North America, Europe · 8 Days · 79 Moments · June 2018

Rome 2018

9 June 2018

Sadly, our visit to Rome has come to an end - we had a great view of the Mediterranean Sea as we were taking off for home!

8 June 2018

Although much of the original church, begun in 1233, is now gone, the remaining portion of San Dominico is still interesting. St. Thomas Aquinas studied here (1263-1264) and his desk is displayed inside.
The Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was first constructed during the 13th century. It is currently used as a conference facility.
Given the spectacular façade on the cathedral, I couldn’t wait to go inside. To be honest, I was rather surprised at how austere and parsimonious it was. Indeed, I was a bit disappointed. This is not to say that it wasn’t beautiful; indeed, it was still gorgeous. However, it wasn’t what I expected.
Even the doors to the cathedral are spectacular! It should be noted that the main door is modern (1970) and was made by Sicilian sculptor, Emilio Greco.
The fourth and final panel represents the Last Judgement.
The third panel contains scenes from the New Testament.
The second pillar contains stories of the messianic prophecies.
There are four pillars across the façade of the cathedral. Each contains amazing and enormous bas-reliefs of various stories from the Bible. In essence, the entire façade serves as a massive picture book! The first panel contain scenes of the creation from Genesis.
The area surrounding the cathedral was very picturesque!
We had a four course lunch at an amazing local restaurant (Tipica Trattoria Etrusca) that served only food from the local region. Here are three of the courses - the first was a salad (not pictured), the second featured chicken liver pâté (yes, I ate it), the third was the main course - barbecued wild boar (again, I ate it), and the fourth was tiramisu! Yummy! Of course, there was plenty of red wine!
No cathedral is complete without a rose window, right?
Gargoyles! I’ve always thought that these are so cool!
There are literally hundreds of caves underneath the town of Orvieto. Essentially every house, shop, and other structures are connected to them. These caves have been used for approximately 2,500 years, beginning with the ancient Etruscans. Unfortunately, most of my photos didn’t turn out well so I’ll need to go back again someday!
Italian cats, like cats everywhere, lead very difficult lives. The poor things work so hard that they’re always exhausted, then have nothing worthwhile to look at (just dull and decaying old castles) so they fall asleep to deal with their boredom..
Here’s a picture of some of my colleagues, along with another unrelated group of tourists, taking a quick break across from the cathedral.
Every inch of the façade on the cathedral is covered with spectacular art, including numerous mosaics.
The detail on the façade of the cathedral is amazing. There are multiple bronze statues including those representing the four Evangelists: St. Matthew (angel), St. Mark (winged lion), Saint John (eagle),Saint Luke (winged ox).
Our last day in Italy was spent exploring the ancient Etruscan city of Orvieto. I have seen many cathedrals in my lifetime, however, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one with an exterior as beautiful as the Duomo di Orvietto. Construction of this amazing church was begun approximately 1290 A.D. with most of the façade being completed during the 1300s.The amount of detail is overwhelming. My only regret is I didn’t have a wide angle camera lens in order to capture a more complete view of the church.

7 June 2018

Our brief visit to the Vatican and the Vatican Museum has come to an end. Here is a view of Saint Peter’s Basilica from Saint Peter’s Square as we were preparing to leave.
Swiss guards outside of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Inside St Peter’s Basilica. By this point in time, I was exhausted from walking up and down so many flights of stairs.
If you’ve seen one statue, you’ve seen them all.
Although one expects to see art at the Vatican, I really didn’t expect to see works by Salvador Dali.
“Madonna” by Lucio Fontana.
As we wend our way through the hordes of tourists, we saw works by contemporary artists. The first works were by Matisse.
Gosh, no photos inside the Sistine Chapel. I wonder how this happened?
One of the highlights of our visit to the Vatican was the Apostolic Palace, which contains room after room of gorgeous frescoes and other art. One of the most wonderful was Raphael’s “School of Athens.” Sadly, there were so many obnoxious tourists that it really inhibited our ability to savor the experience.
Our first view, once inside the Vatican, was of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Following today’s workshop, we went on a tour of the Vatican, with a visit to the museum being first on the schedule.
A couple of stealth photos of my colleagues taken prior to the last workshop of the trip. What a fascinating experience!

