Saturday, April 2, 2011


Mabel Watson Payne took a nap in her carry-pouch as we walked from St. Peter's Square down along the river to the least modernized district in central Rome called Trastevere, entering it through an arch in the medieval city wall.

On the far side of Piazza di Santa Maria we spotted a cafe under awnings that turned out to be an excellent choice for lunch. My daughter ordered tremazzini because the Venetian cops in her Donna Leon mysteries are always eating great piles of them. This was my favorite Piazza in Rome, mainly because the parts related to each other so harmoniously – also because it was blessedly traffic-free.

From our seats we could look across at the ancient church of Santa Maria and wonder what it would be like when we went inside.

Most of Rome's celebrity architects worked on embellishing the fountain in the center of the Piazza: Bramante, della Porta, Bernini and Fontana (but not, alas, our beloved Borromini).

The foundations of Santa Maria in Trastevere date back to 337 A.D. Rows of mismatched Roman columns line the nave. They were recycled in the 12th century from various pagan temples.