Rome Diary of Louise LaGorce Hickey
Edited by Jessica Dello Russo (2017)
Preface - Louise LaGorce Hickey was a close friend of International Catacomb Society founder Estelle Shohet Brettman and served on the society’s executive board as Assistant and later Associate Executive Director until her death in 1988. She had the rare quality of an amanuensis, carefully copying in neat script the thoughts and ideas Brettman wished to communicate to others, and, by extension, that of a “paparazza”, using her Washington society connections and experience as a “professional volunteer” to connect Brettman to powerful figures in the US government and international NGOs. As Brettman put it, "when the indomitable Louise joined our ranks, the ICS soared like Pegasus". In short, "Dear Louise" was indispensable for her devotion and secretarial skills.
On her own, Hickey earned national attention in the 1950’s and 1960’s for her Christmas Cookie Tree, featuring hundreds of original baked cookie designs. Annual editions of the tree were on display for many Christmas seasons in the National Geographic Museum, the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, shopping arcades, art galleries, and other venues across America. A book about the project, “How to Make Louise LaGorce’s Cookie Tree”, co-authored with Rosemary Smathers, was published in 1959 and reprinted in 1971. The ingredients for the cookie ornaments could be peculiar, not to say inedible: a squirrel tail, a piece of fabric, or a lock of Senator Barry Goldwater’s hair (Goldwater asked her to use his chest hair). He was not the only politician thus featured: then-president Nixon also was cook(i)ed, although the teeth and hair on the ornament were no
t his. Inevitably, as National Geographic Society Vice President Leonard J. Grant put it to Estelle Brettman in 1989, Louise’s cookies had a “quite limited shelf life”, and the few National Geographic had been able to “salvage… looked rather sad despite heroic efforts to patch them together.”
In the fall of 1984, Louise Hickey accompanied Estelle Brettman to Rome to make the final arrangements for the Castel Sant’Angelo showing of Brettman’s photographic exhibit, “Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome”. Brettman, on a day to day basis very secretive about her project from the conviction that her work was being “stolen” by others, nevertheless trusted Hickey completely. Hickey’s diary of the experience, transcribed below, reveals intimate details of Estelle Brettman’s tendentious work in the catacombs of Rome that Brettman herself was not so quick to share, as well as a upfront view of American “innocents abroad”, searching for a key, a taxi, a bank, or a friend.
Wednesday night, October 17, 1984 - We left home at 7:30 a.m.. Tom took me for lunch at Jimmie’s Harborside in South Boston where we had a good Italian lunch and spent a couple of hours so we went over in fair traffic. Estelle arrived at the airport with heavy luggage and we boarded. Hated to leave Tom but he said opportunity too good to miss.
Arrived in Rome before noon and waited with others in line at bank for exchange. We each exchanged $100 for our “kitty”. Took cab, cost $20, $10 each.
Arrived at apartment and couldn’t open doors. Small frightening feeling to sit outside door with all that luggage. Estelle went to look for a locksmith; came back with a policeman. He got it open by using shoulder and a heavy push. Apparently it was just stuck. What a relief.
Going inside, we found no electricity. Estelle tried the fuse boxes but didn’t do it correctly. Went to electrician’s place. Have to pay a bill before it can be turned on. She thought the bill hadn’t been paid by whoever was here.
It will take ages to get the electricity if one cannot be found. Returned, used the small herbal candle Joan Swift gave me for the bathroom. Baldo Conticello came to bring us to his house for a visit and good Italian dinner. Fascinating man, with lovely young archaeologist wife who recently discovered an antique object in her digs in old Rome.
In transporting through Rome, Estelle pointed out the numerous places of interest. We slept at Baldo’s tower apartment in the museum he had been superintendent of, built in the old walls of Rome. Very exciting. We did not take all of our luggage, thank God. Very small, his office. Slept on a couch for two.
Had meeting at 9 a.m. with the man doing her casts for the show. Then we walked to bank to give him money. Bank let two people in at a time because of robberies. I stood outside watching people. Beautiful people. Do not look like what I expected Italians to look like.
Estelle told me what all the buildings were. Showed me a square filled with temples discovered when digging for the Metro. In history of this area, strangely, there was a lavatory for both sexes where they could meet and converse. I came back later and took photos. In people watching around me, looked in shops intending to come back, which we did later.
