John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Wednesday 14 May 2014

[Tuesday 13 May 2014]

Hotel Milton Roma, Via Emanuele Filiberto 155, 00185 Rome
DAY 4
Villa Borghese is the biggest park in Rome and takes its name from the powerful Borghese family who used to live there. This morning we have a reservation at the famous Galleria Borghese one of the most fascinating art museums in Rome, where the collection includes works by Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio. Your entrance fee is not included, but can be paid locally, and if no special exhibition is in place, is free of charge for passengers over 65.
This afternoon you may wish to explore the park further or spend your afternoon wondering around this stunning city at your leisure.

Day 134 1 Samuel 1-2; Psalms 113
We had the window shut and the air-conditioning on during the night. Nevertheless, I was awake, having slept soundly, at 4am and dozed after that. Janet was woken by the alarm a bit before 6am and got up just after 6am. I used the bathroom after she did, as usual. Left the dressings on elbows and feet: the Tegaderm dressings on the elbows had large patches of exudate, but not approaching the edges of the pads; the Mepore dressings on the heels were still adhering and not peeling. We’d breakfasted and got ourselves ready in time for the set-off time of 7.55am. The reasons for the early start were: to avoid delays caused by rush-hour traffic; because the party had to be at Galleria Borghese for a specific, pre-booked time (9am–11am); and to allow plenty of time for any delays that might occur. We hadn’t realised that an optional visit to an art gallery that Lucy had mentioned on the first day, to which we hadn’t been interested in going, was this one. The blurb reproduced above doesn’t mention “optional”. No matter: we were easily able to pay Lucy this morning the required €28. We were at the Villa Borghese park not long after 8am, and as we didn’t have to assemble to go in till perhaps 8.50am, Janet and I went for a walk down a fairly broad path that ran through trees. It was warm in the sun, but a cool breeze made it chilly in the shade. We heard a sort of repeated squawk, and realised that it came from a long-tailed bird that looked like a parakeet of some kind.
[i] We saw one or two of them. We weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the Galleria — of the many exquisite sculptures and paintings in the central rooms with vaulted ceilings on two levels and several rooms off each of these. Indeed, we had to check in cameras, bags, etc., on entering the building but before proceeding to the gallery proper. The trompe l’oeil frescoes on the ceilings were intriguing because they were so well done that one was convinced that they were three-dimensional. The statues exhibited were from classical antiquity to the Baroque period of Bernini (see examples from postcards bought at the gallery shop, below) and beyond. The eye could not be satisfied with gazing at them, nor at the paintings, largely religious-themed. In particular, there were two paintings side by side in which the light-source e.g. a candle was shielded from direct view, but the light and shadow cast by it were wonderfully depicted.

[i] Wikipedia says of the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri): “There… exists a feral population in… Rome — notably in the gardens of the Palatine Hill and at Villa Borghese…”


Wednesday 14 May 2014
Seen in the Galleria Borghese:
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Pluto e Proserpina (1621–1622)


Wednesday 14 May 2014
Seen in the Galleria Borghese:
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
David (1623–1624)


Wednesday 14 May 2014
Seen in the Galleria Borghese:
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
David (1623–1624) — detail


Wednesday 14 May 2014
Seen in the Galleria Borghese:
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
David (1623–1624) — detail

We’d been given a strict time to assemble outside, 11.05am; for, because some of our number wouldn’t be rejoining the coach but going off on their own, Lucy wouldn’t be doing a head-count. So, ca.10.40am we started to make our move downstairs, first visiting the shop and the loos, then picking up the left items. Because of the cool breeze Janet didn’t immediately join me outside, where I did a panoramic sweep with my camera in “movie” mode.




Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 10:52:52
Villa Borghese: screen-capture from movie


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 10:52:52
Galleria Borghese: screen-capture from movie

Some wanted to be dropped off more centrally in Rome, but we opted to go back to the hotel. We had a drink, etc., then set off to visit the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:32:50
View ca. west along Via Domenico Fontana towards the Lateran Obelisk

First of all we visited the building housing the Scala Sancta, which according to Catholic tradition, are the 28 marble steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, on which Jesus stepped on his way to trial, and which were brought to Rome by St. Helena the mother of Constantine in the 4th century. The marble has long been boxed in with wood. The steps have to be climbed on one’s knees, though there is an adjacent stone staircase to the left for conventional ascent to the first floor. We went up this, then I left Janet, and my stick and folding chair up with her, descended again, and attempted the genual ascent. I found the experience, while praying for deepest perceived needs, mine and others’, profoundly moving; but after getting perhaps a quarter of the way there, I started experiencing pain in the knees with each step, that I perceived would become intolerable if I attempted to go any farther. What to do? There was no “escape route” to the side, but I didn’t want to “defile” the steps with my feet. Going back down on my knees didn’t seem to be doable either, so I turned over and slid down on my bum. Janet was initially seated at the top of the Scala Sancta, but thought, “I shouldn’t be watching these people at their personal devotions”, and moved to sit above the other staircase.


