Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Olvera Street ... Where Los Angeles Began

My sister Penny, and nephew Benjamin, were coming to Los Angeles, to spend the night with me. We decided to got back to Olvera Street. We have a family history over there and my sister had been there only once! You may have noticed that I have posted about this little corner of town before ... but I just love it!

Olvera Street is the oldest part of Los Angeles.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles
Founded in 1814, historical landmark

This church was built on the ruins of the previous "sub-station mission," (founded 1784) to serve the original settlers.

The name Los Angeles is an abbreviation from the original name, "El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles." The town of the Queen of Angels. (Although there is some debate about the exact name.)

The church is Franciscan, like all the California Missions, (though this isn't part of the missions.) Anyway, I noticed the Annunciation (above) is patterned after the one, that is above the altar, in the Porziuncola, which is the little sacred church St. Francis built below Assisi. Sometimes it feels like everything connects back to Francis! 

There was some kind of church related festivity going on, outside of the church, and inside there was a mass going on. Photos will have to wait for my next visit!

I miss going to Mexico. Maybe that is part of the reason I like to going back again and again, to Olvera Street. It gives me a little Mexico booster.

We used to go to Rosarito Beach with my Mom's side of the family. We'd hang out on the beach and my grandma and aunt would pull out their guitars. My mom, my aunties, grandmas and great grandmother would all sing. This is one of the songs I remember. My grandpa loved it.

The church is right across the road from Olvera Street, and I'm pretty sure that is where my great grandmother, then later my grandfather, would have been baptized. Her mother (My great great grandmother) and father were married in Chile, and then came up to Los Angeles.

Olvera Street is really only one block long ...

And it's crammed with vendors, shops and restaurants!

Benjamin, my nephew, in his new summer hat!

This restaurant, La Golondrina Café, is in the oldest standing brick building in Los Angeles. (1857)

We had lunch there and, as usual, we got a song from the mariachis! It's the oldest restaurant on the street and it has been in the same family since it opened, in 1930. I had the sautéed trout with tamatillo salsa. Mmmmmm.

I love this shop below ... lots of costumes for traditional dance, along with jewelry, lamps and other fun, colorful items. It's upstairs, at the very end of the street.

This next one is a great shop for more contemporary fare. In fact, my sister got two adorable embroidered blouses and a darling dress. (That I plan to borrow!)

Ben and Penny, making wishes at the wishing well ...

And now ... the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles

Yep, it's also on Olvera Street. It's registered as a California Historical Landmark and the part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District and, along with Olvera Street, a California State Park.

Avila Adobe

This is the courtyard area. The Avila Adobe was built in 1818 by ranchero, Francisco José Avila, who was mayor of Los Angeles in 1810.

We were told that the wood floors were added later and back in the day they would have had packed dirt floors, which kept them cool, in the summer.

Just another groovy brick building ...

LOVE the Olvera Candle Shop. It's full of groovy gifts and arts of Dia de los Muertos ... and of course candles.

Ben loved the Mexican wrestling masks ...

So I got him one. He picked out the Nacho Libre mask.

When we were walking out to the parking lot, this man yelled "Nacho Libre!!!" out his car window, when he saw Ben. Wish you could have heard the guy. It was as if he were at a wrestling match in Mexico. So funny! "Nacho Libre!" Still makes me laugh.

The  Old Plaza
Built 1820s

Above, is the square where they have musicians, dancers, and various festivities and celebrations. The story goes, that my great great grandparents had their wedding reception in the plaza, after they arrived from Chile. She was only 14 or 15 years old.

That's my sis and Ben heading to car.

And yes, we did the total touristy shot. So silly, but it cracked us up, and Ben loved the donkey. I seem to remember that decades ago, it was an real stuffed donkey, but that might just be my memory playing tricks on me!

For more on Avila Adobe, click here
As I mentioned, I have done previous posts on Olvera Street. Click HERE if you are interested in checking them out!

Here is a 1937 film on Olvera Street. Not exactly politically correct but pretty interesting to see it before they added all the kiosks, and all the things that have changed. Too bad they don't have the puppet shows anymore!

Summer afternoon,
Summer afternoon;
to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words
in the English language.
~Henry James

blessings and light!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Arrivaderci Roma! The last bits of Rome

Rome is a world,
and it would take years to become 
a true citizen of it.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Letters from Italy, 1786

It was an amazing 9 days in Rome, though it wasn't always easy. It's hard to explain because though I enjoy traveling on my own, on the days when it was pouring down rain, in the city, and I was visiting all the martryed saint paintings, it got a little strange. 

