The Domus Aurea flu

At first I thought it was just a cold. Actually, with myeloma, there is really no such thing as “just a cold.” Because of our impaired immune systems, a cold can develop quickly into a chest infection, etc. So even with the mildest of sniffles, we have to intervene…quickly.

IMG_2839But let’s start at the beginning. Ten days ago Stefano and I went to Rome to visit the Domus Aurea, an enormous “pleasure palace” that used to be covered in gold leaf (hence its name, the “Golden Palace,” in fact), built by emperor Nero after a fire destroyed most of the center of Rome in 64 AD.

After Nero’s death in 68 AD, his successors began erasing all traces of the extravagant palace built by an unpopular emperor. Within a decade they had removed anything that could be used elsewhere — marble, statues, etc. IMG_2856And then they had the entire palace filled with earth and rubble and buried, so that they could build other things over it (the Baths of Trajan, e.g.). The palace remained underground, invisible, forgotten, until the end of the 15th century, when a young Roman fell through an opening in the hill above, ending up inside a strange grotto full of wall paintings (see my last photo). By the way, these grotto paintings gave rise to the term “grotesque” (grotesque painting). And here’s another interesting note: Michelangelo and Raffaello were among the many Renaissance painters who lowered themselves into these grottoes to study the paintings…possibly through this hole, one of many, in one of the ceilings (see photo above)…

The Domus Aurea has been closed to the public for ages while undergoing restoration and consolidation work. After part of the roof collapsed in 2010, the Domus remained closed for four years, e.g. It reopened in October 2014.  Stefano found out and immediately reserved our tickets for December. And so, on December 13th, we were in Rome…

IMG_2872When you visit the Domus Aurea, don’t expect to see anything but the massive original structure. Here and there you will see some color on the walls  and even a few painting details, but the palace is pretty much bare. It is still underground, and it is still being restored and renovated, which means that you have to wear hard hats during the entire visit, as you can notice in these two photos, above and below. It’s also a guided tour, but I missed most of what our guide told our group because I was always too far behind, taking photos of everything…IMG_2898

After an hour spent touring the Domus, Stefano and I had a lovely lunch in the Jewish Ghetto (when you’re in Rome, you have to try “carciofi alla Giudia,” which are basically fried artichokes, but ooooooh…so yummy!), then walked around Rome — piazza Navona, Castel Sant’Angelo, St. Peter’s. In the early evening we hopped back on one of those amazingly fast trains to return to Florence. A quick aside: the Florence-Rome trip now takes slightly over an hour (an hour and 20 minutes, to be a bit more precise). Compare that to the 45 minutes that it takes me to cross Florence sometimes!…Astounding, huh?

IMG_2876Okay, back to the main purpose of this post, I guess. The day after we had been to Rome, we went to the mountains with some friends, one of whom wasn’t feeling very well. The weather was dreary and miserable…In the evening I began feeling a bit on the icky side.

By Monday night I had a sore throat. Drat. I thought it was “just” a cold and stuffed myself with echinacea and elderberry. But by Wednesday afternoon, when the Dreaded Cough began, I knew that I would have to bring out the big guns. Today is Day Seven of Antibiotics. I feel much better, but I’m still coughing…much less than a few days ago, though, which is most encouraging. 🙂 I continue to take curcumin, of course, since it’s antiviral and antibacterial, and I’m taking other natural remedies, too. And of course, probiotics!

So where did I get “infected”? Who gave me this blasted flu that might prevent me from making my Xmas cookies (horror!)? I think it must have been on the train from Florence to Rome (or Rome to Florence). Funny thing, though: I’ve been on so many transatlantic flights surrounded by coughing, germy people, and I’ve never caught a bloody thing. Then I go on ONE train ride, and BOOM!, I’m in bed with the flu. Well, the only “consolation” is that this icky flu is going around right now, and some folks are a lot sicker than I was…That means my little immune system is still going strong. Good job! 🙂

Anyway, I’ll be fine soon. A few more days of convalescence should do it…just in time for Xmas, yaaaay!!!


  1. Hi Margaret, hope you’re feeling better and recovered from the flu. I’m now five years since diagnosis and still smouldering. Yippee!
    Earlier this year I discovered a book by Bill Henderson and Carlos M. Garcia MD called “Cancer Free” your guide to gentle non toxic healing. I found it very interesting and useful. He talks about Beta Glucan to boost the immune system. Have researched the benefits and I’ve now been taking it since reading the book. I haven’t had a cold since the beginning of March whereas I was having colds regularly. Hard to avoid here in Scotland.

    Just wanted to pass this on in case it might help you or anyone else.

    Warm wishes for a healthy and happy 2015.

  2. The flu is no joke…miserable, especially over the holidays, when as you said, no Christmas cookie baking? Hope you are fully recovered and that you for the posting of gorgeous pictures of the Domas Aurea in Rome. At least if we can’t get there in person, we can experience Italy through you! Happy New Year!

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