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:38:34
Building, housing the Scala Sancta


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:39:52
Scala Sancta

Then we crossed the road and visited the Basilica. There was a practice going on, of the organ and a few vocalists, which enhanced the feeling of sacredness there. Apart from that, I’ll let the movie and photos speak for themselves.


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:54:08
Building, housing the Scala Sancta


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:54:08
Building, housing the Scala Sancta — detail


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:54:24 and later


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:55:42
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — Baroque façade


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:55:42
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — detail 1


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:55:42
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — detail 2


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:58:12
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:59:12
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 12:59:28
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:02:50
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:05:18
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — centre aisle


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:08:44
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — aisle to the left of the central one


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:09:06
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — far left aisle


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:11:32
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — relief on one of the walls


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:12:16
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — a side chapel


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:14:22
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:15:04
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:15:30
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — north transept


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:17:56
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — apse


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:18:10
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — south transept


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:18:42
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:18:48
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:18:58
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:19:10
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:42:34
Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:44:22
Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano — movie screen-capture of the north façade


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:46:52
Lateran Baptistery


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 13:47:24
Lateran Obelisk

We found the Baptistery closed. We wanted to revisit Trattoria Pizzeria “Luzzi”, which we called “the Tractor”. (If “elettrico” means “electric”, it follows that “trattoria” must be “tractor”.) I figured that continuing along the road we were on would bring us out near the Coliseum. If I’d consulted the map, I’d have crossed over the piazza, borne right along Via di San Giovanni in Laterano and that would have taken us directly there. Anyway, we proceeded to the end of the road to the remains of the ancient city walls and city gate, and turned right along Via della Navicella and its continuation Via Claudia.


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 14:02:30
Porta Metronia


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 14:16:16
Northern corner of the Caelian Hill


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 14:16:32
Colosseum, seen from the same location as “14:16:16”

Once there, now in familiar territory, we made our way up Via di San Giovanni in Laterano to “the Tractor”, but found it all shut up, with the space outside empty of tables and chairs. As we stood there, one of the waitresses appeared out of the next door and told us it was closed on Wednesdays. So we retraced our steps to a place we’d just passed, signed in vertical letters down the wall “pasticceria” and in horizontal ones “bar” and “gelateria”, and on the awnings (edge:) “snack bar”, “pizza & pasta”, (side:) “gelateria”, “bar”, “gastronomia” (far edge:) “snack bar”, “pizza & pasta”. While we had a couple of drinks we looked at the menu, and decided we’d return there later for dinner. Back in the hotel room, I copied the photos and movies from the camera to the WD Elements HDD (15:48–15:52). Janet and I reviewed the photos she took the other day in St. Peter’s Basilica, deciding which were already acceptable, or not but recoverable, and which were neither of these; we decided to delete 16 of them (15:53–16:05) and keep 11. “At 5pm,” Janet wrote, “we set off for dinner. We both had pasta. I had bucatini with tomato, bacon and cheese sauce; [John] had fettucine with beef ragu sauce, and we shared a house salad. I just had delicious balsamic vinegar on mine.[ii] [John] also had ½ bottle[iii] wine. There was also delicious fresh bread.…” Before strolling back to the hotel, we crossed Via Labicana and mounted the stone staircase to the park on the Oppian Hill.

[ii] I in addition sprinkled oil on mine.
[iii] In fact, a ½-litre carafe.


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 18:57:50
Park on the Oppian Hill


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 18:58:44
Park on the Oppian Hill


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 19:00:24
A glimpse of the Colosseum from the park on the Oppian Hill


Wednesday 14 May 2014 — 19:03:28
Basilica of San Clemente (middle, right), and (behind it, above) the Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati, viewed from the Oppian Hill

“We arrived back around 7.30pm,” Janet wrote. “[John] lay on the bed and fell asleep, and I had a shower, [etc.]… It’s now nearly 9.30pm and I’ll brush my teeth — then reluctantly disturb [John] so I can get into bed.…”

[Thursday 15 May 2014]



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