This was all on Friday. We left Wednesday night, arrived Thursday, were rescued by Baldo for dinner and lodging, and then on Friday we did the above and bought a chocolate cake, bus tickets, and went to Baldo’s at 9:00 p.m. for pizza and a meeting which lasted until midnight. Estelle got much local political information from Baldo, made arrangements for him to do many things, and we returned by bus. Slept here so comfortably.
Saturday, October 19 - Estelle really worked, doing what she and Marisa and Baldo said had to be done with the map of Rome, which was wrong in so many places. She made important phone calls. I phoned Tom on Saturday at 19 here which was 5 a.m. there. He said Lucilla was dying.
Estelle and I went shopping and bought Tom a sweater and coat, and for me brown handmade shoes. Fantastico! So reasonable. Then dinner at Balestrari. So good. So reasonable. Came home and Estelle worked on map until midnight. I needle pointed.
Sunday, October 20 - We were going to Porta Portese this morning at 7:30 with Fernando (Nando) Di Porto. Raining. We went to catacombs after Estelle phoned Father Fasola for permits. Callisto (Calixtus) - Crypt at Lucina. 3 hours from the time we arrived there. Alberto took us through. Extremely successful pictures. Then to the Appian Way. Estelle looking for a certain tablet that she had been looking for for three years. Almost gave up, but continued and found it. Estelle ecstatic. On way back, Nando stopped for photos of apartment house covering Monteverde, which had been closed, non-existent, since early 1900’s. Muller took only photos in 1908-1910, all in black and white.
We came home, sun out, Estelle looked great. Italian lunch, I had scotches(?), Giuseppina not coming. Estelle will work, I’ll sleep and do needlepoint work and read. Helped on map of Rome.
Monday. I think that it was the end of Sunday - no, we went out later for coffee. Shops open until 8. Bought beautiful shawl for $50 - no, that was Saturday. Looked at men’s clothes again for Dick and Tom.
Monday, October 21 - On Monday, after much work first - I helped with getting much information together for meeting with Baldo to go to Castel Sant’Angelo for permission for exhibit. We went first to Baldo’s apartment at the Museum to type papers - couldn’t work the typewriter. It’s an IBM, but needs repair. Baby Maria was there with sitter. We gave up - on phone, Baldo said we could do it at his house that night. We met him at his office in the old walls of Rome. Fascinating. Workmen undoing crated pictures and objects to be shipped to galleries, including one in DC.
Baldo took us on wild ride to Castel Sant’Angelo, which was the home of Pope Pius III. He knows everyone. Went to office, met head man. Fascinating people. Baldo is Sicilian and so is head man. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been so successful. Saw exhibit rooms and they are beautiful. Hadrian is buried there in the church built for him,. After meeting, Baldo took us to our corner. We had lunch in a pizzeria. Always pasta. This was artichoke pasta. Wine. Beside a palace, but they are all palaces. Really enjoyed sitting at outdoor table. Waiter knew English from living in Australia.
Took nap - tired as usual - Estelle still working. Had dinner at home, didn’t get on bus til 9 p.m. to head over to Baldo’s. He did the wonderful presentation letter for Estelle to give to head man on Tuesday. Caught 12:15 a.m. bus home, Driver going so fast he almost missed us. And before Estelle could sit down in her seat, he slammed on the breaks and she fell twice, really hurting her hip and shoulder. Three nice Italian boys helped her; purse all spilled, etc. Driver drove like a maniac. After we got home, sat up and talked and had wine and read until 2 a.m. .P. S. in getting bus tickets Estelle able to get 4 rolls.
Tuesday, October 23 - All stores and restaurants went on strike. All bread gone. Even Marisa didn’t get any. Exhausted this morning and Estelle so sore. Usual paper work, her phone calls to landlady Giuseppina Cerulli Irelli, to man to pack and move furniture, man who rents apartment, etc. etc.. Didn’t call Cardinal Caprio until today. Can’t get bogged down with engagements.
We walked to Castel Sant’Angelo to deliver letter, took photos of rooms, with guide saw other magnificent rooms. Walked to Vatican to mail letter to Tom, gets home in 6 days instead of 10 with Italian post.
Exhausted - took cab back to bridge over Tiber and walked rest of way. Ate fantastic squid pasta at home. I took long nap. Estelle worked. She is now having dinner with Giuseppina at a Japanese restaurant. I have Italian pasta, filled with stuff, for dinner. Wine, cheese, crackers, tuna, and grapes. Want just to sit, read, and needlepoint. Tomorrow will be very busy. I’m learning all about Rome and history though Estelle. She has contracted hotel for possibly 30 people for tour. The head man at Castel Sant’Angelo said all of Italy must see this exhibit.
