Regular readers of our blogs will have noticed rather a dearth of these lately. The usual witty, articulate and excellent photographer/commentator is out of action as he broke his arm just where it joins his shoulder towards the end of October in a fall on stairs. And it is his right shoulder. And he is right-handed. So no blog and no photos from him, but the apprentice blogger and photographer is stepping in to save the day.
Our 45th wedding anniversary is coming up on 11 December, and as a celebration we had booked five days in Rome at the end of November. I was really looking forward to the holiday as I’ve been fairly busy at work; also, with winter drawing in in Dublin, it was going to be nice to head to warmer climes for a few days. After a bit of not-very-subtle bullying from me (our wedding anniversary holiday? Go on my own??) Bruce decided to ignore his disability and come with me. We had good Disabled assistance both ends, but particularly when leaving Rome, where they put on wheelchairs and a motorised cart to get him to the gate (it’s a huge airport), myself tagging along behind like the pack horse with our two carry-ons.
We had rented a small chalet located in the garden of a Roman family’s house. They were delightful, meeting us at the airport when informed about Bruce’s injury, and greeting us in the chalet was a specially-labelled bottle of wine and lots of nibbles and treats such as Carla’s own homemade limoncello with mini-savoiardi biscuits to dip in it.
They also have two resident golden labradors who came to greet us each morning, spotting a sucker (me) in providing them with the doggy treats that were inside our kitchen area.
Our big thrill was probably gatecrashing a consecration of 17 new cardinals by the Pope. We went to St Peter’s earlyish on the Saturday, and ended up standing in a long line that we thought was the line to get into the Basilica, but turned out to be a ticket-only event for the consecration. A lovely Indian priest whom I asked about the tickets, “just happened” to have some spares (they’d been unavailable for weeks apparently) and he gave us a couple, so we were able to get in, and bully our way into seats owing to Himself’s disability. We were a good distance from the Pope but you could see him, and all the procession of cardinals, bishops and more priests and nuns than you could shake a stick at made the event quite theatrical. As cardinals were being consecrated from across the world, there were many people in their national dress there.
Sunday we stayed relatively close to the suburb we stayed in, just wandering down the River Tiber and around, enjoying the ambience and taking some photos that don’t show Rome to its best advantage, given my limited photography skills. Oh, and we took the hop on, hop off bus two circuits of the city, which gave us a good feel for everything.
Monday we had booked fast-track access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, but Bruce was feeling tired so I did this day alone, apart from sharing the free access with a young man from the Czech Republic whom I spotted on his own about to line up. Mustn’t waste the tickets; the surly ticket seller refused any refund despite the circumstances! The Museums are well worth visiting, quite mind-blowing and I was delighted that they included Hindu and Buddhist art along with the other wide variety of art and artefacts. And the building itself leading up to and from the Sistine Chapel was just incredible and overwhelming, in terms of paintings, statues, mosaics – you name it. Michaelangelo’s famous scene of God reaching out to man on the roof was smaller than I had expected, and surrounded by lots of other murals, but spectacular nonetheless. You are not allowed to photograph in there.
Tuesday we caught the tram into the Piazza Venetia which is not far from the Trevi Fountain. The crowds weren’t too bad that time of day.
Then we meandered back through the shopping areas to a nice small restaurant we had visited on the Sunday and very much enjoyed. See my photo of Bruce enjoying a cold beer here!
We returned to Dublin Wednesday, very grateful that we had been able to visit Rome for this special event – and been able to share the trip together, given the circumstances!