60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 7 July 1952:

I had a continental breakfast with the same dinner napkins from last night. Then I went down to the American Express office. I was the first one in line for the mail. Almost everybody was happy. Likewise I was quite lucky myself with letters from Mom, Twila, Craig and Caroline. Next stop was the bell tower, Campanile of St. Marks Square. It was the new one from 1912 as the old tower tumbled down in 1902. I even got to feed the pigeons in the square.

Then we were off to the cathedral, which was ornate inside and out, and had been rebuilt many times. I learned that the water came right into the building during the high winter sea. In the Venetian Museum of Art, every decade had left its own water mark. The original style was lost and now it seemed overburdened with too much stuff. In 832 a.d. the original structure was created, destroyed in 900 a.d., rebuilt in 978 a.d., and built larger in 1063 a.d. with materials from older structures. Venice had reached its splendor about 1492. There were mosaics in the interior. The building was progressively sinking with the body of St. Mark preserved under the altar. The cathedral was built in the form of a Greek cross.

Next on the agenda was the Ducal Palace that was the seat of the governor for the Venetian Republic and home of Doge, the chief magistrate. There were subterranean prisons inside. However, the importance of the palace was exclusively artistic and its history began in the 9th century. In the 13th century the palace was burned and then reconstructed. It housed the largest oil painting Tintoretto’s Paradise and a remarkable golden stairway of nobility. The stucco ceilings were designed by one of Michelangelo’s pupils. The ceiling of the next room was by Oslagio and had paintings by Titan. There was a room with medieval armor and another with swords and guns with eight to ten barrels each. Some of the rooms were large and others were small. They were decorated with Tintoretto’s dark paintings, I believe. I went onto the balcony where there were busts of Dukes, Dante, Marco Polo, and most everybody it seemed.

The subterranean state prisons were next. We came out and water was coming under the door from the canal. Everybody hurriedly rushed through a door and rushed right out again. It was the WC.

We proceeded to a glass factory. We watched the heating and shaping process of a vase. And then we saw the showrooms. It seemed like a block of the rooms were filled with the most beautiful, colorful, original, and expensive glassware and dishes one can imagine. We drooled over them, but kept our money for the most part. I nosed around the shops on our way back to the hotel for lunch. It sure took a lot of will power to look and not buy, cause there were so many pretty things.

After chow Lido Beach was our next activity. I took the bus boat to the beach, because I always like to try all the different means of transportation. Then I walked from a 1000 lire per person beach to a 80 lire per person beach. That distance covered quite a long stretch of road. The beach and water was wonderful and most enjoyable! Alicia had been left with all the watches, purses, and junk while the rest of us enjoyed the water. One Italian boy tried to teach me to swim. The Italian natives followed us in and out of the water.

Then back on the street to the bus boat to Pensione Conti. At 6:30 p.m we had a date to visit a USS Rodman, a destroyer. A Lieutenant and four men came to pick us up. We had to climb perpendicular stairs to get on the ship. They conducted the tour of the ship’s main points in smaller groups. Then the ship’s photographer took some pictures and we gave him a few pertinent facts about our BYU tour. As a result we missed some of the guided tour.

We talked to many of the fellows and hoped we didn’t make them too homesick. They said this was the first time they had shown off their ship to anyone. Also it was the first time we had been shown around a ship. We ended up in the lounge, I believe, and they gave us some souvenir booklets about the boat. We met the captain and got his autograph. One of the Rodman’s jobs was to sweep for mines. We got to see the guns, captain’s quarters, and movie theater with one screen and half a dozen chairs.

Afterwards we went back to the hotel for dinner. My whatta dirty blouse I had on! Alicia let me wear one of her blouses to go out shopping for the evening. Several sailors were hanging around and we talked to them for a few minutes. Then on to the square and another trip to the top of the bell tower where we met a guy from South Africa.

I drooled over the shops again, but couldn’t decide where my money would be best spent. There were too many things to choose from. At a street stand we met two students from Vienna who were wearing hiking shorts and small shoulder packs. We explored part of the city with them and bid them adieu at the square with a promise to look for them in Vienna. On our way home we met some of our friends from the ship. We talked to them until the boat picked them up to go back to their ship. And then I met a Swede and learned how to say thank you in Swedish. What a wonderful day I had today in Venice, Italy. Such interesting site and people.

Paintings of Great Masters Viewed in Tour of Florence

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of letters written by Mrs. Afton A. Hansen of Provo on her impressions of an European tour she is making with a group of 36 college students from Weber and BYU.

Dear Friends;
It is only a day since we left Italy, but we are still talking about how much we like these people and their country—those curiously friendly people who so adeptly mix the human and sublime, as is shown in the name of a commercial bank in Rome—”Bank of the Holy Spirit.”
Wouldn’t you like to know something about Venice (Venezia) and Florence (Firenze)?

The city of Firenze is not beautiful at first sight, and we wondered why so many tourist loved it so much. The beauty, so rare and excellent of this old city is found in its treasures of art. It is the world’s greatest art center, and in the 13th century was the greatest money market.

Big money often makes bad art, but the historically prominent Medici family of Florence loved beautiful things and knew them when they saw them.

They made Florence a beautiful city. Their vast collection and creations are possessed now by the Italian government for the world to enjoy.

da Vinci Sketches
San Lorenz, the private church built by the Medici family contains rare and original manuscripts of the masters. In the chapel are the pen sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. He is perhaps the greatest of the masters of his time. The world is still paying tribute to this genius born 500 years ago.
In a small church in Milan, (Santa Maria de la Grazie) we saw what is now left of da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. The building itself, bombed during the war, is now reconstructed. The painting though somewhat protected from bombs is being restored. It is told that when da Vinci was searching for a model for Judas in the picture, he found him on the street and approached him. The man answered, “Yes, I will pose for you. It is I who posed for you many years ago when you painted Christ.”

Leonardo da Vinci’s pen sketches of art subjects, music, architecture, engineering and science still hold good. In the library of the San Lorenz church are original manuscripts of Dante’s Inferno, Petarch and Laura and account books dating back to B.C., choral books with their square notes and four-lined staff, a wise sayings book by Cecco D’ Ascoli, a book of Greek poetry by Boctchio and Sappho.

The palace where the Medici lived, called Petti Pallzzio, has since been used for government office, but now houses the rare and costly treasures which the Medici used to show their guests when entertaining.

Works of Masters
We stood aghast at the vases, bowls, goblets, etc., which were made of semi-precious stones and decorated with gold, rubies and pearls. Figurines carved from ebony, ivory, coral and shell were numerous. Original paintings from da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, del Sorto Murillio and others adorned the walls. It was breath-taking. On the ceiling in one room were scenes from the Iliad, done in such superbly rich colors that we felt like lying down on the huge covered ebony table beside the statue of sleeping infants to gaze forever at the ceiling.

The choice picture for me was of young John the Baptist by Murillio. Sometime, maybe, my newly found lady friend, who is a copiest of masterpieces will do one for me. She was a delightful person who was doing a reproduction of del Sorte’s Madonna.

Reluctantly leaving Pitti Palazzio, we walked across the oldest bridge the Arno river. It was protected from bombs during the war by sentiment and by blowing up the entrance to the bridge. Shops on either side of the street on the bridge have for more than 300 years now bought and sold some of the most alluring merchandise in silk, linen, wool, silver, leather, etc., that anyone could ever imagine. All we needed to more thoroughly enjoy it was more money.

Up the steps to Michelangelo Square, we stood near another statue of David (the original of which we saw in the Academy and Tribune of David) to see the city of Florence and locate the various spots of interest we had seen.