Estelle came home at 10 p.m. Said that Japanese didn’t want to serve them. Because they are Italian and the Italians went on strike today - all shops, food stores, everything, to protest taxes. After an hour of waiting they protested. Told Estelle they had no shrimp, but she told waitress she saw girl being served shrimp, so she also got shrimp. Fancy dinner. She called Dick at 11 p.m. to ask for his coat size. Ordered him to send card to Tom to say he will receive my letter in 6 days instead of 10.
Wednesday, October 24 - We purchased 4 sweaters and a coat for Tom. Bought beautiful 1784 etchings, 4 for me, of Rome.
Had our cappuccino and sweet roll. Lots of fun. Shopped for bread, cheese, fruits, prosciutto for lunch. Had that and wine. I cashed $50 into lire to add to kitty. Estelle purchased files, 50-75 cents here and $5 in Boston. After lunch, met the famous packer of exhibits, including Pompeii and the Vatican, Montanari, who will pack up the things Estelle will ship back to States. Helped her decide. We are going out to buy shoes tonight. Blue pumps. Boots another time. Bought my lovely pumps for $30.
Went to get Estelle’s developed photos of the Catacombs of San Callisto and they had lost one - the most important - of St. Callisto. Estelle disappointed, but to replace them she would have to get permission again and Alberto and spend hours lying on the ground. In spite of that she insisted on dinner at her favorite restaurant. We went looking for shoes for Estelle but stores were closed. Did lots of walking. She’s so expert. “Nando” said he’d go to laboratories tomorrow and telephone her. Bed at midnight.
Thursday, October 25 - I walked one hour and 45 minutes until 10:45. Photographing market and different things, like sarcophagus being used for watering trough, bathtubs from Caracalla for fountains, and men paving roads with stones. Baldo coming with Marisa’s sister to look at furniture. I have to stop eating pasta starch three times a day. After looking at the most magnificent vegetables in the world, I want just salads now. Didn’t eat salad though. Pasta again.
Friday, October 26 - Catacombs of Domitilla. Maria and Baldo came late to apartment to look at furniture. Hair done,. Bought shoes. Always eating out.
Saturday, October 27 - Went to see Cardinal Caprio, all dressed up. A novelty. Wonderful man. Took three
pictures of him, He and Estelle, he alone, and us together. Saw Raphael exhibit at Vatican. Mailed letters to Mark, Bob, Tom and Mike Jorbae. Raining. Came home by bus. Had gotten stuck in cab fare by driver over 6,000 would have been heavy and he charge 9,000. Cardinal Caprio said it was robbery. We are constantly eating and buying sweets. Can’t remember the times. Went out to usual wonderful dinner early so as to hear world famous flamenco guitarist in a Farnese Palace. Reputed to be most beautiful courtyard in world - Rome, Home around 11 p.m.
Sunday, October 28 - Went to Porta Portese at 7:30. Amazing, bought more than expected. Estelle loaning me money. Bought chandelier for $100. Stayed there 4 hours. Estelle bought three chandeliers, silver earrings. I got a small weapon, old ax, and a small carriage. Fortunate to get cab. Waiting for Giuseppina at 6.
Sunday, continued. Always walking - always some important errand. Impossible to enumerate - errands, many phone calls, for project, for getting furniture dispose of, ad infinitum. I haven’t seen the Vatican (inside) nor the Coliseum. etc., as yet, but going around with Estelle is priceless. I walked along the Tiber today, alone, and across original old bridge to the Tiber Island (like the Isle in Paris, France), went into St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, beautiful, had altar made of a Roman bathtub, dark brown with a slab on top. I took a black and white photo of it. I went along river, down steps, short walk. Giuseppina came and she is lovely. Suggested Estelle ask man renting if she can stay until 2d. She did phone and he said yes. We had dinner out in one of the few restaurants open in the area on Sunday.
Monday, October 29 - Montinari came with helper and we got all the furniture out that is being shipped to America, including the chandeliers. Will arrive in a month, instead of usual 3.
Estelle bought the most exquisite desk, two refectory tables, seating 12 each, all handmade. When she phoned Dick to ask his approval, he said to do anything she wanted. Suggested that she find out about duty. Montinari will ship them, too, and the furniture man delighted to know him for his work also, and Montinari delighted to meet the furniture maker.
