Florence, Tuscany, Venice and Rome

Florence, Tuscany, Venice and Rome- Mar 6-23, 2010
Pictures of our Italy trip -March 6-23, 2010
Carla Zaia cell: 39-349-759-0723 [email protected] our Rome guide
Diana Cugola cell:39 333 400 3113 [email protected] our Venice guide
Paola and Giuseppe Migliorini cell:39 347 657 2611 [email protected] our Florence and Tuscany guides
A plane trip
The stress of packing
Take this
Don’t forget that
Airport mess, security, anxiety
People everywhere
Wait, wait, go
Sit, sitting, worn out
Ten hours flying
Land, & wait on luggage
Halfway around the world
Now the adventure begins
Giuseppe picked us up at the airport in Rome and took us to the Hotel Accademia in Florence. It was a very good transfer and we enjoyed getting to know Giuseppe. He really did a great job of sharing with us about Florence and Tuscany on our trip to Florence.
After we checked in we went walking to check out the city. The map was easy to follow and we went straight way to the Rivorie Cafe for coffee and profiteroles. Florence is a wonderful city.
Fiorenza, Latin: Florentia) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of theprovince of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants (1,500,000 in the metropolitan area).
Florence lies on the River Arno. It is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and was a wealthy city. Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The Medici family ruled Florence for several hundred years. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The historic centre of Florence contains numerous elegant piazzas, Renaissance palazzi, academies, parks, gardens,churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers.
The city has a wide range of collections of art, especially those held in the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi. It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante,Boccaccio,Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de’ Medici, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Florence Nightingale and Emilio Pucci.
Paola Migliorni met us at Hotel Accademia. Walking tour 9 am to Accademia, San Lorenzo, Palazzo Medici, Duomo, Baptestry and its famous bronze gates, Bargello. Great Touring day. Paola is an excellent communicator. The walking was easy and enjoyable. We literally walked from one side of Florence to the other and back. It was a full, full day and by the evening we were tired.
98 church bldgs in Lucca. Why? What did that mean? Rev to Ephesus. Hard work, can’t stand evil but left 1st love. Listen, listen!
Lost 1st love-Eph was the church planting church of Asia Minor. Love isn’t love unless you give it away. Eph turned inward and lost their focus on Jesus. Laodicea was lukewarm. Focused on world not Jesus
2 pts
Lost purpose-did it on their own-get closer to Me-I’m outside your door-let me in
Focused on wrong thing-bldg church bldgs and not saving souls.
Giuseppe picked us up at our hotel and we traveled across Tuscany toward Lucca and then Pisa. On the way we toured Montecatini which is a famous spa town. Montecatini Terme is a major tourism center. They have over 2 million overnight stays in their 200 hotels each year. They have concerts, fairs, ballrooms, art exhibitions and other festivals that attracts the local (21,000 inhabitants) and the tourist in a well organized and a pleasant full agenda. The spas offer well-known healing waters and relaxation treatments and are building several new swimming pools for the future.
Lucca was next. The walls around the old town remained intact as the city expanded and modernized, unusual for cities in the region. As the walls lost their military importance, they became a pedestrian promenade which encircled the old town, although they were used for a number of years in the 20th century for racing cars. They are still fully intact today; each of the four principal sides is lined with a different tree species.
We had lunch in Lucca at Osteria del Neni. Wonderful lunch and beautiful restaurant. We walked the streets of Lucca from one side to the other. Beautiful piazzas and interesting ancient church buildings. Its walls are well built.
Onward to Pisa and see the leaning tower. Wow it was amazing.
Chianti Country
We drive through the high rent, villa area of Florence onto the Chianta Road. We are heading toward Siena but the Chianta Rd winds thru a hilly, beautiful, fertile landscape. Springtime, even though cool, and all of the trees and flowers are coming back to life.
Each little town has a church. The countryside is filled with olive trees. The road is lined on both sides with rock walls. We are on the Impruneta Rd and passing through Clock Mtn. The Villas rent often to Americans.
Impruneta is a small village where Florentines come to dine in the hot summer months. It also specializes in terre cotta.
