032 Statistics

We have lived in Rome for 358 days and have seen 360 named sights. This includes 10 items in Vatican City, 161 churches, 45 museums, 45 sites of ruins of ancient Rome, 21 temporary exhibits, and 78 miscellaneous items. We have seen the major sights multiple times. During the year, we hosted a total of 20 people in our apartment while they visited Rome for a total of 107 days. We have saved 6722 photos.

We have helped to serve lunch to about 500 homeless and poor once per month at one of five Caritas food kitchens in Rome. The kitchens are open every day; we serve once per month when our parish takes its turn volunteering there.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Rome. We also enjoyed showing Rome to all of our visitors.

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031 Useful Links

There are several links we have used extensively during our stay in Rome. They have given meaning to the sights we were visiting.

Rome Art Lovers Web Page

This website contains everything you ever wanted to know about Rome. It is comprehensive and filled with facts, particularly about the history of Rome, monuments, churches, etc.


List of Emperors

Gives the emperor and his image, his birth date and place, how he became emperor, dates of his reign, date and cause of his death, and his time in office. This webpage is important to help us understand the history of Rome and the sights we visit.


List of Popes

Gives the numerical order, dates of the pontificate, an image of the pope, his name, his birth name, place of birth, age at start and end of papacy, and notes. This webpage is important to help us understand the history of Rome and the sights we visit.


Station Churches Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage involves attending mass at a different Station Church on each morning of Lent. There are forty days of Lent, hence 40 churches. The order of churches for the days of Lent has not changed since 800 AD (except for one church which no longer exists). Masses are in English at 07:00 and in Italian at 17:00. The Pontifical North American College has done a superb job organizing historical information about these churches. Significant architecture and art treasures in the church are also noted. Maps and directions are included in the website. The description is also available in MP3 format.


Bus and Metro Routes and Maps

A map of bus routes in the city center and a map of bus routes in Rome have proven essential in finding our way to the sights. Maps are in pdf format and can be downloaded. It is also important to know how frequently buses travel their routes. For a specific bus line, the website gives the number of departures each hour from the end of the line. Times at each stop are not given, but the frequency during the day is important to know how long one may wait for a bus.


Free Concerts

There are free concerts of sacred choral music. They are frequently choirs visiting from the United States. There are two or three concerts per month. They are usually held in Sant’Ignazio or another beautiful church. The schedule for most of these concerts is listed on the following website.


The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

It is so large and the lines are so long that we usually bought tickets in advance to avoid the lines. During most of our visits, the Sistine Chapel was packed shoulder-to-shoulder. For us, it was always a day-long event, especially since we read many of the descriptions. It is never possible for us to see the entire museum in one day. It is suggested to read about the collections beforehand, download the map of the museum, and select your route. It is also suggested that the description of the Sistine Chapel be studied so that the visit will be more worthwhile. Renting an audio guide of the Sistine Chapel is helpful to focus once in the midst of the crowd and the overwhelming amount of art.


Borghese Gallery

The Borghese Gallery contains some of the best art of the Renaissance. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visits are limited to one of the five two hour intervals through the day. An audio guide helps understand the significance of the major works.


Scuderie del Quirinale

The stables of the Quirinale Palace is now an art museum. They have hosted exhibitions of excellent artists. We have enjoyed works of Tintoretto, Vermeer, and Tiziano.


Airport Transfer

During our stay in Rome, we have used Tony Mancini to transport all our guests to and from the airport. It is 50 €, the same cost as a taxi on the street. But it is a personalized service, door to door, in a more comfortable vehicle. To make a reservation, we usually send Tony an email with all the flight details. He also has a phone and website: mancini.tony@alice.it, (+39) 339 458 4206, www.driveroma.com.

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030 The Conclave

We planned to go to the mass for the opening of the Conclave at 10:00 in Saint Peter’s Basilica. We left our apartment after our morning routines, went through security, and were inside the Basilica at 09:45. We should have come an hour earlier. We were behind the second or third pillar far down the nave from the main altar. We could not see the main altar through most of the mass. At the time of communion, most people went to receive communion and we were able to get a partial view of the main altar for the final blessing.


