Tivoli is a small city not too far from Rome. Villa D'Este is a 16th century mansion and garden famous for its profusion of fountains. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. And even more important, it has the Paulsen stamp of approval.
Enjoy the views!
This structure houses an organ that is played by the flow of water
I don’t know where they go; I think to the beach and to the
mountains. But then what would the value
of a vacation to the beach or mountains be if everyone in the country were
there at once. All I know with certainty
is that they are gone. Most shops are
closed for all or part of August - not the large supermarkets, not the main
tourist attractions, but the thousands of small shops spread across the
neighborhoods. Ferragosto is a specific
one day holiday on August 15th.
But more generically, Ferragosto or Ferie refers to the vacation period
of August. Driving in Rome is comparably
pleasant during August because the traffic is markedly lighter. If only the Ferragosto traffic lasted all
I don’t know if the Italians all horde gold in their
apartments but you might think so from the doors to the apartments. And keep in mind, within the cities everyone
lives in apartments. Some apartments
like ours have one lock and one key, others like our office (which is in a
residential building – our office having been converted from a residence) have
two locks and with two different keys.
The keys have a unique inner pattern not a cut edge like in
the states. Adding to the Fort Knox
imagery, you cannot quickly insert the key into the lock. There is a movable outer ring that does not
align with the key. You have to insert
the key an eighth of an inch and turn it up to 180 degrees till you get the
right alignment to insert the key into the lock. You then have to turn the key 720 degrees for
each lock. At our apartment, the one
lock turns 4 different dead bolts. The
two office locks in total turn 9 deadbolts one of which is on top of the door.
The knob on the outer side of the door does not turn and
strangely enough, the knob is on the middle of the door. Because there is no knob to turn, even if the
deadbolts have not been turned, you cannot leave your apartment unlocked and
re-enter. The metal door jamb edge of the
doors has bullet shaped protrusions that align with holes in the metal door jamb. The doors are made of wood and metal; they are
thick and heavy. I am guessing that the
doors weigh in the neighborhood of 500 pounds. To access the gold from the balcony the burglar would have to first unlock a metal bar door – thick bars like a jail cell -
and a locking french door. The metal door has a 1080 degree lock.
We are in the office Monday - Friday and some Saturdays. Saturday is our day to shop, clean, take in the sights or just sleep in and relax. One Saturday some weeks ago we visited the city that Saint
Francis made famous, Assisi. As I
understand it, he was born into a wealthy family but after a vision he renounced
the riches of his family and took upon him a life of poverty and obedience. We toured a house where tradition says his
father locked him in a room to try to force him to return to his family and
wealthy lifestyle. Every city in Italy has a patron saint. The country of Italy has two patron saints, Francis of Assisi being one of them.
Assisi is one of
dozens of hilltop cities in this part of Italy; built upon the hill to keep
invaders at bay. We walked by many
churches. The last
church dedicated to St Francis is huge with two levels and many frescoes. We took a Rick Steves walking tour of the
town and the main cathedral starting near the top of the town.
A narrow road leading down into the middle of the town.
We just happened to stumble past this out of the way but beautiful doorway.
This was in front of one of the churches. According to Steve Ricks, a lion eating a Christian.
A lot of the notable churches in Italy have bell towers.
It was surprising to find two of them in such a small town.
Last, but not by any stretch least, the cathedral of Saint Francis.
I am afraid it is difficult to grasp just how huge this cathedral is.
When they were doing some restoration work years ago,
one fresco fell from an upper wall and killed two of the workers.
Every once in a while, you meet someone exceptional, someone
who sticks out from the crowd. Italo
(eat-ah-lo) is one of those individuals.
He stuck out because of remarkable friendliness, and because he always
has a warm, sincere smile on his face.
He told me what I already knew, he told me that his last name, Panone
means big bread. But I don’t think big
bread when I think of him, I think big smile.
He always has a big smile, enough so that I talked with him about
it. He told me that the church and the
gospel of Jesus Christ was the reason behind his smile. He said he wakes up every day with that smile.
This is his story as he related it:
Italo was born in Berlin during WW II into a very religious
family whose values were anchored in the Bible and in their diversity of
faith. His father and grandfather were
Italian and Catholic. His mother was Protestant. His grandmother was Jewish from a large and
wealthy family. He related that many of
her family died in concentration camps during the war.