Siena and Florence fought over the Chianti area for centuries. The Etruscans originally developed the Chianti area. The 11th C. The monks moved into this area and produced the wine. There are 200 castles in the Chianti area.
Chiantagiana road has many wine producers and olive oil producers. Passed through Strada and turned toward Greve. There are many villas for rent on this road. There are 600 wine producers on this road. There are 280 who specialize in Chianti. Some of the grape strains date from Etrusca times.
Greve is the main town of the Chianti area. We stopped at their old town square. It is picturesque with bakeries, gourmet shops, several cafes and a grocery store. It is laid out in a triangle with it’s church, St Mary’s of Greve, at the top. It is snowing heavily here in March!
We are passing the Vigna Maggio. This is where the Mona Lisa of Da Vinci lived.
Mont Reggiona is a fort overlooking the highway. Built in the 11th C. It sits darkly brooding over it’s past.
Siena is the city of the Gothic and a red brick city. Much of the construction dates from the 13th and 14th Centuies. Their towers are square.
Siena is popular for the palio that is run each year in the main square. The sq is shaped like a triangle. The contradas (region) vie with each other for the Palio victory. Their are 17 Contradas in Siena and they are fiercely loyal to their region. They compete about everything. The contradas have names such as butterfly, wolf, elephant, turtle and others.
The streets of Siena climb up and down over three hills. Some of the streets are difficult to negotiate without a rope to climb up.
Siena generally has 13th and 14th C. Bldgs. They also have several 11th C. Towers. The streets wind between ancient buildings creating dark streets and then suddenly they dump out on a beautiful piazza. Walking their streets while challenging cloaks you with the soul of Siena. I realize that isn’t grammatically correct but it is the only way I can think of to communicate what I felt. Delightful!
The weather hasn’t been the best but I think today has been perfect. Snow on the Chianti Road and the time spent in Siena was cold but dry.
Lunch at Cici Osteria. Too good to explain. A very good meal.
Our coffee stops have been excellent. Very good breaks.
San Gimignano was our next town. It isn’t far from Siena but it was far enough to enjoy more of the picture perfect countryside. This is March and Tuscany is under a spotted blanket of snow. As we climbed in altitude to 1,200 feet the spotted blanket became a very solid white covering. San Gimignano stood above us surrounded by its medieval walls quietly receiving more snow. Brown set off by white with its medieval towers reaching for the clouds San Gimignano stunned us as we gazed upon its beauty. We walked its streets, coffee and pastry off the church square, wandered thru many shops and took pictures of its buildings as we enjoyed this medieval town. The majority of its buildings were built in the 11th and 12th centuries. We left at 5pm and headed back to Florence. Another beautiful drive.
We drove to an overlook of Florence. The entire city was on display.
This has been a great touring day.
Thursday-Mar 11-Italy-Florence
We’ve struggled with the cold, rain and snow all week. This hasn’t slowed us down. We have done a good job this week of covering Florence and Tuscany. Today we are visiting the Academia and the Uffizi gallery.
Michelangelo’s David and his unfinished works are stunning. The Accademia also has musical instruments on display and other lesser works. David is the reason to go here.
The Uffizi Gallery is overwhelming. Of their 45 separate display rooms we actually visited by important categories about 20 of the rooms. Paola is an excellent art historian and she guided us thru the various painters and sculptors as they developed art from 1100 AD thru the Renaisance.
We had lunch at a favorite place, Rivoire, across the square from the Uffizi. Lunch was a great time of food and fellowship. We walked all over Florence and then back to our hotel for our evening Bible study. Dinner at ZaZa which is now our favorite cafe and then back to our hotel to pack for our trip to Venice in the morning.
Friday-Mar 12-Italy-Venice
We left our excellent hotel and five complete days in Florence and Tuscany to travel to Venice. Florence was cold and rainy this morning and walking with luggage to St. Maria Nevello trainstation was a bit of a challenge but we did it.
The two hour train ride was fast and comfortable. I live riding trains in Europe. I love travel in Europe. The scenery was picturesque from Florence to Venice.
We walked out of the train station and straight to the water taxi-just a few stops and we were at Rialto Mercato and 300 steps were at our hotel. It is clean and basic and easy to get to-Pensione Guerrato at Calle drio la Scimia.
