The recap of Roma continues!
Monday, August 8th:
This is what I am learning all the Italians say to one another. Very rare is the Bongiorno greeting heard, it’s always Salve or if they answer the phone, Pronto! I think it’s so funny, I don’t understand the translation but that goes with most of Roma. I don’t understand much but love it lots.
SO … Today started off rough as I could not sleep last night. So when the alarm went off at 8am and the last time I remember checking the clock was around 3:45am – I was dragging. But I had my breakfast upstairs, showered, and made it to the corner outside by 9:30 to meet a friend who wanted to show me Rome by bike (aka Vespa). Okay fine.
First we went to have Italian coffee – I’ve learned even if you ask for coffee, you get espresso in a tiny cup. Not so much for me. So now I order Cappechino as at least this comes in a glass only 1/2 the size of my normal coffee and with a little milk. Expresso is too strong and too small for me. I’ll never make a proper Italian.
Then we were off. I’m so glad we had the bike because as compact as Rome is – there are definitely things on the fringe I was unable to see earlier. Now, thanks to my prime seat on the bike, I could see the city (and experience the traffic – oye vay they drive all over the place). We went to a corner of Rome where the old Roman Aurelian wall is still up. This was particularly cool for me because on a visit to see Paula-Bear in 2006 I have a photo she took of me sitting on the Aurelian wall in the English countryside just out of town from Cheltenham. Damn – the Romans were truly powerful and their empire vast. It’s hard to imagine those men traveling their whole empire. It truly would’ve taken a lifetime.
In any event, apparently after a visit to Egypt, one of the old Roman Emperors became obsessed with pyramids and built one- just a little one, outside the Roman wall. So these photos are of that pyramid and a part of the Aurelian Roman wall that still remains.
Next we drove over to a large park where they now perform the Opera outdoors (not in August – too hot, but May – July) that used to be the incredible large Roman baths. These are the large brick wall ruins you will see.
After this, we went to a hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, to overlook the city and on the other side, the Vatican. Join me, as we journey to the top of one of the seven hills of Rome. These photos are of the overlook facing the city of Rome, then through the trees looking the other direction you can see the dome of St. Peter’s – Vatican (that is a huge ass dome) and a lighthouse at the top of this hill, built by the people of Argentina interestingly because the hero of Italy is a guy called Gibaldi – the hero of two continents because apparently he helped the Italians win independence from Spain, then went to South America and helped the native people.
Then, we went down the other side of the hill on Via Gibaldi to see, what else, another large fountain. My friend insisted on taking my photo in front of it. As you will see, I was not animated in the first one,
So the second one is me being myself and him taking a picture because I am being sassy and saying “What do you want me to do flap my arms around like a bird?”
Yes. He did.
I am starting to turn into a Roman and only talk with my hands.
Now we are done with the hill. He drove me around the city to some more sights by bike but my camera was put away so next stop will be the Piazzo Novano – which is huge and beautiful and famous for the Bernini Fountains. This is a pedestrian only section so I was dropped off because I wanted to see this. He said he would go to the gym while I did my exploring.
Salve Piazza Novano.
We are at about high noon here. You’ll notice as the pictures progress toward 3pm how much more disgustingly greasy and sweaty I look. Is that a big shiner on my forehead? Why yes it is thanks for asking. By product of roasting heat, smoldering humidity and constant sweaty-ness. Grazi! Belissimo!
Tomorrow I will buy a hat because frankly, my scalp is roasting. You just can’t get out of the heat and sun enough – it’s direct and powerful and everywhere.
Now, on to the Bernini statue fountains of Piazza Navona.
Bernini is the man after which one of my favorite morning cocktails was named. Or is that Belini – damn. I don’t know if there is a sculptor named Mimosa but if so I will certainly send you a photo of his fountains. There are two trident looking smaller fountains that flank the far ends, then in the middle a giant obelisk (the Romans loved these things and stole them by the hundreds from the Egyptians after Cleopatra fell – or was bitten, whichever you prefer) and a fountain. It’s beautiful.
You’ll notice none of the women in the statues have legs. I guess Belini figured just get as far as a woman’s ass and the rest gets in the way – why finish? Good thing he wasn’t God or we’d all be handicapped freaks. That or these women are supposed to be interpretive mermaids. You choose.
Please to enjoy the photos. I wish I knew more history but that’s as much as I know.
Oh, and I saw an awesome Italian fight. No punches were thrown but this shop keeper and some guy who apparently offended him got in each others face and were yelling in Italian. It was a little scary and totally awesome at the same time. Italians sound awesome yelling at each other. That and the little kids. I love it.
Next I wandered over to the best Piazza name ever (try saying it out loud – it’s fun) Piazza del Popolo.
I love the name of this one. So this is the Piazza of the Popes – all the popes (like the Caesars and Emperors) liked to build bigger and better and more ornate monuments to themselves. Catholic tithes going to their best use. Although I have to say, the buildings have truly stood the test of time. Many I’ve learned, the marble ones at least, were actually taken from the Coliseum. I noticed all the holes on the Coliseum but I guess the reason for the holes is that is where the marble was installed – so the entire coliseum and the Roman baths and many other things were actually all marble. But over the centuries they have been looted and remain the stone we see today. Shame really, would’ve been spectacular to see it all marble.
Anyway – this is a piazza of popes.
There are two large Catholic dome churches on one side, a large wall/bridge thing on the other flanked by two Catholic churches, then the ends are bookmarked with large Belini fountains with lots of sculptures (including the walls of sphinx you see in one of the photos) and the center is another huge obelisk stolen from Egypt with some fountain features. It’s a huge open plaza.
I find the most interesting part the incorporation of Egyptian artifacts and objects into a large Pope Catholic Plaza. So confusing and cool.
Now you’re all sunburned and very tired. So you’re going to march your tired bones all the way across the city back to your hotel to nap before your Roman friend picks you up at 3:30 to take you to the beach.
What?! The beach? There’s no beach in Rome.
That’s what I said. Turns out the Mediterranean sea is very close and the beach is beautiful. You’ll be going there next. .. Relax.
BTW – check out the sun flare in the photo above. This is NOT instagram app or photo shop or anything. That is the sun roasting your white flesh live. It’s the real deal people.
That’s the end of today’s post. There will be trips to the beach, the Vatican and more in upcoming posts. Hope you enjoyed a nice morning and afternoon in Rome.
Long may you travel where your heart and your instincts take you!