About Me

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Bucharest, Romania
Hello, I am a woman who is writing, living and travelling in Europe, trying to make the most from her life without destroying anything. Mother, wife, employer, lover of fine things, art and culture. Things have been modernized over the last 10 years throughout the world - I haven't.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rome - The Churches

I said I would get back on the Churches in Rome topic but I delayed it, since I had a busy time and had to travel a lot for some business threads that could no longer wait. I am back today on this subject, which is fascinating and compelling… I said that I saw an awful lot of churches in Rome and I don’t wanna  see another church for a long, long,  time. Well, I was lying. Err…hmmm… I wasn’t really lying, that is what I thought about in June …
the colonades in st peter's square, rome

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st peter's basilica - entrance front view
Meanwhile I have given a good thought about it and made up my mind : yes, I saw an awful lot of churches in Rome, and now I want to see more ! J It’s not been enough. It is never enough ! It can’t be ! They are too beautiful to have enough of it . Saint Peter is, of course, the most famous, the biggest, the most visited, the most spectacular  and I could go on like this for days. The truth is it is indeed wonderful. It is an object of art itself, it is projected to make an impression on you, poor mortal, it is full of art and after you see it you remain for a while in a state of complete stupidity, like an anaconda who has swollen a deer and just stays there, almost intoxicated, unable to have any reaction at all. You are puzzled, you are amazed, you are excited! Perfect beauty can be deadly and too much perfection can kill you at times, or it could kill your senses!  
Pope Alexander VII’s Tomb was the most fantastic thing I have ever seen and Bernini’s huge popes and saints leaning over like descending to the visitors , one of the most impressive ! I went there to see Michelangelo ‘s work and got out as a Bernini fan !  Pope Alexander’s monument in photos is very different to  what you actually see. The photo does not make it any justice, maybe because in a photo, no matter how carefully plotted , the real proportions are a great deal distorted.
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pope alexander's VII tomb
You can prepare yourself for the shock and immense beauty of Saint Peter looking for info on the internet, watching documetaries, reading books,  but being there is completely different and oh, so much better. I did not want to take photos in the basilica, I  enjoyed it, alone, by myself, in my own rhythm. If that had been the only great thing I saw in Rome it would still have been wonderful, but fortunately, it was so much more to see. I will quickly go through the ones are worth mentioning:
 Saint Andrew Church on Corso Vittorio Emmanuele.

We got there by accident, as we were heading to the Piazza Navona and couldn’t find our way.  It was 9 o clock in the morning, a sunny June day, the church was all empty and welcoming, all inviting and adorned with golden light, like in a dream. I enjoyed it tremendously  and I wish I would revisit soon. I think it is the best place to pray as Saint Peter is exquisite but I found that it is hard to concentrate there ! There are just so many people moving inside that it is hard to really live the religious moment. In Saint Andrew it was perfect and very intimate.

saint andrew-interior

I would like to be a citizen of Rome and go there weekly for the sermon and pray ! I know God can be found in each and every church, but I am snob enough to wish I could talk to him in Saint Andrew. I could wear my best clothes, put a dark lace on my head, Prada sunglasses and a Guci perfume and my prayings would be he most sophisticated and exquisite, not to mention that afterwards, I could stop for an espresso in Piazza Navona, I could market in Campo di Firori or visit boutiques on Corso! There, I said it , and I won’t take it back !

