Drinking fountain CU

A localized drainage system (not as scenic as the snail spiral).

Out in the park to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine…I noticed many two-dog-walkers. Usually, solos predominate, but today I saw a lot of doggie duos—one was even a matched pair of sisters (or so they seemed…).

Alone in the city

Beltline in drizzle

Last weekend when we walked the BeltLine, there was a constant flow of pedestrians, and a few bicyclists. Today, almost no one.

BTW, flag flying in the rain? I thought that was a HUGE no-no.

[Pause to G00gle.] Ah, it’s okay if it’s an all-weather flag. Assuming this is that kind. I could hear it flapping; it was really snapping in the breeze.

Location (times three)

Water frozen TJ

Interesting, there in the freezer at TJs, at the end away from the Asian Indian food and near the turkey meatballs, I found bottles of frozen water—for seventeen big American cents.

And I remember only a few short weeks ago, paying as much as $4.30 in Euros for a bottle of cold water…Roman prices…. Maybe they were bigger than 500 ml, not sure….


Venetian blind shadows

Sunny day filtered through venetian blinds; not sure what caused that purple-blue tone….

Last night was gnocchi and tomato sauce. Tonight we had split pea soup. We’ve been enjoying entrées with no turkey and (almost) no meat—not to be wholesome so much as to experience a big change from our multi-day turkey menus…. Uh, what for tomorrow? The menu creation never ends….

In the neighborhood

Cop car whole foods

Guess even cops want to get the good stuff for their holiday feasting (see the WF sign back there?).

Also noticed: white masking-like tape was holding the plastic frame around the left front headlight….

Of mums…

Mums backlit

I’ve been enjoying the autumn-specific assortment of blooms Nature and my Gardening Neighbors offer these days.

Mums tulips display

I found this for-sale display a bit jarring, however; while mums are autumn flowers (see first photo), tulips are spring spring SPRING flowers! The miracle of greenhouses…and people who don’t know seasonality….

Eyes wide open

Halloween free haircuts

I strolled out to do errands, loved the weather…. Most of the stroll was moseying in the dappled sunshine, but I also got some sensory overstimulation.

In the visual realm, some outdoor Halloween decorations were of the plebeian sort, out of the box from your favorite big-box store. Others showed creativity in how they were assembled into a scenario or theme. It seemed to me that as I went along, they showed more artistry. This was the last decorated yard I went by…yeah, free haircuts…haha.

Soon after, the number 16 fire truck came by, siren screaming, lights flashing, horn blatting—strong audio stimulation. I was ready for just sunshine after that.

Beholding, smaller scale

Restaurant table display

Usually these little table displays outside restaurants have prepared dishes. This one had a very attractive assortment of produce, plus dried pasta and empty wine bottles. I found it rather the opposite of intended, more what wasn’t and what could be. What I find mysterious is the pepper shaker.

High wall religious

I can’t decide if these are meant mostly as we inside this building honor this image’s meaning, or we offer this for you to honor—or both.

The quote is from the Ave Maria/Hail Mary, Latin version, and the actual lines are Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, meaning the first and last words are left for you to fill in mentally, I’m guessing. The first one is interesting—Holy Mary reduced to just Mary—assuming the reader knows to assume the holiness…. Removing the last word really changes it from pray for us sinners to pray for us. Of course, if you’re in the Catholic family, you know the phrases, and fill in all the words and sentiments without even thinking. Still, removing “sinners” offers a different slant.


The sign reads “Stampa Digitale Antinfortunistica.” I don’t even want to decode it. Points to anyone who puts Antinfortunistica in their business name.

However, I couldn’t resist making Google Translate to flex its muscles; not much of a flex, it turns out. Antinfortunistica means safety, and the whole thing is Digital Printing Safety. I liked it better when I didn’t know….

Of ritual and practice

Flavian amphitheatre

Yeah, it’s one massive ruin.

Spectators did not experience the interior of the Flavian Amphitheatre as anything like this. There was finish—cladding (mostly travertine) on the walls, staircases and access archways, statuary to remind visitors of gods and men (and probably goddesses and women), and most of the surface you see here was really seating, aisles, and arched entries. There was a cloth shade-cover that could be unfurled. So, no, it didn’t look like this. It’s like a skeleton compared to a living body. (Sorta.)

Flavian amphitheatre vertical

Drawing from several sources, this is what I conclude…. Spectators entered for free with tickets specifying a seating area, and some events lasted for days. The inauguration, in AD 80, lasted for 100 days, and later the stage area was modified so it could be flooded and used for nautical battles. A typical spectacle began with a morning opening parade (pompa), followed by fights between wild animals, hunts by armed men of animals, and shows of tamed animals. The experience of the latter was augmented by stunning scenes of their wild habitats. There was a break midday, used for executions. The goriest were damnatio ad bestias, in which the condemned were torn apart by wild animals. There’s no evidence that Christians were punished here in this manner. Between the major events, people played gambling games and postured to impress. [I tried a vertical panorama, an experiment; since the camera/phone can tell what’s “up” I didn’t know if it’d work—it did! The distortion is interesting, bowing the very vertical walls.]