Habemus Papam! We were at home with the live webcam trained on the Sistine Chapel chimney. White smoke emerged at 19:06, indicating that a pope had been chosen. Within a few minutes we were out the door and walking to Saint Peter’s Square. There were lots of people from our neighborhood also hurrying to the square. As we got closer, it became a throng of people. Many of the younger adults were jogging or running to the square. It was raining lightly as we left our apartment, but stopped shortly after we reached Saint Peter’s Square.


Pope Francis is a Jesuit. We are impressed with his choice of the name Francis and we will watch events unfold to understand his choice. Jesuits are famous for high schools and universities around the world. The Jesuits also operate shelters, food kitchens, and work with the poor and neglected at scores of locations in the United States and around the world (http://www.jesuitvolunteers.org/placement-sites/current-jv-placement-sites).


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029 Efficiency

Streets are narrow. Pedestrians, bicycles, motor scooters, cars and trucks share our street, Via Giulia, and many other streets in town. On our street, there are no pedestrian sidewalks, and cars are parked usually on both sides of the street. Circulation is one way for motorized vehicles. Motorists are usually very courteous and slow down when there are pedestrians, especially children or baby strollers. Trucks that stock the local grocery store come through before 7:00 am when there is less traffic. It is a beautiful street and Rome keeps it clean. Most days a sweeper truck and a person with a broom come along to pick up anything that shouldn’t be there. The person with the broom is necessary to get anything under or around the parked cars. Garbage and non-recyclable trash are picked up from the inside lobby three times per week each. The trash collectors ring everyone’s bell until someone buzzes them in, to get access through the locked common door. This was a bit of a surprise the first morning we were here! We didn’t know who could possibly be at our door! Plastic, glass, and metal are collected twice a week and recyclable paper is collected twice a week. These recyclable items we deliver to a truck which parks in our neighborhood for about an hour on their specific day. Refuse must be kept inside in the entryway and not out on the street.


Traffic on the main streets must circulate around the historic monuments. And there are monuments all over the place in central Rome. One of the main streets has been torn up since we arrived. There were some ruins underneath it which had to be studied before the street could be resurfaced. Most of it has now been covered, but the pavement has not yet been put down. It just takes time when there is so much history under the city.

Most of the streets in central Rome are paved with black basalt blocks measuring about 10 cm (4 inches) square. The streets look nice. Well, they look historic. Our feet begin to ache after walking for several hours on the cobblestones. The buses really rattle. And our bones are jarred going over those streets. The stones are cone shaped and are hammered into a bed of sand. They are called sampietrini. Rome just wouldn’t be the same if the streets were paved over with asphalt.


Grocery stores are small. Product portions are small. Our refrigerator is small and the kitchen does not have very much storage space. Even if we wanted to stock up on foodstuff, we cannot store it. Therefore, we normally go to one of the stores or the market every day. The largest packages of flour and sugar are 1 kilogram bags (2.2 pounds), though there are also half kilogram bags. The largest packages of fresh eggs are 10 eggs, though there are packages of 6, 4, and 2 eggs. Sliced lunchmeat comes in 40 gram (1.4 oz.), 80 gram (2.8 oz.), and 120 gram (4.23 oz.) packages. The only bottles of nonfat milk are half liter (half quart) and we go through three per day. It works out well that we go to the store every day. We cannot carry too much home, anyway.

We applied for our residence permit shortly after we arrived. It took 3½ months for us to actually get the plastic card that says “Permesso di Soggiorno”. And it cost a small fortune (about 250 € for each of us). It is a mystery to us why it takes so long. We do receive mail in a box downstairs in our apartment building. Based on postmarks, it seems that properly addressed mail takes between one and six weeks to reach us. For outgoing mail, we usually walk over to the Vatican post office.

