All Posts for June 2011

A Room in Rome, Sun. May 15th, Part Two

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

While we were temporarily lost on the way back from Tivoli, we did see some of Rome we would have missed, so the time spent was not so bad. However, before we actually walked around the synagogue and the area behind it, we had to find a parking space.

Alan found one space that I thought was too tight, but he insisted he could park the van if I got out of the car to tell him when he was too close to the car behind him, because the rear visibility wasn’t great in the van. I also had to direct him when he was too close to the car in the front.  I hopped back and forth between the front and back of the van, while Jackie & Rhoda watched from inside and cracked up at my antics. Then Alan insisted that the van be centered between the front & back cars. Then I cracked up!  But the van got parked!

The synagogue was quite beautiful. Above is a photo that is from the Internet. (All the photos today are from Irv’s camera, since I forgot mine, except for the synagogue itself, which Jackie added to Irv’s photos.)  I also found some historical information on the Internet, posted below:

The attention-grabbing Art Deco design was a deliberate choice made by the community at the time who wanted the building to be a visible celebration of their freedom and to be seen from many vantage points in the city. The dome is the only squared dome in the city and makes the building easily identifiable even from a distance. Designed by Vincenzo Costa and Osvaldo Armanni, the eclectic style of the building makes it stand out even in a city known for notable buildings and structures.

The Synagogue, which celebrated its centenary in 2004, is more than just a house of worship; it also serves as a cultural and organizational center for la Comunità Ebraica di Roma (the Jewish community of Rome). It houses not only the offices of the Chief Rabbi of Rome but the Jewish Museum of Rome as well. (

I asked Irv to take a photo of the doors, which I found quite beautiful. Here is one shot of the doors:

After examining the synagogue from the outside, we walked around the area, which I guess you could call the Jewish section or the Gheto, since there were a couple of stores and restaurants. (See photo below.)

Rhoda’s husband Kal took a photo of me with the food displayed outdoors*, but we did not stay in the area to eat dinner, our last meal in Rome.  Instead, we went back to the neighborhood of the police station and ate at a very large restaurant close to our hotel.  The meal was marred by the fact that our table was right near the kitchen and the doors kept swinging so we could hear the clatter in the kitchen. I can get that at home!!!

* Here I am with artichokes and a basket of veggies.

Hard falling asleep because I was overtired. Just as I began to drift off, we had thunder like I have never heard. I felt as though the Roman gods were banging on drums! Maybe they were wishing us a safe journey to the Amalfi Coast, our next stop.

A Room in Rome: Sun., May 15th, 2011: Part One

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Up early with Alan to walk to the Termini (train station) to pick up our van at the rental kiosk. Many people inline, so I found my way back to the hotel without getting lost (hooray!) and told the other couples that Alan was still at the station. Finally, Alan returned and we were on the road around 9:30 am to go to Tivoli.
(Pronounced like ravioli, with accent at the end of the word.) Alan warned us we might get lost, but Jackie is a good navigator and with only a couple of hitches, arrived at Villa Adriana near Tivoli. I went on the Internet and found this description:

“Outside Rome, a bit southwest of the town of Tivoli in Lazio Province, the monumental Roman ruins of Villa Adriana stand as a testament to the ambitions and fancies of Emperor Hadrian. Based upon the emperor’s design and built in the 2nd century A.D., the villa site presents a remarkable fusion of ostentatious architecture – a vast complex of buildings and thermal baths – cradled within hundreds of acres of green terrain.” (Source:

This is Irv’s photo of the first pond as we entered the “Spa.

(Wikipedia says that the term is derived from the name of the town of Spa, Belgium, whose name is known back to Roman times, when the location was called Aquae Spadanae, perhaps related to the Latin word “spargere” meaning to scatter, sprinkle or moisten. It is commonly claimed, in a commercial context, that the word is an acronym of various Latin phrases such as “Salus Per Aquam” or “Sanitas Per Aquam” meaning “health through water”. This is very unlikely: the derivation doesn’t appear before the early 21st century and is probably a “backronym” as there is no evidence of acronyms passing into the language before the 20th century; nor does it match the known Roman name for the location.)

There were ruins everywhere, but you could see signs of the amazing architecture.  Two large ponds have been restored and the grounds were spacious. The rain started almost as we finished seeing most of the retreat. I forgot my camera, so today’s photos are from my friends Irv & Jackie.

The ruins and the sculptures were beautiful, despite the fact that they were not the way they looked in Roman times. You could see the symmetry and forms were well planned.

I also asked Herb to take some pictures of the flowers in the area. Here is just one in a field of wild flowers.  These were everywhere in Rome.

After we left the spa, we found a restaurant that had outdoor seating under large umbrellas. There were two big parties going on, so the atmosphere was noisy & festive. Soon after we sat down, heavy rains came and since we sat where two umbrellas didn’t quite meet, some of us had water pouring onto our plates. We hadn’t ordered yet, so the maitre’d, Marco, moved us with the help of a couple of waiters. The wind was strong, so Marco pulled down bamboo shades that helped keep the rain from coming in sideways. He was working very hard to provide a dry place for all of us to eat.

Just as we sat at our new table, the food came and the waiters rushed back and forth to serve us. Between Marco’s getting wet to keep the rain out and the young waiters rushing like crazy, I felt like we were in a movie with the Marx Brothers! The noise from the other parties, the rain dripping onto the eating area, moving the tables, pulling down the bamboo shades, and running back and forth from the main restaurant to the “garden” put us in stitches.

Here is Marco, a real character, describing the different desserts to Rhoda & me, as well as the rest of the gang not visible in the photo.

After finishing our meal, Marco told us about dessert. We ordered what he suggested and loved everything! I had a soft serve thyp of gelato — coffee and chocolate — that was so smooth, I felt like I was drinking velvet. As with the name of a book with the same title, it was “The Best Think I Ever Tasted!” I practically swooned.

We lost our way on the return trip and eventually found our way to the synagogue. That adventure will come in part two in a  couple of days. Already I was exhausted, but also energized by the fun we had at lunch. Marco was worth the rain on our lunch!

The rain was very heavy, and right on the perimeter of the umbrellas were some lovely flowers. Here is one that Irv snapped with the raindrops still clinging.

Going home we lost our way, but finally found ourselves close to the synagogue near Rome, so we got out and wandered around. See next posting for Alan’s lessons in parking to see the synagogue.

Posting Note: The program from Word Press has some glitches, so some of thephotos you see are a little distorted from what I post. Also, spacing is a problem. I am not able to fix this, because I do not have the expertise, but will ask my web guru.