San Clemente

My husband wanted very much to visit it because of the underground part with the archeological excavations from ancient times. The church was built on the foundations of a roman villa, that was also put on a Mithra temple . It sounds great but the truth is you just pay 5 euros to get in a dark, moist, moulded labyrinth  where you see nothing … From place to place there are pointers to show you the way to the exit ( this is the best part because otherwise you’d be completely lost and could NEVER find the exit by yourself ) but I swear there were moments I just wanted to cry  “ get me out of here , I’ve had enough ”…  I have no phobia whatsoever but in that dark basement I felt sorry for people who regularly experience such extreme feelings.  I feel supportive to all of them because I can tell it is indeed horrible to feel trapped and hopeless like this. Next time I’m invited to see underground explorations I’ll pass. Album photos are much better . I have to say that all in all, San Clemente WAS  a fabulous experience and I am not sorry we went there.  We had lunch nearby, in Naumachia, a traditional Italian trattoria we wouldn’t have tried otherwise . The waiter had one nice table in the open window, and we sat there, in the light wind that came by the window, with a great view( there was an ambulant flower seller across and the houses in the area were all old and so Italian-like with their green wooden shades and tiny balconies , and pelargoniums baskets were hanging on the walls that we felt just like in a movie).

I’ll cherish that but as far as San Clemente’s excavations are concerned I’ll say they should be paying you, and more than 5 euros ,to get down there! The real beauty lies in the altar area , the mosaiques and the fresco!

Santa Maria Maggiore

I completely disliked this one. It is too big and looks like a train station . Period.  Sure , it has a nice Pieta inside,  spectacular colored glass windows  but I did not like it at all. I took lots of photos here because I was very tired , so I just sat down and photographed.  In my opinion, the photos look better than the real church, which I know  is famous but told me nothing. What is indeed beautiful in Santa Maria Maggiore: the additional altars and chapels used for sermons.    
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pieta - santa maria maggiore


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floor mosaique

They are not open to the public and are extremely adorned, with wonderful paintings and statues.  Each of them would do for a petite church of its own, and an exquisite one but all of them opening like wings from the main building were not that attractive looking at all .  Some stairs go down, to the tomb of a pope ( sorry, I forgot his name ) , where, in a precious golden box there is a  nail from the cross Jesus was crucified on. Do not ask me how much I believe or if I believe it. The box holding it is beautiful as you can see. 

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the nail is supposed to be kept inside this

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secondary altar/ chapel in santa maria maggiore; not open to tourists
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santa maria maggiore
outside main view

I don’t know how important is if all these are true or not ; my guess is that  for some people it is important to place their trust  and faith in reliques  like these, and they don’t harm anyone through this, even if might seem a bit naive . To others it is important to say:  “It’s not true, it’s a lie!”. I , for one,  have no idea if it’s true or not. I have no evidence and I am a skeptic . Well, after seeing so many “ reliques” exposed  in Rome and after watching 2 or 3 saints exposed in glass coffins, I have mixed feelings about it and no longer a firm opinion.  I used to moque the exhibiting of the dead, intact people labeled as  “saints” but after seeing a few you start to question your own judgement and try to find explanations …  They look so perfect and real that all kind of thoughts start to mix in your head. I did not want to photograph them because it seemed to me an impiety to do it. True or not, scam or real thing,  it is hard to know the truth and stays a matter of personal choice.

San Pietro in Vincoli – Saint Peter in Chains

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Michelangelo's Moses
It is here that you can see  Michelangelo’s Moses. The church is always crowded, with lots and lots of tourists from everywhere . I doubt they care much for the religious and/or  esthetics of the church itself but since tourism is the new worldwide religion, people have to come and have to see.
Is it good?  Is it bad ? Who am I to judge it ? If, among all those travelers , here and there,  some people manage to find real joy for what they see, or at least a second of faith or enlightenment, then it is just logic and worthy to accept the whole  “flock” !

The Augustinian Monastery near San Clemente

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monastery patio

They were renovating it …  The whole place  was deserted and wonderful and full of light and peace and beauty … I prayed here.  I plan to come back one day … This is not a spectacular place to be, but a true one.   Nothing extra-ordinary but full of an intense, quiet energy. I trust the photos show it. This was the most different possible thing to San Pietro. Same faith, different means. Here everything was human-like and humble. Where San Pietro boasts and shouts, this monastery serves and whispers .  As many other wonderful things I accidentally  stumbled upon, it made me completely happy

 I think it is enough and the post is already too long! I also hope you’ll enjoy it. I know I did - writing it made me re-living it. Ciao !
quiet, full of light and positive energy