We do not have a bank account in Italy. We spent several days getting the run-around after we first arrived. In the end, in order to have a bank account, we needed to have residency. Even after we had our residence permit for Italy, we were told that we needed to have a monthly income that would be deposited directly into our account. So, we have no bank account in Italy. In most other countries, banks are eager to open an account for anyone with a little cash in their pocket. Inefficiency in the financial sector is a real drag on progress. Our bank in the United States has a correspondent bank in Italy. We can use our ATM card to withdraw euros without exchange, transfer, or ATM fees. It works really well for us. We have been a bit on edge since becoming the victim of a pickpocket on the bus. But we still have one working card kept safely put away. Paying our rent, however, must be done by transfer, which results in a 3.7% exchange fee and $35 wire transfer fee each month. Banking should be easier.

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028 Epiphany Parade

Last Sunday was Epiphany, the day that commemorates, in the Western Christian churches, the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. The magi represented the “’revelation to the Gentiles’ mentioned in Luke, where the term Gentile means all non-Jewish peoples” [Wikipedia]. As in many places, there are traditional celebrations at Epiphany to mark the end of the Christmas season. Often, it is celebrated with King Cakes or something special. In Italy, La Befana (Lady Epiphany) visits children on the eve of Epiphany to deliver candies to good children and coal or dark candy for misbehaved children.

We knew it was Epiphany, but when a friend at church asked us if we knew what was happening at St. Peter’s that morning, we had no idea. She informed us that the Wise Men would arrive on horses, followed by a procession of people in period costumes from all over Italy. She said last year it started about 10:45 and she missed it because she didn’t know what time it started. So when we got home to pick up the other camera, Mike decided not to go because he thought we missed it already. Anyway, since I love a parade, I went to see what I could see! The motor traffic was clogged and being diverted from the main street leading to St. Peter’s. I could hear drums keeping up a marching tempo and people were still hurrying that direction. So I continued to Via Conciliazione, where there was indeed a parade going on! I missed the Wise Men on horses, but I saw lots of people in period costumes, flag twirlers, a Maypole, drummers, etc.  By the time the La Befanas came in their limousines, throwing hard candy to the children, the memory card in the camera was full. Alas! But that was the end of the parade, so not all was lost!

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027 Early Churches

It is chilly in Rome, now. For three months of the year, low temperatures are in the mid 30’s Fahrenheit. It must have been winter when Paul was in Rome in the mid 60’s and asked Timothy to bring the coat that he left in Troas (2 Tim 4:13). Paul was taken out of the city and beheaded in 67 AD. Prior to that, he was under house arrest in his rented accommodations. The church of Santa Maria in Lata has been built over his apartment. Very likely, Paul celebrated the Eucharist in his apartment since he was allowed guests and his guards were sympathetic towards him.

The Acts of the Apostles notes that at Pentecost there were visitors from Rome (2:10). Perhaps they took the good news with them when they returned home. Peter was in Rome from 42 AD and is believed to have been crucified in 64 AD in Nero’s Circus. Paul wrote a letter to the Romans in the late 50’s. So there was a Christian community in Rome at that time. In legend, Saint Plautilla was said to have been baptized by St. Peter and to have witnessed the execution of St. Paul. There is a nice story about Plautilla in the central bronze door of Saint Peter’s Basilica: she loaned Paul her scarf when he was being taken out of the city for his execution. As he had promised, he returned it to her afterwards (miraculously). This story is not in the Bible but it has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a nice story, so I wanted to pass it along.

At bottom right, Paul is wearing the scarf of Plautilla so that he does not see the sword as it cuts his head off. At the top, Paul has his head back and he is returning Plautilla’s scarf.

At bottom right, Paul is wearing the scarf of Plautilla so that he does not see the sword as it cuts his head off. At the top, Paul has his head back and he is returning Plautilla’s scarf.