Our guide in Venice is Diana Cugola (Venice with a guide). She took us to Saint Mark’s square, Saint Mark’s cathedral (with the Pala d’Oro), Doge’s Palace and a walk in the narrow alleyways of Venice to see other musts of the town. Diana is passionate about Venice, easy to follow and very good at her work. We started at 2pm and finished at 6pm. We were tired.
But not sovtires that we couldn’t stop at Cafe Florian, the oldest coffee house in the world. It was a real treat and real expensive. We had to try it.
We rode a water taxi back to Rialto Bridge and crossed over to San Polo. We saw an interesting restaurant, Caffe Saraceno (in business since 1926). They are still in business because their food is great. We ate well and enjoyed every bite. The coffee was good too.
We have had SUPERB coffee. I’ve lost count of how many places we’ve had coffee but it has to be several dozen.
Our day is over. Let me encourage you to travel with us to Italy one day. Our next trip will be in Oct 2011.
Sat-Mar 13-Venice
Venice is captivating. It is so different than any other place I’ve been. Boats, canals, palaces, stunning pictures, bridges over bridges, water taxis, colorful and multicolored homes (palaces) along the Grand Canal, hundreds of miles of tiny canals and this doesn’t even begin to exhaust the description. You have to feel Venice. The sights and smells have to capture your mind. It is absolutely stunning.
The food is good to great. There are Inexpensive restaurants and expensive restaurants in the great food category. We are enjoying these dining experiences.
We took the water bus, #1 Lido to the Salute stop. It is the stop before San Marco. We began our walking and exploring there. We strolled along the Grand Canal then over to Canal Della Giudecca. We crisscrossed the area walking tiny alleyways and the larger streets from Salute back to our location at the Rialto Mercato. There are 15 plus major piazzas or campos that we walked thru.
This afternoon we rented a private boat that took us through the city via canals. We ventures thru tiny canals and got to see Venice from the water.
Our dinner this evening was at Osteria Neno. It is a hidden gem, a small osteria that is family run with quality food.
Sun-Mar 14, 2010-Venice, Italy
Dr. Jim Parker led us in worship this morning. Note Paul’s comments about Mark being useful for the work “Mark is valuable for me.” it is important that we work for reconciliation.
We too often measure our lives with a mirror and Jesus wants us to measure our lives in community.
Our guide, Diana Cugola, met us at 9am. We met our private water taxi at Rialto Mercato and motored to Murano the first of the three separate islands in the Venetian Lagoon that we would visit today.
Murano is known for its glass factories. They moved all of the glass factories to Murano in 1292 to protect the main island from fires. We spent an hour observing the glass making process at Murano Glass and toured their showroom. Amazing process that requires significant training and skill to master. The blown glass products were gorgeous and out of our price range. It was an educational experience.
Burano was our next stop. It is the largest of the three and the most populated. Burano is known for it’s lace and picturesque pastel houses. It is an humble town of fishermen. Laundry hangs over alleyways of the beautiful, neat pastel houses. We talked with a lady who was grilling fish. She thought it was funny that we wanted to take a picture and enjoyed it when we did. Burano is also famous for the Leaning Bell Tower of the San Martino church.
Torcello was our final island. This island is the birthplace of Venice. The people moved there to evade the barbarian hordes in the fifth century AD. The original church here dates back to the sixth century AD. This is the least settled of the three islands.
The plus in this trip was the boat ride for an hour plus. The Lagoon navigation process is interesting. The level of government control here would be oppressive to most of us. This is the nanny state in the flesh.
We ate lunch at Ristorante Florida on the Grand Canal near Rialto. Jason had spaghetti with grilled vegatables. He said it was the best he has had on the trip. We have had spectacular meals in Florence, Lucca, Siena, and Venice so far.
The afternoon was devoted to washing clothes. Giovanni owns the washateria we went to and he took care of everything. We walked the area including San Marco for an hour and a half. When we got back everything was done. Giovanni was very helpful. We chatted for half an hour and discovered that he had been a tour guide in India for fifteen years. He was a joy to chat with and he wanted us to stay in touch. We will.
