Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Return to the Past...Via Aurelia 796

Via Aurelia 796, today
Rome  is the Eternal City where the years and centuries pass, there are changes and transformations, but nothing ever truly disappears.

I experienced  one such transformation  this week thanks to Fulvio’s book “Olio e Ricordi in Cucina”, for we were  invited  to take part in a TV show celebrating extra virgin olive oil.
the old gymnasium is now a TV studio
 The morning program “Nei Cuore dei Giorni” is an hour and a half long  and we were asked to  talk about  recipes,  life in the old days,  grandmother’s recipes such as  little known “ marmellata  d’olive”.

entrance to Via Aurelia 796 today

For me it was a return to the past since the TV studios  are located at Via Aurelia 796  in the same buildings that were once  Notre Dame International School…where I taught  in the 60s and 70s.
the gate, Via Aurelia, the fountain across the street is still in place

Wanting to avoid driving the 70 kms to Rome in the dark, early morning hours, we spent the night in Rome. 
Our B&B looked nice on the web but it turned out to be an  unhappy choice for  the location on Via Boccea meant  traffic noise throughout the night.  

 We did enjoy  a lovely meal at a nearby trattoria Antica Torre, a period building surrounded by modern apartment blocks. The owner had restored it keeping  its  ancient flavor and adding  architectural details reminiscent of  medieval buildings. 

The  appointment at the TV studio was for  8:15 but  not knowing  the traffic situation we started out early, and  arrived  before  8 a.m. passing the Esso station and turning in at Via dei Faggella. 

The entrance  to 796 has changed considerably: there is a rotary, olive trees and where once there were playing fields there are new buildings with offices of  the Bishops,a congress center,   Caritas  and even a nursery school.
Our contact, one  of the writers for the show Stefano Coltellacci ,  met us at the entrance, where we were  signed in, leaving a document with the portiere,  formerly the  headmaster’s office. 

portiere, former Headmaster's Office
Stefano  brought us downstairs to  make up which was skillfully applied by  Rachel from Costa Rica  who had been hard at work since  6 a.m.   

As we waited for  the other guests to arrive, I peeked out the windows and noted full grown trees and lawns where  the school buses used to line up. 

By 9 a.m. we were all inside the studio, the former  gym.

While the art director  and his crew set up the tables and arranged  the props, we met the program’s  lively conductor 
Lucia Ascione and learned our cues from the staff.

 corridor  leading to Andre Hall, the chapel used to be on the  right

Lucia and Fulvio in the studio

Padre Stefano  on  the red couch 

doors to the gym/studio

The gym’s structure was still there, hidden under  the stage  props, cameras and lights. 

setting up for the program 
The last segment of the program with Silvio Vitelli was  dedicated  to past years. Here is a clip from that segment where I show off   the 1976 NDI  Yearbook
A true return to the past.  Your comments are welcome.    


  1. What a wonderful trip down our memory lane!

  2. How wonderful to read this, Mary Jane, and so special that you could share your memories with Fulvio in this way!

  3. How wonderful for you, Mary Jane, and so special that you could share your memories with Fulvio in this way!

  4. Thanks Mary, it was a lovely morning! Silvio Vitelli

  5. Rex Peters Great picture tour of the old school. Thanks.

    Walter G. Bianchi wow ... interesting blog entry. Thanks

    Mitchell Johnson Pretty cool pictures and story. I had thought they did a scrape and rebuild but the soul of the place is still there. I especially smile at the tree park in the central court.

    Richard Cacciato Si può vedere il video?

    Bro. Tom Dziekan Congratulations Mary Jane and thanks for posting this!

    Mary Jane Cryan Bro. Tom, glad you enjoyed it...it was a pretty exhausting but enjoyable day.

  6. I was at NDI from grades 4 - 9, and was tremendously influenced by the order and discipline instilled by this institution and its brothers. To this day, I remember being sent to the disciplinarian's office if I was 1 minute late for class. And the corporal punishment (more symbolic than painful) which induced a degree of obedience in the student body. It's strange to see the building with such a new function. To me it's always the old gym, playing field, swimming pool and classrooms, with our great teachers!

    MJ, thanks for posting this reportage!

    Robert Nissim (class of '76)

  7. Thanks Robert,Richard,Walter,Mitchell,Rex for comments.Please share with other students too! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  8. http://www.elegantetruria.com/cruise-enrichment-lectures/ check out my latest page

  9. Happy for you and thanks for the great photos. But so sad our old school is gone!!

  10. Hi Mary, thanks for the blog - it was nice to hear what is going on with "old NDI". Wes Simpson (class of 76)

  11. Hi Mary, thanks for the update on "old NDI" Regards, Wes Simpson (class of 76)

  12. Thanks for this! Tom NDI '86

  13. thanks manuel class 79....our class is having a reunion in rome this coming week n july 26th

  14. Looks really different - I was in Rome several weeks ago and drove past, looking for familiar landmarks -- did not recognize anything !!!!
    Thanks for the update.
    NDI CLASS of ' 65

  15. Thank you for the photo tour, Ms. Cryan. I hope to hire a motor scooter or bicycle and cruise around the old neighborhood this May 2014.
    ~~~Chris Mei, NDI '69

  16. Nice memories!
    Peter Pinto
    Class of 1964

  17. Wonderful that MJC did this... flood gates of memories opening up... some nice... some...well... Chip LeGrand, boarder '66-69

  18. I have absolutely fond memories of my time at NDI during 1968-1972. I still have the year books from that period. Unbelievably, I haven't made it back to Rome yet. It is fantastic to see Miss Cryan doing such great work.

    Hi-Nam Pak

  19. Hi Mary Jane, thanks for doing this. I remember you from when I was a boarder in '68-'69. Was great to see the old school. Virgel Clark

    1. Whassup Virgel?! What a transformation for old NDI & probably the rest of us too. I'm close to retiring from almost 30y as a public defender in Baltimore MD... yourself? Lou Curran - boarder '67-'69 (Class of '70)

  20. Thank you from someone who graduated just before you got there. The class of 1965 will be visiting the old school as part of their 50th reunion. Thank you for the preview!

  21. Just got back from Rome to US last night to visit Italy and my old neighborhood (Axa, 80-84). Could've sworn I passed old NDI on Via Aurelia on the way to the airport so looked it up today. I too recognize the photo of Mr. M's office (yikes) and recall the soccer field, pool, gym (started the first girls volleyball team with Mr R) the pool, and the raquetball courts (1st kiss!). Was there gr 5th-8th first yr. they let girls in. Thanks for the trip down memory lane with the photo/comments!

    Fernando Galvez
    atended 59/61 would Grad in 63

  23. Thanks MJC! Enjoyed the update! What happened to the dorms? Pool? Cafeteria? Classrooms? Gatehouse? Guess I'll have to stop by - fortunately all roads lead to...! - Lou Curran '70 (boarder '67-'69)