Procida to Rome, Italy
May 6-30, 2004
Travelogue #5 Spring 2004
2004 Trip Map
We will begin this log with another
picture of a typical Italian
small boat harbor. This one is on the south side of Isole
Procida. We have been here at least three days and it looks
as though we will be here for another few. The weather has turned
bad again and the wind and rain are pounding us. In the Odyssey
it took Odysseus 10 years to get from Troy to Ithaca. It was
due to the wind, which he had trapped in a bag, and weather situations.
I do believe the story has validity regarding the weather. I
am not sure that we will ever escape this weather. We are currently
tied to a wall near downtown and very satisfied that we have
a good position. However, one wants the choice to come and go,
not have it dictated by weather.
Today we went to Naples,
Napoli, for a walkabout. Naples is a town of 2 million people
with an historic district right downtown next to the wharf. Naples
has an Archeological Museum which is said to be the best in Europe.
There are some marble statues that are larger than the one of
David and these are very well done and from a much earlier time.
I am sure the details of the museum are available on the web.
There are several outstanding
pieces in the museum, one called Toro Farnese, named
for the collector, Pope Farnese. It depicts the death of the
Queen of Thebes who is tied to a bull and torn apart over the
rocks. The piece is from 300 AD and Michelangelo did some restoration
on the piece. It is from a single block of marble and is finished
at approximately 12 feet on each side and perhaps 8 feet tall.
It is a great piece of sculpture and perhaps is one that can
be viewed by searching the internet. Another section of the museum
which is of interest is the Secret Room which is
off limits to less than adults. The section is full of erotic
murals, frescoes and bronzes. Many of them are here from the
brothels in Pompeii. It is quite entertaining to see their presentation.
Sort of a picture menu as to what is available in the brothel.
There are also many mosaics which vary from small picture size
to a great one depicting the battle of Alexander the Great and
King Darius. This large one is perhaps 15 to 18 feet long and
7 feet tall, formerly a floor of a large home in Pompeii. From
a reasonable distance, say 20 feet, it appears to be a painting
but is in fact a mosaic of thousands of tiny pieces of glass
and tile. The mosaic is from the ruins of Pompeii, thus finished
prior to 79 AD.
We of course had the obligatory
piece of Napolitano Pizza Pie, the pizza pie originated here
in Naples, but the pizza from Crotone was better. The walk through
an ancient part of the city is always interesting in that the
streets are narrow and laundry or whatever is hanging from the
upper floors of the buildings. Naples is certainly in this category
and the walk was also partly in the rain so one would duck into
one of the many little shops or a doorway to avoid the rain.
The ferry back to the boat was
interesting in that it was raining and the wind was beginning
to blow. It took only 40 minutes and when we arrived at Procida
it was a clear blue sunny day. After a 5 minute walk back to
the boat, we were informed that another weather system would
be here within one and a half hours but would only last until
midnight. That was a bunch of baloney; it lasted until 3 am when
it began to lighten. It was another of the, becoming regular,
Mediterranean lows coming through.
Today the sun is shining, this
day has promise, the internet weather programs show no further
storms for 3 to 5 days out, as far as they forecast. There were
two small boats sunk in the storm last night, here in the harbor.
One is floating at gunnel height and the other is bobbing
with the bow just 1 foot above the water level. The cruisers
have gathered and decided to have a small social event this afternoon
called survivors party.
The gathering place is Ocean
Swan, a 40-foot catamaran owned by Geoff
and Chrissy from England.
Geoff and Chrissy are completing a circumnavigation and have
had a cruisers jam several times in the past
7 years. Each of them is a classical pianist, both play the guitar
and sing. Another sailor who will join the pair is Herman, also
a guitarist. We gather at 3 PM for an early start in that we
will finish early for a long night sleep. The cabin is full of
snacks, drinks and music from 3 PM until 9 PM when Kathy and
I decide it is time to go home. During these 6 hours I must say
that I had one of the most wonderful afternoons I can remember.
