The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Mambo Italiano or Angels and Demons in Rome


In Italy I had and maybe still have some good friends. Because I grew up in a mode where almost everything was prohibited, and the Italians know how to circumvent the laws effectively. So in the name of humanity, we circumvented laws together :)) So the first song is for my Italian friends and their sense of humour.

Return to Rome after years was sad. Not that there isn´t anything to admire – but something in the streets was bleak. I saw poverty, filth, desperate faces of immigrants living ten in one room and selling all day in the streets trying to sell you what you will never need with eyes so sad, that it is tearing the heart. I forgot to enjoy the memorials and buildings. And next to these ooor people pastors smelling from luxurious toilet waters and Pope´s tailor shop in the street, where there are shops of a brand name designers.

What I admire on Italians, is there light way of existence, unloaded from guilt and memory.
Once, when I was standing in front of the sea somewhere in Italy, an elderly gentleman sitting on a beach with lifeguards advised me that now is the est time for swim. As the sea was smooth like a mirror. I started to crawl but after a while I realized that I am swimming in the sea packed with jellyfish. I returned to beach, with burning face and body and I see them until now how they laughed. Words of my Afghanistan collegue from the hospital were for a moment brought back to me – unfortunately, we have to take care also for the sick people.
In less than 24 hours on the same beach I excercised reanimation of the same old guy, because he had almost drowned in the sea and he was cardiac, as I later learned, too. So in 24 hours after that small incident I was sitting at the best Italian piano with wine with the same guy, his wife and everything in the hotel was free. I was the heroe of the sick men world. That’s life.
OK, talking too much.
Let´s have a look on Italian architecture, as after the spirit of arbitrary freedom it is the second thing I like most in Italy.

In these days it is almost impossible to pay by credit card in Rome. Why? Because of a new rule imposed on Italy by the EU.
In translation – all citizens cannot take from their bank accounts more then 999 euros per week. “My moni in bank, I prefer cash, madam”….So if you can manage to have a cash and stay unriped off (somebody unsuccessfully cut my bag at Fontana di Trevi and then cut my finger holding the bag), then you are safe. In Rome. In Sicily you can pay both ways and have extra bonus of free taxi trip, if you make impression :)
Lupa capitolina got a lock on a gob.

Hundred year lasting dogmas are falling apart…must be a crisis for sure, lol.

To find a real Maria Magdalene in Rome is like to find a real King Arthur. However, there is one church in Rome, not often showed by tourist guides, staying away from the bussiest tourist routes. It is Santa Maria degli Angeli et dei Martiri. This basilica was built 400 years before I was born, so that´s a special place for me :)
The church was designed by Michelangelo, who began to work on it in 1563, but died a year later in 1564. His design was completed by pupils of Michelangelo. It was built on old Roman baths which were built by first Christians, killed after finishing the building of thermae. That´s why “martyrs” in the name of the church.
In 2006, Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj created new bronze doors. This is one of the details. Jesus flesh cut by the cross. The cross has dissappeared, but Jesus remains.

Warm welcome….The holy water font, in the shape of a beautiful angel, is attributed to Giovanni Battista Rossi, a pupil of Bernini.

The Magdalene Chapel is the baptistery of the church. It was constructed in 1579. The altarpiece with Noli Me Tangere depicts the meeting of Jesus Christ and St Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection, when he asked her not to touch him (“Noli me tangere”). Do you know where did they meet after his resurrection? In the garden!

It was neither Peter, nor any of the four key New Testament authors. She was the first. And the one who never betrayed Christ. As she was representative of mysthical (personal) relationship to God, she has according to some authors became enemy for authoritative power structure of the church.
Dan Brown in his Angels and Demons mixed a lot history, Bible and mystical teachings with astrology. Here is one of his inspirations.

This is Meridian Line, a sundial laid down along the meridian that crosses through Rome. At true noon, about 12.15 pm (1.15 pm in summer time), the sun casts its light on this line.Part of the cornice on the right side of the transept wall has been cut away to provide the effect.

