The Traditions of Christmas – Christmas Fairs

The Christmas Fair had just opened at Piazza Navona on Friday when Joanne and I were on our stroll. It is one of many in Roma, and only some of the booths and rides were operating but families and school groups were already showing up.
Piazza Navona Christmas FairAngels for the PresepeCreches and BuildingsMore Angels

As well as children’s toys and Christmas trinkets, stalls are selling figurines, buildings, trees, moss, lights – everything you need for your own Presepe.Coke and Santa

A familiar figure reminds us that a Christmas Fair is after all a commercial event.

Fountain of the Four Rivers

The Fountain of the Four Rivers is undergoing a much needed cleaning and restoration.

Carousel HorsesCarousel Figures

Not sure if its just me, but as colourful as this carousel may be, it needs children to give it life.


And of course, being Rome, there has to be candy and sweet stalls.

10 decembre – Nostra Signora di Loretto

The Traditions of Christmas – Christmas Windows

Our friend Joanne was here last week for a conference but we managed to get together on Friday for the day. She was staying downtown near the Colesseo and as I head up Capo del’Africa to her hotel I was greeted by the sight of Gladiators and Senators heading to work. Anyone who has been to Rome will know what I mean – the guys in costume who stand around the Colesseo and Foro trying to pull you in for a bus or guided tour. These guys are probably in more vacation photos than bartenders in Jamaica but there they were trudging to work, swords and laurel wreaths in hand, like every 9 to 5 Joe.

Joanne has been to Rome before but it gave us a chance just to amble along taking a look at the odd thing here and there. Our walk down a side street off Corso lead us to a pastry story that has this incredible chocolate and spun sugar Presepe or crêche in the window:
Candy PresepeShepherds and their sheepVillage DetailsHoly Grotto
Just as we were entering Piazza Navona we saw these two windows in a children’s store (that Joanne and I reflected in the window):

Babes in the WindowFairies in the Window

10 decembre – Nostra Signora di Loretto

A Weekend in the Country

“A Little Night Music” has always been one of my favorite Sondheim musicals – and no not just because of Send in the Clowns (though Glynis Johns and Len Cariou singing it can still reduce me to tears – sadly that video is no longer available on YouTube) but more for the sort of writing heard in numbers like “A Weekend in the Country.”

And tomorrow we’re going on our own Weekend in the Country and Laurent will get a much-needed break from the glory that is Roma. After work today our friend Linda came and picked up Reese, who will be spending his own weekend in the country at her place. Of course that meant I spent this morning in the kitchen cooking up his food –Coat of Arms of the Commune di Rieti ground beef, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, green beans and rice, that dog is eating better than some people I know!

Tomorrow morning we set out – our trusty TomTom set for Rieti, about 80 kilometers north-east of here. We’re meeting up with a small group of people – Susan from Italytur, two other Canadians and a trio from Naples at the Fiano Romano roundabout and heading for:

  • A stroll through an olive orchard with spectacular views of the Appines and an olive tasting
  • a visit to an 11th century Monastery including a look at the Illuminated Manuscripts in their Scriptorium
  • Lunch at the Monastery
  • A visit to an olive mill that still grinds and presses for oil using the old methods
  • Then off to Susan’s B and B for a cooking class with chef Maurizio concluding with dinner combining some local wines with the fruits (and meat and vegetables) of our labour

That’s Saturday then on Sunday:

  • Breakfast at the B and B
  • A visit to a chestnut grove and processing facility – its chestnut season here and marroni canditi are in all the pastry and sweet shops
  • A visit to a castle that has been in one family since it was built in the 10th century
  • Lunch at a local wine shop with tastings
  • A look-in at Reiti itself – once a major stop on the great Via Salaria

At that point we’ll head over to Linda’s place about 40 kms away in Capena for dinner with her and Nazareno and pick up Reese. The pace promises to be country-speed and fortunately, not as tenison fraught or hectic as the one Sondheim’s characters are about to endure.

They (who the hell are “they” anyway) are calling for 20% chance of showers tomorrow in the Reiti region. Auld Hat, Lorraine, Cowbell and the rest of you Fire Dancers please start your engines and dance those clouds away.

16 novembre – Santa Marguerita di Scozia

Further Valentino

When the video of the Valentino Exhibition finally processed and I played it this morning I realized that the picture was small and that many of the exquisite details of Valentino’s designs were lost. So I’ve uploaded a sideshow at Fickr that can be browsed through at a desired speed. I haven’t added much in the way of comments other than identifying the celebrity dresses.

Two things I did notice and several friends who accompanied me to the exhibition remarked on:

  • You’d have to be pencil thin verging on anorexic to wear some – well actually almost all – of those dresses.
  • Some of the more elaborate ones – bead work behinds, coq feathers at the wrists and neck – would be absolute hell to wear. How the hell would you sit in some of them?

14 novembre – San Giocondo

Valentino at 45

Before I arrived in Roma I had this vision of the woman: air and ice – elegant creatures in haute couture and Amalfi coast tans – La Bella Figura. Well I don’t see much of that on the number 84 bus in the morning or even at the opera – though I must admit there where some dressed-to-the-nines woman the night we went to the opera at the Baths of Caracella. I realize now they may well have been tourists.

But for five months in late summer and early fall there was a place where feminine elegance was supreme here in Roma. The newly housed Ara Pacis was the venue for a retrospective celebrating 45 years of the fashion style of Valentino.


Visually it was a stunning use of the incredible space that is the Ara Pacis and curators Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfredo created colour groups that had impact and excitement. I honestly couldn’t believe that I spent two hours the first visit and over an hour the second looking at an exhibit of haute couture.

Its taken a while to get this video together – mostly because I can’t seem to get any music download that Windows Movie Maker finds usable. I know its a little long but there was so much to see and as always I took way to many photographs. Please let me know how it works as I may have to break it down into segments.

13 novembre – San Diego D’Alcalà