Geoff and Chrissy are retired entertainers and Herman is a musician
of many talents. The songs were from the 1960s and 70s, almost
all of them American songs, so we knew the words and everyone
would sing along when they could. Anna
doesnt speak English very well, but she sure knew the words
to these popular songs. If she learned English by listening to
our American songs, can you imagine what the current young foreigners
will have for an English vocabulary if they learn from the American
rap group? Scary thought. As I have said before, the current
rap and like noise etc. is not heard often on radio stations
where we have been traveling. The music was from CCR, Eagles,
Beatles, Animals, Stones, Don Williams, Elvis, John Denver, and
many more who I cant recall.
Herman is a retired helicopter
pilot and has a video of his competition in 1986 where he won
the world championship acrobatic helicopter competition. He showed
us the video which confirmed that he did rolls, loops and two
maneuvers where he would rotate the helicopter in a circle with
the tail down and nose pointing up at 70 degrees or so. In a
full 360 degree circle he would have flown a pattern that would
resemble the upper part of a funnel. He did likewise with the
nose down and the tail up. He also flew to the top of a loop
and dropped vertically, upside down, to appear flying upside
down. The roll was not done with excessive horizontal speed but
with a slow forward motion that contained a roll. He did likewise
in performing the loop. He can play a guitar at least as well
as he can fly a helicopter.
This weekend the village celebrates
the special day of their Patron Saint so there are to be fireworks,
celebrations in and
about the church, so we are staying for the event. We have walked
over the crest of the hill to the other harbor and find it very
charming. The area is active with fishermen and small shoreside
restaurants and cafes. Buildings and homes painted pastel pinks,
yellow, and orange cascade down the hillsides. The streets
are decorated with a variety of colored flags strung overhead.
We found an ice cream store which had a hazelnut ice cream, boy
is that good. This stop has put in contact with several other
cruisers, as we would have hoped the complete trip would do.
We have enjoyed this rather small town on a small island so very
close to Naples.
At our first attempt and opportunity
to leave Procida, we are going to Gaeta.
It is another small town on the coast but it has the distinction
of having 1400 US Navy personnel in town. There is a joint Italy/American
marine operation out of here. The town is greatly different than
any other Italian town we have visited with wide, clean attractive
boulevards in the town. In the morning Kathy and I walk towards
the end of the promontory and through the many narrow winding
streets. There are no people or cars on the road as yet so we
get the early morning smells of flowers, orange blossoms and
spring fruit blossoms. There is a lot of greenery in the area
as it rains a lot, in fact it will rain tonight. The streets
zig zag up the hill to the castle
and then back down to the town center. There are stone stairways
halfway between the zigs and zags so the pedestrians will stay
off of the street. There is a large castle (what else) on the
end of the point of land. The castle has been converted to Italian
Navy operations with the most spectacular view of the sea you
could imagine. It is about 150 feet from the base floor of the
castle to the sea and some windows open without anything in their
view other than the sea. The town is situated on the saddle between
the mainland and the hill of the castle. The west side of the
saddle drops to a huge beach. This is a sandy beach that is a
half mile long and at least 200 yards wide before you get to
the concessionaires. There would be several thousand beach chairs
out there if it were warmer. While here we have had a course
in on board internet and have accomplished the feat
and can now go on line from the boat as long as we are within
call phone range.
Gaeta was the place where the
2004 World Championship Star sail boat races were to be held.
However, as you recall, this spring has been full of nasty weather
and the races were cancelled due to too much wind and rain. On
our arrival we walked the Lungomare and passed the guard gate
of the military installation where a guard looked American so
I said howdy to which she replied, What part of Texas are
you from?. She is from a town just west of Abilene and
was glad to speak with Americans. We stayed here for two days
at the dock and one at anchor, and then we are off to Anzio.
The early morning departure is in the rain but a real delight
as it is 5:30 am and just breaking dawn, a very special time
of the day. Anzio is a special place for Americans who fought
here in WWII. There is a very large cemetery for the American
GIs who lost their lives here and is the largest in Italy. The
details of the Anzio landing are on the web and interesting.
