Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hodgepodge 150/365 - A Walk through Rome

The last time I was was in Rome was February 2006. I'd attended the Torino Olympics, but my post-Olympic plans unraveled, so I was met with a few extra days to do something with. I'd never really considered coming to Rome before—I think I was intimidated by all the history —but for some reason Rome seemed like the best destination just then. It was cold and rather rainy. The tourists were elsewhere, perhaps dreaming of a visit once the weather warmed up and days were longer. A time like now.

I am flabbergasted by how different it feels. There are hordes of tourists, flocking after guides, their little flags held aloft. The narrow pedestrian streets are packed with people, many of them Italians, but many not, with Vespas skillfully weaving their way through the masses. I've been reading in Rick Steves's guidebook about the long lines to visit the biggest sights—the Vatican, the Forum and Colosseum, the Villa Borghese.

I will visit the Vatican, lines or no: to see the Sistine Chapel (and hear the guide yell "Silenzio!") is why I'm here. And I'd like to see the Villa Borghese again: I loved that place last time. (Though one thing I liked was its quiet beauty—even with limited admissions, I'm pretty sure I won't get the same impression this time.) I might visit the Forum simply to gain access to the Palatine Hill, which I remember enjoying.

But otherwise, I may just wander in less trafficked areas that are new to me: Trastevere; the Jewish Ghetto; along the ancient Appian Way. At least, in my imagination they're less trafficked. I guess I'll find out.

Today I undertook a short pilgrimage to some places I enjoyed eleven years ago: the Pantheon, which on my last visit was virtually empty, with rain falling through the hole in the roof; the Trevi Fountain, which in 2006 I stumbled on by surprise, and shared with only a couple dozen others. Today, needless to say, the situations were different.

The Spanish Steps and walk along the blufftop, however: those were much as I remembered them. (Okay: maybe a few more people lounging on the staircase.) I was hoping to identify the restaurant I ate dinner at my last evening in 2006, at the top of the steps, but failed. Since I was alone, the maitre d' invited a Belgian woman, also dining solo, to share my table. What could I say? But we ended up having a delightful conversation—she was a children's book writer and illustrator, and was researching a book having to do with Rome. I've forgotten her name, but the experience is still a bright spot in that last visit here.

Today I'll post a few photos from the day's wanderings: street scenes, views from the bike/walking path along the river, a few bridges. Not "the sights" per se—but just as interesting (perhaps even more so) in their own way: lived life. (Click on the pictures to view them larger on black.)

Beautiful seed pods


Near Piazza del Popolo

Behind the Pantheon (which is on the right)

Ancient preserved against modern

"Everything has changed . . . I love you
I wish you a world of good ∞"

At the top of the steps leading down to the river, near
the Ponte Reg. Margherita; both sides have full access for
walking and biking and even driving

Note fisherman on the right

A few shells were on the water, practicing—
mostly singles; this was the only double

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, southern aspect

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, northern aspect

Ponte S. Angelo from the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II,
with the Ponte Umberto I in the background:
lots of bridges!

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