The trip back across town on foot became a movable feast. We had coffee, walked,window shopped, shopped, coffee, more walking and window shopping, gelato (we knew that our partner Don who is visiting Greece right now hadn’t found a gelato shop because he doesn’t read Greek so we dedicated the gelato stop to him) and then finally back to our room for Bible study and then dinner.
Our meal tonight was a rerun to Osteria Nono. It is listed as one of the top family run trattorias in Venice. They have definitely deserved that reputation. Tonight they treated us like we were old friends and went way out of their way to make our meal outstanding.
Mon- 3/15/10-Venice
Jesus had a mindset to: Obedience, Mission, Sacrifice, Humility
Perfection is defined by Love not performance-
Excitement today- Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are filming a movie currently titled “The Tourist” in the Mercato Rialto which is next to our hotel-Pensione Guerrato. A lot of folks waiting to see the stars. They filmed from 7am to 10pm tonight.
We connected with Diana, our guide and began our walk across San Polo to the Friari Church. This church is considered one of the great art experiences because the art that was created to be in a church actually is in a church instead of a museum. The Friari Church was built by the Franciscans when they came to Venice in 1230. Later the Renaissance artists captured the beauty of the physical world and human emotions and put their works in the Friari Church. These works of art showed worshippers the glory of God in human terms. Some OS the artists who have works here are Titian, Donatello, Bellini, Veneziano, and Canova. This church has priceless and significant art work.
Just around the corner is the Scuola Rocco. There are more than 50 paintings in the Scuola di San Rocco. These are often called Tintoretto’s Sistine Chapel. This is the ultimate experience for Tintoretto fans. These great works are framed in gold on the walls and ceilings in the grand upper hall. It is a moving experience to see these works insitu. Tintoretto spent the last 20 years of his life creating the majority if these works for the Scuola San Rocco.
We had Great coffee near the Frari Church and then walked across San Polo to the Train station bridge then up La Spagna street and north away from the Grand Canal to Tintorett’s home. We also saw where Diana was raised.
Diana took us thru the Jewish Ghetto. Their community is still small as so many of the Jews were gassed by the Nazis. At the gates exit of the Ghetto we stopped to have lunch at Gam Gam a Kosher Jewish restaurant.
We walked this area of the city back to our hotel. We had enough time to take a 30 minute nap then our Bible Study as Dr. Dukes leads us thru Philippians.
All of our daily reporting on our time in Italy will be at
I will also share the location for pictures as soon as I get home and can get them out.
TU-3/16/10-VENICE-early morning
We traveled from Florence to Venice last Friday March 12. It was an enjoyable train ride. I remember my first view of Venice. It wasn’t at all what I had imagined. Now that we have spent four days walking and boating the city it has gotten into my mind and imagination. I live discovering how a city has developed. Its streets, commerce and buildings. Venice is the ultimate in business overcoming obstacles. Today they are trying to deal with the sea and its intrusions. I for one think they will succeed.
Every street has a story. Spain street is extra wide, built that way by a conquering army that needed a way Ti bring their heavy guns into the city so that they could maintain control. The limited land space and the marshy land could be controlled better by building the canals so that the land they built on could remain dry most of the time. Most of the buildings have a front entrance on the street and a back entrance on a canal. That way they can travel from their house by boat.
Venice-TU-Mar 16, 2010
We wanted to see all we could today. Venice is so beautiful and surprising. We walked to Rialto and turned left walking onto new streets. Churches, famous painters homes, quiet tiny camponelas, large piazzas, teeny streets where you have to duck your head and every step was enjoyable. Diana shared stories about the history of each street and area. We stopped for coffee and had lunch at a neat trattoria near the arsenal.
Good byes are sad. We had a wonderful week with Diana and we will look forward to returning to Venice.
The afternoon was more walking. Venice is a jewel.
Great meal at Nono’s. This is the top rated family trattoria in Venice and the staff treated us like family. This was our third meal there and each one has been super. We walked over to Rialto and had dessert and coffee at Saraceno’s. It too is an excellent place to dine.