When he was just a young boy, five or six years old,
Catholic priests introduced him to Jesus Christ. Christ became the center of Italo’s
faith. Some years later his mother
convinced him to become Protestant. As
an adult he still had unanswered questions and continued to research different
religions and philosophies. He was
attracted to Buddhism but could not commit to it because Jesus was
He moved to Italy and developed a successful business in
film and television. But despite
financial success he said his spiritual life was at an all-time low and he was
not a happy man. He would enter the beautiful
churches in Rome and pray to be guided to the truth and to happiness.
One day, two young missionaries with black nametags rang his
doorbell. Like so many of other faiths
before, he invited them into his home.
Over a period of many months, he listened to their message and asked
them question after question – questions he had accumulated over many
years. He said they worked together
intensely. As he met with them, he felt
that the Savior accompanied them, that He was there beside them.
Through his prayers and through reading the Book of Mormon
he was convinced that he had found God’s church and the church for him. He had searched for many, many years and
finally found what he was looking for.
Upon being baptized he said he felt like he had been given a new life.
That is his story.
I enjoy a good piece of bread, I am fond of big bread; it is
hard to beat warm homemade bread straight from the oven with honey on it, but each
Sunday I find Italo’s ever present, big smile even more compelling.
Sad but true, flowing in garbage. Ok, not all garbage, actually garbage and
recycle. Well, at least depending on the
day of the week. Picture Manhattan when
there was a garbage collector’s strike years ago. Or simply picture it below. Substantially everyone lives in an apartment
building. Garbage, including recycle is
centralized throughout the city. Everyone
pays a garbage tax for the privilege of walking out to the street, across the
street or down the street to dispose of their garbage (or you can drop off
garbage as you drive by – tough luck for the cars that will inevitably be
stopped behind you because there is too much traffic to drive around you).
I recently paid the garbage tax for a “villa”,
our Church’s mission home in Rome that houses the mission president who is responsible
for all the young and not so young missionaries. The villa houses two people except for 3
nights every six weeks when there are missionaries coming or going. On those occasions, there could be an extra 8-20
people. The garbage tax, based on square footage, is a mere 2,200
euros per year, so about US $200 per month.
In Colorado you could get better service for under $40 per month.
I haven’t been attentive enough to know what days garbage is
collected. I was told it is collected daily but I don’t know
how accurate that is. Some days the
garbage bins look like this.
Other times (a day later), the garbage bins look like this.
Now the curious thing is that the day I took the first
picture above, I carefully ventured over and opened two of the non-recycle garbage
bins. They were no more than 20%
full. So, what’s with all the garbage
piled up in front of the bins? I cannot
give an accurate answer. There are
One possibility is that the bins were all full and people
left their garbage/recycle on the ground.
Then, the trucks came and emptied the containers but their job does not
entail and in fact they may not be permitted to pick up any garbage off the street – unions have
significant pull here. I have heard
support for this theory from one of the other senior missionaries.
Another theory is that Romans want to create and maintain
jobs through every possible means. So,
people leave their garbage on the ground knowing that the city will hire or
continue to employ people to clean up the garbage left on the ground. This theory goes hand in hand with the theory
that Italians perpetuate every possible inefficiency to maintain or create jobs.
An additional theory is that Romans are slobs who don’t care
about beauty and cleanliness. The symbol
of Rome is Remus and Romulus and the she-wolf – if that is not a story you are familiar
with, check it out on google. Underneath
the symbol are the letters SPQR. An old,
not so kind joke is that the letters stand for “sono porchi questi romani”
which is interpreted, these romans are pigs.
I prefer to think that one of the first two explanations is
How does the garbage then get tossed into the bins? There are street sweeping personnel, independent
of the garbage bin personnel, who come and clean up. Regardless of how they look on any given day, I hold my breath as I walk by.
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they
were promised that the Lord would lead them into a land flowing with milk and
honey. Happily, you can buy milk and
honey in Rome. But that might not quite
qualify it as a land flowing with milk and honey. However, it is a city flowing with
water. Everywhere you go in Rome there
are water fountains (for lack of a better description) constantly flowing with
drinkable water, frankly quite tasty water.
Most of the fountains look like the one pictured above. They are used by tourists and Romans
You might even say the water has gone to the dogs – I dare
say; however, that the fountain was here before the dog park.
Sometimes the fountains are effectively hidden in a remote
overgrown part of a park, seldom used.
There are more picturesque versions like Trevi fountain
(perfectly drinkable but not accessible directly) or the boat shaped fountain
sculpted by famous artists Bernini & Lorenzo at the foot of the Spanish
Steps. It is not uncommon to see people
leaning over the fountain below to fill their water bottles from the water
flowing from the side spouts.
you are here visiting us and touring the city, you will never have trouble
refilling your water bottles. These
fountains are not just in the center of the city, they are everywhere.