24 november 2007


A picture of Capa della Famiglia having a Campari and looking at the map, at jazz-bar in Roma will have to do as a starting point for two weeks of commotion. My New Life, as opposed to my old one), was supposed to be free of these frantic periods with travel, appointments, obligations and stress. But, alas!, here we are, looking forward to dinner. The thing is, when our neighbor heard we were going to Roma, he cried out that if we went to Roma but failed to have dinner with his good friend Francesco, he, as our friend, would surely die. He grabbed a piece of paper and wrote that we were not only his friends, but (almost) his closest family and nothing would ever separate us, and that Francesco now had only one mission in life: Make us happy. We were a little skeptic to find the trattoria just a block from the Ministry of Finance (that is, not so far from Termini, and with a tourist-density above average for Roma). But Francesco did his job, made it clear that Stefano is best carpenter in the whole world, and served us loads of sea food.
Due to some luck, almost all of this year's travel could be done in one swoop: Montemagno - Roma - FCO - OSL - TOS - Disputas - OSL - Birthday party - STN - PSA - Montemagno - Roma - Montemagno. While I have been approaching Roma for quite some time, at the meta level. The problem is simply: How can one approach Roma? But now the time was right, and off we went. I've decided to go there a few times to to get an overview. Then, later, try to focus later. As we shall see, being cautious is indeed necessary.<We started with a visit to Santa Maria Maggiore. I walked around for a while, but I was unable to take any pictures. Even though I wasn't diagnosed withStendhal's Syndrome I couldn't find anywhere to aim my camera without regretting I didn't aim it somewhere else. In the end I gave up, left and settled for the smaller Basilica Santa Prassede nearby. At least I managed to take a photograph. The official ones are better, so I failed to capture "my" impression. I gave up on that one also. This was not going very well.We decided instead to visit The most crowded, deserted place on Earth, Forum Romanum. Walking slowly down via Cavour, we found it blocked by a demonstration (general strike in Roma today), and ventured into some small side streets. There we found M. Bonamici in his shop, restoring the frame of a painting. He had covered the frame with thin sheets of silver, and now he was making it shiny with what looked like a pen with a bony tip. He told us that he had inherited the tools from his father, but that none of his four children wanted to inherit them from him. As we were talking to him I realized that speaking some Italian might save the day. Buon giorno anche a lei, and we stroll on. We do not visit San Pietro in Vincolo as Moses might be too much. Instead we noticed something odd looking down a narrow street. It took a few seconds to realize what we saw; click on the narrom picture to the left to see what we saw.
At this point I must tell you that when Marine came to Nesodden (outside Oslo) for the first time, and saw a real tree (as opposed to trees in the Tromsø-scale of things) she said It looks like a tree, but it is so large. I looked at the Colloseum and said... yes, you get the idea.Again, it is worthwhile to be prepared, so we took lunch before descending. If you look at the picture of the street, on the left hand, yous ee part of a red table. Behind it there is a small trattoria. Of of the type that we like. With pictures of grand children on the walls. The menu was not in German and ragu was not denoted as Bolognese. What more can I ask? We're in Roma, after all.
Then I tried to take a picture of it, and failed. Not (only) because it is so beautiful, but because it is so huge. My 27mm wide angle (in 35mm parlance) didn't stand a chance against this colossal monster. I snapped one by Sissel instead; she is always there to make things less hard. Which reminds me that she and Karine just bought me a sing I can hang on the door to my office. It reads:
The opinions voiced by the man in this house is not necessarily those of the management.
Let me not dwell on this issue but instead get back to my story. We took a bus to Pantheon where I failed to capture anything of interest (but there is hope, read on!). We crossed via Corso and lingered for a while at the bottom of the Spanish Stairs. Again, no picture; I find some comfort in lunch. Again we are lucky, and find a small place that isn't too bad. It is actually quite good. And the waiter even noticed that Sissel didn't add oil on her salad.
- How can you disappoint me like this; there is oil in the world as good as the one from Lazio!
- I'm trying to keep my weight
- It's the salt that is the problem, not the oil. No-one has ever put on any weight by using a little oil on the salad! Stay away from that salt!
The ravioli con burro e salvie was exellent, even though he admitted without hesitation that fatta a mano was more correct that fatta a casa. I liked him! Then there was time for a pennicalla and we took the Metro back to Vittori Emanuele, and the hotel (which was a bed and breakfast).
The sun settles early at this time of the year, and Santa Maria Maggiore was stunning also after dark. But with a three-pod I might be able to capture what I saw. We'll return later to give it a try (after having bught a three-pod, that is). But then it was time for dinner. GISK and Anne Marie had found a small place we liked. The food was good, the wine was good, the gorgonzola was good, so we had a good time.
All in all, the first visit went well.

Next morning I flew FCO - OSL - TOS, and checked into Stuertveien Hotel. For dinner they served lutefisk, and my opinion is unaltered: Nice if you are used to it, but only once per year, please. Monday was Simone's. I offer you two pictures to get an idea.Readers residing in the New Colonies can rest assured that Simone appreciated the opportunity to visit a venue of the Fine Arts when he leaves the mess behind and relocates to the South. Done with that I flew TOS - OSL to take part in a family even, and then OSL - STN, where I spent the night. But before that I went to The George where I had Abbot ale. Although I prefer the Continental-style lager, drinking beer in a pub far out in the English countryside is nice. The food was good too. Next day: STN - PSA, and Home! I hate to travel.
Time to turn my attention to the things nearer to my hart. My BMW R1150GS makes a squeaking noise when I start it (not good at all!). I pull it apart, fix it, and feel good. Then I am asked how I did it, so I document it. If you ever need to deal with a squeaking starter on a BMW Oilhead, look no further, but grab a copy here.Just finished with the starter, and SAM arrives. We both enjoy good food and good wine; here he is shown together with a glass of ten years old Brunello which blended very, very well with Bistecca Fiorentina. The problem with Brunello is that it only goes well with things that I shouldn't eat: Red meat, gorgonzola and other heavy stuff. During one of these evenings we planned the Annual SiToscana Wine and Food fastival that takes place the week before Easter every year; stay tuned for more details.After a few days of lazy relaxing in Montemagno we popped down to Roma again. SAM hadn't been there, and I was ready to try again to snap a few photos. This time I managed to get Colloseum and the fountain at Trevi. Not bad for being me, and I felt much better. Eating well didn't hurt, either. The first day's success gave me courage to try to tackle to more of the all-time high: Santa Maria Maggiore and Pantheon. The first failed, again. I have no idea of how to capture anything interesting at all. I also failed at the Spanish Stairs (again).
As these things are so very large, the only way to get it all to to hire a helicopter; boring woudl be the title of such a picture. The challenge is to find an angle that captures a small but essential part. A detail that all will recognize, a detail that carries with it the experience all visitors share. As an example I offer a picture of Piazza Nationale at night. My image of the piazza is such that I believe that if you have ever been there you will remember two things: The buildings and the traffic. If I am right you'll feel at home with this one:Of course, you might also have noticed this statue on/in the wall of basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. As we know, the wall is Roman while the Church itself was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Ah, how nice! I look forward to try to get an impression on "film" from the inside (although I will most certainly fail as the church is more than 90 meters long).
Next day we had our breakfast at Piazza del Popolo (and I failed to get a picture of Santa Maria del Popolo), we visited Ara Pacis, did not visit Augustus' Mausoleum, but we did indeed visit Pantheon. And this time I managed to find a way to remember it.

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