Sunday, June 19, 2011


 After spending a romantic  week in Rome , fearing it will happen just like last year, when having toured for a marvelous fortnight all over central and northern Greece  I got home ready to share it on my blog and finally did not write a single word  about it, I’ve decided it is high time I started writing . Just to make sure I’ll not give up like last time! …  I am not the regular traveler and nor is my husband. We travel as a peculiar couple- I am the control freak and my husband is the dreamy dictator. He just knows there are places he wanna see but  has never cared about properly organizing things to make it happen.  I usually do ALL this stuff and I have to say that at the beginning of our marriage I did not like this situation, not the very least bit, but now I've come to enjoy it, since I can decide on my own on almost all practical arrangements . So, I am the one to make arrangements about the hotel, the flight, the car, taxi fares,  list of objectives, prices,  budget, I buy maps, make routes on viamichelin etc,etc,etc. Hubby constantly nags about everything I do but in the end he declares himself completely happy with my choices.
Every year, in May, we start planning the trip for June. This year we agreed it would be Rome and the seaside will be kept for late August , since Rome was a must see and Rome in August is a nonsense. Rome in June, on the other hand , is the perfect choice .
We stayed in the Prati area, at Isa’s. 
It’s a wonderful 4 stars boutique hotel ( more about it some other time) and we enjoyed staying there, as  it is placed close enough to San Pietro to visit by foot, has multiple and excellent connections like bus stops just across the street, a metro station ( lepanto) at about 10 minute walking, and a taxi stop in the Piazza Cavour (1 minute away) . The taxi stop was not much of a help, anyway, because THE day  we badly needed a taxi it was just the day for general taxi strike and no taxi was available throughout all Rome ! But Isa has delicious Muscat champagne for the breakfast, which, combined to the fact that you can sip it having a view to the San Pietro basilica ,makes it the most perfect romantic get-away !
Prati is the equivalent of the Romanian Dorobanti or Magheru Blvd. Hausmanian buildings, geometrically cut streets and allies, lots of charming boutiques and cafes . I love this part of my beloved Bucharest so I felt in Prati like being home, only people were speaking around in a kind of a (slightly) different language. Romanian and Italian are that close that reading menus or understanding almost everything we were hearin was not a problem.  We were even taken for locals since we were repeatedly stopped on the Cola de Rienzi Street to be given instructions on how  to vote for the local Referendum , next week !  Prati is indeed nice and not so tourist-like compared to other parts of Rome.

You won’t see hoards of tourists with their guides, walking around like aliens, but you’ll bump in Romans coming here to have their espresso, read the newspaper on  a bench and watch the shop windows. Which, by the way, look like this photo below, multiplied by tens and tens and after a while you’ll loose count and do not notice names anymore...
The nicest places on Cola de Rienzi according to my experience are :