Impressions as well as expression come thick and fast on such a trip as this. Writing seems so slow compared to experience, but recollections are always enjoyable.
What a commotion we cause in Milano (Milan) when our bus load of 32 American girls and four men were unloaded in front of a boy’s dormitory — Casa delo Students! The boys were eating their evening meal at the time, but soon their severe dining room was buzzing with excitement, and then it was practically empty for about 54 of them came out to talk to the 12 girls and two men who were left. The others were to stay a block away. The manager of the dorm was concerned so he stayed up all night patrolling the corridor. The girls enjoyed good conversation with these fine college students who were studying engineering. We were on our way again by 7 a.m. Venezia (Venice) with its waterways and gondolas, 100 islands and 400 bridges, was enchanting. It took six gondolas to transport our group from bus to hotel, but what delightful transportation. Gliding smoothly along in a cushioned carpeted gondola, made of some kind of dark wood, we noticed the pretentious buildings, somewhat rusty and adorned with moss. White marble steps so close to the water were draped with green moss.

Sinking City
Parts of the city seem to be sinking into the Adriatic sea. One American benefactress, noting this has collected money for supports for San Marco church were Saint Mark is supposedly buried.
Gondolas anchored to blue and white striped poles conveniently await the lady for her shopping tour, to get fresh vegetables or other household supplies. Her private gondolier calls a warning as he approaches an intersection, or turns a corner. We would hardly believe our eyes, seeing directional street light anchored in the water— red, yellow, green, stop and go.

Transportation by motor boat is faster, but not nearly so interesting.

Docked in port was a ship flying the American flag. Cheers from the girls soon brought all hands on deck. “Hi-ho, anyone there from Arizona?” —”Yes, and Utah too.” It didn’t take long to get acquainted with these sailors from Trieste. They entertained the group on board ship the next day.

We’ll soon be in Switzerland gazing at the Matterhorn.

Afton A. Hansen

P.S.—Having received some of the first copies of these articles printed in the Herald, I notice the names of Senator and Mrs. Arthur V. Watkins were inadvertently missing. They did so many nice things for this group including opening their office to us where we parked our suitcases and bags. They took all 36 of us to dinner in the senate private dining room, gave each of us a souvenir menu card, directed us to the senate in session where Senator Watkins gave a nice speech about Provo, the BYU and this tour. They also arranged for six private cars to take us on a tour of the city. They were most generous and gracious.

60 Years Ago Today

Thursday, 3 July 1952:

In the morning my breakfast in the hotel included a really soft six minute boiled egg. Then we started the day by visiting a church that was built over St. Francis’ grave. In the middle of the church the frescos began with a beautiful mural by Giotto and another artist. Giotto’s mural had a bright blue background with his characteristic holes.

Then we went down into the lower church and into the crypt where I saw an ornamental iron grave. At the crypt there was a German speaking monk. Another monk came up to us as we were leaving and asked for change. He had lots of small change in American money and wanted to change it for American dollars, so we obliged. Next on the tour was the upper church. It was Gothic even more so than the middle church.

Soon after it was back to the bus and off to Florence. The bus climbed up to Perugia, which was one of the most beautiful hill cities, and then down to the shores of Lake Trasimeno. With Florence coming up I napped.

I couldn’t tell for sure about this place yet. It was pretty hot! We were all anxious to get out, relax, and cool off somehow. We reached Atlantico Hotel. My first thought was for a drink of water. The lobby looked fairly nice, but the room was not as nice as last night. However we had a bath nearby.

Mrs. Hansen, Mrs. McDonald, and I decided to go shopping, but I lost them quite soon. I found Mrs. McDonald talking to a couple of American servicemen from Maryland that were stationed in the woods near Leghorn. They shared with us that they don’t like Italy, because it’s too dirty. Also they warned us not to drink or eat any of the dairy products, because several of the boys from their unit had gotten spinal meningitis. Furthermore they felt the Italian Communists were out for anything they could get. One soldier liked Austria and Germany much better than Italy. All the soldiers were anxious to get home to the United States.

I wandered around a book shop reading the books before buying them. I ended up with a book about Florence and Rome. Then I ran into Irene, Hermine, and Betty. Eventually we located a little restaurant that wasn’t open until 7 p.m. We were standing there wondering what to do when a cute little gray haired man came and opened the door. We followed the man inside to take a look and see what kind of place it was.

It was so cool, restful, and clean with flowers and fruit sitting all around. We thought we would have to wait until 7 p.m. to eat, but the man motioned us to sit down and brought us a menu. We had quite a hilarious time ordering. With the help of my Spanish, we finally made it clear that we wanted to eat dinner.

Our dinner started out with ravioli. And during that time the manager, who spoke a little English, came over to help us. Also a GI from San Antonio, who was stationed in Germany, came and offered his assistance as well. He loved Italy, in contrast to the other GI’s, but didn’t like Germany so well. The manager’s daughter had been helpful to him, so he had more or less made this his headquarters. We talked to him until she came over. He said she would be able to show Irene where to find a transformer for her iron.

The whole family was accommodating and willing to do anything they could for us. The wife of the manager and another daughter of the man, who opened up the restaurant for us, came by with her little baby. We had old home week playing with the baby.

60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 2 July 1952:

I took my bag down to breakfast. Herr Rogers called me down for not bringing it sooner. I was too late! The bus was all packed. After breakfast, I carried my own bag to the bus and with Mrs. Hansen’s help I put it on the top myself. I had Andre check the strap for me though.

Soon we were off for Assisi! Evidently we have to go back through Naples. While there we stopped at the hotel to pick up some stuff the kids had left. Then we raided a fruit shop and got back on the road to Rome via Cassino. It seems all roads to Rome must be tree lined.

Cassino was at one time the most bombed out place of World War II. Germans used Cassino as a stronghold and Americans finally had to bomb them out. Herr Watkins fought here. The most bitter fighting in Italy took place here and it became a no man’s land for a while.Since then it has been reconstructed. A documentary movie, San Pietro, was filmed in the area in 1945.

Then as we left Cassino we passed a former town on a hillside that was completely in ruins. A new town had been built below. We had lunch on the road. In Rome we stopped back to pick up Betty’s coat and get a drink of water in the public horse trough. We passed several monuments and huge buildings that I didn’t see when we were here before. We saw the Etruscan Capitaline Wolf statue from the 5th century, who had rescued Remus and Romulus, Rome’s mythological twin founders, from death.

I observed the big stadium and the Tiber River which was a beautiful green. Some of the scenery looked a lot like Utah. One section of land had sugar cane or something that looked like it. Today was kind of a lost day. It was really hot and Bev had heat exhaustion or something of the sort. I missed the scenery for some well needed napping and writing.

Our next rest stop was at Turin. I snapped a picture of oxen and a man with a donkey cart who posed for us. By the time we left there was a huge crowd around the bus. Dusk was coming on as we met the hilly and windy roads. We caught sight of the Assisi Arched Gateway like in the picture shots we saw in Italy.

We stopped to stay at a beautiful hotel where the section we were in was probably once an old monastery. I talked to a girl from Nebraska and found a little book about Assisi for 250 lire. Then we ate dinner at a restaurant down a little street from the hotel.

Soon after it was time for bed. My only mistake was laying down on the bed before getting undressed. At 3:30 a.m., I finally got undressed and climbed under the covers.

60 Years Ago Today

Sunday, 29 June 1952:
I was up early at 6:30 a.m. Alice didn’t really think I would get up early, so she wasn’t ready. Around 8 a.m. we finally went straight up our street to Saint Magiore Cathedral and past Peter in Chains to the Coliseum. At the Coliseum I had to get up higher to get a better picture. I kept wandering inside the forum and the guard continued to kick me out again. However I begged him to let me take a picture and then I quickly took off, climbed the rocks, and got the picture while Alice tried to calm him down. I practically ran all the way back so he wouldn’t be upset.

As we drove out of town we passed the Coliseum again and then went through modern Rome. We kinda got lost and turned down a beautiful tree-lined boulevard. I really hated to leave Rome. It was so beautiful.

Next we journeyed past gorgeous greens at a golf course that had rough grass in between the greens. We continued near a railroad that was right next to the highway. The highway and railroad were as close as the two could get. Then there were many beautiful well kept vineyards and soon after an intersection with a road to Tegis.

The bus proceeded to Anzio and its beachhead. We went over a bridge to a city on a hill. A public watering place and a beautiful valley greeted us. What captivating sights: checkerboard fields, fairly new trees lining the streets, trees that curbed each side of the road and railroad, another small town, busy market place, and trees growing out of the pavement along the main street.

