Friday, March 9, 2012

Xavi's christening on March 18th, same day he turned 9 months

The Christening was a simple affair at Our Lady of Fatima at Peakhurst followed by brunch at the Porters, who were also the godparents. Good on ya Gen & Bill! BTW we knew Fr Thu Nguyen when he was a deacon at St Michael's Lane Cove back in the day, so that was nice. Xavi was the oldest of the 4 kids done on the day and was very well behaved and didn't cry. he is very alert, has started crawling (physio worked!), and weighs 17 lb (8 kg). eats a full weetbix a day now, so our current supply will run out in September rather than October!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Xavi Downunder 2

We were in Australia for 2 weeks in early March. Monica and Xavi were there for a month. It was a bit of an Indian summer, so lots of opportunities for the little American tourist (still waiting on his ciitzenship papers to come through) to enjoy the great Aussie outdoors as well as for him to hang out with Max (& Katie)

boogie boarding with uncle Gerard in the pool at Terrigal

Bronte beach

swinging at Centennial Park

hanging out at home with Maxi

his first Baby-chino. More like Roosters latte set than Rabbitohs fans!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Part 2 of the walking tour of the Old City of Rome

Having exited from the southern/western end of Piazza Navona, we pass the Santa Guiliana convent where we often stayed, then cross busy Corso VE II and walk through the back lanes to the Campo dei Fiori. Saturday is market day6. Campo dei Fiori with its flower market

From there we head into Piazza Farnese, then head north towards the Tiber and a view of the massive Castel Sant'Angelo
7. Castel Sant'Angelo, built by the Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD.

From the Castel it is a long but pleasant haul directly east along the ancient Via dei Coronari until you emerge at Piazza Colona
8. Column of Marcus Aurelius. Apparently he stole it from the Egyptians, also in the 2nd century AD. They want it back... but not sure how they will get it there. Palazzo Chigi is also here, where the Italian President lives (not Berlusconi).

Then we head south, crossing busy Via del Corso. Now it is just a few steps to the incredible Trevi Fountain
9. Trevi Fountain. I didn't have any coins on me, so maybe I won't be back!

From there, it was up the hill for about a mile to another great tourist magnet, the Spanish steps,
10. Spanish Steps. From here it was 10-15 minutes up the hill from Piazza Bernini to the St Regis.
What an amazing city.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Benvenuti a Roma!

Here are some highlights from the first half of Steinbicker's "Rome-the Old City" walk, which begins at the Piazza Venezia. But on the way there from the hotel there was an anti-Austerity protest against the banks at Piazza della Repubblica, just down the street from the hotel.

1. Piazza Venezia and the Monument to King Victor Emanuel II. Erected by Mussolini, who lived in Palazzo Venezia, the building the buses are stopped in front of.

2. The Pantheon, built in 27 B.C. and still in use today. Incredible.

3. "Calling of St Matthew" by Caravaggio, (early 16th century) mural in San Luigi di Francesi church.

4. Statue of Neptune, Piazza Navona. Not as famous as the Four Rivers statue by Bernini also on the Piazza, but the light was much better.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Greetings from the Vatican!

While Monica and Xavi were in Australia, Paul was over in Rome on Friday/Saturday for a 2-day meeting at the St Regis Hotel. First time back on Italian soil since 2007.

On Friday evening after the meeting, we were taken over to the Vatican City for a private evening tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Saturday afternoon after the meeting, I went on a walking tour of the Old Center, using the same guidebook by Earl Steinbicker that we first took to Italy in 1998. Guess what - everything is still in the same place! Pics from that walk appear on the next blog.

Sorry about the poor quality of these photos; took them with my iPod Touch and the light wasn't great...

Entrance to the Vatican Museum.

There are 9 km of hallways in the Mueseum; we did 2.5 km. No crowds.

The famous painting of the Greek philosophers by Raphael (done in 1510). it is located in the Stanza della Segnatura, just after one leaves the Sistine Chapel. No photography allowed inside the Chapel, and didn't want to get arrested by a Swiss Guard!

The incredible spiral staircase at the exit of the Museum

Sunset over St Peter's Basilica. It had been a beautiful day, sunny and 21 deg C