Now back to our hotel to pack. Tomorrow morning we will go to the train station and travel to glorious. Rome the Eternal City.
Venice to Rome-WE-Mar 17, 2010
We were up early, finalizing our packing and getting ready to go to the train station to travel to Rome. I went to the bakery and cheese shop to put together a picnic lunch for us on our four hour trip to Rome. The bread, cheese and cookies were an excellent lunch.
We caught the waterbus and ran into a huge crowd watching the filming of “The Tourist” but we maneuvered around them and caught the train. I love train rides.
Arriving at the Hotel Lancelot was like coming. The Khan’s operate a wonderful small hotel just three blocks from the Colossseo. Their rooms are bright and comfortable. Faris, French trained Chef, prepares an evening meal that is second to none. All of their staff go out of their way to be helpful.
We checked in and then made a beeline to catch the 85 bus at Labicana to Piazza San Silvestro. We then walked over to the Spanish Steps and took pictures.
It didn’t take us long to walk from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain and then return to our hotel on the 85 bus.
Dinner tonight was a change of pace for us. Excellent meal.
Rome – TH – MAR 18, 2010
Rome, sunny and crisp, perfect walking weather. We walked to the 81 bus stop in Claudio and took the bus to the
The lines were huge and we had a special entrance and bypassed the lines and entered the museum. Our Rome guide had suggested that we purchase our entrance on line in advance and that was how we were able to get in without waiting in line.
Rick Steves “Rome” guide was an excellent help as we went through the Vatican Museum. We also toured St. Peter’s.
We had purposed to eat lunch at Piazza Navona. The sun was brilliant and our meal at Navona was enjoyable and good. After lunch we ate gelato enroute to the Pantheon and coffee. Both were outstanding.
I like riding public transportation in Rome. It is inexpensive and easy to learn it’s INS and OUTS. Even though we walked 14,000+ steps, not using buses would have added many steps to our already lenghty day.
Carla Zaia is our guide. We will visit the Forum and some major churches tomorrow with her. I’m forward to our day. Note that I have posted pictures on my facebook site and will post many more at after returning home. I’m looking forward to tomorrows report.
ROME – FR – Mar 19, 2010
San Clemente was our first stop today.The church has a beautiful interior, but it is especially notable for its three historical layers. The 12th-century basilica is built on top of a well-preserved 4th-century church (with many frescoes), which was built next to a 3rd-century Mithraic Temple. We explored the excavations of the lower two levels. It is a fascinating journey into the history of Rome.
Our second stop was the Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo), is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Our tour covered the Colosseum from top to bottom.
Our guide Carla Zaia does an outstanding job of putting all the pieces of history together. Our group has two Bible scholars, Dr. Dukes in New Testament and Dr. Parker in Old Testament, and they have both enjoyed Carla’s lectures. She talks with us and all of us are able to connect with her.
Lunch time at Le Naumachie
Via Celimontana, 7, Rome, Italy was a good time of food and fellowship.
Our third stop of the day was the Roman Forum. It is located between the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill of the city of Rome, Italy. It is part of the centralised area around which the ancient Roman civilization developed.
The oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located in or near the Forum. These include its ancient former royal residency the Regia as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, both of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome. The kingdom’s earliest shrines and temples were located on the forum’s western edge. These shrines developed into the Republic’s formal Comitium, where the Senate, as well as Republican government began. The Senate House, government offices, Tribunals, religious monuments, memorials and statues cluttered the area. Over time the archaic Comitium would be replaced by the larger Forum, moving government to the Basilica Aemilia. 80 years later the Basilica Julia would be built along with the new Curia Julia moving both the judicial offices and the senate itself. The Forum would serve as the new city square where the people of Rome could gather for political, judicial and religious ritual in greater number. The Forum was the center of the Kingdom, Republic and Empire.
We climbed more steps than I can count to the Capitoline Hill which is located between the Forum and the Campus Martius. It is one of the seven hills of Rome. The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo.
Worn out we staggered down the hill to the bus stop where we caught a bus to the Colosseo stop and uses it’s escalator to get halfway upbthe hill to St. Peter in Chains. San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, best known for being the home of Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
Done for the day. Back to Hotel Lancelot for a nap before dinner.