This part of the country seemed much more fertile here than coming into Rome from the north. There were ladies with big loads on their heads and modern irrigation of a big canal. It helped explain the greater fertility here in Italy. Then there were huge fields of wild poppies, mountains rising on the left, orchards, and villages and towns built part way up. The name of the highway was Via Appia.

The city of Terracina was next. As we entered the city the Mediterranean Sea was at the side of the street coming into town. Purple frustration flowers were everywhere with a high wall between us and the mountain. The beach tapered out to leave just enough room for the road between the mountain and the sea. Then the beach widened again for a beautiful vineyard and palm trees between the road and Mediterranean Sea. We sang church hymns. What a beautiful way to spend Sunday, soaking in this magnificent scenery and singing!

What’s up? Cars were lined up for over a quarter mile. Around the curve of the road, the men took off to get the scoop of what was happening. We proceeded to eat lunch with dry tuna on dry biscuits, pastries and oranges.

A boy with the scoop biked around the line of cars. He said a boy riding a bike was hit by a truck in a semi-phore or a four way intersection. Unfortunately he was killed. We drove past the little boy’s body. It was covered up, lying on the road with blood and gore spread around him. His family was huddled by the rail. I didn’t feel much like singing anymore.

There were mules and donkeys, reminiscent of Christ’s time. A whole family was in a cart behind one mule and a tiny girl was carrying a basket on her head. Oleanders, an evergreen shrub, were alternating with trees along side the road. Whatta picture!

There was a spectacular double row of trees. I wish I could have captured it all with my camera. I spied a little canvas covered truck with a mother, child, and household belongings in the back. Next were fields of strange looking hay? We stopped at a railroad crossing and Herr Watkins asked a man what kind of hay it was. It was cannibas hay, which was used to make clothing.

At 2:30 p.m. we reached Naples, that was supposed to be the dirtiest city in Italy. The green, white and red, Italian flags were hanging in the corners of the city square with the obelisk in the center. I strained to get my first view of Mount Vesuvius. There were herds of goats on the side of the road with signs pasted on walls down the street.

We proceeded down the main street of Naples, via Roma, to our Hotel Albergo Universo. It was pretty centrally located. Three bell boys met us with smiles and little kids gathered around us. The hotel facade wasn’t bad. The hotel had a beautiful lobby, slow elevators, and nice rooms.
Next we went to Pompeii with its wide streets and toll gate. On the way I saw a pill box, relic of World War II. We encountered a hot rod barreling around town that almost hit us. There were only inches between us and his windshield.

Pompeii was a ruined and partially buried Roman town near modern Naples and located in Sarno Valley. It had been inhabited since the 7th century and was influenced by the Greeks and Italians. It had resisted Roman domination till 80 b.c. In 63 a.d. Pompeii was destroyed by an earthquake and later in 79 a.d. by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. There was a nucleus of Christians in Pompeii before the volcanic eruption. The town was buried in 25 feet deep of volcanic ash and its people were suffocated by the ashes. When it was covered there were 20,000 people in the city. Excavations commenced in 1599, rediscovered in 1738, and continued on and off till the present. The last lava flow from Vesuvius was in 1943.

There were two parallel main streets in Pompeii with loose ash and puma stone. Porta Marina was the main entrance and sea gate. A statue of Minerva, the Roman name for Greek Goddess Athena, was found by the Marina Gate. The streets were paved by lava stones and in 1597 Domenica built a subterranean aqueduct. Many relics had been taken to the Louvre and other museums. In the House of Vetti, one of the most famous of Pompeii’s luxurious residences, were the most important statues and frescoes.

There were plaster casts of the city as it was at the time of the erupting volcano. There also were plaster casts of just about everything: Dead people, dead animals, wheels, money box, huge steel deal, fish hooks, cameos, ring stone, pearls, scissors, fish scales, vases, bread, wine, press, dentist instruments, gold and silver coins, cake molds, strainer, locks, keys, little stoves, and taps. One third of the city had not yet been excavated.

Excavated items included earrings, springs, bones from San Marzano, statue from 500 b.c., pottery with art work, tufa stones, sculpture with little figures on a dish, baby jewelry, silver cups, bronze hooks, little statuettes, needles, jewelry, dice, and mill out of lava stones for making olive oil.

There were statues in the museum in Naples, including the statue of Livia. The original sidewalks and walls the Romans had constructed were still there as well. The walls were made of webbed tufa stones. Next we discovered pillar of bricks, wine shops, sliding doors, families living behind the shops, and imitation marble decorations. As we continued we saw the Apollo Temple, statue of Drana, Magistrate of Pompeii, and Palace of Justice Tribunal.

The forum, main square, included the religious and political center of the city. The Temple of Jupiter had marble carving on its gateway. The people washed their clothing with their feet. In the Temple of Augustus the walls were covered with marble and had its original altar. There were money changers, food markets, and big wine jars. Blocks were put up to stop traffic.

Then we went to the Temple of Fortune which had a chapel shrine inside and the triumphant arch of Nero. The public baths were like a club with Terne el torre Mosaic floors. The cold baths were open to the sky with frieze around the top of the walls. The Temple of Fortune still had its original marble floors, beautiful decorations, and locker area for the tepid bath. The hot bath had marble mosaic floors with a round dome of steam falling down on the side. A big wash bowl was there for washing hands and face.

I spied a wine shop across from the bath houses on the main street. Pompeii was symmetrical just like some modern cities. Also, we went to Casa del Poetatregica, the House of the Tragic Poet, with the infamous cave canem inscription which means beware of the dog. I discovered some lizards there.

Next the House of Dancing Fauns, built during the 2nd century b.c. was one of the largest, and most impressive private residences in Pompeii. The house had a fruit and flower garden and filled one whole city block.

Then to the House of Vetti, another important home, had large blocks with coats of plaster and original gargoyles. It was well preserved. The bedroom was so small there was only space for the bed. And there were high doors and a Roman bowl that dated back to 15-20 years before Christ. Some of the paintings were well preserved as we caught sight of paintings by Mercury, Juno, and Isis. In the dining room there were Pompeii red figures on a black background.

Other art included two money boxes, cupid breaking medicine, and paintings of Gods. There was a slab of lead to keep out the dampness around the floor. We walked through one sitting room for mom and pop and another one for the kids. In the kitchen were copper looking apparatus’, lead pipes, and fountains out of mosaic.

During our tour we found out that our guide had been in the movie September Affair and spoke four languages. He took us through the butcher shop, soap factory with a mill stone, and by the beautiful statue of Nero. I noticed that the pharmacy symbol was represented by snakes. Also, I caught sight of a rock that had a hole in it in order to tie the horses during that time period. The Doric columns in Pompeii were dated to 600 B.C.

Next on the tour was the ancient Roman city of Stabiae which was destroyed in the eruption. Then the Greek style theater, which seated 5,000 people, which opened upwards to the sky. On rainy days they put up an awning and on hot days they put water on the awning to cool themselves.

Picturesque Towns of Italy Swarmed With Tourists From All Parts of World

Editor’s note: This is the seventh of a series of letters written by Mrs. Afton A. Hansen giving her impressions of a trip through Europe she is making with a group of 35 Utah college students. This one was written on July 7 in Italy.

Dear Friends;
From one end of Italy to the other—from north to south and back again, we have traversed this strange land—along its blue Mediterranean coast, over the dry summer hills, to the rim of Mt. Vesuvius, which was so dry and windy that workmen went ahead of us to clear the trail of wind blown dirt and rolling rocks.

Throughout the country we find construction work going on in roadway and building. It is said that Italy is using her lend lease money [post WWII economic aid from the US] for reconstruction of their country to attract the tourist who provides a major part of the national income. These lovely towns are swarmed with tourists from all parts of the world.

Our first stop in Italy was somewhat disappointing. Expecting some romantic Romeo to serenade us with song, or hear a street cleaner singing an aria, we were almost alarmed when looking through the hotel window to see four dismal looking characters playing cards. Unkempt, dirty and mostly toothless, they were pounding the table in vigorous competition of the game.

