Now for the post that many of you have been waiting for: bead shopping. I wanted some Murano glass pendants so I looked online for bead shops before we left but found a lot of vague directions. You know, "start out at this piazza and then wander down this street and I think it is on the left-hand side a few blocks down but, if not, there are other fun shops." I did find the address for two bead shops shops near the Pantheon.
The first was a shop called Novita near the Piazza Navona, a tiny space housing floor-to-ceiling shelves of boxes full of metal findings and filigree. You had to ask the clerk to take down each box you wanted to look at and it didn't seem like the clerk spoke much English so we moved on. Beads and Beyond did a review of this shop if you would like more information.
We wandered down the block and ran across La Perla D'Oriente, an Aladdin's cave of beads and glass items owned by Rankoussi Mazan and his wife Antonella. Rankoussi is originally from Damascus, Syria but has lived in Rome for over 20 years. He is a bead artist who has studied glass bead making in may countries and now has his own small factory in Rome. He also sells beads from other small factories discovered through his travels. I was fortunate to get a demonstration of his bead-making prowess.
|Here is the front of La Perla D'Oriente|
|Some of the beads in the shop window. Notice the flower beads on the lower shelf; I fell in love with them in Turkey but could never find any examples to buy for myself.|
|Rankoussi presenting me with the lampwork bead from his demonstration just for Don and me.|
|More beads in the shop window.|
|One of Rankoussi's modern interpretation of an ancient face bead laying on top of some flower beads.|
|Some of the beads that came home with me. Those long drops at the top of the photo fascinated me.|
If you want to do your own shopping, Rankoussi assures me that he does mail order so here is the website La Perla D'Oriente/Bead Shop Rome. I never found any official Murano pendants but was very happy with the beads that I bought.
We needed a "pick me up" after bead shopping, so we headed to Tazza d"Oro Casa del Caffe, one of Rome's top coffee shop, for a granita di caffe con panna. In English, that is a coffee slush (think shaved ice) layered with whipped cream. We have no photos of the creation because we were too busy scarfing it down but--trust me-- it is not to be missed. Jazzed up on coffee and sugar, we continued out stroll.
|The Four Rivers Fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Piazza Navona|
We braved the crowds to visit the inside of The Pantheon.
|Some of the crowd walking past the 40-foot, single-piece, granite columns to gain entrance to the Pantheon.|
|Inside the Pantheon. Built by the Romans as a temple to all gods, the building was converted to a Christian church in the 7th century A.D.|
|The famous dome with the opening in the center that inspired later domes by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi. It is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.|
|Dining outside. I am sitting against the window. You can't see them, but we had a strolling band and then an accordionist providing music while we dined.|
|We ordered two different pizzas; one was cheese and the other was mushroom, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. They were good but much too large to finish so we saved the leftovers for lunch the next day.|
|After dinner, we continued our stroll past the Sinking Boat Fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Built by Bernini and his father, the fountain is powered by a Roman aqueduct as are the other fountains in Rome.|
We then popped into the largest and most lavish McDonald's facing the Spanish Steps but got chased out when Don tried to take photos.
|We ended our stroll at the Spanish Steps, named for the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican that has been here for 300 years. It has been a hangout for the likes of Keats, Wagner, and Goethe, and remains a popular place for people to gather.|