The earliest churches based on Roman traditions seem to be in the homes of Aquilla and Prisca on the Aventine Hill and the Ecclesia Pudentianae on the Viminal Hill. Prisca was martyred in the first century and there is a Santa Prisca Church in the Aventine area. Whether Prisca’s home was at this location is unknown. The location was reported to be one of the homes of Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). Prisca was martyred under Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD). Her home could have been at the same location as Trajan’s home. In any case, it was interesting reading about her steadfast faith and martyrdom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Prisca). Ecclesia Pudentianae is now the church of Santa Pudenziana, which was formerly the home of Saint Pudens. Supposedly, Pudens had daughters Pudentiana and Praxedes, but this is questioned and they have been removed from the calendar of saints. Saint Pudens is mentioned in Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2 Tim 4:21). Saint Pudens lodged Saint Peter, was baptized by him, and was martyred during Nero’s persecution (64-68 AD) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Pudens). There is an inscription on a stone indicating that this was a gathering place for Christians to celebrate the mass.

Translated from Latin, the stone says, “In this temple, Santa Pudenziana, the first lodging of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, the faithful Christian family gathered for the Holy Eucharist ceremony.”

Translated from Latin, the stone says, “In this temple, Santa Pudenziana, the first lodging of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, the faithful Christian family gathered for the Holy Eucharist ceremony.”

There were no church marquees between 42 and 313, but there were lots of churches in Rome. They were house churches. A house church was called a titulus or domus ecclesia or oratory. Pope Marcellus (308-309) lists 28 titulus churches in Rome that were centers of administration and distribution of sacraments. Pope Evaristus (99-107, the fourth successor of Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome) also made a list of titulus churches in Rome and assigned priests to them, though less is known about his list. Church buildings were built after Christianity was legalized in 313 AD. Twenty-three major churches were built in the 4th century. Almost all of them were built over the titulus churches that had existed for many years prior to the 4th century.

The church where we normally attend Sunday services, Santa Susanna was one of these house churches. Mass has been celebrated in this church regularly since 285 (Wikipedia says “about 280”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Susanna). The building has been reconditioned many times, but the church has been there since 285. It was originally the home of Gabinus and his daughter Susanna. Gabinus became a priest after he was widowed. They and their friends celebrated mass in their home. Both were martyred for their faith, Susanna in 293 and Gabinus in 296. A church building was built over their home in 330 AD.

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere was built over the Titulus Caecili, the church that met in Santa Cecilia’s home. This was one of the titulus churches in the list by Pope Marcellus.

The apse mosaic in Santa Cecilia in Trastevere shows Pope Paschal I (817-824) with the square nimbus of the living holding a model of the church, Santa Cecilia who is presenting Paschal to Christ on the right, and Saint Paul.

The apse mosaic in Santa Cecilia in Trastevere shows Pope Paschal I (817-824) with the square nimbus of the living holding a model of the church, Santa Cecilia who is presenting Paschal to Christ on the right, and Saint Paul.

Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The first sanctuary was built by Pope Callixtus (217-222). Based on the materials available, this church may have been constructed as a church building by Callixtus.

Santi Quattro Coronati: Pope Miltiades (311-314) built the church over titulus Aemilianae in honor of five stone-cutters of Panonia martyred for refusing to carve idols and four Roman soldiers (Severus, Severian, Carpoforo, Victorinus) martyred for refusing to execute the stone-cutters. The remains of the four Roman soldiers are kept in the crypt of this church.

It has been very interesting for us to learn about church history and about the saints.

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026 Marian Churches

There are 900 churches in Rome (according to several websites). We have seen only a small fraction of them (about 12%). Of the ones we have seen, 24% are Marian (named after the Blessed Virgin Mary). Catholics have a special devotion to Mary, the mother of God. From the dawn of humanity, God prepared Mary. He sent the Angel Gabriel to her to ask her to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). This messenger from God told her that she was “highly favored”. Lucky for us, she said, “Yes”.

Today, December 8, 2012 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Today is a national holiday in Italy. We attended a service in Piazza di Spagna in which Pope Benedict XVI placed a wreath on the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a column overlooking the square. We didn’t actually see the event. There was standing room only and everyone pushing to get near the square to get a view from all streets leading to Piazza di Spagna (we tried several). After the crowd started to thin, we were able to get the photo of Mary with the fresh wreath of flowers.


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