Felt Like Emigrants
Having been repeatedly warned to watch our baggage, I was much concerned when an Italian gentleman attempted to help with my heavy suitcase. Although I said “No, No!” he insistently carried my bag to my door and went down stairs laughing. Indeed we looked like we might need help as we trudged from bus to hotel with bags and bundles.

A few of us with scarfs on our heads looked and felt like emigrants sitting on all our worldly possessions.

The next hotel in which we stayed—Grand Verde, in Rapolic—held the romance of situation on the hilbarde, overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean from a balcony window. No Romeo’s yet though.

Not until we came to our noisy Atlantico Hotel in Florence did we hear street singing. Two boys on a bicycle, in working clothes at 5 a.m. were lustily singing an Italian “ditty.” The little girl, strolling along with her parents in the warm summer evening singing to her heart’s content, was unnoticed, except by us Americans.

Enjoy Laughter
Italian like the French seem uninhibited, stopping anyplace on the street to discuss and gesticulate. They seem to enjoy laughter and a good joke.

The country of Tuscany affords picturesque traveling. Our 30-mile-per-hour bus permits good seeing. The hill tops are crowned with old medieval castles, walls and fortifications, while below them are ripening grain fields, trees and gardens. Highways are lined with Oleander trees, fig, olive and pomegranate trees.

For centuries, women here have trudged to the water well with jugs on heads. I am anxious to try out, with brush and paint some of the sketches I have of a young lady balanced on a donkey with heavily laden baskets on either side, and the family coming home from market in a large two-wheeled cart drawn by two white oxen.

There is a variety of interest in every city we visit. Even the ancient dead city of Pompeii had an amazing silent story to tell. Two thousand years ago it was a thriving commercial and agricultural city on the side of the hill near the Mediterranean. For nearly 10 centuries before Christ the nearly 25,000 inhabitants traded with Greece. One day they heard a deep earth rumbling and their beautiful city was shaken with an earthquake. Then on a warm August day at about 1 p.m. in the year 79 A.D., the nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted, spreading ashes and pumice over the entire area, covering Pompeii in a depth of 30 feet. It remained covered until about 60 years ago when the excavation began. One third of the city’s 161 acres still remains to be uncovered.

Ancient Wheel Ruts
As we were guided along the stone sidewalks, two and three feet wide, we noticed the ruts in the narrow stone streets made by the many chariot wheels rumbling along thousands of years ago. We saw the shops along the main streets, stores, snack bar, stock exchange, wool market, dye shops, palace of justice and fountains on the corner where we quenched our thirst.

In one house, once lived two rich merchants, perhaps father and son with their family. A sign on the entrance read — “Care Canni” — which means “Beware of the dog.” In the vestibule were marble columns, benches and low chests. The house had many so-called modern conveniences such as a central heating system for warm and cold air. Bath tubs were of Carrara marble. A huge wash basin of Egyptian Chipolena marble, was put there at a cost of $60,000,000.

This size basin would be convenient for a large family for it could easily accommodate eight people at once. The stone stove in the kitchen could bake 89 loaves of bread at one time.

Glorious Past
This dead city tells of a glorious past, with only one inner yard being kept alive with flowers, shrubs, grass and vases.

Don’t you wonder what these people did, when the volcanic ash began to spread over their city? Of course many of them left the city when the earthquake occurred, but about 3000 victims have been uncovered from the ruins. From the position of their bodies we can be almost sure that they did what we have been told to do in case of an atomic bomb attack. They threw themselves to the ground covering their faces with their arms. One man sat in a corner protecting his face with his hands. A dog was found in an agonizing position.

Bodies Restored
We wondered how they could recover these bodies with such detail even to eye lids, folds of the skin and expression of the face. The guide told us that the ashes and pumice hardened as it poured over the bodies. In time the flesh decayed, leaving a cavity containing bones, skull and teeth. Into this cavity was poured a thin plaster which was left to harden for several months.

With small picks and a brush, the ash was cleared away, leaving the perfect shape of a victim of suffocation. The same process was employed in recovering furniture.
In the houses have been found furniture—kitchen utensils, cereal, cloth, water faucets, ring, money, surgical instruments, oil press, wine press and other things which would indicate their activity. So much could be told of Pompeii as well as many other places which are so interesting by we who see them but could become tiresome on paper.

Let me tell you a little about the schools. For more than an hour we visited with an elementary grade school teacher and her sister who teaches piano lessons. They were delightful ladies who discussed education in Italy through our interpreter Dr. Watkins.

From the readers and work books which we saw, we were pretty sure that an Italian child of seven or eight in the second or third grade was two to three years ahead of our youngsters the same age and grade in the reading, writing, arithmetic and ability and quality of work.

Even in these young grades they learn to sing songs from the opera. The program of Verdi’s work put on by these youngsters was very good, according to the teachers and principal. These youngsters of course have an opportunity to visit these museums, so full of history. Their penmanship is excellent.

We wondered, if, in our mania for freedom we have lost some thing in basic values. This would be worthy of further investigation. One choice idea from this visit was old but always worth repeating: “Keep the avenues of expression and conversation open between you and the child.” These people love to converse.

Afton A. Hansen

Little boys and girls were trying to sell things for cigarettes or American dollars. We looked at some canvas in a factory and saw a double bus leaving Pompeii. At 7:30 p.m. we were leaving Pompeii and what a wonderful experience it had been!

Back at the hotel I had a delicious dinner with two desserts, just like on the Sibijak. Gastone, a guide, wanted to show us the city and was persistent. At first we ended up talking to a few sailors. Then there was a Catholic parade for St. Peter’s Day that had money hanging from a statue. Henry walked down the main street with us.

Millions of people were everywhere. Other guides, Sam and Mario, came along as well. Sam, 15 years old, had stowed away to America twice. He doesn’t work because he only gets 70 cents a week. And he doesn’t have any money for school, so he was a man of leisure. He was very old for his age. Paul, the elevator boy, studied English, German, French, and Spanish. He spoke the languages well. Many people spoke English here. I made a mistake by saying Signora instead of Signor. As a side note the post office in Naples was built by Mussolini.

60 Years Ago Today

Friday, 27 June 1952:

The group had breakfast at the hotel. Then I spent 715 lire to mail two letters and five cards. Via del Corso, the main street running through the historical center of Rome, used to have horse races. We crossed the Tiber River. Then we identified the Caesar Augustus Old Mausoleum, Palazzio Justice Renaissance building or Hall of Justice, courthouse, Castle St. Angelo the former burial place of emperors, and Berssini’s colonnades which was the latest addition added about 130 years after the church was started.

Then we finally ended up at St. Peter’s Basilica and discovered fountains that had been working for over 700 years and an obelisk weighing 500 tons in the center of the square. Here we actually walked up to St. Peter’s door and looked at the statue of Charlemagne through iron doors. Then I saw bronze doors that were copied from some bronze doors in Florence. The northernmost door is the “Holy Door” which, by tradition, was walled-up with bricks, and opened only for holy years such as the Jubilee year by the Pope. The present door is bronze and was designed by Vico Consorti in 1950. The southern door, the Door of the Dead, was designed by 20th century sculptor Giacomo Manzù. Popes and others exited here for their funeral processions.

I caught sight of La Pieta, a statue by Michelangelo, which depicts the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus. La Pieta was much smaller than most of his other statues, and it was the only statue he ever signed. Then there was a beautiful mosaic of Pope Clement VIII holding the key to the Jubilee door. In the right aisle is a monument to Christina of Sweden who renounced Protestantism and became Catholic.

