Proceeding along the Via Sacra and passing under the arch of Titus, on turning a little to the left, we beheld the amphitheatre of Vespasian and Titus, now called the Coliseum. Never did human art present to the eye a fabric so well calculated by its size and form,
to surprise and delight.
—John Chetwode Eustace, A classical tour through Italy, p. 163
Our next two days in Rome provided for a study in contrasts: the first a series of missteps, the second a non-stop delight. Continue reading →
Rome doesn’t yield up its secrets easily to first-time short-term travelers, and the work attendant to their discovery can threaten to swamp the rewards. While our desire was to heed St. Ambrose’s dictum, we faced “just a few” significant challenges: we had between us about five words of Italian and next to nil in practical knowledge of the city and its ways. Continue reading →
New Year’s Eve was a day like any other, with one exception: we were in Palermo. We needed to get shopping in, so we walked to the Mercato Vucciria and bought chicken, vegetables, olives, salami, cheese, and wild strawberries. The market isn’t what it once was—affected, apparently, by the presence of a Carrefour Supermarket nearby—but we didn’t feel the lack. As our intention was utilitarian, I didn’t bring along my camera, so a link to Renato Guttuso’s “most famous palermitano painting” will have to do for now, along with this bit of back story: Continue reading →
The wait at JFK for our flight to Palermo (via Rome) was a trial, to say the least. The concession stand food was uniformly bleak. Everywhere you looked, TV screens set to CNN, though on mute, displayed irritating crawls. One TV, sound on, flooded the waiting area with insipid shopping prattle. The desk clerk of whom I asked whether there was a place free of the noise looked at me as if to say, “Are you crazy? Just imagine what it’s like for me, working here all day.” Continue reading →