, there should be something else keeping it so cool. I did not find a clear answer until our friend Donatella told me that the water is always moving and therefore it has no time to warm up. I believe that she hit the nail on the head and solved the mystery to my satisfaction!

The 16 million cubic metres of water that flow into the nasoni‘s drains and other fountains everyday are -apparently- recycled for watering gardens, cleaning factories and other non-drinking purposes so it does not go to waste. However, it is an immense volume of water! So, trying to get an idea of the amount that has gone through Rome’s drinking fountains since their establishment in 1874 I did a quick and dirty calculation:

143 years x 2500 nasoni x 16,000,000 litres/day x 365 days = 2,087,800,000,000,000

or two quadrillion, eighty-seven trillion, eight hundred billion litres or 2,088 cubic km of water yielded. Frankly, the result did not tell me much as the volume was impossible for me to grasp! So, as usual in these cases, I looked for a comparison and found that such an amount of water would have almost fill up lake Victoria with its 2,700 cubic km! I am not sure that this assessment is any use to anyone but at least it lays my mind to rest until I start working on the next post!

 

 

[1] A man with a big nose. Nasone/nasona are the masculine/feminine nouns and nasoni the plural.

[2] Municipal company for Energy and Environment

[3] https://www.acea.it/

[4] https://www.acea.it/it# or http://www.colosseo.org/nasoni/inasonidiroma.asp

 

 

Dry coral revisited

In June 2015 I presented you with a post on some amazing collection of succulents we found in Rome, more precisely at the Istituto Salesiano San Callisto. (1)

Over the years, while staying in Rome, we have been lucky to stay with friends that live at the Appia Antica so, a walk through the Saint Callistus catacombs was an almost daily affair getting to the centre of the city. While so doing, this veritable dry coral garden was there to be admired so I thought I would share a few pictures with you.

Although I noted the absence of a few of the plants I pictured two years back and flowers were not as abundant -probably because of the dry conditions that prevail in Rome- a few others have taken their place and the collection is still beautiful.

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(1) https://bushsnobinafrica.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/caput-mundi-a-waterless-coral-reef/

Harvesting from the effort[1]

The following is a concise account of my working life. More details can be found in the “Pages” section of this blog. The intention of this short account is to set the seen for the next historical posts that will deal only with episodes that took place during these years and that I consider to offer some interesting aspect worth mentioning.

A Boran young bull at Mutara ranch, Kenya.

A Boran young bull at Mutara ranch, Kenya.

Boran young bulls at Mutara ranch, Kenya.

The work at Muguga and Intona described earlier (give link) yielded fruit and I was able to publish the results in good scientific journals, together with my co-workers, Matt, Alan and Robin included. My research added some knowledge to a large regional programme on ticks and tickborne diseases that FAO had initiated at the time of my arrival in Kenya and that covered several countries in East, Central and Southern Africa.

Mutara tick selection work.

Mutara tick selection work.

Once my fellowship ended, although I had a lot to learn yet, I had somehow found a niche for my work at ICIPE and, with Matt’s blessing, I joined the Tick Programme as a scientist. My work on tick impact had ended and now my work would have to fall within the Tick Programme’s goals and funding. The main target was to control ticks using the cattle resistance to them. I had come across this fact while doing my research as some animals showed resistance while others not.

At that time I also decided to start my PhD studies as an external student with my former Department of Applied Zoology at the University of Wales. Four years of hard work were in front of me, as I needed to work and study, not an easy feat! I was lucky to be surrounded by knowledgeable colleagues and to find a great supervisor, the late Ian Herbert from the Department.

While working on my PhD I got involved with the work on ticks and tickborne diseases on-going at Muguga and I also continued with field work at Intona. Later on we started more work at Mutara Ranch, then the Boran cattle stud for Kenya, where we started work on selection of cattle for tick resistance that sadly needed to be abandoned for lack of resources. The initial study got published and this added to my growing reputation in the tick world. I completed the PhD in 1986 while still in Kenya.

The laboratory at Bedele, Ethiopia.

The laboratory at Bedele, Ethiopia.

In 1988 FAO offered me a position as a Leader of the Ethiopian component of their regional tick and tickborne disease programme I mentioned above. I accepted the offer as it had very favourable conditions but left ICIPE and Kenya with a heavy heart after so many years of enjoying life and work there.

Villagers at Gambela, West Ethiopia.

Villagers at Gambela, West Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was a big change as we arrived in a country at war with Eritrea and under a comunist regime led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, a ruthless leader. My duty station was Bedele in West Ethiopia, still green and wooded with a rainfall of about two thousand mm per year! It was a remote place where FAO has assisted the Government in building a Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Bedele’s main claim to worldwide fame is ob being the place where coffee originated from.

