Buongiorno! Major item on our schedule today, Colosseum and Hypogeum (underground) Night Tour…but until then…I’ve got an idea….let’s walk. Andiamo!
As I mentioned yesterday, Campo de Fiori has a market in the mornings. Like most Italian Markets, you can buy just about everything under the sun here.But I like to look at the food!Finding nothing that really worked with camminare e mangiare, I continue my walk until I see a pastaccieria with these in the finestra. They called it “ravioli” and I think they said it was stuffed with a hazelnut filling. I’m in…a powdered sugar covered breakfast sounds just the thing to get this body started.As I walked, I showed passer bys how good my choice was. I didn’t worry about cleaning myself off until the end. At that point, two smartly dressed woman gave me a knowing look and laugh.From Campo de Fiori, it’s a short jig and jog to the other famous piazza, Piazza Navona. Both of these beautiful piazzas hold great memories for me.
Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is one of my favorite sculptures in Roma. This fountain was designed in 1651 for Pope Innocent X. The rivers represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile- Africa, the Danube- Europe, the Ganges- Asia and the Rio de la Plata representing the Americas. Like many of the historic art pieces of Italy, Bernini’s design was selected in competition. The great obelisk was brought to the site by Emperor Caracalla. It had been buried for a long time along the Appian Way.
My plan from here was to head to the Pantheon. Although I have seen it during my 3 other visits, I cannot pass it up.
Remember how I bragged that I was comfortable navigating around the city? Well that all changed as I attempted to locate the Pantheon. It is not far from Piazza Navona, but for the life of me, I just kept getting turned around and turned around. So, although exasperated, I made the most of my walk.
Cruddy photo I know, but this is Raphael Sanzio’s tomb. There is a beautiful quote that accompanies. “Here lies Raphael, by whom Nature feared to be outdone, and when he died, feared that she herself would die.”
Next, The Column of Marcus Aurelius. This spiral relief was completed around 193 AD. The column is made of 28 blocks of Carrara marble and within is a stairway of 200 steps up to the platform at the top.Things I have learned during my visit so far-
1. Do not play your long wooden horn thingy mid morning in a residential area. Earlier today, I heard this guy, I guess it’s called “playing” his horn(?) and approached just in time for a guy 4 stories above to yell down at him. Wanting to just live and let live, the guy got up, looked up, shrugged and went to find another venue…and here he is now.I am sure this is a hoax, but I CANNOT figure these guys out! Ideas?
Piazza del Popolo literally means “People’s Square” and was the furthest point of my roaming. See the rose in the foreground…another thing I’ve learned…NEVER give money to people trying to “give/gift” you something. I did my best to avoid this guy, but as you can see there were, amazingly, no crowds to weave through. He shoved 2 roses on me, one for me and the other for my husband, and wished me a happy, happy marriage. I caved and gave him a euro that I had in my pocket…although it was a “gift”, he was not happy with the amount and took one of the roses back. I promptly dropped the other. I knew better than that….maybe hunger was a part of my weakness. With Osteria Gusto around the corner, I think, “perche no?”.
My choices for lunch were perfect. Proscuitto and mozzarella were perfection and of course I needed some melone anche. I enjoyed a glass of Prosecco in my friend Sandy’s honor.
I had planned to order an espresso, as I have a late night tonight, but I at first declined dolce. The waiter gave me such a disappointed look, that for the second time today, I caved. This time, I was not upset with myself.
From Gusto, I walked by the Spanish Steps. I took this photo just to show the crowds out and about. It really is crazy. It makes you think you are at an amusement park, not walking along real streets.I had heard Trevi Fountain was being renovated, but it was on my way. I feel bad for people that miss seeing this iconic fountain in all its grandeur, but I understand that renovation is necessary. Back to the room to clean up a bit and then I headed to Piazza Venezia where I am to meet my tour. I am early (certo) so I sit on the steps of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, watch and wait.
Guess what? There are 5 guys selling “selfie. selfie. selfie.” sticks. An unmarked car drives by and honks. All 5 guys put their inventory behind their backs. The guys in the car, polizia of some sort I’m guessing, just stare at them as they crawl by. When the car is out of sight, out come the sticks in unison. One of the hawkers, goes up to a family, and shoves a stick in their faces. At the same time he is enumerating the fine qualities of his wares. The family goes through the many ways to say “no”. No, No Grazie, No Gracias, No No, Really No. I don’t know who to feel sorry for.
As time for the tour draws nearer, a small group is beginning to form and then 2 leaders appear, one of whom I have seen on the company’s advertising video. The tour company I chose for this one is Walks of Italy. They get very good reviews and not all companies offer this particular tour. We are divided into 2 smaller groups. My group gets “Guido the Guide” for our leader. He introduces himself and says the official name of this tour is “The Colosseum Under the Moon”. He then tells us, “Before-a we-a get-a started. I would-a like-a to show-a you a picture-a of-a my-a cat-a.” Funny.
He tells us a little bit about the area where we are. It is from Guido that I got the information about the guys sitting in Vic’s horse having dinner. He points out Mussolini’s balcony. He says, “We-a cannot-a judge-a history, but…” goes on to tell us what destruction Mussolini caused and what a “nut-a” he was. Let’s not beat around the bush Guido.
We come to a spot I passed earlier. He tells us this is a 4th century condo. He further explains why condos are needed, because there are too many people living in a specific space. He said about that time, Rome had around 1 million residents. The frescoes on the wall were created later in the 13th century.
Next we stood at the base of the Capitoline Hill. It is one of the 7 hills of Rome and was the citadel of the earliest Romans. I am currently listening to a lecture series (38, 45 minute lectures by a professor at Penn State) covering the history of Ancient Rome and although it is confusing to me at times, it is always fascinating. The Forum has always been one of my favorite spots in Rome. It boggles my mind being able to walk in the footsteps of such history.
When we entered, we were guided by Francesco, an Art Historian working at the Colosseum. Hearing the historical highlights, I am happy to know we do a great job covering this in Art I. Much of what he shared I was already familiar with, but my main reason for attending was not just to learn more about this iconic building, but to simply be there without all the crowds and be able to enter the hypogeum.
And now we go down.
Francesco discusses the architectural and engineering feats of the early Romans. The keystone, he points out, holds these massive stones in place using outward force only. He says how structurally sound this method is…but then adds, “we hope”.Underneath it is dark and quite. The sound of the water dripping brings to mind the Cloaca Maxima, one of the world’s earliest sewage systems, that runs under the Colosseum.
One of the most interesting things I learned was what they have found on site. Just like we eat at the movies and productions, so did the Romans. Dishes, cups, seeds, bones from meats eaten, even toothpicks have been excavated.
It is late but Trastevere is hopping! I walk by several trattorias and the waits are long. I instead decided to go back to the spot where we had pizza last night. However, I walk and walk and walk and just about give up when I notice a girl hurrying by me with sacks and sacks of bread in her arms. Our guide last night told us that most of the restaurants around here get their bread from that forno, so I head the direction she was coming from and there it was.
I told you more research was needed, so I try 3 different kinds. Heading back to my GuestHouse proved to be just as difficult as finding the forno. I am sure people got a kick out of seeing me pass several times carrying my little pizza box. But as long as I can find the Tiber, I can find my way back home.