The markings were made by the astronomer, mathematician, archaeologist, historian and philosopher Francesco Bianchini. Bianchini’s sundial was built along the meridian that crosses Rome, at longitude 12° 50’. At solar noon, around 12.15 p.m. the sun shines through a small hole in the wall to cast its light on this line each day. At the summer solstice, the sun appears highest, and its ray hits the meridian line at the point closest to the wall. At the winter solstice, the ray crosses the line at the point furthest from the wall. At either equinox, the sun touches the line exactly halfway between these two extremes. The longer the meridian line, the more accurately can the observer calculate the length of the year. The meridian line built here is 45 m long, and is composed of bronze, enclosed in yellow-white marble.
Bianchini also added holes in the ceiling to mark the passage of stars. Inside the dark interior, Polaris, Arcturus and Sirius are visible through these holes, even in bright midday and their names are recorded on the floor. So originally it should have been symbol of victory of Christianity over pagans, but seems like meridian was made according to good old tradition of pagans buildings :))

OK. So you saw famous Angelic meridian in Rome and now a short and the only view on present gardens in Rome.

I came, I saw, but did not conquer. And it should stay like that.

More blog posts by katarina

Previous post: Colour show of October (must go on).

Next post: When chimp plays with tiger



Sticki, hello. Do you have Sunday lunch ready? lol.

14 Oct, 2012


fascinating blog katarina, thank you! you make history interesting! and that is not an easy thing to do.

14 Oct, 2012


its in the oven kat! thats why i took a while to make the comment ~ i have visitors coming soon!

14 Oct, 2012


I found much of what you had to say here about the history of Italy fasinating. Your pictures are extremely evocative. However the negative comments about the italian people and Italy it's self hasn't been my experience of either.

14 Oct, 2012


Hi Waddy, I don´t know what you mean negative comment. Italians are the nationality which I like most of all - for many reasons. I shared only my experience. If you do not have the same, it is just because you were probably luckier. If you think my comment on attempt to rob me as impolite, that was true and it happened also to one professor in our group - somebody stole his passport...Thank you for the comment. Italy is still my favourite destination.

14 Oct, 2012


This was so interesting, lots of photos of places I'd never even heard of let alone seen. You didn't show any pictures of the litter, which was nice! It is very sad about the financial restrictions as carrying cash isn't a good idea these days. Still it looks as though you did enjoy your visit even if things weren't as you remembered.
Many congratulations on your artificial respiration of the old man who sent you among the jellyfish on purpose - a mean trick! You deserve the lovely free evening in the hotel!

This was a really great blog - thank you!

14 Oct, 2012


Hi Steragram@I have got free coffees and drinks till the end of my stay in Sicily :)) Sicilians are different from Italians. I liked their cuisine veeeeeeeery much :))
I am glad you liked it!

14 Oct, 2012


Hello Katarina. Another wonderful blog. I love the Rossi angel. Angels are my 'thing' lol. I have several in my house & intend to get at least one large one into the garden .....perhaps you could ask Rossi's angel to fly over to NZ? I visited Italy when I lived in England, but sadly not Rome. For a short time I had an Italian boyfriend, but ended up marrying a Jordanian (my first husband). I loved Italy & would love to return. One of my brothers spent time in Naples in the early 1960s & I can remember him talking about the beauty & the poverty .... I would have been about 12 years old then, & he was about 21 .....he is now 71, so such a long time ago! When I visited Italy at the age of 17, I found the people friendly, & never had any problems, but the world has changed since then, & desperation can cause people to behave in desperate ways. I hope you visit New Zealand one day. I am sure you would find many beautiful things to photograph, though we do not have much "European" history. Our "European" history only really starts from mid-1800s when the English settled here.