The work was more routine than challenging and it required the collection of ticks from cattle at different locations both to get to know the species and to understand their population dynamics. My assignment there lasted under two years as I was replacing another tick officer that needed to be evacuated with a severe heart condition. Despite the political and economical difficulties the country was going through, the work was completed and, as the possibilities of continuing the work were not there, it was tie to move on.

The project site at Lutale, Central Province of Zambia.

The project site at Lutale, Central Province of Zambia.

I was transferred to Zambia where I was to continue a long-term trial on the effects of ticks on traditional cattle productivity both of milk and beef under different tick control regimes: no control, intensive control and “strategic” control. The latter meant to treat only to prevent tick numbers from building up. The trial run for three years and it was completed successfully. It was during this time that our children were born and our lives changed!

Cattle work in Southern Province, Zambia.

Cattle work in Southern Province, Zambia.

After three busy and productive years in Zambia the regional programme was going through important changes. Its coordinator based at FAO HQs in Rome was about to retire and more funding was coming in to continue the work for another phase of four years. Somehow I landed the coordinator’s job and moved to Rome in a move that removed me from scientific work and converted me into an international bureaucrat!

FAO in the 90s. Please note the Axum stele that was returned in 2005.

FAO in the 90s. Please note the Axum stele that was returned in 2005.

After a few months in Rome, once the “glamour” of the job waned, I realized that I needed to get back to the field as the work I was doing did not appeal to me.

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Moving again! This time to Zimbabwe.

The opportunity to move to the field -again to Africa- presented itself in 1997 and I did not hesitate! We moved to Harare, Zimbabwe where I took up the role of sub-regional animal production and health officer, an even broader professional role as it also involved animal production. As compensation, however, the job was restricted to Southern and Eastern Africa. Although it was not “hands on” scientific work, it was closer to the action than what I was doing from Rome!

Great Zimbabwe ruins, Zimbabwe, 1998.

Great Zimbabwe ruins, Zimbabwe, 1998.

After four years in Harare I realized with regret that I needed to move to get a career improvement. At the end of 2000 I put my name for a FAO Representative job and succeeded getting designated FAOR in Bolivia so in mid 2001 we left for La Paz, Bolivia. This would be my first assignment in a Spanish-speaking country and it also meant becoming the head of an office with a large multi-sectorial programme and several employees both in the office and in the field. In addition, as the representative of the organization in the country I also carried a political role having to develop strong links with the host government.

Sewing in Bolivia.

Sewing in Bolivia.

Market street of La Paz, Bolivia.

Market street of La Paz, Bolivia.

I worked in Bolivia for five incredible years and, in 2005 I returned to Rome, again as a technical expert to continue working on animal diseases, in particular I returned to ticks and TBD. Again I did not find this assignment enjoyable and, after four years I had had enough of desk work and it was either another field post or retirement!

The Appia Antica road, Rome.

The Appia Antica road, Rome.

Rome, 2009!

Rome, 2009!

Fortunately I was selected for the position of FAO Representative in Mozambique where I worked until my retirement, from mid 2010 to the end of June 2013 when I reached 62 years, the mandatory retirement age of the United Nations.

Time to move to Mozambique.

Time to move to Mozambique.

Speaking on World Food Day in Mozambique.

Speaking on World Food Day in Mozambique.

Interviewed by the press.

Being interviewed by the press.

Maputo's beach in Mozambique.

Maputo’s beach.

Needless to say that I write in first person but my life has been shared with my wife and later my children. She has been a main support throughout and the kids added their part!

I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say.

 

[1] This post follows “Life and work in Kenya: Intona”.

Caput Mundi – A Waterless Coral Reef

While walking along the Appian Way I described in Caput Mundi Revisited that we passed by the Istituto Salesiano San Callisto[1] on our way to Church of St Mary in Palmis and then to the city centre.

Istituto Salesiano San Callisto.

Istituto Salesiano San Callisto.

We noted that the front of the Istituto had acquired a new feature: a marvelous collection of succulents. The comparison with coral formations as seen in the Indian Ocean was immediate so we decided that a closer examination was required. What we found is presented here as a pictorial account. No attempt at identifying the plants was made and I leave that to the readers interested in cacti!

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While carefully looking at the plants we noted that seashells had been placed surrounding the plants, a clear reminder to us that whoever did this wonderful work had also thought of the sea!

It is clearly difficult to be original in this world!

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[1] I wrongly referred to it as Dio Silvano college in my Caput Mundi Revisited post, apologies.