We spent hours in Estelle’s bank for her to verify her safe deposit box, account, cashing money, etc. Walked there, and on way home, saw outside of Pantheon. Will go back later - closed on Monday. Walked through little side streets she has known for years. Very tired - had our supper here. Oh, yes, our lunch at their favorite, Stefano’s restaurant, Dick’s name. Best food ever. Eggplant, then pasta, corned beef and mushrooms, cooked in their own way. Went out to do errands and ate our dinner at home.
Tom phoned at 10 - wonderful to talk to him Said he’d been invited out to dinner every evening and also had Swifts and Nolans (Robin and Ken) over for dinner. They had a lot in common. We didn’t get to bed again until after midnight - in almost empty apartment with one small desk lamp. Bought blue shoes.
Tuesday, October 30 - I went out early to photograph stands at the market. Fish and wild mushrooms. Was going to walk to Pantheon alone! But decided it was too cold, needed a jacket. Went back to market and got our vegetables, and glad I came back. Secondhand furniture dealer was here and will take everything but the beds. The nurse will take the beds.
We are now going to via Giulia, etc. Will go to American Express to get more money to buy handmade boots. Had to go to cobbler. Estelle does know all the trades people.
No - looked at magnificent furniture. Lovely lady said via Giulia is first straight road in Europe. Spent lots of time with fantastic furniture makers after perusing many antique shops looking for antique candle sticks of wood, large ones.
Had great lunch at Stefano’s again and then on to American Express, cashing $200. Estelle walked me everywhere. I met Persagati’s son in their jewelery shop. Fantastic. Some Valentinos, Balenciaga, Gucci, many, many more of the famous names. The avenue and shops are unbelievable. I have never seen such clothes and shoes and bags. After returning, bought beautiful brown boots that roll over and are 2-toned.
Estelle calling Richard to send $1,800 to cover furniture. He is being very good about the furniture.
Wednesday, October 31 - We were up at 6 a.m. - breakfast here and out by 8, rushing like mad as usual, weighted down with our purses, cameras, etc. Took a cab and got to University of Rome at 8:45 for a 9:30 appointment with Prof. Testini, a darling,. In looking for a toilet, Estelle went into the men’s toilet. While in there, a man came to go, and I wouldn’t let him in. He was mad. We later found out where the female’s was. Professor Testini was wonderful with Estelle. In two returns to his office, he gave her at least an hour, and said she could ask him for information at any time. We scrambled like mad, through thousands of students, to get on a street car with many, many people to go to Villa Torlonia, Mussolini’s home, that the Price of Torlonia gave to him and is home to the Government. It is in a terrible state of destruction, from neglect. Because the Government has it. Estelle would have liked to have it made into a museum.
Rushed like mad to get home while she was looking at a list she had made at Testini’s and lost, devastated.
I made sandwiches, which we later ate in a cab, on way to meet Alberto at the San Sebastiano catacombs. He took us to a grotto of the nymphs used by pagans, first, and later by Jews who had encamped there. Walked almost a mile through a field and brambles to get there. Very well hidden. Water coming out of a wall. Reclining statue of a nymph. Then we went to catacombs,. Walked until 5. Alberto brought us home. Estelle payed him. Today he just took the $50 and no change. One day she paid him $35, another $40, and today he took the $50, then when we got home we had more lemonade and it was seven when we were finished.
11 hours of frantic work. We are so tired and staying home. Estelle made three more phone calls, one was to Testini who gave her the info again. Made phone call to German library to find out when open, etc. Frittata of eggs for dinner. We just are too tired to move. My films came out great. Estelle is so pleased, also.
Thursday - Holy cow, November 1st! - Did initial packing. Left Estelle to herself and toured the streets and found Pantheon. Before that, stumbled onto beautiful (aren’t they all?) church and heard Mas and received communion.
After Pantheon, returned home, stopping into another church on our “street”. Told Estelle about it, that the church was open, and she wanted to see it. She saw another to the left instead of to the right, and made the discovery of her career. Three paintings of the famous humanitarian, St. Philip Neri. This she will use to liven up an otherwise uninteresting section of her book. If I hadn’t gone to the other church and mentioned it, she would not have gone out, and these churches are only open for seven o’clock Masses.
