Today we took a subway across Rome to the Aqueduct Park. Ellen remembers reading about Roman Aqueducts in the Weekly Reader in grade school and has always been fascinated by them. They were indeed spectacular. She was surprised by the size of the park and the extent of the remaining aqueducts. In her elementary-school mind, she pictured one street with an aqueduct above while running its length.
After seeing the many remains of these ancient water conduits, we walked to a park area which had a couple picnic tables, and our amazing Francine prepared a picnic feast for us. She did allow us to help with minor chores as she made the most delicious bruschetta by cutting the wonderful, ripe tomatoes in half the then rubbing and squashing them on the bread adding the oil. Delicious - Ellen wants to try it but doubts she can find the same quality of tomatoes!
After lunch we walked to an area of the aqueducts where years ago, poor people had recycled the stones from the aqueducts into a shantytown. It was rife with poverty and disease. A priest who lived nearby bought one of the shelters and turned it into a school, thus beginning the revival of the area. The priest is honored nearby.
We then walked to a Quadraro, a neighborhood of affordable apartments that have been built to give a feeling of community. The Quadraro residents all know each other and help one another which gives them a real feeling of pride in their community. Sara, Francine’s boss, came with us that day. Since this was one of the first tours after the OAT COVID shut-down they were trying things out. The visit to the Quadraro was one experiment. I think we all thought that the concept the success of the neighborhoods was wonderful, but perhaps visit had gone on too long.
After a stop for coffee or a soft drink at a bocce ball court, we ended up in a Quadraro art studio where we met Francesco Zanardi, who has founded an organization dedicated to helping those abused by Catholic clergy and trying to stop the abusers and get them prosecuted. Francesco, himself, was a victim of priest abuse and openly shared his story. Apparently in Italy little is done to stop priest abusers.
Back on the subway to the hotel! Jorge and Ellen went back to the same family restaurant and again the owned welcomed us. He even remembered what we had ordered for lunch the day before. This is even more amazing because Anne had ordered and shared her food with Jorge.