Caput Mundi – Romeing

Although we have visited Rome several times and lived there during 1993-1997 and 2006-2010 we are never bored when we are here as it is the city of exploration and discovery as well as surprise! The advantage of both having time and knowing the city quite well enable us to get lost in it with pleasure.

This visit was no exception and we walked in the general direction of the historical centre, with a quick detour at FAO to address pending minor administrative issues. As usual a number of monuments were being restored and were therefore totally or partially covered and invisible to the normal visitor. Seeing them reminded me of the difficulties the Roman authorities must face in order to preserve the city as well as the costs this incurs!

This time a section of the Colosseum was being repaired but we could still enjoy part of it.

The Colosseum never fails to amaze.

The Colosseum never fails to amaze.

What about a

What about a “selfie” with a “Colosseum background”? Even if it means stopping on the busy road…

As the weather was very pleasant, our walk continued and took us to the great views of the Roman Forum. Although we have entered it before, we realized that in order to appreciate it as a whole, the best place to see it is from above. Not being archeologists, our interest in ruins goes as far as admiring their present beauty while trying to imagine what the place must have looked like a couple of thousand years before (an impossible task unless they are whole!).

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Anyway, in front of our eyes were the Temples of Saturn, Vespasian and Titus, Cesar, Castor and Pollux as well as the Temple of Vesta; the Arch of Septimius Severus and other remarkable surviving ruins of what once was the centre of Roman public life.

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Our contemplation over, our walk continued downwards until we reached the Trajan forum, built in 106 by, not surprisingly, Trajan! The spoils of the conquest of Dacia, with which the forum was built in 106 must have been lean as it is built in bricks (maybe the marble had run out…). Trajan’s Column is next but it was built later (113), quite new for Roman standards!

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The flag of the Order of Malta adds a touch of colour.

The flag of the Order of Malta adds a touch of colour.

Once we reached the end of our legs’ strength (there was still an infinite Rome waiting!) we decided to return to base for a well earned shower and rest. We chose a short walk down “memory lane” that followed my first-ever walk in Rome: from Via Capo D’Africa, 47[1] to FAO via the church San Gregorio Magno al Celio. Little did we know that a final Roman act waited us!

The FAO Headquarters.

The FAO Headquarters.

The smell of acrid smoke hit us near the church and we saw a small leaf mound on fire, probably the result of the work of a Roma City Council gardener. We did not think much of it and walked past noting a flock of police (women and men) nearby chatting animatedly. Nothing wrong there either. Suddenly though, we heard a siren and, lo and behold, a fire engine came rushing in to control the on-going conflagration!

Italy is the cradle of Opera and clearly Rome’s inhabitants have a flair for drama, even when dealing with really mundane occurences!

[1] The Hotel Penzione Lancelot (now Hotel Lancelot, still under Mrs. Khan’s management) is located there.

Caput Mundi -Truffling

When our good friend Carlo invited us to go looking for truffles[1] near Rome we accepted gladly. We knew that he had started this activity a few years back and we had followed his progress. We also had tasted these sought after delicacies earlier and we were looking forward to a possible repeat of some of his specialties such as Uova di quaglia al tartufi (quail eggs with truffles) or pasta with truffles. He had also assured us that barbequed meat and truffles was great so we (meat-eaters, sorry) could not wait to go out! We were also assured of good company and some exercise anyway!

Carlo loves dogs probably more than cooking! Apart from having had a wolf-dog cross for several years he breeds Maremmano-Abruzzese[2] and is among the top breeders in Italy. Suffice to say that they are large and that there are never less than ten of them at the house. Luckily their garden is rather large as they are massive!

Grown Maremmano puppies play with my daughter (2008).

Grown Maremmano puppies play with my daughter (2008).

Although the Maremmano are his favourite, they are not good in finding trufflles so he keeps an additional four “truffle dogs”and one young apprentice. All females, they are two Cocker Spaniels and three Poodles (including the puppy). Carlo had painstakingly trained them all for months and a couple had a few years of experience. We took the five of them and I am glad that he knows how to handle them as he managed three while my wife and I had one each, admittedly with some difficulty.

Once we arrived at the right location they were released and we walked until we found the first suitable place, an oak woodland where Carlo thought truffles should be. He then started to use special vocalizations to entice the dogs to search for their targets. The dogs went “bananas” and started sniffing the ground all over the place. Within a couple of minutes Miele (Honey), a Poodle, started digging frantically.

Waiting for results...

Waiting for results…

We carried the necessary and legal[3] digging equipment (a kind of small spade known as vanghella) and, seeing the dog’s high level of activity I prepared to literally go to great depths to get the truffles! My efforts were not needed as the dog, almost immediately, brought out a dark brown tuber the size of a golf ball that Carlo took from her mouth giving her a piece of sausage as a reward for her efforts.