We took cab (as usual, in a rush) to Sister Maria Francesca, at catacomb of Priscilla, which I saw on a tour with a nun while Estelle conferred with Maria, a darling, bird-like nun. Estelle was doing research, I did I tiny bit of looking for her, saw the doll which she brought to the sister, and we left at 5, by bus, stopping for our usual cappuccino and sweet, got home, turned around, and rushed back out for bus to meet Bizzy (archaeologist Anna Maria Bisi) and Carlo (Ingrassia) - at a certain piazza. We couldn’t find the place where they were at first - Estelle walking in middle of street, cars whizzing by. I was panicky. It was dark. This was around famous church where the Pope goes sometimes (San Giovanni Laterano). We met - they are so nice and interesting and adorable. They took us to their restaurant where we again had fettuccine with wild mushrooms and since we knew they were paying, we didn’t order meat which I wanted. Eggplant casserole with gobs of mozzarella cheese. All too much. Estelle talked her business and received the help she wanted. Carlo is the director in the Ministry of Education and doesn’t have to worry about his job. They took us home. Estelle started to pack. Again, bed at midnight. I took a “shower” - second bath in 2 weeks.
Friday, November 2 - Up at 6 to pack. Movers coming tonight. I made Estelle’s breakfast and lunch for three. Went to airport to wait for Dorothy, arriving from Boston. Then we got to Ostia, then German Library. We went to American Library (American Academy in Rome) where she talked security into letting Dorothy and me in. Her usual fashion. So much to do, so little time til we leave early next Wednesday morning.
We went with Estelle everywhere for appointments. Didn’t have dinner at her favorite restaurant. Dorothy didn’t like the price nor the tip, but she hadn’t been indoctrinated. She couldn’t get into her apartment to check in until about 8, then we had dinner and whatever,and returned her to the apartment at about midnight. We parked car nearby. Dorothy has been exhausted, just arriving and no chance to rest. We continued to pack. The nurse came and took beds. One nurse, one man. We called cab, and he loaded taxi, even outside. Estelle and I moved over to Baldo’s. You should have seen us.
“Panicky” about getting in the door. Couldn’t make double latch work. All that baggage and no place to go at that hour?
Saturday, November 3 - After many phone calls we went to Vatican Museum by cab. In a hurry as usual. She had a date with Persegati. Her usual requests. She took me to the museum part and said she was going back and would return for me at 2 p.m. The minute she left, I realized that I had keys for both apartments. I was devastated. Couldn’t look at anything, except I did reach the wrong way the Sistine Chapel. I went to museum exit and sat for two hours waiting for her and she didn’t leave - had gone to see someone in area about books. I did not tell her what I had done.
We walked to Roberto, good restaurant, for lunch and on way bought fantastic shoes. Most glamorous boots I’ve ever seen, dark blue with maroon stripe for me, Estelle got blue with white trim pumps for Florida on sale, half price, 80,000 lire ($44). I would have gotten more, but he wouldn’t take American Express on sale items. While sitting at table for lunch, shoe man came in and she had left her Visa card on his table. Fortunately, he knew where we were going to eat. After lunch, attempted robbery by gypsy pickpockets under cardboard, they opened my purse, knocked red case from Estelle’s folder. She said she’d call the police. Just one more happenstance in a tremendous comedy of errors. Dorothy had gone to Jewish service in synagogue. Bussed it back. Travelled street to find buyer for furniture man couldn’t pic up. Herculean task. Found a fat jolly man her other guy recommended and he said he would. Wanted us to drink wine with him, etc. Along the way, Estelle found the chairs she wanted for dining room tables she had had made. Met Dorothy at Kosher restaurant in Jewish Ghetto, where they had curfew from sunrise to sunset 1555-1870, I think. Dorothy’s birthday. Estelle treated. Expensive, too. We all took bus back to went to our respective homes. Always a “happening”, no matter where we go. Speed, indecision, but always made it somehow.
Sunday, November 4th - Estelle picked up car, and Nando picked Dorothy and me up at 10 to go to the Coliseum and Forum. He left us there and we saw that and part of the Palatine Hill. And went to Forum. Estelle came at 1:00 or later, had been lost in catacomb for 15 minutes. Student, South Boston Italian, left her - she told him she knew he wasn’t Italian from here because he was so impolite. She explained the Forum, then had to photo obelisk. During all that, much fast driving, can’t remember other places as she had to do phone calls. We drove and parked near old apartment and had supper in cafeteria and then to piazza to throw coins in Trevi Fountain. Asking directions all the way. She talked to the nicest people, so cooperative, and one group was from Holland, nice boys. Then we drove to ice cream place, then to Piazza Venezia to see fountains, then took Dorothy home and had usual interesting hard time to find the hotel and said goodbye to Dot, who is going to Israel. Then went home. Bed at midnight as usual. We took carload from apartment not our stuff. She’ll turn car in tomorrow.