6 June 2018

Prior to this evening’s walk, one of the hotel managers mentioned “nasoni,” which translate as “big nose.” These are found all over Rome and serve as a free water supply that date back to the ancient Romans. Indeed, there are approximately 2,500 of these found throughout the city with the water still being piped in via aqueducts. Furthermore, the water is drinkable! The fountains are tested approximately 250,000 times per year, the water is cold, and Romans regularly drink from them - its the same water that is piped into Roman homes. As the water flows continuously, the system also helps prevents the growth of bacteria in the system that would otherwise result in health concerns.
After another great day, a couple of us decided to take an evening walk. This evening, we took a stroll back up to San Giovanni and past an ancient Roman aqueduct, which were beautiful at night.
The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, dedicated 141 A.D. This was later converted into a Roman Catholic Church.
The Arch of Titus, built circa 82 A.D.
View of the Roman Forum.
The Column of Phocas is the last monument built in the Forum in 608 A.D. Pope Boniface IV persuaded was the Byzantine emperor, Phocas, to give the Pantheon to the church.
The Arch of Septimus Severus, a Roman Emperor. The arch was built 203 A.D.
It was so nice of the ancient Romans to think of me! I was recently elected as a Senator on the Seton Hall University Faculty Senate. The Romans obviously knew, back in 2 B.C., that this would happen! Notice the inscription on this stone mentions “Senatus.” Absolutely amazing! Ha ha!
The Temple of Castor and Pollux, built 495 B.C.
Upon entering the Roman Forum, I had some amazing views of the ancient structures and monuments! I was a bit disappointed to find that it was rather challenging for me to get around as many of the paths are “paved” with very large stones. Just the same, what an incredible place to visit!
Having been to Rome once before (back in 1995), I remember not having enough time to visit the Forum, other than a quick glance. This time, I wasn’t about to miss it. The location of our hotel was ideal and all I had to do was walk around the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine to get there.
Today began with another session at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The highest ranking Jesuit, who oversees all of the world’s Jesuit schools, spoke to us. Fascinating!!

5 June 2018

Tuesday evening - a night at the opera! Despite the fact that I had just finished playing eight performances of “La Traviata” a few days earlier, I still wanted to see an Italian opera in Rome. As luck would have it, “La Traviata” was playing! The performance included a five-course meal (stuffed veal is shown in the picture), a theater box overlooking the stage, in a beautiful theater built during the 1890s! Of course, I took pictures of the orchestra. Although the orchestra was small, they were great! Following the performance, we closed out the theater (our waitress had some problems generating our very reasonable bill). Once outside, a colleague (Maureen) offered to take our photos. While doing so, she mentioned to some other tourists (from England) who had also attended the performance that I was a bassoonist who had just played “La Traviata” in NYC. When they seemed impressed by that, she told them that I was “famous!” At that, they exclaimed “really?!” Haha!
Following my first visit to the Spanish Steps, I reconnected with some of my colleagues near the Trevi Fountain. From left to right (excluding me), they represent the fields of physical therapy, speech therapy, library, and physics. What fun. BTW, on our way back to to hotel, we got caught in an unexpected torrential downpour (which our weather apps never did acknowledge)!
Next to the Spanish Steps were a beautiful statue and other cool things. The last photo is of a building I thought was intriguing. As it turns out, it was finished in 1667 and was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (who also contributed so much to St. Peter’s Basilica)! The building is the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide (Palace of the Propagation of the Faith) and is still run by the Vatican.
Although it was completely unplanned, I managed to see the Spanish Steps twice on the same day. These are photos from both visits.
After our first session at the Pontifical Gregorian University, I was in a bit of a panic because I couldn’t find my credit card and thought I might have left it at the hotel. Of course, I had (stupidly) placed it in my camera bag instead of my wallet (duh) and had it with me all day. Just the same, I got a chance to take a photo of this massive (and arguably hideous) monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, who unified Italy in 1861, and subsequently served as king. Many mockingly refer to this structure as the “Wedding Cake” or the “Typewriter.”
After I found my credit card, I made my way to the Spanish Steps and got caught in a surprise rainstorm (it poured later in the afternoon). Somehow, I accidentally too a picture of the street, which shows the cobblestones that were everywhere.
Today began with our first session at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The Rector of the University welcomed our group before we delved into our discussions.

