|Soaking up some gelato goodness. At Termini, Rome.|
Our (vicarious) connection to Italy started early in life. How? One may ask. I studied in a Catholic school, a convent run by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Mission. So Rome and the Vatican City somehow cropped up in tones of reverence. As I went on a city tour by bus and saw the grandeur that Rome was I couldn't help thinking about Father Bianchi and other missionaries who came all the way from Italy to our town, in the middle of nowhere then, in a remote part of north-eastern India. And the work that they did for education has a lot to do with the development in our corner of the world.
The last leg of the tour. And we were in Italy on a sunny morning. As soon as we got out of the airport the sight of these pine trees took my breath away. It looked as if all the trees had been pruned. Later I googled and found out that these are known as umbrella pine, stone pine or parasol pine. The botanical name is Pinus pinea and the tree is native to the Mediterranean region and is also to be found in Southern Europe, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Much of Europe's pine nuts are from these stately trees. These trees have been cultivated for their nuts for over 5,000 years and harvested from wild trees for much longer. The Swiss pine/Pinus cembra is also used to a small extent.
The hotel we stayed in, Des Artistes, was a five-minute walk from the busy Termini area. Breakfast at the hotel had an array of baked goodies and fresh fruits. Julietta, the front desk executive, was very helpful. Since we wanted to eat the best Italian food, we started with pasta at Trattoria Dell O'mo. Within walking distance from our hotel, the owner, Antonio was gracious and helpful and when we walked out of his restaurant we were happy souls! The restaurant is packed and had it not been for Julietta we wouldn't have been able to taste such wonderful food!
The Trevi Fountain where we tossed coins and made a wish. This was the only picture I could get as the place was absolutely crowded. It was interesting to learn that the coins are collected and used for charity work. You might be interested in reading about it here.
The Colosseum as seen from the bus. Walking isn't my strongest point so a view like this was good enough for me.
The Church, Castel Sant'Angelo.
The Tiber river.
Wild flowers on the edge of a busy road in Rome.
Don't you love this trellis?
The smell of roasted chestnuts in Piazza Venezia.
An assortment of the food that we had in Rome. The thinnest focaccia bread, seafood pasta, tonarelli pasta, ravioli, arancini, fritters of zucchini flowers and so on.
Risotto...both delicious. And mushroom gnocchi with duck slices,
Our last tour was of The Vatican. Having heard so much about the Sistine Chapel, it was such a joy to see it for real. However my pictures do not do justice to its beauty. Which is why I am not adding them here.
St. Peter's Square.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard in their flamboyant uniforms.
Yellow begonias blooming in full glory in Vatican City.
And finally, the haul that I got from Italy along with fresh fennel bulbs! There are so many photos and many more monuments but it's going to be much too long. It's overwhelming to take it all in. At every turn there's a fragment or part of Rome's glorious past. The Eternal City will always have a special place in my heart.