Then I saw another monument to Leo 12th and later the Chapel of St. Sebastian, which was named after the subject of the mosaic above the altar. Other sites included: Tomb of Innocent XII, tomb of Countess Matilda, tomb of Gregory XII, tomb of Gregory XIV, painting of The Mass of St. Basil for the altar of St. Basil, monument to Benedict XIV, and painting of Martyrdom of St. Erasmus.
As we continued our tour in St. Peter’s Basilica, a man came up and called us down on our vulgar dress. After that experience we continued by viewing the eleven chandeliers that hung down on strings from every corner. The chandeliers came to an arch or a point above a central arch. Michelangelo redesigned the dome in 1547 when he was 72. The weight of St. Peter’s dome rests on four big pillars. The huge main altar was made of bronze from the Pantheon. There were 92 lamps burning and St. Peter was buried right under the mantle. Big maroon booth things decorated each huge pillar for special ceremonies. I saw a lady kiss the toe of St. Peter. His toes were worn down from people kissing them. St. Peter had the keys of authority in his hand that were supposedly found in his original shrine.

We proceeded through St. Peter’s Basilica with St. Andrew statue, St. Veronica statue, St. Longinus statue by Bernini, St. Linus statue, monument to Paul III, tomb of Urban VIII (Mafeo Barberini), monument to Benedict XIV and St. Helen statue who was the mother of Constantine. She converted to Christianity and became a devout Christian. She brought part of the true cross from Jerusalem.

Next was the entrance to St. Peter’s crypt where Peter was buried. The rounded domes were Renaissance architecture. There was a copy of the painting Sacred Heart. And later a list of all the 143 popes was on a marble plaque. The Chapel of Immaculate Conception was next with a beautiful mosaic.

Then we climbed the stairs to the top. It cost 50 lire on the way up and I saw autographs on most of the tombs. There were plaques commemorating the days when important figures came to visit the current popes. St. Peter’s Basilica was partially built over the same site of the earlier Nero’s Circus where St. Peter had been killed there in 67 a.d. during the Christians martyrdom.

The obelisk was the only existing structure from that time period. The first level of the dome had a mosaic all around it and was clear to the top. It was made of little stones and looked down on the main altar. There were narrow winding stairs to the top with autographs all over the place.
Later I snuck two pictures from the first level of the Chapel of Immaculate Conception.

Afterwards I snuck a couple more shots of the Vatican gardens from on top. Then we sang O Suzannah with two Roman boys on the way down. We talked to them at the bottom as well. We were tired of trying to get the Italian guards to let us take pictures of the Swiss guards. No soap! Their uniforms were beautiful and elaborate costumes.

Later we followed Herr Watkins to find some food. We found a lady and man fighting over our patronage. It was quite a circus! We split up and gave them both a break. The salt and pepper in this place are not in shakers, but in little round tin bowls. There were things with toothpicks sticking up between the salt and pepper.

A cute waiter brought us cherries, apricots and plums. Finally I snapped a picture of a Swiss Guard. He was not supposed to smile, but he couldn’t help it. There are 90 Swiss Guards that represent an honor guard from the nobility.

We viewed a tunnel where the Pope escaped to St. Angelo Castle in the 16th century. A Swiss Guard died protecting the Pope. There was an old mote around St. Angelo. It was originally built as a mausoleum and burial place for emperors and family members. St. Angelo was built of gleaming white marble that was later stripped off.

We found wide open “dealies” along the street with not even as much protection as in Paris. Afterwards it started to sprinkle. We waited under a tree for it to stop. There was a little garden down along the Tiber River. Little boys were swimming in the river and gambling on the streets.
Old Roman ruins were preserved in the midst of new buildings. Little kids were playing on the ruins. I was mobbed by little boys when I brought out my pack of gum. They ran after the other kids to see if they could get more gum.

Huge lemons were at a streetside stand. Caesar Augustus’ Mausoleum had withstood the ravages of time. Gardens were replanted around it. Then I saw Rendezvous of Poets and a silk shop that was mentioned in Fielding which sells ties and silk scarves.

American Express popped up on the next corner so I left a forwarding address. Then I stopped in a book shop and drooled over a book about Italy. I was too tired to talk to a fellow working in the store about literature. I stopped in the silk shop to see what it was like. The kids were wondering what happened to me.

Alene, Lucy and I went down to Economico for dinner. The manager brought chips over to us, but we didn’t understand. All of us ordered spaghetti and soup because we couldn’t read the menu. We discovered from watching others that we were supposed to buy chips before we got what we wanted.

At 9 p.m. we spent the night on the town in Rome. At the Trivi Fountain I threw five lire in the pond and also drank the water. A traditional legend states that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. Guess I’m coming back for sure. [Yes! And I returned in July of 1983.]

A policeman in a white spotless uniform had a spotlight on him in the middle of the square in front of the monument to Victor Emanuel II, Italy’s great king. Victor was born in Turin, Italy and claimed Nice during the last war. I saw his tomb in the Pantheon. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier we discovered something new. By pushing a button something would come up from the underground. While there we caught the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We proceeded to Palazzo Venezia, a residential papal palace, which was a building belonging to the Venetian Republic. Mussolini had had an office there and used the balcony for many of his notable speeches. Napoleon’s mother had lived centuries earlier on a corner across from Mussolini’s office. From there we progressed to the Tor di Valle that was an important and large horse racing venue of the city of Rome.

Next was the Trajan Forum which was a forum for Caesar and Circus Maximus that was an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue. Palatine Hill, one of the most ancient parts of the city, was on the right. Then we caught sight of the Temple of Vesta and Temple of Fortune Virale.

And we discovered the Theatre of Marcellus, an ancient open-air theatre, that was the second largest seating capacity in ancient Rome. Then we passed over the oldest Roman bridge, Ponte Fabricio, still in its original state from 62 b.c. It spanned the Tiber River.The little Church of St. Bartholomew and hospital was next. There was a four headed statue on the other side of bridge. There was a baby that was born in ancient Rome with four heads so the Italians made a statue of the baby. Another bridge, Pons Cestius, was a Roman stone bridge spanning the Tiber River as well.

Then we caught sight of the House of Dante, a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. He stayed here when in Rome. We rode over Gianicolo Hill that was the second tallest hill in Rome.
Next we observed the monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi in Piazza don Minzoni Square. It was sculpted by Angelo Viotti in 1884 and dedicated on 6 September 1885. Giuseppe Garibaldi was to Italy what Washington was to America. There was a cannon at the base of the monument that had been fired from the hill every night. About 15 years ago the Italians stopped shooting the cannon.
At St. Peter’s Basilica, Bernini, a prominent Italian artist, built colonnades around St. Peter’s Basilica and got both fountains going.

The light was on in the apartment of the Pope. Papa Pius XII, the current pope, was 74 or 75 years old. Tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. we get to meet him. Everyone was in bed—except me! I snuck around trying to wash my clothes at midnight.

60 Years Ago Today

Thursday, 26 June 1952:

Only about one-third of the Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, still remained. Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty, started construction of the Coliseum in 72 a.d. It was completed in 80 a.d. the year after Vespasian’s death, and later furnished by Titus, the next emperor. Titus had been put in charge of the Jewish war by Vespasian. He later destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews in 70 a.d. The Coliseum, an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, was the largest building ever built in the Roman Empire. It was considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. Hebrew prisoners were employed in its construction.

The Colossus of Nero, an enormous bronze statue, was erected by the Emperor Nero after himself. It was in the vicinity and later torn down so they would have room to build. In the beginning of the 12th century it was used as a stone quarry and then was left. Benedictus in the 14th century consecrated it as a Christian edifice.

And a naval battle was staged here. Also when it was dedicated there were approximately 9,000 animals killed during the 100 days of the festival. Constantine tried to stop the bloody battles. A monk, Saint Telemachus, placed himself between two gladiators that were fighting and he was stoned to death by the crowd. The Christian Emperor Honorius, however, was impressed by the monk’s martyrdom and it spurred him to issue an edict banning gladiator fights. The last known gladiator fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 a.d.

Hey Lois, somebody already put your name on the Coliseum! We walked around where Christians walked to their deaths over 2000 years ago. It cost 20 lire to go into the Coliseum.

It seemed that a church marked every corner. And there was a man holding a pan of bread on his head while riding a bike. I caught sight of the Trajan’s Column and Forum which commemorates the Roman Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars.

