Thursday, November 02, 2006

Piazza Navona and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Addition below!
Top: Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers on the Piazza Navona in Rome. In Domitian's time, this long, oval plaza was a racetrack, used for both horses and chariots. In 1644, the area was rebuilt by Pope Innocent X.


Second: a detail of the area over the inside entrance of the church. This one rivals St. Peter's in opulence, and we almost missed it. Hearing music emanating from the open doors after dinner, we went in to discover a magnificent old church, built in the fifth century.



We had dinner on the Piazza Navona. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. We sat outside, under another of the ubiquitous umbrellas, and enjoyed an excellent meal. I had risotto con funghi and a bit of my husband's lasagne. There is no way I can describe it except to say it bears no relationship at all to what we in America know as Italian food. There are no preservatives, no additives, and everything is fresh and natural. The food is truly good, unlike nothing else. The bread is fresh and flavorful, the olive oil fragrant and light, the herbs are piquant, the cheeses are mild and sweet - and the desserts? Heavenly. I hope that the gods of Trevi Fountain will grant my wish to return to Rome someday. (The sooner the better!)


Artists and photographers display their wares on this plaza, and tourists and locals alike stroll among the easels, gazing at the art and making deals. I saw some very interesting art, mainly landscapes of Italian countryside or street scenes of the famous piazzas, along side the ever-present caricatures of famous people. You could get your own drawn for a price, but I declined. Any photograph of me is caricature enough! Posted by Picasa

Addition: Buffy's comments prompted me to come back and tell you that I lost five pounds while I was in Europe, despite eating sweets everyday and mounds of good food. We did walk a fair amount each day; probably 3-4 miles.

22 comments:

Buffy said...

I keep telling my mom the same thing about 'American Italian'. It's just not the real deal. The area around Campo de' Fiori and across the Piazza Novana really does have the best trattorie.

I ALWAYS lose weight in Italy. I don't know what it is about the Mediterranean diet...but I gorge on antipasti, red wine and cheese and STILL lose weight. It's heaven.

Can't WAIT to see the rest of your photos.

milliegarfield said...

What beautiful sights you saw! It's just amazing what they created without the tools that we have today.

And the food - oh the food - sounds like that's worth the trip alone.

A number of years ago I spent a week in London - the food was just ok - heavy - things like kidney pie and for drinks, dark warm beer - And no salads - The only thing I remember enjoying were the desserts.

bluemountainmama said...

these have been very interesting pictures and posts- i didn't know a lot of the history behind the structures. sounds like a wonderful trip!

brendalove@gmail.com said...

That place is beautiful

Sue said...

What a great way to see wonderful parts of Rome. The food sounds just divine!
:)

sage said...

more beautiful pics--seeing the treasures of western civilization--at least what exists of it out of the Old North State. It looks and sounds like you had a vacation that was a treat to the eyes and taste buds.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Again Judy...such rich wonderful pictures of these glorious places...
I know what you mean about the food...here in L.A. one of my favorite restaurants was owned and run by a wonderful chef named Paolo...who came from Italy and had owned restaurants there before he came here....his cooking is exactly as you describe....EVERYTHING fresh and the sauces very light and lovely...the bread magnificent...and the Oli...Oh My, the Olive Oil....Perfection....! And when I asked him about his cooking....he said it is the traditional REAL "Italian" Cooking....

I would so have loved to go to Italy and see all the treasures of the Art and Architecture....! I hope you can go back soon my dear...It sounds like such a wonderful trip.

Mike said...

Wonderful pictures. Sounds like you had a great time.

Here from Michele's.

Mamacita said...

Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. I'm here from Michele's right now, but of course you know that I come here at least once a day all on my own, and more often than not, twice or three times.

Sorry about James Bond. I've only seen Sean play him, and they just aren't my cup of romantic tea.

Anonymous said...

Your posts and pics in Rome remind me of time there. After your posts, it seems like only yesterday that I was there, inspite of the fact that it was actually in 1969-70. YOu were there as a tourist - I was there as a U.S. sailor.

I spent 10 days there. I saw all of those places. Four of us Navy guys got to go up on the roof of St. Peter's. What a breath-taking view from up there looking between those magnificent statues that ring the roof.

Of all the places I visited in the service, two places, Rome and Barcelona, Spain, are the two I'd love to return to someday.

I'm happy for you that you had such a good time.

ET said...

Lost 5 pounds and on top of that got to see and take pictures of all the beutiful stuff and eat goodies too? Are you sure that was Rome? It sounds more like Heaven.

Claude said...

So, SO envious. I grew up in a largely Italian neighborhood. It would have been 100% Italian, but I was living there. I was constantly scamming food from my neighbors.

When I visit Italy it's going to be a long trip, because I'm not going to want to return to the US.

Here via Michele's.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Oh! The food! The WONDERFUL food! And, as you say, the only salvation for your waistline is the walking and touring seems to burn off all those calories. Heaven indeed!

John

Anonymous said...

i lost 20 lbs in 10 days while in rome because we walked for 10-12 hours every day. :)

actually Judy, that first picture isn't the fountain of the four rivers. the "fotfr" is the one in the middle of piazza navona. but they are beautiful pictures.

srp said...

Did you eat much seafood? I don't know why I should have been surprised that they eat a lot of it.... Italy IS surrounded on three sides by the sea! Our favorite was the Calimari, so much larger pieces and the texture not as rubbery, just exquisite. The best we had was in Florence.

THE GELATO and the ices ..... (slipping away in heavenly dreaming.) There just has to be gelato in heaven!

Greg Finnegan said...

There is now a Cardinal Arch Priest in charge of the Basilica Saint Mary Major - Bernard Law, the fired Cardinal of Boston. He got away with covering up many pedophile priests in his day, rescued at the last minute and brought to Rome to end his career (and probably his days) outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Interesting, they didn't bring him into the Curia (the administrative headquarters of the Church), but put him into a job normally done by priests two or three levels below his. Good riddance, I say.

Shephard said...

I fell in love with their food. I had risotto with pumpkin blossoms, and risotto with asparagus. :) Two of my fave dishes. You're right, Judy, nothing here quite compares to their Italian food. I love the top photos. :)
~S

kenju said...

Barbie, this photo is of a fountain at one end of Piazza Navona, and it is shown in two of my guidebooks as that. There is another fountain at the other end; perhaps I mixed them up. I do know this photo was taken on P. Navona.

Carmi said...

Is it just me, or do European cities do the public spaces thing waaaaay better than North American cities? Looking at these pictures, I'm struck by a sudden desire to be there, to sit in the middle of it all and do little more than drink it all in. These are places to be experienced and celebrated.

Not a whole lot of those closer to home.

Dropped by from Michele's today.

Just a trumpet player said...

I am sooo jealous ! I've spent most of the summer touring in Europe... and miss it so much ! And like you, I lost weight while travelling, despite the fact that I ate sweets and amazing, very fatening food everyday; I should definitely move over there...

Michele sent me ; have a great weekend !

Anonymous said...

I figured that was the case, Judy. There are three fountains in that piazza. The one you saw is the Fontana di Nettuno and the one at the other end of the piazza is the Fontana del Moro both by Giacomo della Porta. The one in the middle with the big obelisk is Bernini's (my favorite sculpter) Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. :)

PI said...

Stunning photos Judy and I've aways loved Mr Muscles in the fountain!