4 June 2018

Well, this certainly isn’t Roman but after a lot of walking, I was thirsty. As we stopped at an outdoor cafe on our way back, I noticed they had margaritas listed (I REALLY wanted one) but their blender had broken (darn)! So, the waiter suggested a mai tai. It served the purpose.
The final stop on today’s walking tour of Trastevere was at the Basilica of Santa Maria. Although many believe that this is the oldest Catholic Church in Rome - it is not - although it is one of the oldest. The mosaics in the church are nothing less than spectacular!
Basilica Santa'Agata in Trastevere is located just a few feet, across a small plaza from the Basilica di San Crisogono in the Trastevere area of Rome. Other than a quick photo, we did not have time to explore.
Our next stop was the Basilica di San Crisogono, which may be one of the oldest parish churches in Rome - believed to have been originally established during the 4th century. Of course, the art was gorgeous. Of particular note (at least for me) were the beautiful mosaics on the floor. Also, the remains of Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837), who was beatified in 1920, now resides here (yes, that’s really her)!
We went on a walking tour of the Trastevere section of Rome with our great guide, Dr. Robert White. Our first stop was the Basilica of Santa Cecilia. As many may know, Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians. This church is on the site of her home and also serves as her final resting place.
Located directly across the street from the Lateran Obelisk is this remnant of an ancient Roman aqueduct incorporated into the structure of a building.
Considering that I just saw Gustave Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (“Woman in Gold”) at the Neue Museum in NYC a few weeks ago, it was rather ironic to see this sign near the Lateran Obelisk.
The Lateran Obelisk, the largest standing Egyptian obelisk, finished during the 15th century B.C. (yes, that’s the correct date) is located next to the Papal Archbasilica Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano! Very cool!
Of course, things pertaining to music always catch my attention - I wished that the organs (plural) could have played during my visit.
Even the ceilings and floors of the Papal Archbasilica Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano are covered with amazing attention to detail.
Words cannot describe the amazing statuary and bas-reliefs found within the walls of the Papal Archbasilica Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano!
The interior of the Papal Archbasilica Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is, arguably, just as beautiful as St. Peter’s Basilica albeit on a smaller scale. Of course, the adjective “smaller” is certainly relative and certainly belies the massiveness of the church!
Wow! Today, I visited the Papal Archbasilica Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, the oldest and highest ranking basilica in Catholicism. As the seat of the Bishop of Rome (e.g., the Pope), it outranks St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican! San Giovanni was within walking distance of our hotel and is indescribably beautiful! The following are photos of the exterior of the Archbasilica.
Today was a free day so I walked around the immediate vicinity of our hotel, after returning to the Basilica of St. Clement, where I took a tour of the ancient apartments found two levels below the current church, where Rome’s earliest Christians meet, circa 40 A.D., I walked up to the ancient church, Santi Quattro Coronati, built 380 A.D. Sadly, the church was closed as the monks who live there were engaged in “spiritual exercises.”
I returned to the Basilica of San Clemente in order to see the ancient apartment where the earliest Christians meet in Rome. This is located two levels under the current Basilica, with the tenants of a previous church located between.

3 June 2018

My last stop for the day was the Trevi Fountain. Although there were a gazillion people there, what an incredible place!
I stumbled upon Santa Maria ai Monti, built 1590. AMAZING!
The Coliseum at sunset.
Following dinner (lasagna) at a nearby outdoor restaurant, I went to a free concert of church music by English composers sung by an Italian choir at the Basilica of St. Clement. OMG, it was AMAZING!
Our formal activities for the day ended with a mass at a small church, Chiesa di San Tommaso in Formis, built in 1209 A.D. St. Francis of Assisi visited here! Cool! The Arch of Dolabella is also seen here.
After lunch, Robert took us on a brief walking tour of our neighborhood. Just a few feet away is an interesting round building (I’m going there tomorrow) - it’s the apse of one of the oldest churches (Santi Quattro Coronati) in Rome, built circa 380 A.D., when then walk an few more feet (I took a few photos of the Colosseum) and saw the exterior of the Basilica of St. Clement (San Clemente) - one of the oldest Christian sites in Rome. More on this later.
According to our tour guide, Dr. Robert White, Via di S. Paolo della Croce is the oldest street in Rome. The street is also known as Clivus Scauri. At the end of the street is the Arch of Dolabella, built in 10 A.D.
For lunch our group went to the Lay Center on the Caelian Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. Included on the site is a park that is considered to be the largest privately owned open space in Rome, and a monastery. This incredible location is not open to the public but includes spectacular views of Rome, the Colosseum, and the Palatine Hill, upon which Nero had wanted to build his palace. As Roman senators had occupied that hill for more than two centuries, Nero decided to burn it down in order to obtain the land. That action, however, led to the well-known disastrous results that included the burning of Rome. In addition, portions of an extremely large aqueduct, built approximately 40 A.D., is located on the grounds. The monastery has been located on this site since the 12th century. Our lunch was absolutely wonderful; not only was the food great but as so common in Italy, the wine flowed freely!
This is the Arch of Constantine, which was built in 315 A.D. It is located next to the Colosseum.
This amazingly beautiful church, Santa Francesca Romana, is located just west of the Colosseum. As I was walking around to get a bit of sunlight, I accidentally stumbled upon this amazing place. The church was first built during the 10th century.m
Day 2: We have Arrived! I was able to sleep a bit on the overnight flight from New York City to Rome. In order to fight chat lag, my doctor suggested that I seek out a lot of bright sunlight in an effort to reset my circadian rhythm. On, the other hand, most of my colleagues decided to stay at the hotel and obtain a little sleep. So, when in Rome do as the Romans do — I immediately went to the Colosseum, which is approximately five minuets from our hotel! Such a cool place!

2 June 2018

Day 1: At the Airport For the most part, Newark (EWR) airport is a miserable place. However, I’m bound for Rome, Italy! I’m going to Rome with a group of professors from Seton Hall University. We are participants in the University’s PRAXIS Program, Advanced Seminar on Mission, where we study heavy duty topics on Catholic educational philosophy. Notice the great view of New York City in the background as we were taxiing down the runway. Upon take off, we also had a wonderful view of the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey with New York City.