-          - Café Portofino – wonderful cocktails, ice cream and snacks, great  espresso and a special place among locals who were cuing to get a free table at THE meeting point. When you order over 15 euros they will get you some delicious hors d’oeuvres . We got to Portofino Café by accident  and came back for espresso and gelato every day.
-          Coin – this might not be your perfect cup of tea but it is still a nice department store where you can really buy at decent prices many things. As an Eastern European coming from a country ( Romania) that evolves in a very American way, around malls, hypermarkets and commercial centers ,Coin is a small department store. It has a Billa supermarket in the basements which is kind of nasty for a Romanian ( Billa is not very highly thought off in Romania, because it has a solid reputation for selling old food stuff with fake labels prolonging the real expiration date). Anyway, Romanians love huge Supermarkets where they can spend lots of time and buy loads of useless things , so they naturally  look down any small one,  so, in our perspective , Coin is rather small. I like it, though, because you can “ browse “ it and get a fairly decent idea about what Romans like and buy. I did not go to Rome to buy something and excepting some very specific boutiques specialized in Italian foods and shirts/shoes, there was nothing there I could not find at home too, so, for me, it was important to understand what it feels like to live in Rome, and in this respect, Coin helped me a lot .Also, I will add, it had a nice perfumery and cosmetics selection and make up and moisturizing were far cheaper than in Bucharest, which made me spend some “coins” at Coin and made Givenchy having a few more “coins” in its account. Notie, if you go to Rome, that there are many Coins around Rome and I had no idea if they all carry the same stuff or not, 'cause I have visited only the Prati one.
-        Castroni – Now, this is fabulous! I like it and came there twice, for a wonderful selection of Italian Leoni pastiglias – nice home made candies. Those with anise and violet flavor are a treat ! They also had tens of types of honey and Italian style hazelnut spreading ( Nutella type but organic and more Italian like) , tisanes and , of course, Italian liqueurs and specialties. Also, just like with Coin, there some other Castronis in Rome, with their own web site and,maybe,different products.
-        You can also shop on Cola de Rienzi for  Benetton, Calvin Klein,HM,Zara etc but this is nothing purely Italian and it’s the same all over the world so I won’t insist on it, I’m sure you know what I mean.
Moving around and visiting one rainy afternoon we stumbled upon some great shops around Colonna street. One of them was  Verdini  Antiques and the other a great shop selling everything for doors , from door handles to exterior lights and lots of other things I cannot label. I wanted to buy some door knobs  there and somehow couldn’t make up my mind… Then it seemed so strange and useless to go to Rome and buy door knobs that I didn’t…And now, of course, I’m so sorry. Well, maybe next time. Both the antique shop and the door one were pure haven for antique and vintage lovers, not to mention the area had nice restaurants and trattorias “ hidden “ inside massive and secret buildings.

I will come back tomorrow on  the visiting Churches  topic. I have seen so many churches ( I was about to say “ so many damn churches” but stopped  just before doing so) that I don’t think I’d bare to see one more for many, many months to come.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pizza, anyone? Coffee , anyone ? A nice suit, a rain coat or a hat ?!

There comes a time when selling pizzas, coffees and sweets doesn't pay off anymore... Imagine you are the owner of a small pizzeria or caffe  and you suddenly understand you cannot go on with it... What do you do ? You decide you can try selling clothes for a while and there you go, out the pizza shop and in the clothes! I have seen this while visiting a city in Transylvania and I couldn't resist to make a photo and post it here. They didn't bother to change the signs over the window and the front door ...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Poor Rich Girl

There's no doubt Madame Miuccia Prada is a communist. I only suspect she has decided long ago to undermine the capitalist society from within. This is the only coherent enough conclusion if one sees her fashion and perfumery. She is producing crap just to cash in big money from stupid rich people and I don't think anyone should blame her ... Everything is ugly at Prada - the colours , the shapes, each and every item looks like it's made of garbage. Why would anyone actually pay for this ?1 Beats me !

It's been a long time since I last had such a good laugh like I did watching her Spring 2011 pret a porter collection ... Oh my god, poor human beings who would buy and wear  such monstrous clothings and shoes... When I was small, poor people, homeless ones looked like this, poor girls in the countriside wore such clothes, mixing disparities from their mothers, grand-mothers and the cheapest things they could get in the local village shop. It is not the aesthetics of the ugly, like in Baudelaire, but the aesthethics of the horrenduous. Does this woman hates women ? And if not , why would she want to see them dressed like that ?!  I cannot understand the appeal of these fashion items. Really, I have an art education, I love fashion but not these monstrosities, this is just crap for women who CANNOT assume their feminity !

But at the end of the day, Madame Prada looks just like this herself ( of course, she is congruent with her beliefs, she really is a comrade-woman with a visible moustache and an impossibe look that matches everything she sells) . What makes me laugh is the consumer of her so-called products. They certainly deserve each other . Please, don't preach me about inner beauty- this is fashion and I am NOT  a fan of the inner-beauty concept. A woman is either beautiful or not. A dress is either beautiful or not. Period. Ugliness does not count for being beutiful. At least not on this blog.

 Would you like to look like this ? If it were me I'd rather commit suicide !