14 Oct, 2012


Hi Dwyllis@thank you for your confession :) I do not know if this situation is caused only by crisis. Rome was always known as a dangerous town. Slovaks have even very old proverb regarding this. I was also in the northern Italy, which is more to Swiss borders and here it was really different. I cannot complain on Sicily - holidays there were my best in life.
I didi not want to complain in this blog and I am sorry if it looked like that. I just wanted to show you another mirror of Rome, then you usually see, as I hate hypocricy and manipulation with public opinion.
If I ever have time, courage (flights) and money I will move to the N.Z., for sure. If not for better life, then at least for those sunsets above the sea :)))

14 Oct, 2012


I have never been to Sicily but have seen holiday programmes on TV about it. Looks like a lovely place. I have been to Switzerland .....went along the Rhine Valley & into Basle, or I think that is where I stayed with my mother & a Swiss friend who lived in NZ. (he was my much older sister's boyfriend at that time). I thought it was a magical place & loved every minute of my two weeks there. If I manage to get back over that side of the world again, I will try to visit Sicily, on your recommendation.

15 Oct, 2012


My friends from Italy would recommend you to visit north-west and south of Sicily. I followed their recommendations. Majority of travel agencies offer eastern shore of Sicily (e.g. Etna, taormina), but the sea is polluted there due to industry. If you go to Sicily, do not forget to visit Monreale...and lemon fields...wonderful. Sicilian quisine is the best in Italy.

15 Oct, 2012


I really enjoyed that Katarina, it was fascinating, and isn't that angel with the holy water beautiful? Baroque is not my favourite style of architecture, and when I went to Rome a couple of years ago, I found it overwhelming and a bit revolting to be honest....the Baroque, I mean, not Rome! But if you can find the little gems that aren't OTT, then it can be quite beautiful. I'll never forget the Trevi fountain though....coming upon it was such a huge revelation...I didn't expect it to be in such a built-up situation and it was really special, I could have stood and stared at it all day long. Apart from that, the highlight of my trip was the Pantheon I think, and all the Roman ruins of course. The place we stayed was behind the park which runs from the Coliseum, where Herod (I think) used to have his Lions, Tigers etc. roaming free.....incredible to think of that. When we went (in March) we didn't see any beggars really, and we had no problems with thieves either....what a horrible thing to happen to you with your cut finger. :(( The story of how you saved the 'sick man' was outcome possible for your spirit I would say! :)) xx Thanks for sharing your tour with us. :))

19 Oct, 2012


That was all very interesting, Katarina. And your story of the old man was like a fairytale!

19 Oct, 2012


Hi Melchisedec. I have many fairy tales in my book of life called "God´s Mills". In long winter evenings I am going to narrate them one by one, if there will be interest. For instance a story about a father who got rid of his son and let him adopted by other people. Later in life he married and had a lovely daughter whom she loved. At the age of seven she got leukemia and needed transplantation of the bone marrow, so he started to look for his son, bribed officer who told him where his son is. When he found him he had to pay a lot of money to hís new parents for his blood. The blood was not compatible, doctor said to him, this wasn´t your son.
And so on, and so on. My fairy tales are from life and so far has surprising and sometimes not comfortable endings :))

19 Oct, 2012


Hi Karen, thank you. I just wonder, if we visited different Romes, if anybody of you saw beggars...

19 Oct, 2012


Few fairytales have comfortable endings. I often think the term "a fairytale ending" is a complete misunderstanding of the genre!

19 Oct, 2012


Slovaks have fairy tales, which have in 90 % positive endings. Good always wins over the evil. That´s why we have saying "This is fairy tale" instead of English term "soap opera." You know, what I mean...

19 Oct, 2012


"Soap operas"???? Don't watch 'em!

In the fairytales I have read, good usually triumphs, but at a price it seems. Perhaps it is the wry ones which stay in the memory.

19 Oct, 2012

Add a comment

Recent posts by katarina

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    10 Sep, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    3 Jul, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    7 Sep, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Jun, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    16 Mar, 2009

  • amy

    Gardening with friends since
    17 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    15 Jan, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    16 Apr, 2012