Next we discovered the Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Coliseum and the Palatine Hill. The arch was constructed to commemorate victory in 312 a.d. I stood on its original pavement.

Next we saw the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. The building’s northern aisle was all that remained and was started by Morentius. This building was one of the first Christian churches and had a rectangular building with curved ends. Titus came in on a chariot that fulfilled the prophecy of Palestine. Augustus formed an imperial residence here and other emperors followed.

We saw an old hearse with black and gold as we read street signs on the way over to the forum. The street was built of big stones. We identified Saint Peter in Chains Church. It contained what they believed to be the chains which held St. Peter in prison. In order to show us the chains, a priest opened the sliding doors of the shrine at the front of the chapel.

Inside there was also a famous statue of Moses with a long flowing beard by Michelangelo. Hebrews didn’t have vowels, so horn and light were written the same. Michelangelo misunderstood it and put horns on the statue of Moses. It was the apex of sculpturing with Rachel and Leah on each side of Moses. I noticed an iron gate along the front of the building.

Soon after we discovered the Temple of Venus and of Rome which was near the Coliseum. Then the Arch of Titus, which was built for Emperor Titus in 70-81 a.d., stood in a slightly elevated position at the entrance to the Roman Forum. Its religious significance lay in its depiction of Titus’ victories which included the sacking of Jerusalem. Three young priests told us about Circus Maximus which was the largest stadium in ancient Rome and like a modern racetrack. At one point the Circus could seat 300,000 people. As I spotted a red robed priest from Germany the marble path was caved in and crumbling. Next was the Temple of Romulus which still had its original door. It was green, made of bronze, and still had its original lock.

Then we reached the white marble Arch of Septimius Severus at the northeast end of the Roman Forum, a triumphal arch dedicated in 203 a.d. to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons. Mamertine Prison, state prison of ancient Rome, was located on the northeastern slope of the Capitoline Hill, where St. Paul and Peter were imprisoned. There were two upper cells but the lower cell was probably the most ancient prison in Rome. The church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami now stands above the Mamertine Prison.

At the Tombs of Romulus there were pansies growing all over the grassy area. Later there was a large platform called the rostrum that was built facing the Senate building. It was where people would stand and make their proclamations. SPQR was from a Latin phrase, Senatus Populusque Romanus which means Senate and People of Rome, referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic.

Next on the tour was the Basilica Ulpia which was an ancient Roman civic building located in the Forum of Trajan. Ulpia was the name of Empress of Trajan. There was this most unique Ulpia Restaurant in Rome. Antiquities were in the basement and the manager was Senore Conti. There was a statue of Nero. In 1840 the basement was excavated and cleaned out and fixed up in 1870. Another statue of Nero was in the Vatican by a bar on an old Roman street. It was dedicated as a place to burn incense before going out into the forum.

As we moved on there was an obelisk at the end of the Trajan’s Forum which the obelisk in Paris was copied from. Next we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a national monument in Italy. Before entering through the doors there were round circular stone stairs. This same pattern was repeated in four or five areas on surrounding buildings for emphasis.

Then we journeyed to the Pantheon which was a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome, the glory of the Eternal City. It was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa on this sight as a temple and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 a.d. The Pantheon used to be the national church of all Italians. The bronze was taken from here to construct the altar at St. Peters. Also, the dome at the Pantheon was a model for St. Peter’s Basilica dome and a dome in Florence. The Pantheon was preserved because it was changed into a Christian Church. It was the largest pagan church still standing with the original bronze door with autographs on the doors.

At the Pantheon was the tomb of Victoire Emmanuel II. He became the second father of the Fatherhood and assumed the title King of Italy to become the first king of a united Italy. An artist Raphael was buried at the Pantheon also. A round hole in the top always represented the open tomb of Raphael. One of his pupils created a statute of Raphael with a dove. Margherita was a promised wife for Raphael.

I bartered for a souvenir picture of Rome for 1400 lire with a few postcards thrown in. Then we walked past the National Parliament that was in session. The actress, Ingrid Bergman, was at every newsstand. She had had twins on June 18, 1952. Carol and I stopped at a book shop, because we were still trying to find a tour guide of Europe. We then lost the group and found our way to American Express. After finding it I got a letter from Mom. We had pizza pie on the way back to the hotel. Then we walked around and window shopped.

I was excited because the opera was tonight. I read the story of La Traviata to the kids. We left early so Carol and Alene could get tickets. As we went we stopped in a Pasticceria for a little Italian pastry. I got one soaked in rum or something similar.

At 8:30 p.m. the rope was still across the entrance to the opera. I climbed over and sat on the stairs to write letters. Eventually at 9 p.m. they let us in. It was not elaborate. However, I enjoyed the opera although the tenor had his eyes glued on his hands. The soprano carried the show.

60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 25 June 1952:

I was up earlier than normal today. I was ready to go. It was either Rome or bust today. I learned policemen stayed in the hotel as well as Capone’s brother a long time ago. Finally we were ready to go but Dick and Henry’s passports were missing. They were not at the hotel desk. The manager was quite excited about it and said, “I don’t want to go to America. I’ve already been.” Everybody checked for the passports and Joyce had all of them.

On our way again, the country was flatter with a few hills. We followed the seacoast for a ways. I noticed a Singer sewing center sign and the biggest haystack that I’ve ever seen before. The haystack was still in a teepee shape with a pole in the middle. The farmers cut slices off the sides to use. Soon after there were groves of toadstool trees, flower and tree-lined roads, white strips painted on the trees, and a few women gleaning in harvested fields. Next the countryside had grapevines planted along the side of the railroad tracks and an orchard with a vineyard planted beneath the trees. I spied ox teams loading hay.

This plain country was drier and didn’t have such heavily luxurious growth as farther north did. I found striped road barriers at the railroad tracks. When the train whizzed by, the gates came up. Next I saw a lady carrying water up the steps of the farmhouse. The water in the river beds was low and the grass and weeds were high.

And I noticed the grains came in long shocks rather than in high piles. There were wild poppies growing amidst the stubble while other grain fields came in round shocks. The grain shocks were between rows of trees and grape vines. Later we passed an olive orchard, a little hedge between the trees, Oleander bushes alongside the road, and a really modern new service station. We waited for two trains, a passenger train and a freight train.

We didn’t have enough food hanging from the window baskets, so we stopped at a small town for something to eat. The mob descended upon a poor little alimentari shop, which was the Italian’s combination grocery, deli and cafe. It was one of the largest shops we had found so far.
When the bus was back on the road again, we passed a large auto van transporting about a dozen new little European cars. The little cars got better gas mileage, one of the main reasons for their widespread use here in Europe. I identified different shaped stacks of grain. Next was a cornfield, windmill by a farmhouse, and barbed wire fences. It was the first time I recalled seeing wire fences in Europe. This part of Italy looked somewhat like our dry farms. Then we went down by the Mediterranean again.

Next we crossed a river or canal or something. I couldn’t find on the map. Men working in field waved to us, just like we used to do in Idaho when we were out hoeing beets. Along the way I caught sight of a combination orchard, cornfield, wheat field and vineyard. I noticed rectangular two story houses with outside stone stairs going up to the second story. The little village looked like a ship sitting on top of a hill.

Our plans for Rome were to spend the first day at the Vatican, second day in the central part of the old city, and the catacombs the last day. The Vatican, the world’s smallest country, was a small independent state. A 400 ton obelisk was in the center of the square. It was the only remnant of Nero’s Circus where the obelisk would preside over Nero’s countless brutal games and Christian executions. The Vatican had two long colonnades on the side of the square that represented outstretched arms. Bernini had been the architect. Railroads, considered the shortest tracks in the world, were created to lead into the Vatican.

In this small country the Vatican had its own post office and guards. All the priests in the Vatican must be unmarried and within a certain age range. Also, there was a covered passageway which still connected St. Angelo Castle to the Vatican. St. Angelo sat along the river and was close to the main road leading to the Vatican. Often St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican was full of people for many different occasions. The Catholic Church, the wealthiest church, had sold many indulgences to pay for it.