We are able to back into the town quay for the night. We are
joined by a Brit on the port, Italian on the starboard, with
a Swede beside him and then a German. We walk about the small
workingmans town and find a tavola for our evening meal.
Shortly after breakfast we are
off in absolute calm weather for a 22 mile run to Rome.
We arrived in Ostia Marina, in the Port of Rome, about lunch
time. There were 76 boats which spent the winter here and the
recent storms have forced many of them to stay later into the
spring than they had planned. Therefore, on a clear non-stormy
day there is a great exodus of cruisers. We are on the dock where
most of them lived for 6 months. The marina has slips for 1000
boats. There is a linear shopping mall from one end of the marina
to the other and there must be 50 shops, some very elegant stores.
Our first chores are to clean the salt from the boat and tidy
up before walking to the nearby town. We had to take a familiarity
tour of the town and then back to the boat to do more work. Since
I configured my computer to do email via a cell phone, I have
been infected with the Sasser Worm. This has taken most of my
time and absolutely all of my patience. What I would do to the
perpetrator of the virus is unmentionable, he is trash and needs
to be treated as such.
The rest of the log has no boating
activities, it is all about Rome. In this past year I read The
Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel of the life of
Michelangelo written by Irving Stone. It is a fascinating tale
about one of the most extraordinary people, whose professional
career lasted from age 16 to age 89.
This morning we ride the bus,
train and metro to arrive in downtown Rome at the Colosso station.
To step from the tube into the street and see the Colosseum smack
across the street is an incredible sight. It is sort of like
the Cathedral in Köln Germany being located just outside
the train station. We are early enough in the day that there
is but 5 minute wait to get into the Colosseum.
It is higher than the coliseum in Pula but I believe the area
of the arena is perhaps smaller. You can see many of the nearby
ruins from the third floor of the Colosseum. Today there is a
charity run for the Susan Komen Foundation and I saw numbers
on the runners up to 16,390. This puts an additional 16000+ people
on the streets, so it is really busy. In our stroll we visited
the huge Vittorio Emanuele
II Monument. This white marble building is larger than the
Lincoln Memorial, and has three bronzes that are extremely large.
The man on horseback
in the center front has a moustache that is 3 feet wide. The
chariots and charioteers on each side at the top of the structure
are at least 50 feet tall. It is a true centerpiece for this
area of town.
We also visited the Pantheon
which is a circular building built in 118-125 AD. It is a simple
building outside but the inside is lined with frescoes and tombs
of two kings and Raphael, the artist. It was purposefully built
with a 10-foot hole in the top center of the dome, which allows
for the prevailing shaft of sunlight to illuminate the walls
and also allows for the rain when that occurs. The highlight
of today was a visit to the church Santa Maria sopra Minerva
where they have a Michelangelo
piece. It depicts Christ carrying the cross. It is about
6 foot 5 in height and so beautiful you have to see it to believe
it is stone. The muscles and veins are lifelike in appearance
as is the expression on the face.
In a piazza there was a big band
type orchestra playing big band music of America and later in
the day there was a group of 20 Italians, of Scottish descent,
performing Scottish folk dances and music in the same piazza.
It was a full day.
Our second day in Rome begins
at the church which has the magnificent Michelangelo marble of
are two ladies beside him but he is the focal point. This work
was completed when he was less than 40 years old. Our viewing
opportunity was incredible, we were the only ones in the church
except for the janitor and a priest. We had totally unobstructed
viewing and gawking. We were not allowed to use a flash so my
picture is not high quality, but in my mind it is sufficient.
The detail on the statue is beyond belief, there are muscles,
tendons, blood vessels and wrinkles in the knuckles. It is an
awesome piece as are all of his pieces, so far. My primary reason
for coming to Rome was to see some of the work of Michelangelo,
and I have had great success. An artist can paint over or scrape
off unwanted paint, a composer can rewrite or add instruments,
a marble sculptor can make no changes once the mallet has struck
the chisel. He can change the piece but the finished piece is
without overs. In this church they also have the chains which
restrained St. Peter when he was in prison in Rome. The chain
links are rectangular and made of quarter-inch rod with the links
being about 3 inches long and one and a half inches wide. There
is so much in this city that one ceases to be startled at findings
like these chains.
