Thursday, 31 December 2015

12 Cribs of Christmas 7

This simple wooden crib from Croatia was my favourite from the 100 Presepe exhibition. It places the nativity not in a stable in Bethlehem but in a New York apartment.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

12 Cribs of Christmas 6

A chocolate crib - what is not to like?!
This fine example can be found in Valzani on Via del Moro in Trastevere. Other Christmas treats here include pangiallo, a Roman speciality cake made with honey, nuts and dried fruit and mostaccioli Romano, diamond shaped spiced biscuits covered in dark chocolate.

Valzani is perhaps most well known for Sachertorte, said to be the best in Rome and beloved of the film director, Nanni Moretti. This decadent chocolate dessert harks back to the days of Austrian domination of Italy.

12 Cribs of Christmas 5

This elaborate crib is from Poland and is the second crib from the 100 Presepe exhibition. Modelled on the Medieval, Renaissance & Baroque architecture of Krakow, the crib resembles a fairytale castle. It is made of  wood, paper, cardboard, foil and fabrics.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

12 Cribs of Christmas 4

This set of  marble figurines were carved by Arnolfo di Cambio in the 13th century and they form the oldest known nativity scene. They originally stood in the Oratory of the Presepio , a small chapel which stood outside the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. This chapel was built to resemble the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The figures were moved in to the church in the 16th century & in doing so Mary & the baby Jesus were damaged (what we see today  are 16th century replacements) This beautiful crib scene is now in the museum below the church.
Santa Maria Maggiore also holds a relic of Christ's crib. The relic, five pieces of wood held together with a metal band, is situated below the high altar and is housed in a silver and rock crystal urn designed by Valadier.

The glorious mosaics on the triumphal arch above the altar depict scenes from the Christmas story including the visit of the Magi.

Monday, 28 December 2015

12 Cribs of Christmas 3

Crib number 3 is one of the 100 Presepe that we saw in the Salle de Bramante in Piazza del Popolo. The exhibition runs from the end of November to the beginning of January and is now in it's 40th year. There are actually 166 cribs on show from all over the world and all regions of Italy.
This beautiful wooden crib is from Sweden and was not the only Swedish element in our pre - Christmas visit to Rome. On our last evening we were lucky enough  to see a Swedish choir celebrating Santa Lucia, set against the magnificent background of Hadrian's Temple in Piazza di Pietra.


Sunday, 27 December 2015

12 Cribs of Christmas 2.

We found this cute cake crib at Dolce Maniera on Via Barletta 27, a short walk from Ottaviano metro. As it is open 24/7 it makes a perfect pit stop before an early morning appointment with the Vatican Museums. A cornetti & espresso will set you up nicely.

The cake display case in the right hand corner is always a joy to behold - this Minnie Mouse was our favourite when we visited in the summer.

In December the bakery is transformed in to panettone central. They hang from the ceilings and line every shelf.

 And the cake display case? Full of cribs of course.

12 Cribs of Christmas 1.

On our recent visit to Rome we saw the story of the Nativity depicted in many forms. Over the next 12 days of Christmas I will share my favourites.

 Pinturicchio's 'Adoration of the Shepherds' can be found in the Della Rovere chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. In the lunettes under the vault Pinturicchio painted small scenes from the life of St Jerome and the gold wall decorations were said to be inspired by those in the Domus Aurea - Nero's Golden House. We visited the Domus Aurea on our summer trip this year and learnt from the guide how Renaissance artists such as Raphael were lowered down on ladders to see the frescoes which would so influence their work and create a new style - 'Grotesque, after the grottos in which they found themselves.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Ave Maria

The reason we chose to come to Rome at this time and to stay in this particular apartment was to witness the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, held on 8th December every year. This year is extra special as this date also marks the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee year declared by Pope Francis.
Today promises to be a special day and it starts very early with the firemen garlanding the statue of Mary with a wreath of white roses and other bouquets.


 Processions and flowers will continue to arrive at the statue throughout the day.


We decide to have a stroll through Villa Borghese before getting the metro to Cavour. The late autumn colours are beautiful on this misty morning.

Once we reach Cavour metro stop it is a short walk to Mercato Monti which is full of independent retailers selling unique hand crafted items. Two of the stalls stand out for us. First, Creative LizArt  where artworks have been created using the work of photographer Ivan Ingletto. As we chat to the stall holder we discover that Ivan studied at the university of Newcastle upon Tyne which is the nearest city to where we live - small world!
Of course our second favourite stall, as proud 'Nonni' was Tra Le Nuvole - we couldn't resist this kit for our little princess

We decided we couldn't leave Monti without visiting our favourite barista, Marco, at Er Baretto
This was timely as the Pope was opening the Holy door at St Peter's Basilica and we were able to see it all on TV


As we made our way back to the apartment we realised that it was going to take some considerable time as security was extremely tight. We eventually made it and took up our prime position to see the Pope arrive to venerate the statue of Mary in the piazza below.

After the short service Pope Francis immediately went to the crowds who were lining the streets and gave blessings. He really is a 'People's Pope'. It was a very moving and humbling experience.

Our evening passeggiata took us to the Colosseum.........
.........then on to Piazza Venezia
From here to Piazza Pietra where we had cocktails at the gorgeous Enoteca Spiriti

A little later we saw a Swedish choir from Stockholm celebrate Santa Lucia against the magnificent backdrop of Hadrian's Temple in Piazza Pietra. A wonderful end to our pre-Christmas Grand Tour.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Maritozza Monday

On the way to the metro this morning we pass my favourite Christmas windows by Valentino.

Breakfast is at Regoli - it is not for the faint hearted. Maritozza are sweet yeasted buns filled with whipped cream.  The origin of the name is very romantic - Young grooms-to-be gave them to their fiancées, hence the name maritozzi, which means "almost husband," from the Italian word for husband, marito.

In Regoli's shop next door we buy mostaccioli - diamond shaped spice cookies covered with dark chocolate.
A short walk brings us to Panella where we admire the Christmas themed bread sculpture in the window.


Back in Centro Storico we pay a visit to a very special butchers. Angelo Feroci has been serving the well heeled local clientele for four generations. The display of meats is fantastic and the staff all wear bandanas which make them look like pirates. There is also a huge counter of ready prepared meals which is ideal when self catering.

As we are so close to the Pantheon we cannot resist a peek in and enjoy seeing the Chapel of the Annunciation which fits in with our Christmas themed trip.
There is also a very simple crib waiting for a special baby.
Obviously we can't pass by Bortolucci (Evie's toy shop!) where the Christmas tree is very cleverly decorated with wood shavings.
For lunch today we decide to return to Pizzarium so that I can get my potato pizza fix. The dough on this pizza is incredible.
On the way back through the metro station we see some interesting street art.
Our early evening passeggiata tonight starts at Café Greco. We splurge on hot chocolate in this historic café to celebrate our 10th visit to the Eternal City.

Everyone who is anyone has been seen here, including Buffalo Bill
 We wander along admiring the street decorations.....


.......I particularly like these umbrellas

Time for suppli and Supplizzio supplies some of the best in the city

Not too far away is Barnum Cafe, which appears to have had a makeover and has lost the circus theme. They do lovely wines by the glass here and have a reputation for mixing good cocktails. However, the atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired as the free Wi-Fi means you are surrounded by solitary souls on their laptops.
Waiting for a bus isn't a hardship when the stop is opposite such a beautiful church as the Chiesa Nuova.
We alighted near the Trevi Fountain to see the result of the recent refurbishment - it is spectacular.
Of course we throw our coins in to assure our return before making our way back to the apartment.