Italy - Day Five (gee, it's raining)

I don’t know about the rain in Spain, but I can tell you the rain in Rome is relentless. No surprise, but by this point we were starting to feel the effects of a lot of rain, combined with no umbrellas, no hats and I only had heavy scarves. So our first stop today was the shops in Termini Station where we bought a basic men’s winter hat for Ron, who was feeling a cold building. We bought more bus passes and hopped on the 40 bus. However, we knew something was amiss when it veered off onto a side street, started heading in the opposite direction and Italian chattering rose to a clatter. The elderly lady Ron gave his seat to had been talking at length to (at?) us since we left the station. She didn’t seem to care that we couldn’t converse with her other than with smiles and nods. Like a lot of the other passengers, we opted to get off at the next stop, which ended up being near Triton’s Fountain.

We were heading for the hidden-atop-a-hill Capitoline Museum (again) and decided to just walk as it wasn’t raining at the moment. Along the way we stopped in two churches, Church of San Silvestro in Capite and Madonna of the Well. Madonna was a beautiful ornate church (see above). Silvestro (below) was a small, but equally ornate, church and as we were exploring Ron found a side nave with St. John the Baptist’s Head on display. Really rather astounding! Then as I was wandering outside of the church a small car drove in labeled “Blood & Organ Transport.” Hmmm.

One thing that I noticed throughout Rome was the abundance of nuns and priests. Not surprising, really. For whatever reason, I got great delight out of seeing them in everyday life situations. My favorite was seeing a nun (in full habit) perusing the iPhones in a store window. Later, a priest got on the bus and was happily listening to an mp3 player that was tucked safely inside his North Face jacket. And somehow a phrase got caught in my head, so every time I saw a nun, which was frequent, my brain would say, “Nuns kiteer!” (which is “A lot of nuns!” in Arabic.)

We finally made it to the Capitoline Museum. It was raining again, cold and dreary. And as luck would have it, they had marble heads! But their collection was a little broader in scope, as they also included marble feet and hands. Their exhibits were really exceptional and they had some pieces that dated before Christ. The one thing that was a little off, however, was their decision to inter-mix some modern pieces. It's really rather jarring to be mentally enmeshed in thousand-year-old art then be confronted with a mouth-couch.

Tonight was the concert at St. Teresa’s. The concert was a single pianist who was very good. I was hoping, considering the season and all, for a Christmas concert, or at least a song or two. But that wasn’t on the agenda. Oh well.

By this point in the vacation we were both doing a lot of passive language learning. However, from the beginning, I was adamantly determined to not speak any Italian. It’s nothing against Italy or Italians, but I know my brain’s limited capacity and for all the work I’ve put into Arabic these last several months, I knew that as soon as I opened the doors to my Italian lessons from the University of Cincinnati almost twenty years ago, my Arabic would slide right out and be lost forever. Ron’s brain is different (and there are many many examples of this), and he can keep languages safely stored away for future use. Despite my not speaking, other than “Prego,” “Scusi,” and “Gracie,” by the end of the trip I did feel that given a year or two here I could pick it up much faster than my Arabic. With any luck I may get that chance.

We grabbed a bus home, tried a new pizzeria for dinner that turned out to be rather blah. The food was blah, the service was so-so, the décor was blah, the place was cold, and the dinner was topped off with a large glass of free liquor, which after tasting it we decided they were under strict instructions to get rid of, because it tasted like a licorice-prune concoction. Truly dreadful!