This was a beautiful day.
Bright days, pretty summers
Create in us a sense
A feeling of eternity
It is a deep longing in our soul
Death is a dreaded hole
We hope in Christ
Strength creates a false sense of hope
We can deal with this
It’s just a minor stumbling block
Then our soul is required
We hope for life
We spend many days, various ways
Commending ourselves to God
Working, non-stop, full tilt
We have it going on
This us not what God requires
We hope for life
Age has a way of slipping up on us
I meant to accomplish
Now I will never do what I purposed
Lord guide my path
We hope for life
We see our sin
We smell its stench
The world has a hold on me
Help me Jesus
I can do nothing without you
We hope in Christ
Clay Corvin
ROME – SA – Mar 20, 2010
Parades across the city. One is in front of the Coloseum which blocks off access to our neighborhood and the other is across town and a third parade is at St. John Lateran. Our choice of churches meant we had to move quickly to beat the parades.
Another beautiful day. Rome is very pretty.
First we went to the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran which is the cathedral of the Church of Rome, Italy, and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. Officially named Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sancti Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano (English: Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran”, it is the oldest and ranks first (being the cathedral of Rome) among the four Papal Basilicas or major basilicas of Rome, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church (mother church of the whole inhabited world) among Catholics.
We also visited the Baptistry alongside the church.
Just across the street are Scala Sancta (English: Holy Stairs, Italian: Scala Santa). They are, according to the Christian tradition, the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial.[1] The stairs were, reputedly, brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th Century. For centuries, the Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wished to honor the Passion of Jesus. The Holy Stairs is the place where Martin Luther determined that he no longer believed he could be Catholic and returned to Germany.
Paolo drove us to the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major. It is an ancient Roman Catholic Marian basilica of Rome. It is one of the four major or four papal basilicas,[3] which, together with St. Lawrence outside the Walls, were formerly referred to as the five “patriarchal basilicas” of Rome [4], associated with the five ancient patriarchal sees of Christendom (see Pentarchy). The other three papal or major basilicas are St. John Lateran, St. Peter and St. Paul outside the Walls. The Liberian Basilica (another title for the church) is one of the tituli, presided over by a patron—in this case Pope Liberius—that housed the major congregations of early Christians in Rome. Santa Maria Maggiore is the only Roman basilica that retained the core of its original structure, left intact despite several additional construction projects and damage from the earthquake of 1348.
We made a short top at Santo Stefano Rotondo (sometimes called San Stefano Rotondo). It is near our hotel And is one of the largest and oldest round churches in existence. Dating from the 5th century, it is a fascinating church that reflects both local and foreign influences. Santo Stefano Rotondo was built by Pope Simplicius I (468-83) and dedicated to St. Stephen, the first martyr (Acts 6-7). St. Stephen’s relics were reportedly found in Jerusalem in 415 and the cult of the proto-martyr had come to Rome by the mid-5th century. Pope Leo I (440-61) had already dedicated two churches to Stephen in Rome by the time this one was built.
Stefano Rotondo was built on the former site of a Roman military barracks for non-Italian soldiers called the Castra Pergrinorum. The barracks were abandoned in the 4th century and destroyed in the 5th century in order to build the church.
We were running late on our schedule. Carla’s friend Amir was waiting on us to have lunch before our 1pm appt. But we wanted to quickly visit the Janiculum (Gianicolo in Italian) which is a wonderful overlook of Rome. It is a hill in western Rome. Although the second-tallest hill (after Monte Mario), in the contemporary city of Rome, the Janiculum does not figure among the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome, being west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.
The Janiculum overlook was great but just as exciting was our ride to lunch. Paolo took us thru the heart of Central Rome. Tiny streets and major monuments that I had never visited by car. It was wonderful! I truly enjoyed the ride.
After lunch Amir dropped us off at the Borghese Gallery. Carla did a magnificent job guiding us through the Borghese.
Carol and I ran into a huge political parade on our way back to the hotel. That was an experience getting thru the parade.
ROME & ASSISI – SU -MAR 21, 2010
Early morning devotional.
