The Retirees in Umbria – return to Italy.

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After 10 hectic days at home we boarded a plane for Italy. Our friend Roberto (formerly Robert) has made his home in Italy and desperately wanted to show off his renovated Villa Contessa in Cesi. What kind of friends would we be if we disappointed him?

Our flight with Qantas (an Emirates code share) was trouble free but lasted 23 hours with a three hour stopover in Dubai. Wisely we had decided to overnight it in Rome and get a good night rest before training it to Cesi. After landing we were talked into taking a minicab ride to our hotel. It turned out to be a good idea even though our hotel is directly across the road from Termini – Rome’s city terminus for the train. Our cab brought us into Rome through Trastevere across the Tiber past the Colosseum and through Piazza Vitorio past the ruins of the Forum (there were two other couples to be dropped off hence the circuitous route) and finally to Termini where we were greeted by a large green door and a small card on the intercom system telling us our “hotel” Dream Station Hotel was on the 4th piano (floor).

No one had said it was behind a large green door down a lane through a heavily barred gate on the 4th floor and we had 4 suitcases and hand luggage. Fortunately, there was a lift. It looked like a refrigerator and was about the same size internally saving us the difficulty of getting a refund and finding a new hotel. Once we had taken the suitcases up in the elevator two x two due to its carrying capacity, we discovered a quaint set of bedrooms (three for sure and may be three more across the landing) fitted out with a share kitchen and comfortable rooms with private bathroom. Good value at €65.00 per night.

We were settled in by 2.00pm. So here we are in Rome – what to do? Firstly, we went to Termini to book our tickets to Cesi and work out the train system. We visited the tourism information office and then the Trenatalia office to book the tickets. This is important to understand/question what happened later. Having finished the necessary, we wandered through the back streets of the area some five blocks southwest of Stazione Termini encountering The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

It is a Papal major basilica (presently undergoing renovation) and the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, from which size it receives the appellation “major”. The ancient basilica enshrines the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani, depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary as the health and protectress of the Roman people. Pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929 between the Holy See and Italy, the Basilica is within Italian territory.

From there we found our way to an architects’ conference in a recently renovated building and in the grounds of course ruins of some previous use and one of the inhabitants of Rome still making use of it (picture below). Jet lag and the cold of the Roman evening started to take its toll, so we had an earlier dinner and retired to our hotel. Big day tomorrow training it to Terni and then up to Cesi.

Breakfast finished we walked around to Piazza della Republica and The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. The building was created by the rearrangement in 1562, of the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti, and the central hall of the Baths of Diocletian, by order of Pope Pius IV at the request of the priest Sicilian Antonio Duke, uncle of the faithful disciple of Michelangelo, Jacopo del Duca. We had been here previously so we moved through the Basilica itself and went to the Sacristy and into a small courtyard where we spotted a statue of Galileo (donated by the PRC – Peoples Republic of China) and another religious scene before existing the building through the tradesman’s entrance onto Via Cernaia.

Our journey then took us past Domus  Australia in Via Cernaia bearing the Australian flag and the Vatican flag (I suspect the lodgings of Cardinal Pell whilst in Rome based on the protest notices affixed the bars on the windows), past the British embassy, past a memorial to the soldiers lost in 3 wars in the first 2 decades of the twentieth century, and the Magistrates Court.

These are a few things to see around Terminii whilst waiting for a trian.

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