Saturday 24 March 2012

Care to see the inside of a Roman apartment?

Being extremely curious, both by nature and by training, I always enjoy seeing the inside of people's homes. Just yesterday, I met my neighbour from across the courtyard, and weaseled my way inside her door at least far enough to see how she's decorated the place. (I also met her cute little dog, Lina.)

That inspired me to compare our apartments and write a bit about mine. You can see my galley-style kitchen (with the green Ikea cabinets) above.

Both of our apartments are long and narrow, a bit like a train with a string of a few rail cars. In my case, the front door opens into the kitchen with a long narrow bedroom to one side, and the main living area (with two front windows, no curtains) to the other.

I did say earlier that the bedspread in my apartment was green! It matches the kitchen cabinets.

The head of the bed helps to separate the bedroom-area from the kitchen, and looks towards the bathroom at the far end of the apartment. Guests using the bathroom will get a good look at how well I've made the bed!

My neighbour's apartment is, of course, decorated with far more style and comfort than is mine, given that my place is a furnished rental, not really decorated, and I don't have the euros right now to do any kind of decorating.

Except for a few things on the bare walls. I went to the delightful little paper store Il Papiro and bought two 4-euro pieces of beautifully decorated wrapping paper which I have stuck to the walls, just as if I were a student again. (I'm still looking for that "Hang in there, baby" poster!)

Here's the view out of one of the two front windows.

And, of course, the appliances are small. In fact, my landlady seems to have found extraordinarily tiny appliances, such as the microwave, which can barely hold one mug (so long as it's not a tall mug!)

The doll-sized dishwasher (and yes; I'm very grateful to have a dishwasher) has only one small, narrow rack.

And finally, my children's-sized washing machine. Too small to fit in even one bedsheet (so every Friday Felix is sent by my landlady to change the bedding. I've learned to swallow my shyness.)

I've propped a running shoe in front of the washing machine door to give a sense of its size.

But it's home, and I love it!

Sunday 18 March 2012

A Day in Naples

Thanks to Trenitalia's "mini-fare" discounts, I took the fast train down to Naples and back on Saturday, my first visit to this chaotic but fascinating city.

One day certainly isn't enough time, but I did lots of walking up and down Naples' many hills and besides getting a peek at the city's street life, I also saw two beautiful churches, including the Duomo, as well as parts of the National Museum of Archaeology.

Of course, a real highlight was tasting some of Naples' very famous pizza. I have never quite believed all the hype around this: why would pizza in Naples be all that different from pizza anywhere else? Now, however, I am a convert. I still can't explain why, but my 5-euro pizza was the best I have ever had!

Perhaps it was the crust: very thin on the bottom (just as they are here in Rome) but tender and just a bit chewy. Even the thick outer edges, which everyone usually gives up on -- me included -- were delectable! I had a vegetable pizza with pieces of eggplant, plus red, green, and yellow peppers. Every bit was so fresh and delicious.

My first stop of the day, after a hike up from the train station, was Naples' Duomo, the Cattedrale di San Gennaro and named in honour of Saint Januarius, the city's patron saint. Apparently, it is actually dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Which perhaps explains the medieval mosaics in a lower area of the cathedral, the Baptistry.

From there, I walked through some incredibly hectic streets (the pedestrian-only areas are filled with racing motorcycles!) to Santa Chiara, a real oasis in such a hectic city.

After lunch, I dragged my pizza-laden tummy up, up, up to the National Museum of Archaeology. Except for a large group of French students in their early teens, the place was very, very quiet. And not so well tended. Still. It was fascinating, and I joined the students (and every other visitor) in snapping a few photos. No flash, of course!!! Many of most fascinating exhibits have been excavated from the city of Pompeii.

I was especially struck by this 4th century BC sculpture of a girl (or, possibly Eros/Cupid) wrestling with a scary-looking dolphin. I guess these were the pre-Flipper days when dolphins still had teeth!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Hidden Rome on a Sunday afternoon

One of the walks I enjoy on a Sunday afternoon (before I settle down to Italian language homework) takes me to the far side of the Forum, around the Circus Maximus and up to the Romanesque Basilica of Santa Sabina (near the headquarters of the Knights of Malta.)

First, I walk down my street and turn left when it dead-ends at Trajan's market. The top two photos were taken at the end of my street.

Then, I pass behind the Forum and get a different perspective on the site.


From there, I climb alongside the  Circus Maximus with its views of the Palatine Hill to the east.

Then, I continue up to the Basilica of Santa Sabina.

The church, dating from 422, is fairly bare inside with a bit of interesting art and grave markers.

Outside, is a lovely garden filled with orange trees that taunt me because, tall though I am, I can't quite reach the fruit!!!!

But I can get a drink of water from this friendly fountain.