Monday, November 5th - Estelle had so much to do, to meet man to buy furniture at 8 a.m.; she got up early; at 7:30 I asked if she had keys. We couldn’t find them. Complete panic. Didn’t remember if she locked doors, or anything. Estelle went to see if she could get in the apartment, if door would be unlocked keys would be on table. She rushed out of apartment then called up to me. She’d found them on the ground by car. A miracle. I left home about 10. Took 64 bus to Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s, stayed til 3 p.m. Ate a lunch there. Bused back at about 4. Read, slept, etc. Estelle back at 8:00. She’d had a terrible day. Took all day to get her money at bank, running out from German library constantly to phone. Did get it. Paid furniture people. Monte came over and changed chairs. He’ll get business from that woman, too. More phone calls. At 9:30 we’ll be going out for something to eat.
Sunday P.S. Went to photograph inscription in hospice in Trastevere, then to S. Lorenzo where we met Trappist Mark Chamberland. He took us into catacombs. Way after time. Estelle looking for special inscription. His electric flash giving out. Dorothy’s had burnt out. Took four batteries out of her camera and mine. He showed us and explained whole church. Saw slab that St. Lawrence was cooked on, etc., etc.
Tuesday - went to Conservatori Museum. Spoke to director Dr. Eugenio La Rocca about two inscription casts which he will send in person. Estelle found inscription she wanted. Didn’t bring camera - will return for opening of Chagall exhibit with the President of the Republic at 4 p.m. - have to be out by 5. Had trouble getting back in museum because of security, but custodians fortunately saw her and assisted her. Would have talked her way in, in her own style, but it made it easier for her. Dr. La Rocca is Baldo’s friend. When we left, it started pouring, which kept us up all night. It was very bad. Conservatori Museum on the Capitol, from Etruscan times. Reliefs of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, she showed me. Went through awful rain, no umbrella. Finally got home. There is always something to peruse, looking for her boots constantly, which she didn’t get. Found the one, but not her size, when she did go to get it.
When we got to apartment, she worked all afternoon until 4. Her apartment work is shuffling papers, making phone calls, looking for things she needs to find. All phone calls are needed in her work, also in morning, shipping furniture home, selling furniture, which turned out to be 95% on return. The 5% was the 200,000 lire that she received from the fat guy who turned out to chose her tables, chairs, gas stove, good oven - refrigerator, etc., the other dealer was giving 400.000 lire, but couldn’t get truck and she had to get it out.
So at 4:00 she left in pouring rain. DId her picture and left by cab, because of reception, but was able to get one at base of steps. Went to German institute to get photocopies, looked up maps, got all that she wanted. Back to apartment by 6:30. I stayed home.
Went to Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology after Conservatori, stopped by piazza bar and bought calzone (ham and cheese) which we ate some of there. Couldn’t wait for me to finish, walking rapidly. My sandwich fell out, but we picked it up, and I ate it anyway. Looking in windows for my gray shoes, which we found. I went back later in torrential rain when she went to photograph.
She returned at 6:30, we ate the stuffed zucchini and eggplant pizza which we’d bought. At 8 p.m. we got a cab to Baldo and Marisa’s. Baldo had returned from Greece the night before, after taking 85 students, and leaves for Pompeii tomorrow, for his new job as Superintendent. He wanted Lazio zone around Rome, or Rome, but didn’t get either. He’ll do a great job in Pompeii.
Got home by cab, went out by cab, another typical event was we couldn’t get out of Baldo’s front door, cabbie had to rung from outside for them to press the release. Home at 11. Bed by 1.
Packed for tomorrow; leaving at 7 a.m. Estelle with numerous carry-ons. We got complaints from man living above because we hadn’t turned out lights once and then he said front door wasn’t locked.
San Lorenzo (Cyriaca)
So many instances of fright. Coming into Baldo’s apartment the other night, I dropped both keys on ground in dark, got on hands and knees to find them. And trying to unlock his main door, did not realize it took 4 turns to undo a bolt: in the meantime, my heart stops and I mentally panic.