I took a nap and missed part of the lecture. Lunch was crazy. Whatta circus! As we sped down the road, I chawed on an old dry bunch of Italian bread trying to get a little cheese or jam to stay on it! What an experience and it happened almost everyday. I was going to have strong teeth or none at all. The cross country bicycle race passed us going the other way, while we were eating. I wonder if Italy’s top cyclist was participating. The cyclists had jockey suits on and were eating and drinking while riding.

I just had a scare! I reached into my bag to put a plastic bag away and missed my travelers checks. A little voice with not so calm thinking thought it might be in my suitcase. I hope it was! Then we passed several bus loads of sailors. Inside the bus we waved at them and they whistled back.

I observed big white farmhouses with green shutters and orange roofs. And all the houses were built about the same. Italy looked drier and felt hotter than France. At spaced intervals we saw houses with the sign casa cantoniera. Later I found out they provided shelter for road workers and travelers in need. Another advertising sign showed baby baths that looked just like the thing we call foot baths in our hotel rooms.

We came into Rome from the northwest corner and there were big apartment houses on the outskirts. We spotted the dome of St. Peters and towers to the Vatican radio station. They sent messages all over the world. Next we passed the wall around the Vatican City. We observed a watering trough in which a man and horse were both drinking out of the same place. Nasty! Soon after I identified black robed priests and a bus load of priests.

Finally! We were in Rome which was 2700 years old. White uniformed police were in the middle of the streets. Then we went through a long tunnel and across a beautiful bridge called the Tibre. St. Angelo Castle, built in 150 a.d., was stripped of marble and turned into a fortress. Popes have taken refuge there.

Then we entered into the older part of the city. We passed old Roman ruins about 12 feet below the present level of Rome. The most modern monument, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was part of the forum. Next was the Palazia Venezzia, formerly Palace of St. Mark, in central Rome just north of the Capitoline Hill. It was the balcony Mussolini used to speak from. I spied the Roman Colliseum for one moment.

We stopped at the American Express building only to find out they were closed until 3 p.m. We immediately went to our hotel, the Hotel Angelo American. It was unimpressive from the front but nice inside. I had room six with Carol and Alene. The bathroom had everything with all the trimmings except for the soap. I found my traveler’s checks and other important stuff in my bag. What a relief! We hurried down to American Express again for mail call.

It was wonderful to receive mail from Twila, Lucy, Loy, Cleo, and Dean Woodruff. I would like to write letters so I can receive more mail. We found a little tiny restaurant and had a good dinner. It consisted of tomato soup, roast veal, orange, and fruit. It cost 750 lire which included the cover and service.

After dinner I took off with Herr and Mrs. Rogers, Alene, Mrs. Hansen and McDonald looking for opera tickets. We went down the Billboard street to the intersection going to the fountain and Santa Mario Maguire. We found the theater, but the box office didn’t open until 7 p.m. So we went on farther exploring. Mrs. Hansen and Mrs. McDonald got a large charge out of walking behind us and watching the people stare at us. I assume it was because we are so tall.

We passed the Trajan’s old market coming off from the square where we thought the concert would be. Later we went back to the theater at 7 p.m. to get tickets, but we fouled up again. Blow! Tickets for that night were at the CIT office. As we headed back to the hotel, we were window shopping all the way.

I bathed and washed my hair before the concert, so I went with a wet pony tail. An Italian helped me find the Basilica and I paid 250 lire for standing seats. I thought it was going to be outside, but it was a covered building. As I went through the gate, it ended up being in front of the building. The Vorekovsky Symphony was in process. What an enchanting atmosphere for a symphony—in the midst of Roman Ruins. I ran around trying to get a program. At last an usher gave one to me. At 10:38 p.m. I watched Hawthorne’s Marble Faun. What a wonderful night!

60 Years Ago Today

Tuesday, 24 June 1952:

This had been such a charming spot. It was hard to leave. So far I would say France and Italy were quite similar, except it was my impression that Italy was less expensive, had cleaner restaurants, and had more war damage. The people seemed to be in greater need because they had more street peddlers. Perhaps I may change my mind on these things later. Also the shops had hoola doors which were kind of oriental like. We left the beautiful city of Rapallo climbing upward along the seashore, then down again to the next town, and up again towards the mountains which was between us and the sea. There were impressive winding roads and mountainous territory to view.

While learning about Rome on the bus, we passed Volterra which was an ancient town. We learned Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus according to legend. These twins were left to die in the wild by their uncle, but were found and suckled by a mother wolf. Later in life Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel and named the new city Rome after himself.

Herr Watkins’ notes about Rome said that it was the center of Italian civilization. Roman architecture contributions included the round arch and dome, the Pantheon and Coliseum. Many characteristics were called Roman culture by the Greeks. Roman abstract justice was one of their greatest contributions. There was a gradual degradation of the Roman ruins.

Now back to the scenery around us with pine trees, fields terraced on the mountains, and dotted thatched homes up the mountainside. The country was much like Yellowstone I thought. There were grapevines on the edge of each terraced level with plants next to the mountain. I saw funny haystacks with a pole down the middle of the haystack that was tapered to the top like a teepee.

There were many hair-raising turns on the way down into LaSpezia. Andre had to back up on one curve to make it around the curve. LaSpezia was a seacoast city on a hill. I observed a building with dozens of white plaques covered with names on the outside. The whole town formed a military guard in front. I spied an old moat, some red and white flowers grouped around the plaza, and rows of palm trees along the beach. Later I caught sight of the seaport with flower stalls on the road. Then the valley widened and the road straightened out.

As soon as we stopped to pick up some food to eat I ran all over creation trying to find bread. A little boy showed us to a little paneria or bakery down an alley. We had to try eating on the moving bus—with dirty hands. Whatta mess! At the same time we tried to watch the scenery and Dr. Rogers told us about Pisa.

Now we were in Pisa where four buildings in the square made up the Square of Miracles. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the buildings, had a 13 foot lean, 180 foot height on one side and 177 on the other side. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in weak, unstable subsoil and the foundation was not deep enough. And there was a slight slip in the land just after it was built. Cement has been inserted to keep it from leaning further.

I was the first one to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower which cost 120 lire. I could feel the slant of the tower while walking up the winding stairs. It was hollow inside and had little stairs to the top. There were six bells and one wall was thicker than the other with the thirteen foot lean.
Next we saw the monumental cemetery, Camposanto Monumentale, a historical edifice at Cathedral Square. A legend claimed that bodies buried in that ground rot in just 24 hours. The cemetery, which costs 60 lire to get in, was badly bombed during World War II and was in ruins. The Italians were in the process of restoring all of the buildings.

At one time the monumental cemetery walls were completely covered with murals. There were only traces of some of them left now. Many works of art were ruined from World War II as well. Original murals were being measured to make sure they were restored to their original condition. There were tombs all along the side walls of different shapes and sizes.

We talked to some workmen about the bombings. They said “the Americans did it.” Obviously they didn’t think we were Americans. Some statues had escaped damage but tourists had written their names all over them. Just like on the top of Pisa, names were written and carved everywhere.

The Baptistry of the Cathedral, the third building, was the largest baptistry in Italy. There were round holes on the round podium for baptisms and the balcony up above was a dome. Going through I noticed it had an echo. Echoes of one man sounded like a whole chorus.

Finally we discovered the cathedral which was in the middle of the plaza and the last of the four buildings. It was one of the foremost monuments of Medieval architecture in the world. Made in the shape of a Latin cross, the cathedral was devoted to the Virgin Mary and was built entirely in marble. It was Gothic Romanesque and Renaissance combination, I think, with some stained glass. It had beautiful murals and interesting ceilings. The cathedral had about four or five different altars. Outside there were funny toadstool trees. But we barely had time to step inside the cathedral because we had a feeling the mob was ready to go.

Once again we were back on tree-lined roads with lily ponds, weeping willows, grain fields, and grain piled in big stacks. Signs on the sidewalk still said “U.S. Go Home. Ridgway la peste.” We eventually stopped at Livorno (Leghorn) for our own spot for the night.

We drove down through the narrow streets and even right past the hotel. The hotel was hidden by its similarity to all the other buildings around it. It was quaint and interesting. I had room three on the ground floor which opens onto a beautiful patio. There was green paint on the French doors.

We found two big bathtubs on the next floor but there was only cold water. We went down to the beach in shorts and caused the usual or a little more than usual stir of attention. The beach was a poor man’s beach. It was smelly and had poor little kids on the beach. It cost 70 lire at the first entrance and 50 lire at the next one. The mob gathered around and piled up their belongings between two of the kids sunbathing. Some of the kids crawled through the rocks and moss and cut their feet. A few of us rented a blue ski boat for 150 lire. And Henry rowed a boat which almost capsized. Later Betty Lou, Eloise and I sunbathed. Finally we rowed out to the island. An Italian man in a rowboat hovered close around and we called him our guardian angel. There were ships in the harbor and sailboats.

We created a major commotion in getting back to the hotel. Carol was in a bathing suit, Eloise in a bathing suit and pedal pushers, and Betty and I were in shorts. People were running out of doors and hanging out of the windows to look at us. We were four pied pipers with a troupe of kids following us.The people on bikes rode past us several times and must have passed the word along, because it was the longest walk we ever took. The hotel was a welcome sight.

The group with Herr Watkins had a similar experience. He was wearing his shorts and people thought he was out in his underclothes. Back at the hotel I had a cold bath. Brrr! I got ready for dinner which was several blocks downtown. Once again we were still the center of attention. I guess they’re not used to seeing tall girls.

Dinner consisted of spaghetti, ice cream, and an orange for 480 lire. Cherries were thrown in for extra. We talked to an American civilian working at the army base here. As we chatted to John from Tennessee and Maria from Italy, they told us the hotel was in the midst of communism. They said Italian people were better off than the other European countries from World War II. And that the U.S. had such a poor propaganda system, the Italians didn’t even know who was helping them. The manager then asked us to go inside. Namely because too many people were gathering on the street.

So we went inside and had a round table discussion. John told us that the Italian people do not analyze things and that they pass from one party to the next. The Italians were easily aroused. It just depended on who was helping them get work.

60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 23 June 1952:

I had my bags down at 7:30 a.m. and then I went foraging for breakfast. The Italians stared even more openly than the French. I decided I liked Italian bread better than French bread.
We began the day with the Beghin Lido beach with a striped beach house. Farther down there were school kids doing callisthenics on the beach. Another beach had a tank barrier and a woman washing clothes in an almost dried up stream. Everywhere there were dozens of blue and white round signs.

Next was Genova, population 330,000, which had five harbors wrecked during World War II. This area became important during the Renaissance period. It grew rapidly and compelled commercialism with Venice and Florence. There were battle scars mixed in with some new modern buildings.

Christopher Columbus was born and lived here. There were five monuments here in honor of Columbus. The highest culture in Europe was found in Italy in the republic cities during the time of Columbus. Then we discovered the chapel of John the Baptist and one of the most ambitious cemeteries with many fine monuments and tombs. The tomb of Magzona, a famous Italian writer, was here.

The Italians stopped the blasting and were trying to reclaim and rebuild the bombarded buildings. There were crowded narrow streets everywhere with signs of Gillette Blue Blades, even in Italy. Italians were repairing and rebuilding streets, wharves and warehouses. This city really had been pummeled. Even now the city was in tremendous ruins. The harbor had been almost totally reconstructed. A big ship had just come into the port.

Gilosde Genova had a huge granary near the wharves. There were marks between old scarred buildings, clothing hanging from the windows of the buildings, big gates of old city walls, and a street named after Petrach. A beautiful fountain was in the center of the square. In modern Genova there was a definite contrast between ancient and modern. Genova imported from four to six times more products than they exported.

The vines were growing all over Columbus’ house in the center of the city. The wall of the city in 1249 a.d. had dirt and filth inside the wall. We stopped at the street named Dante right along by Columbus’ home and a bank. Those Italian eyes were really boring holes in us.

France and Italy rivaled each other in population. Italy had a larger immigration than any other country in Europe. Italy’s huge population was counterbalanced with the lack of opportunity available for its citizens. Rome used to control the entire Mediterranean world. In the 1800’s Garibaldi, an Italian military and political figure, who sailed from Genova and landed at Palermo, sought to gather volunteers for his impending campaign here.

As we drove high on a hill above the sea coming out of Genova, we gradually came down again and then up again past an old castle and estate by the sea. Trees grew out of the bank at a horizontal angle. We crossed a bridge which looked like it was only partially built. Whew! We made it! In looking back at the bridge, it didn’t look very substantial. We passed a church by the sea with a big clock on each side of the tower. There was an ugly red house with green shutters and beautiful gardens between the road and sea. There were more trees growing at an angle above the sea. I spied a beautiful castle down by the sea.

Rapallo, a city in Italy, was coming up. This was a short trip and we spent the afternoon on the beach. Our Verdi Hotel was high on a hill overlooking the town and the sea not far from the beach. I had room 46 with Alene. We were the first ones to our rooms.

We had a balcony in our room. Everyone who had a balcony promptly used it as a communication with everyone else with a balcony. It caused quite a commotion. Afterwards we ventured down to the beach via the little trails. There were steps and paths between the buildings. It cost 100 lire for the beach and bath houses. The water was warm and fairly clean as we played water baseball and catch. When we returned, I had a cold bath in Helen’s room.

Then we went out to eat dinner. However, no one served food until 6 p.m. We wandered around the shops, and met another bunch of kids including Eloise from Utah, who had just eaten at a pensione or guesthouse across the bridge. Phew—smelly river! Finally we had dinner at Mello’s. It consisted of spaghetti and later some pastries, like in France. Afterwards we met bunches of kids at a movie where it was 150 lire for my second pastry. It was a nice theater, but not a large clientele. We crawled through the dark to find our seats and sat down just as the lights went on.

The lights turned on subsequently after every short trailer and intermissions. The movie, Incantesimo Tragico, had a very dramatic plot which we were able to follow for the most part. We were slightly confused on some of the side plots, however. It was a tragedy, but we couldn’t tell for sure whether the heroine died or not.

All of us ended up at Mello’s for more spaghetti later on. The manager showed us how to eat spaghetti. The delicious bread veal cutlets with potatoes and beans was even better than the spaghetti before the cinema. There wasn’t a cover charge, just 10% service for the two big baskets of fruits the waiter brought in for dessert. Andre came in to eat as well.

Afterwards we talked to an Italian looking lady. However, she ended up being an English lady from London, who was non-Italian speaking with an Italian friend. She had purchased for her little girl a pair of wooden-soled sandals and the little girl squealed with delight for everyone to hear. They seemed to be friends of the manager.

When we were so stuffed with food that we could scarcely move, we noticed it was dark outside and we were too scared to leave. Finally, we decided to go. When we crossed the bridge and street to Hotel Verdi, it was dark and windy. We kept imagining noises with the little lights here and there in the dark that looked like lit cigarettes. Gratefully they turned out to be fireflies. But we ran the last stretch to the hotel and found a maid waiting at the door.

50 for 50 #14 – Pizza

my pizza dough

Today I made pizza from scratch for lunch. I’ve made pizza before but this particular time was to remind me of the two times I got to go to Italy when I was in my 20’s. I found a new pizza crust recipe to try using the sourdough starter I revived recently. I got the starter because I want to learn to make good whole wheat sourdough bread this year. I’m not ready to tackle that yet but I thought pizza dough would be much more forgiving. I was right and it all worked out very good and Bill really liked it.

my pizza ready to bake

finished pizza

I’m sure I’ll use this sourdough pizza crust recipe again. It seems like a good way to sue the starter. There was one big failure with this project. I tried to make cheese bread with the extra dough but forgot about it in the 450 degree oven. I burned it way past being edible and I was afraid I might have ruined the pan. Thankfully the cookie sheet survived but the cheese bread went straight into the garbage can.

brunt cheese bread

Have you ever burned anything this bad before? Do you have a favorite pizza recipe?