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Fri. 7 October

No kidding, a night without fire alarms or floods. Packed, had breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the Ara Pacis; I was disappointed that the marble wasn't whiter (a peculiar reaction!) but also that it was less complete than I'd expected, still I was glad I saw it. One interesting point was the drains for the victims' blood, I'm almost certain that's what they were (I took pics). Extremely vivid and presumably good portraiture of the participants in the sacrificial procession.

Back to the hotel (we were to check out before noon) via various little streets, at first zigging and zagging to see things then as usual accelerating to get there on time. Went past the Palazzo Farnese — my reaction was 'so what', I'm afraid; occupied by the Fr. embassy: the square in front of it very pleasant although twin fountains, of the bathtub type, very ugly. Got to the hotel at 12:00 sharp, of course . . . .

Forgot to mention that James nearly got his pocket picked on the Piazza della Repubblica near the Baths of Diocletian. Back when I wandered around Rome Merrill-Lynching and notarizing, I'd already been thru the piazza (quite abstractedly, paying no attention to the beautiful Fountain of the Nereids in the center of it) and noticed the gypsies, African souvenir vendors etc. and even today warned James before we got to it about the gypsies — Two approached us, a girl 12 and boy roughly the same age; I went on the alert and told them to scram: the boy just brazenly reached into James's trouser pocket without any attempt at concealment or at distracting our attention; fortunately James only had his handkerchief there, plus was on the alert and nabbed the kid, still it was unpleasant. (At the Piazza a minute afterwards was when James pointed out the fountain — he'd been reading guidebooks — surely big enough for me to have seen it before, but I hadn't; I'm not interested in the 16th century — I just notice now, for example, that I haven't mentioned the Gesù which is seminal of that period, which we'd both read about in Wölfflinº and talked about, and which we looked at carefully yesterday; rather surprisingly although in pictures what I don't like is the style it inaugurates, in the flesh what I don't like is the proportions: the church is unpleasantly wide. Much better to my mind is the Church of S. Susanna which is in fact about two blocks past the P.zza della Repubblica.)

Anyhow, we checked out, leaving our suitcases at the hotel, and wandered around in the Suburra looking for a restaurant; finding one finally on the v. del Boschetto, where we ate rather well in a pleasant room festooned with large bouquets of greenery and red peppers from the arches into the next room. The waiters had a tendency to put the foreigners in the front room and the Italians in the back room. There was a large tablet on the wall facing me with a poem in Roman dialect (r's for l's, but a lot of other noticeable even proudly to me departures from standard Italian) which I pretty much completely understood — titled "Il Boschetto del Gianicolo", it was about a hollow tree where lovers liked to kiss out of sight of the police, but when some other couple had got there first, they'd murmur how fine the night and go off and pay homage to Garibardi, historically associated with the place. . . .

Food: I had an antipasto misto, a very good vegetable soup, spaghetti alle vongole, and an indifferent ossobuco; James had the antipasto, fettucini ai funghi porcini, and calf brains; a carafe white; coffee, grappa.

We then walked slowly back to the hotel to get the bags — via the back of the Pudenziana where under the apse is a sort of retronarthex with a fresco of a Virgin and Child that we'd tried to get in and see but couldn't, once before; nor this time: just faintly visible thru the dark of the overhang and a heavy grillwork — also a stop of some twenty minutes in an archaeological bookstore of some interest (I kept their card).

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A rear view of S. Pudenziana; the retronarthex projects out onto the via Balbo.

To the train station and off — Todi by about 5:30 and the little bus to the Oberdan Gardens; I went immediately out to give my shirts and trousers and the sheets I couldn't give them on Monday then I got James and we did a quick shop at the alimentazione across the P.zza Jacopone — milk, yogurt, grapefruit juice, apples — butter for James (I haven't had butter now in months except as an ingredient and even then only accidentally); stop at a caffé indoors (cold!); light dinner at the apt.; and to sleep.

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Page updated: 15 May 05