We then walked to the Vatican
and as we entered we were offered a free guide through St.
Peter's Basilica. We joined a group of 8 others and spent
two hours in the church. The Basilica is the largest church in
the world, 250 yards long down the center aisle and the dome
rises some 200 feet. There is so much art in here that if I describe
it I will be remiss in that I will not note too many great pieces.
There are works by Bernini,
Raphael and Michelangelo
and many more. The art in the Basilica, by Raphael and others,
has been replaced by mosaic tiles so as to weather time better.
The original works are in storage. The Pieta by Michelangelo
is protected some 30 feet behind bullet proof glass and poorly
illuminated, but as beautiful as one would expect of a Michelangelo.
One thing of interest is the
story behind two biers, one of Pope Gregory 3rd and the other
of Pope Gregory 4th. Seems like Greg 3 was well liked and when
he died they had a sculpted
piece done for his bier. Greg number 4 was not popular at
all and when he died they put him directly across from #3 with
no sculpted work.
They also had an extra piece of sculpted signage, done for Greg
III, which was not used. So they added an I to it
and it reads Pope Gregory IIII. Clearly that is not correct but
it was their way of showing dislike for the man.
We then entered the Vatican Museum
to see many relics and great art. We sat in the Sistine Chapel
and made an attempt to study the great ceiling. There is so much
to see that it overwhelms you. Your neck gets tired looking up
at the great works. The work of Michelangelo is again magnificent
and dessert for the mind.
We rode the elevator to the midway
point of St. Peters dome, skipping 320 steps, then walked
the remaining 300 steps, at about 7 each. The stairway
was wrapped around the dome and as the curve
of the dome leaned in on you the walls of the stairwell were
slanted greatly. From the top you can see
all of Rome. I have included photos of the dome
from below to give an idea of the height.
Today is our third trip to the
magnificent city of Rome.We walk about 7 to 10 miles each day
we go to Rome and today is no exception We first visit the Basilica
Di San Giovanni in Laterano, the Popes seat as Bishop of
Rome. In this church again we find an imposing artifact. The
skulls of St. Peter and St. Paul are kept in silver reliqueries
over the high alter. We continue our walk towards the Piazza
de Espana and the Spanish Steps. This is a beautiful architectural
model of how to change from one elevated street to another street
below. The street continues to the Piazza Popolo, literally the
Piazza of the people. The plaza is large and immediately inside
the northern gates to Rome. It would be an impressive sight for
one entering Rome for the first time from the north, today as
yesterday. There are two paintings by Caravaggio in the Chapel
as you enter the city, the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion
of St. Paul.
Sunday morning rain coming down
and we are off to Rome. We jump from bus to train to metro to
tram trying to stay dry. Our entry to Rome is the giant flea
market held each Sunday in the Trastavere section of town. It
is billed as one of the largest and best in Europe. There are
supposed to be antiques among the clothing, books, electronics,
etc., but it is raining so we visit the umbrella stand and buy
an additional umbrella and leave. For several Sundays we have
been able to visit a cathedral for worship service, today was
another of those. The church of Sta. Marina di Trastavere was
having a confirmation service for about 30 youths. There was
a cardinal officiating, with many parents and relatives present.
The service is surely different than that in our home Lutheran
church, but there are some similarities and the service can be
followed in the program. The music was beautiful and the acoustics
were better than average. The church is filled with art and the
ceiling is gold on wood in a large geometric pattern, it is impressive.
A great way to begin Sunday, and after the service we walked
out into clearing skies.
The National Museum of Art is
but a few blocks away and we are able to visit our first art
museum in Rome. We have seen a lot of art, it is prominent in
each church we visit, but this is an art gallery. The rain has
delayed the arrival of Sunday morning tourists and again we share
the gallery with but two other people. There is a good side to
bad weather. Our tour is concluded by a visit to the Trevi
Fountain where we take a few pictures. It is truly one of
the most spectacular places in Rome. It is also the most crowded.
This completes the series of
Spring 2004 travelogues.