Regarding the spectacles in the Colosseum, Claridge (2010:317–318) notes:

Gladiatorial shows were called munera (dutiful gifts) and were always given by individuals, not by the State. By the time the Colosseum was built they were being held as a regular public event, in December, as part of the New Year ritual, coinciding with the yearly political cycle, when they would be paid for by the incoming magistrates. At other times they could accompany the funerary rites for major public figures, or could be held on the anniversaries of past deaths. They were also staged in celebration of military triumphs. Such was their popularity that from the reign of Domitian it was decreed that in Rome they could only be given by the emperor; and elsewhere they required his sanction. The daily programme was usually divided into three parts: wild animal hunts (venationes) in the morning, public executions at midday, and gladiatorial contests in the afternoon; shows could run for many days depending on the available number of animals and gladiators. Trajan is said to have celebrated his Dacian triumph in AD 107 with 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators in the course of 123 days. Gladiators were a mixture of condemned criminals and prisoners of war (who were generally expendable), and career professionals (slaves, freedmen, or free volunteers), mostly men but occasionally women, specialized in different types of armour and weaponry: the heavily armed Myrmillo (named after the fish on his helmet) and the Samnite both had large oblong shields and swords; the more lightly armed Thracian, a round shield and curved scimitar; the Retiarius only a net and a trident. Others fought from chariots (essedarii), or on horseback. The fights were often staged in elaborate sets, with movable trees and buildings; the executions might involve complicated machinery and torture; some acted out particularly gruesome episodes from Greek or Roman mythology. Animals for the venationes came mainly from Africa and might include rhinoceros, hippos, elephants, and giraffes, as well as lions, panthers, leopards, crocodiles, and ostriches.

Rome apartment balconies alley side

An observation: Romans use rear balconies like back porches, for storage and not-quite-so-public activities. Of course, it hosts plenty of drying laundry, plus often hot-water heaters are on the walls, piping the hot water inside—they’re the boxes on the walls. Here’s what I’ve been chuckling about: people store ladders there. Apparently, with high ceilings, people need ladders once in a while, and there is no “ladder for the building” or ladder that can be rented out from a nearby business. So many apartments have a ladder, and the place to store it is on the rear balcony (there’s one above the gate leaning next to the water heater).

Fri mass S Salvatore in Lauro

An hour on a Friday afternoon…: we took a break using seating framing the church entry area part of the Piazza in front of the Chiesa di San Salvatore in Lauro, north of where we used to stay. We discovered several things. We saw two nursing moms take a break down from us on the same seating, each to feed their young-un while Pops idly stood by the stroller. No modesty cloths, just doing what needs doing. We also enjoyed the children playing out front, hopscotch and a bit of soccer-ball footwork. Then, at 5:30, the church bells began pealing, and Friday evening mass got underway. Music emanated. The kids kept playing. Then, just before 6, a procession formed in the doorway to the left of the church door. In the front were fully adult men carrying the cross and I don’t know what else—they make altar “boys” old here…. The group emerged and made a loop into the church, with the somewhat tottering highest-ranking fellow (judging by the tall headdress) at the end with two flanking attendees. No one told the little boy to stop and pick up his soccer ball, but he did. He was much more focused on the ritual than the group of girls. What you don’t see is that two of the nannies watching the kids looked like middle-aged Filapina ladies. Behind the officials, several toursts surged in, drawn by the pomp. We kept sitting and watching.

Claridge, Amanda, 2010. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

City life

Pano island 3 bridges

Three bridges.

Let me decode this photo. It’s taken from the west end of the Ponte Palatino, looking slightly northwest, then north, and finally east—a pano, hence the strange distortion. On the left, the bridge from the west bank of the Tiber to Isola Tiberina (Rome’s island), the Ponte Cestio. On the far right, the bridge I’m standing on, the Ponte Palatino. And next to the latter, also far right, is a single arch that remains of the ancient Romans’ Pons Aemilius, now lovingly nicknamed the Ponte Rotto, broken bridge.

For me, the Aemilius is the most interesting; core parts of the ruin, sources assure me, date to the 2nd C BC. The last updates came in the 1500s. The final insult came in 1887 when one end was removed to install the Ponte Palatino.

Construction of a bridge to this bank from the island was intentionally delayed by the Romans for centuries, we are told. While they long had a bridge from “their” side (the east/south side), the Ponte Cestio, anciently the Pons Cestius, was not built until about a century after the Aemilius (if I have it right). Thus, crossing the river using the island as a stepping stone was not prioritized, although we are told ancient Rome’s location was important as a crossing spot. It was or it wasn’t. Or, it was, but they didn’t want to make it too easy, as enemies and marauders lived to the northwest.

In the late 1800s, when the Tiber was channelized and walled in, with retaining levees built, they widened this part next to the island, I think to force more of the water on this side(?), and the ancient bridge wasn’t long enough any more, so, geeze, it was just an Ancient Roman Structure, so The City’s Wisemen ordered it replaced.

Porta Portese sunlit

Enough about bridges. Here is a particularly comely city entrance, the Porta Portese. This was roughly the location of the former Porta Portuense. Both names refer to Rome’s port at the river mouth, and the road to there along this bank of the Tiber. The river-mouth was early important as a salt-producing zone, and major trade routes went inland from the sea flats on both sides of the Tiber, as well and up and down the coast. Later, this became a major port area, serving Rome and inland. Major engineering modifications kept it useful (e.g., the massive six-sided basin constructed under Hadrian’s watch and now just south of the airport—see satellite images).

Ministry sign

Two other bits to note. We found this sign on the wall of a particularly narrow alley—about one wide shoulder-width at one end—in the original neighborhood of Trastevere (meaning: across the Tiber), south of the Isola Tiberina. Today we first visited that area, and discovered that although unfailingly described as charming and old-world in guides, it is a tourist mecca, and thus a mecca for sidewalk salespeople of all stripes, and not quite an incubator of Roman life as lived by present-day Romans. As to unofficial the English sign, I love its formal design….

Towing action

Now a bit of action. We also saw a speed-trap setup with four cop cars earlier in the day, with someone getting a ticket and not looking happy about it. Plus, right after we saw this towing (love that lift! a bar on each side of the front tires, spanned together—up and away), we saw another tow truck ready to pull out all loaded up a block away. Since these three aren’t far apart, I guess the cops were targeting this area today. ??