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Observations From the Road (The “Quick” Edition)

With CCB in Burano

With Candice in Burano

About three weeks ago I realized I was going to have too much material to post from Rome and too little time in my six-week schedule to do it justice. Right now I have one draft written that needs some editing, (fully understanding that many regular readers don’t believe I actually edit this stuff), an entire weekend in Venice that is calling for my attention, visits to amazing historic sites that I want to capture, and so much more that I can barely keep it in my head.  Oh, and I’m trying to meet as many people as I can at the academy, attend lectures and tours, visit places throughout the country, and do some work on my project.

But at least I’m not stressed!  That would be very un-sabbatical-like.

To help out, I’ll rely on my trusty “Observations From the Road…” formula and will throw out some very quick and unrelated posts to ensure that I don’t lose these thoughts.  As always, these may not be worth seeing the light of day, so feel free to skip them (individually or all together).

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs in Venice


San Clemente

San Clemente and the marble “schola cantorum” originally in the 4th-century church and then moved to the present basilica in the 12th century

Invite your kids to travel with you and you’ll see the bucket list items (Part 2) – As I wrote during Claire’s visit to Rome, having your children visit is a great way to make sure you see places that “everyone” wants to visit.  While Andrew was in the country for only four full days before heading off this morning, we still checked off an amazing number of “must see” places, including Venice (Bridge of Sighs), the many layered history of the Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano (with hopefully more to come on both in a later post), Castel Sant’ Antelo, and much more.  Of course, this is my urban studies son, so he and I also had a “let’s get lost” tour of the central city on Monday afternoon and found all types of very interesting places off the beaten track.


Man and Children Part 1

Older Italian Man Blowing Kisses to Babies (Part 1)


Part 2 - the tickle

Part 2 – And now for the tickle

Reminding Us of Pop – Candice and I were sitting on a bench in a piazza in Venice when we looked up to see an older man blowing kisses to several children in strollers.  The moms were talking and didn’t seem to mind the attention he was giving to their kids, so we watch for a few minutes as this continued. When he noticed that no one seemed to be bothered, he moved in for the tickle.  It was such a sweet thing to watch, and Candice – of the Italian-American father – said, “Pop would act like that around babies.”  I remember his playing that way with Andrew and Claire when they were little.  I’ve come to understand my late father-in-law more from this first visit to Italy.

ABB at Sant Eustachio

Andrew at Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffe

I have not missed American coffee – Some friends said that when they came to Italy they ended up craving a big cup of American coffee.  I am not among them.  Every day – two or three times a day – I’m bellying up to the bar to have a coffee and just relish the experience.  When Andrew was in town I took him by the Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffe for the experience (since his sister had enjoyed it last month on her visit), but mainly I did it so that I had another excuse to try one of their wonderful coffees.  The fact that the caffè has a history is a bonus!

Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè is an ancient Coffee Shop and Roaster that was born in the thirties. Located in the heart of Rome, in front of the Senato della Repubblica palace, it is just a few steps away from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

It was founded in 1938. The mosaic paving and the furnishings are still the original ones. The symbol of Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè is a stag which recalls the apparition and conversion to Christianity of the previously pagan Eustace. In the piazza of the same name stands the Sant’Eustachio Basilica, a church more than one thousand years old. On the top of the basilica, instead of the traditional cross, there is a white stag with a cross between its horns.

In 1999 the brothers Raimondo and Roberto Ricci began to run Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè. They decided to carry on the tradition, selecting the best coffee varieties and offering a range of products prepared with a legendary secret blend.

The Coffee Shop has 6 tables outdoors and inside the premises is still functioning a device to roast coffee over wood that goes back to 1948.

I expect that when we return home, I am going to miss the coffee (not to mention the wine!).

Stairs in Rome

Stairs in Rome

Embracing the Stairs – In an earlier post, I mentioned the number of stairs in Rome.  But as I’ve walked all around the city (over 27,000 steps on Monday), I’ve come to embrace the stairs (or at least the idea of climbing all those stairs).  They pop up unexpectedly and – thanks to Andrew and his internal urban map – we found new steps to get from Trastevere to the Academy on Monday.  I have noticed that the only overweight people I’ve encountered are from outside of Italy.  Walking really is an act of citizenship, and I’ll end with that great quote from the wonderful book by Rebecca Solnit entitled Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

Walking is only the beginning of citizenship, but through it the citizen knows his or her city and fellow citizens and truly inhabits the city rather than a small privatized part thereof. Walking the streets is what links up reading the map with living one’s life, the personal microcosm with the public macrocosm; it makes sense of the maze all around….Walking maintains the publicness and viability of public space.

More to come…


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