Friday, June 1, 2012
All Roads Lead to Rome
Well, I've been away from my blog for a few weeks because we made the trek to Italy. Before I tell a bit about the first five days in Rome, along with a few pics, let me catch up on book news.
First, my publisher Dundurn has been nominated for a very prestigious award - the 2012 Libris Award for Publisher of the Year! The Libris Awards are presented by the Canadian Booksellers Association with the winner announced June 3rd. Dundurn is actually the only 100% Canadian publisher in the running. They also just celebrated their 40th year in publishing - very well done indeed!
I'm most excited to be meeting the Dundurn crew this Wednesday when I take the train to Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association luncheon. As I earlier wrote, The Second Wife has been nominated for their Golden Oak award and the winner will be announced after lunch on Thursday. There will be about 300 mainly librarians at the event so most exciting (I love librarians). It'll be great to meet the Dundurn folks in person - so far, it's been by e-mail only.
So onto Rome. We went to Sorrento and Florence as well, but I'll concentrate on Rome today and the other places in the next few weeks.
The first thing that took our breath away as we drove in from the airport was the crumbling twelve-mile wall that surrounds old Rome. We also saw remains of the Roman aquaducts.
Drivers in Rome are absolutely crazy - no lanes, motorbikes weaving in and out, horns blaring and pedestrians jaywalking. It's vibrant and noisy - I can still hear the police and ambulances, which seemed to be everywhere, all the time, with their sirens on full. Somehow, it all works. We only saw one motorbike struck and the driver of the car drove off after honking his displeasure at the stupidity of the motorbike driver. The chastened biker picked up all his parcels scattered across the road, righted his bike and continued on his way.
Statues everywhere you turn . . .
And churches . . . below is Basilica Santa Maria in a section called Trastevere, where legend has it, the church was built on the spot where a fountain of oil bubbled up in 38 B.C. to herald the coming of Christ.
We had to see the Vatican - below is the balcony from which the Pope greets the crowds. (We had nothing to do with the document leaks - honest, it was just a coincidence that we were roaming around the Vatican days before the scandal . . .)
Did I mention the statues?
We left the Vatican and wandered into what we later learned was Piazza Navona above with stunning Baroque statues. Cafes line the other side of the square as they do all over Rome. We sat near this piazza for supper and watched a clown mime and mimic people walking by. We didn't realize until we returned a few days later that we were sitting across from the Pantheon. (Clowns have a way of making you forget where you are.)
The Pantheon dates from ancient Rome and is almost perfectly preserved. Each of the Egyptian granite columns weighs 82 tons. The oculus inside opens to the sky.
Rome is a fabulous city, so steeped in history and old architecture, narrow cobbled streets, shops and outdoor cafes. It really was amazing to be there.
And to conclude, a view of the Tiber River at night as we walked back to our apartment.
Next week, on to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast!