Backpacking Italy: Odds and Ends

Various impressions from my recent Italy trip, in no particular order:

Ah, the “auto-bus.”

Times, as noted on schedules, are–at best–declarations of intents, vs. timed events.

That said, the margin of error is never more than 10 minutes.

I took the 7.35 bus from Norcia to Roma.  As the bus route winds itself out of the Sibillini mountain, dotting the hillside are ancient hamlet-fortresses; shrouded in sunlit mountain fog; red tiled roofs abutting each other; smoke rising from chimneys; surrounded by high defensive walls, complete with battlements and gun ports…

Absolutely magical.


I consider it only a courtesy that I speak some Italian while communicating with locals.

As it turned out, the Italian folks that I ran into were most eager to practice their English with me.

Between my 14%-fluency Italian, their better-than-average English, and–as a last resort–sign language, I got to where I needed to be; and, did not starve.

When all else fails, remember: “Per favore,” “Grazie,” and a smile, will go a long way.


Just like home.

There is a surprising number (surprising to me, anyway) of Irish pubs in Rome.  This was at a pub named “Trinity College”.

Imagine: being in Rome, Italy; drinking Guinness, at an Irish pub; and eating Tennessee barbecue’d ribs.

(By the way, the ribs were good; a perfect antidote for any homesickness one may have.)


“Hail Mary, Full of Grace…”

At practically every street corner, one would most likely find some image of the Virgin Mary, be it a statue, a painting, a relief carving, etc.

As it was explained to me, Her presence is for crime-prevention purpose:  Italians are afraid of their mothers; and, with the Mother of all mothers looking down on them, they would–in theory–think twice about trespassing.

For what it’s worth, I felt perfectly safe roaming around at night.


Chiesa di Santa Maria della Scala

(i.e., the Church of Saint Mary of the Stairs)

Maybe because of her crime-preventive ability (or maybe because of the “fear your mother” thing), Italy in general (and Rome in particular) have an endearing devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Practically everything that can be dedicated is dedicated to Her.  Every other step, and one would run into a place named “Santa Maria di” something or other.

And just when you think they would run out of things dedicatable?

Why, there are always stairs.


All creatures great and small

At Sunday Mass.

God blesses them all, no exception.

Especially small.


Norcia Sta Con Parigi

The day after the Paris massacre.

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