Off to Assisi to see the birthplace and town of St. Francis of Assisi. The trip takes about 3 hrs. across Lazio Region and into the heart of Umbria. Beautiful countryside and an enjoyable ride.
Assisi is in a mountainside. Some of the roads in the town have more than a 30% grade. I think we walked all of those.
We had an excellent lunch at Trattoria Pallotta. The meal was very good. The ravioli and artichokes was the best we’ve had. The people were warm and friendly.
We walked from one end of the village to the other. We went into the St. Francis church and saw the artwork. Carla shared about St. Francis life and ministry.
Our visit to Assisi was a good day. On our return to Rome we came into the city on the “Salt Road.”
ROME – Su Night – Mar 21, 2010
Faris prepared a pasta with olives and feta cheese for our first plate and followed up with chicken and vegatables. Dessert was gelato with strawberries. We have had similar meals every night at the Hotel Lancelot. It is our favorite hotel in Rome.
We decided to do our night walk tonight. We took the 87 bus to Piazza Navona. Our walk began there. We walked over to Campo dei Fiori then to Piazza Farnese and Via Giulia.
Campo dei Fiori is a rectangular piazza near Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, on the border of rione Parione and rione Regola. Campo dei Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means “field of flowers.” The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow.
Piazza Farnese is one of Rome’s most elegant squares. It is dominated by the enormous Palazzo Farnese, a magnificent Renaissance building, which was started in 1514 by Antonio da Sangallo, continued by Michelangelo and completed by Giacomo della Porta. Built for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III), it is now the French Embassy. The palazzo (which is very rarely open to the public) is famous for its magnificent frescoes by Annibale and Agostino Caracci. The twin fountains in the piazza were enormous granite baths taken from the Terme di Caracalla.
Via Giulia is a street in the historic centre of Rome, mostly in rione Regola, although its northern part belongs to rione Ponte. It was one of the first important urban planning projects in Renaissance Rome.
Via Giulia was projected by Pope Julius II but the original plan was only partially carried out. This was the first attempt since Antiquity to pierce a new thoroughfare through the heart of Rome and the first European example since Antiquity of urban renewal. Via Giulia runs from the Ponte Sisto to the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, following the tight curve of the Tiber. It became the most fashionable street for new construction for borghesi and for the Florentine community in the sixteenth century. Today its modest structures provide one of Rome’s elite shopping streets, noted for its antique shops.
The Via Giulia runs for a full kilometre in a straight line, an innovative feature easily taken for granted today. Its story begins in 1508, as an aspect of Julius’ wide-reaching program for the renovation of Rome and the founding of an absolute monarchy in the Papal States, which would assume its rightful place among the European powers. His financial reforms had been undertaken from the first year of his pontificate, and to free the Papacy from its dependence on the great Roman families, he turned to Tuscan bankers outside the circuits either of the Orsini or the Colonna, notably to Agostino Chigi, recently of Siena. A part of Julius’ overall plan was the reorganization of the medieval city of Rome, whose unrealized assets were becoming apparent as the renewed city grew in economic importance, recovering from the sleepy backwater it had become during the fourteenth century.
The new street was intended as an artery connecting all the governmental institutions, which were crowded in the single section: the Palazzo della Cancelleria, being completed at that very moment, the papal mint and the projected Palazzo dei Tribunali.
The laying-out of the street was placed in the hands of Donato Bramante, who was in charge of the works at the new Basilica of Saint Peter, taking shape on the other side of the river. Vasari states, “The pope was determined to place in Strada Giulia, which was under Bramante’s direction, all the offices and administrative seats of power of Rome in one place, for the convenience of those who had business to do there, having been until then constantly much inconvenienced.[1] At the same time the new artery linked the river port of the Ripa Grande with the new Via della Lungara, and by the Via Giulia to the Ponte Sisto, in order to bring merchandise securely and conveniently to the heart of the marketing and banking zone.
Work was halted on Bramante’s majestic Palazzo dei Tribunali, which was to have assembled under one roof all the judicature of Rome. It remained half-built for a generation, to the regret of artists like Vasari. With this an essential element in Julius’ urbanistic project was lost.