Anyway, for the most part, I was ready to move on and very excited to be back in Assisi. But, it was still difficult to leave Rome, my favorite city. There is always so much left to see! I guess that just means ... I have to go back? ;)

Basilica of Santa Croce in Via Flaminia

December 6th was a full day. I'd started that morning in the Capuchin Crypt, visited the Caravaggios and Berninis in Santa Maria del Popolo, I took a million photos in the ultra modern MAXXI museum and had lunch, and now it was time for me to head back to the tram, and make my way South to meet up with my new friend Dawn. She had invited me over, for a home cooked meal, with her family in Monteverde. (Southeast of Trastevere)

Here's a little music for my last day in Rome ... ;)

I mentioned in the previous post, that MAXXI museum is in a lovely neighborhood ...

And as luck (or synchronicity) would have it, there was a little flower shop next to the tram, so I could pick up a hostess gift!

You can see the potted Christmas trees, in the photos below. It was the 6th of December, after all. I decided to give them a little holiday color with a pot of bright red cyclamen, with red wrapping. (also below!)

Below, I am heading from Piazzale Flamino, through the old Porta del Popolo. That's Piazza del Popolo, through the gate, with it's 73 foot Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk was originally from the Sun Temple in Heliopolis, and built in 1300 BC. Emperor Augustus apparently thought it would be nice to have it in Rome, and had it brought to town in 10 AD. 
Seriously, are there any obelisks left in Egypt?! 

The twin churches you see on either side of the obelisk are Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.

I headed through the gates and made my way over to to Piazza di Spagna where I was to meet Dawn. I walked around the neighboring Piazza de Mignanelli and the Colonna dell'Immacolata, just to the East of Spagna.

Virgin Mary by Giuseppe Obici 

Colonna dell'Immacolata
designed by Luigi Poletti 

It was commission by Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies. It was dedicated in 1857. 

David, by Tadoni

The big tree lighting in Piazza di Spagna would be the following day, so many more lights were going up that day.

I'm hoping that pile of lights was more organized than it looked!

One last view of the Piazza!

Dawn met me on the Spanish Steps. We got in her car and headed to pick up her kids.
This, below, is Giovanni, a total sweetheart, who warmed up to me very quickly and had a lot to say! So cute and about the same age as my nephew, Benjamin ... and a fellow fan of Lego Spinjitzu. Some things are universal! 

They helped me find a striped neck warmer like Giovanni's, that evening, for Benjamin, for Christmas. Super cozy.

We went to the grocery store to pick some things up and the kids showed me this bag of cookies ... their favorite breakfast cookie. Don't you love the idea of a breakfast cookie? 

I promised I'd buy a bag before leaving Italy, and give them a try. I did. I got a huge back and lugged it in my carry-on back to California. Yum! Like a very crunchy butter cookie. Perfect for dunking, but I learned that sweets for breakfast aren't the best idea, unless you are walking all over Italy all day long. 

Anyway, the cookies were a great treat to have over Christmas, but now I'm obsessed. While putting this post together, I found them on Amazon. Danger!

Dawn and I met on this trip, through our mutual friend Mark Avery, who I've known since I was 21. She had me beat, though. I think they met in High School. 
Here we are talking to him on the phone in New York State!

Dawn says I should get one of these. An Italian food mill. 

She started up the veggies ...

Dawn and her darling daughter Elena. (Who is smart as a whip!)

For pasta al forno ...

Layers and layers of pasta, cheese, veggies and ...
bechamel ... mmmm

I had so much fun being with them and it felt so wonderful being around the warmth of a family. 

I wish I'd payed better attention. She learned the recipe from her Italian mother-in-law. Maybe she'll email me the recipe!

Thanks Dawn for showing me around, taking me shopping, to the amazing mural at the monastery at Trinità dei Monti, the Protestant Cemetery and inviting me into your home!

I left Rome the next morning. After closing the door to Golden Rooms, I realized the shop next door was finally open! I had been spying charms for my sister's and my charm bracelets, in the window, but it was never open when I came "home" in the evenings. 

I barely made it through the door with my huge bag and my carry on. I didn't want to be late to my train so I quickly asked to see the charms. The sweet older man and his granddaughter were very sweet.

For my sister, I got a tiny charm of a temple, at the Roman Forum, and gave it to her for Christmas. For myself, the Bernini Elephant and obelisk from Piazza Minerva, the first place I  ever stayed in Rome. It now lives between a little blue and white Dutch charm, from my grandmother, and a silver feather my parents got me in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 6th grade.

I hope you enjoyed this very long journey through Rome! 29 posts, including this one! It took sure took awhile. I can't believe I left 7 months ago!

Arrivederci Roma!
(Until we see each other again!)

There are many posts of Umbria, Liguria, Piedmont and Lombardy to come! (I got around!) Plus, an amazing dinner I helped cook with our friend from Afghanistan, and some recent Southern California day trips. It's been a busy summer! Hope yours is going great! 

Arrivederci, Roma
Goodbye, goodbye to Rome
City of a million moonlit faces
City of a million warm embraces
Where I found the one of all the faces
Far from home
~lyrics by Pietro Garinei and Sandro Giovannini

blessings and light!