Following the dogs'.

Following my wife, Carlo and the dogs.

A possible

A possible “truffling” area is inspected.

Our walk following the dogs continued and the operation repeated several times until it was decided that we had collected enough and, as it was getting too hot for the dogs’ efforts, it was time to go home.

I believe that the truffles collected belong to the Tuber aestivum species. Common sizes go from 2 to 10 cm but larger ones are also found. These truffles have a rough brown or black outer skin known as “peridium”.

Our collection for the day!

Our collection for the day!

When back home, at my request, the brown treasure was weighed. It reached a rather staggering 750g. Considering that a kilogramme of summer truffles sell for Euro 300, it was a good result for a couple of hours effort!

Placing the truffles on the scale.

Carlo placing the truffles on the scale while my wife praises our find (and the Bushsnob takes the picture…)

We are now sure that we have enough raw material to enjoy a few of Carlo’s specialties and, as we are still in Italy and have the suitable equipment (read truffle dogs!) we can always join Carlo on another of his quests for more!

Look at that!

Look at that!

[1] See: http://www.cercotartufo.it/j/i-vari-tipi-di-tartufo.html. It is in Italian but it has good pictures!

[2] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maremma_Sheepdog for more information.

[3] According to the Law, “for the collection of truffles in Lazio spade or vanghella can be used exclusively, with the aid, for the excavation between the stones, small hoes”.

Caput Mundi revisited

It is back to Rome in 2015, after a few years’ absence. We are on our way to our son’s graduation in Scotland and we will visit our daughter (the Editor of the blog!) in Milano before that. After this is completed, it will be back to Africa.

After a 13 hour of a rather sleepless flight we arrived at our friends house in the Via Appia, yes, we are very fortunate to stay at that magnificent place where once upon a time the Roman legions moved in and out of Rome on their way to Africa and other conquests!

The weather as it is normal here is great, sunny and warm without being too hot yet. On arrival and unable to sleep due to jet lag we decided to walk to town following the Appian way to stretch our legs, get tired and sleep well.

A view of the Appian Way.

A view of the Appian Way.

From our friends’ house we passed the Capo di Bove with its thermal baths dating back to the middle of the 2nd century. These baths were used privately until at least the 4th century and its name derived from the cattle head sculptures on the nearby tomb of Caecilia Metella. We also passed the latter, the best preserved mausoleum that signaled that we were three miles from Rome. Caecilia Metella was the granddaughter of Marcus Crassus who served under Julius Caesar.

The Caecilia Metella Mausoleum.

The Caecilia Metella Mausoleum.

After a short while we passed the Basilica of St. Sebastian that is also the entry of the homonymous catacombs and built originally in the first half of the 4th century. St. Sebastian was a popular Roman martyr of the 3rd century and the church was built over a small catacomb. Continuing on our way we crossed the Via Ardeatina and, before the tomb of L. Volumnius and I. Tyrannis we turn left to enter into a favourite area of ours where the Catacombs of Callixtus are located.

The church of St. Sebastian is seen in the background.

At our favourite walk. The church of St. Sebastian is seen in the background.

Poppies...

Poppies…

This is an approximately 2 km walk over beautiful fields at the moment sprinkled with red poppies, where the Dio Silvano college and the Ipogeo de Vibia are also found that ends back in the Appian Way, just across the Church of St Mary in Palmis, better known as the church of Domine Quo Vadis. It was here that, according to the legend, St. Peter had a vision of Jesus and asked him: “Lord, where are you going?” (In Latin: Domine, quo vadis?) to what Jesus answered, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again” (In Latin: Romam vado iterum crucifigi). After this encounter St. Peter returned to his own crucifixion!

Church of St Mary in Palmis.

Church of St Mary in Palmis.

After this rather historical walk we moved to the actual modern city where we did some shopping, ate some pizza on the street and ended up with ice cream from our favourite shop at Garbatella quarter, The latter was founded in the late 1920s with its typical project units (In Italian: “lottos”), Rococo-style buildings grouped together around a common yard. This gives this quarter a friendly and rather familiar atmosphere.

Garbatella's typical architecture.

Garbatella’s typical architecture.

When I looked at the pedometer it showed 9 km! It was time for a “cappuccino stop”. After the tasty pause we recovered our forces and got back home trying to find a shorter way!

A "smiley" cappuccino...

Our “smiley” cappuccino…

Errata: What I referred to as Dio Silvano College was in fact the Istituto Salesiano San Callisto.