The street developed as a line of modest houses with gardens behind them, built for private owners or confraternities, sometimes on speculation, broken by more ambitious palazzi. This is the urban context of the “houses of Raphael”, with their ground floor street-front shops.
The grand palazzi turned their backs to Via Giulia. In the 1540s Michelangelo had a plan for the constricted gardens of Palazzo Farnese to be connected by a bridge to the Farnese villa in Trastevere on the far shore, Villa Farnesina. The elegant arch still spanning Via Giulia belongs to this other grand unrealized scheme.
The Campo dei Fiore was packed with people dining at one of its many restaurants or just walking about enjoying the evening as were.
We crossed the main street to Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in first century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. [1] The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones (“games”), and hence it was known as ‘Circus Agonalis’ (competition arena). It is believed that over time the name changed to ‘in agone’ to ‘navone’ and eventually to ‘navona’.
Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred to it from the Campidoglio, the Piazza Navona is now the pride of Baroque Roman architectural and art history. It features sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi; and the Pamphilj palace also by Rainaldi and which features the gallery frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.
Navona was teeming with people. We took a few pictures and continued our walk toward the Pantheon. All of the restaurants that were open had a lot of people in them.
The Pantheon (meaning “Every god”) is a building in Rome, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD.
The building is circular with a portico of three ranks of huge granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment opening into the rotunda, under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft). A rectangular structure links the portico with the rotunda. It is one of the best preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda.”
We walked the Via Pastini to the Fontana Di Trevi (Trevi Fountain.) There were too many people there and we added to the congestion. I have posted pictures of our night walk on facebook.
The Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain in Rome, Italy. Standing 85 feet high and 65 feet wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the
The fountain is at the junction of three roads that marks the terminal point of the “modern” Acqua Vergine, the revivified Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.
In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Bernini’s lasting contribution was to resite the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so the Pope could look down and enjoy it). Though Bernini’s project was torn down for Salvi’s fountain, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it was built. An early, striking and influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early 18th century sketches.
We had coffee before we walked on. The coffee was good. Our walk was a moveable feast that we kept moving and on to the Spanish Steps.
The Spanish Steps (Italian: Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the church of Trinità dei Monti. The Scalinata is the longest and widest staircase in Europe. The monumental stairway of 138 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.
In the Piazza at the base is the Early Baroque fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Old Boat”), built in 1627-29 and often credited to Pietro Bernini, father of a more famous son, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who is recently said to have collaborated on the decoration. The elder Bernini had been the pope’s architect for the Acqua Vergine, since 1623.
We had now completed our walk and 7,000+ steps. We caught the metro, changed to Line B at Termini and got off at the Collosseo stop and walked up to the Hotel Lancelot.
ROME – MO – Mar 22, 2010
Our last day in Italy. The weather was muggy and overcast. We started a little slower than our regular time, having breakfast at 8:30am and not getting our touring started until tenish.
Monet and the Impressionist was our first stop. Excellent!
We walked back to the hotel and met Carol for lunch at La Numachie. Faris from our hotel joined us. We were in a bit of a hurry because we had a 2pm appointment at the Caravaggio exhibit.
We had to change buses to get to the exhibit. That’s always a challenge but it worked smoothly.
The exhibit was packed. Monday is a school day and it seemed like all of the school children were there. The exhibit had a significant number of paintings so that you could get a sense of Caravaggio’s development of his short life painting. Even with such a crowd it was an outstanding exhibit.
There were three paintings by Caravaggio at the St. Louis French Church and they were not in the exhibit. We walked across town to the chuch which is near Piazza Navona. It was a delightful walk and three beautiful paintings.
ROME -TU -Mar 23, 2010
Homeward bound. Calm, peaceful trip back to New Orleans.

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Clay Corvin

Clay Corvin is Co-Pastor at Bethel Community Baptist Church. He is the retired VP Business and Professor of Admin at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and was employed by NOBTS for 38 years. He was the pastor at the Brantley Baptist Center for twenty-five years. He is married to Carol Corvin and the father of three children and has three grandchildren. His ministry is to the homeless and helpless seeking to promote the cause of Christ everyplace he travels.