Walking the streets is such an experience. One inch from cars and mopeds and motorcycles. Estelle’s fast and furious driving equals theirs. Making prohibiting turns, going over medians. It is mind-boggling to even think of the car dodging. It is impossible to describe the speed with which we walk. I literally wore out the heels of my black low shoes.
But Tuesday night at Baldo’s was important because she had so many last items to speak to him about. Also we took “baby” to him, her Etruscan vase she didn’t dare take home - if caught at customs, she might not be able to return to Italy. Montinari, the friend who will pack her furniture, refused. Persegati, Director of Vatican Museums, didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t take it since it isn’t registered and she bought it at the flea market, but someone with her knowledge would know what it is. Baldo said leave it with him and he’d get it to her later, or she could get it after the exhibit, etc. Also, Marisa said it is assured that she could have exhibit at Castel Sant’Angelo. She did take one small vase home in the carry-on luggage.
Tuesday, November 6th - At 11 a.m. (during rain) met Marisa de’ Spagnolis Conticello at Museo delle Terme so Estelle could confer with her. We had coffee there. Met the man who is making casts here for exhibit Then Estelle took me to the important part of the museum before we went into apartment. I took black and white photos of our apartment area.
Wednesday, November 7th - Getting up at 6 a.m. Quickly made bed, stripped linens, ate cereal and bananas, grapefruit, took out our usual full plastic bag of trash and was ready at 7 when cabbie arrived. He strapped on luggage; we arrived at airport early, thank God. Porter warned us we could only take 2 bags on. We had about 6. Let loose the carry ons; he helped Estelle cram stuff from my red bag I gave her into her brown bag. She left packing stuff. I had 2 carry-on plastics with 2 lights for home from her apartment, plus large “purse” and my cape.
Hard time for her going through airport security. Took all her film in plastic bag and made it go through repeatedly. In reorganizing bags, thinking we had lots of time, found out that the flight left at 9 instead of 9:40! If we hadn’t left home early, we would have missed flight.
Arriving at Zurich, found we hadn’t reserved seats. Did a transfer, then were devastated that our security tag in Rome didn’t pass us in Swiss. Estelle had a terrible time with security and had to open up each film case, take 2 films out of 2 cameras. She out-stubborned the guard and refused to go through the X-ray. He was furious, a martinet. Another guard smiled and came over to tell her not to remove any more films. He seemed to enjoy her refusing to knuckle under.
Finally got on board a 747. Seats upstairs. Because only 10 passengers we each had three seats. Never had such a great plane ride, best food, beautifully presented, nothing plastic. I took notes from Estelle to keep a record of whom she saw and what she accomplished. 1 ½ hours late for arrival at Boston because of visibility in Zurich and had winds later. Looking forward to landing and seeing Tom. He is something to come home to. And to another world.
(Notes of Louise Hickey of Estelle Brettman’s dictation on plane):
Exhibit at Castel Sant’ Angelo
Most of photos of Catacombs of Callisto, Domitilla, Sebastiano, and inscriptions.
Other photos of locations of the catacombs and important sites for the Jews and early Christians.
Photos of important sites, maps, and information for map on Rome which will include ancient pertinent monuments and topographical situation of sites. Jewish-Christian catacombs and private cemeteries, early churches, ecclesiastical regions, and Augustan regions.
Casts from Vatican Museums, Terme Museum and Conservatori Museum.
Shopping list of objects from Vatican Museum and Terme Museum and other museums.
Baldo Conticello, Dr. Marisa de’ Spagnolis, Prof. Anna Maria Bisi, Prof. Pasquale Testini.
Director at Castel Sant’Angelo and his secretary.
Dr. Giuseppina Cerulli Irelli
Dr. Eugenio La Rocca.
Father Umberto M. Fasola
Dr. Mario Santa Maria
Suor Maria Francesca
Salvatore Fornari, Comm.
Cesare Filippo Ferrucci
Walter Persegati, Comm.
Cardinal Giuseppe Caprio
Luigi Venditti, Vatican Museums
Paolo Monti, Dr. Mario Montenovi
Nando Di Porto
Father Mark Chamberland
Conservatori Museum (2)
American Academy of Rome
Istituto Archeologico Germanico
University of Rome
Baldo’s home (4 times)
Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology
Father Fasola (Monastery)
Museo delle Terme
Map stand on Piazza della Repubblica