Day 6: Giotto, Arena Chapel (Cappella Scrovegni), free afternoon, dinner at Trattoria Bersagliere

Our breakfast room was invaded by a voracious horde of Spaniards and Portuguese who elbowed and clawed their way through the food and coffee lines, invaded our reserved seating and tried to steal our bowls of fruit, then rushed out (for their holy pilgrimage to the basilica) by 8:00. We had an excellent lecture on Giotto's Arena chapel frescoes, by Kirk Duclaux, who walked us (see the red line on the large map below) to the chapel (the red circle) before leaving for his train back to Firenze. We had to sit in a small glassed multimedia room to be de-humidified, during which we watched a film about Giotto and his times, then were allowed 15 wonderful minutes in the Chapel.

Arena Chapel (Capella Scrovegni) - Giotto di Bondone

From the excellent Web Gallery of Art:

Biography of Giotto (1267-1337)
Scenes from the Life of Joachim
Scenes from the Life of the Virgin
Scenes from the Life of Christ
The Last Judgment
Angels: Details from the Frescoes
Decoration of the Chapel

Free Afternoon - the University district

We returned to the hotel and had lunch. The afternoon was scheduled as "free", so we wandered back to the University area (green line on the map). Had espresso in the Piazza dei Signori, just to the left of the Loggia del Consiglio (upper green circle), in the area in front of the arch and behind the orange-and-blue market stall (in the first photo). Then we wandered around a little until the La Feltrinelli and Feltrinelli International bookstores opened at 3:30 (lower green circle). We spent a long time just looking around.

Piazza dei Signori

Loggia del Consiglio

Torre dell'Orologio


my Trevi RAS 735 ... finalmente!

Free Afternoon (2) - our search for a radio

We returned to the hotel. I wanted to buy a little FM radio (I don't sleep much and had forgot to bring one to listen to at night). We went to the Tobbaconist (lowest blue circle): "Dove posso comprare una piccola radio portatile, effe-emme?" He directed us to another shop back on via del Santo, where they directed us to another further down, then another, until we wound up back in the University district. There, near the Tomba di Atenore (middle blue circle), we encountered two motorcycle policemen. I was a little leery of asking them for help in this (many police back home would get huffy if you treated them as tour guides), but I asked anyway. They had a long, heated discussion, then gave us directions (in Italian). This involved a few turns, going through a little tunnel, and then down the via Roma. We were about to give up, assuming I got their Italian incorrectly, when Karen spotted a CD store (upper blue circle). They didn't think they had radios, but after some searching, found one. The Trevi RAS 735 was exactly what I had been looking for: FM, speaker, memory buttons. According to the pamphlet which came with the radio, it was made in 1996, which may explain why the people in the store didn't know they had it in stock.

Dinner on our own

We joined Giannina & Frank Mooney for a delightful outdoor dinner at the Ristorante Al Bersagliere, a trattoria on the via Donatello, number 6, between the Prato della Valle and the entrance to the Orto Botanico (just a short distance from the Basilica - follow the map's purple line).

I had the biglioni con acciughe, and Karen had the pasta e fagioli. We all had spritz for aperitivi and a dessert which was "to die for": layers of limone, pistachio, and spumoni "bombe" (gelato, about the size of Philadelphia cream cheese) in a puddle of Gran Marnier. Unfortunately, it never occurred to any of us to take pictures, and even the restaurant site doesn't show pictures of our table out front on the sidewalk. Fortunately, Laura later provided me with the two pictures shown above. We had the table just in front of the doorway.

I was impressed that we were given the table for the evening - when the tables were filled that was it; others were simply turned away. I was also impressed that we somehow communicated what we wanted without English, a sort of charades game going through the menu. The waitress wanted to be sure that I understood that "biglioni" meant fat spaghetti (said the word "spaghetti", then made a circle with her fingers and made that bigger) and that "acciughe" were anchovies (she moved her hands like a fish tail) and very salty (she shook the salt shaker).

It was a very delightful evening. We began having spritz from that moment; have tried many recipes (all similar) since we got back.