Roma: Bonus Day 1

Day 30 – Roma

Daily Wrap-Up

One Word
  • Barb: Atmospheric
  • Mike: Tiber
  • Jen: Afoot
Two Words
  • Barb: Nighttime Roma
  • Mike: Obnoxious vendors
  • Jen: Keyhole view
  • Bonus: Crap map (Every visitor has one. They’re free, they’re terrible—ads cover important info—but, in the end, they are good enough.)
Three or Four Words
  • Barb: Liked the sacred music
  • Mike: Rome: day and night
  • Jen: Ancient receding-gum roads
One Sentence
  • Barb: Easter at St. Peter’s was much less of a madhouse than I was expecting.
  • Mike: Easter at the Vatican comes complete with trinket hawkers, hotdog and pizza vendors, and plenty of gawkers (guilty).
  • Jen: Rome without all the trash, homeless people, beggars, and pushy peddlers would be better.

Oy. I did not sleep much last night. This place is noisy. There were city noises—all those locals and visitors enjoying Trastevere’s pubs and restaurants; there were neighbor noises—the upstairs neighbors had friends over for a loud time; there were building and apartment noises—I can get used to loud regular sounds, but our heater has a surprising array of different and irregular noises, and who was banging on the wall with a broom handle right by my head? Oh, that’s not what it was? Well, that’s what it sounded like.

And I was cold. The noisy heater and blankets never solved that problem, so I got up and put on some warm layers. Ahhhh, that helped.

Nonetheless, we were up at 6:00 a.m. to enjoy Easter morning in Rome before the masses (pun intended). Well rested or not, this is my favorite time to be out and about.

As on previous days in Rome, our plan was simply to walk hither and yon and see as much of the city and as many sights as we could. Today, our selections from the sightseeing smorgasbord included the following, in this particular order:

  • Trastevere, because we’re staying here, because it’s near the Ancient Center.
  • Ponte Sublicio, “ponte” means “bridge.”
  • Knights of Malta and the Keyhole View, I’m still confused about what, exactly, the Knights of Malta is or are. It’s a group of people. It’s a religious order. It’s a sovereign state. Right? Wrong? Feel free to educate me.

We heard about the Keyhole View from Barb’s friend, Kelly. It wasn’t in our guide books, and we were relying on remembered directions and luck to find it. It was touch and go for a while, but sure enough, we happened upon it.

Green doors that are very worn around the keyhole.

The doors with the keyhole through which there is a view. I guess we’re not the first people to peek through this keyhole, eh?

Mike taking a picture through the keyhole. Barb awaiting her turn.

Any guesses as to what we’ll see?

The tree-lined path on the other side of the door. The light at the end of the tunnel obscures the view of what lies beyond.

On the other side of the door is a walkway through a tree-lined tunnel. And what’s beyond that?

St. Peter's dome through an arch of greenery

The view is of the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Fun! The path leads to a courtyard next to a church.

Don’t you wonder who first noticed this view and how that discovery was then developed into this?

  • Circo Massimo, Circus Maximus, where chariot races were held.
  • Boca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth at Santa Maria in Cosmedin (as seen in Roman Holiday).
  • Ponte Palatino—Isola Tiberina—Ponte Fabricio—Tiber River. The Ponte Fabricio is the oldest Roman bridge, built in 62 BC, still in its original state. Yes, we walked across it, and it didn’t collapse. That’s some quality construction, folks.
  • Campo de Fiori, Field of Flowers, where we would have had lunch or dinner if the recommended restaurant had been open, but, of course, it wasn’t. Historically, this was a rough place. Caravaggio killed the opponent who beat him at a game of tennis here; the goldsmith Cellini murdered a business rival here; and philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600 because he suggested the earth moved around the sun. (Oops, their bad.)
  • Piazza Navona, surrounded by palaces and cafes, filled with artists hawking their wares, and decorated with three large fountains, including Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fioumi (Four Rivers), considered one of his finest works.
Two of the four river statues from Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.

Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. I have to say, I was comparing these figures to Michelangelo’s David and wondering if they were somehow inferior. To my eye, they were not. I thought they were extraordinarily good. The muscle definition, the poses, the fine details were all realistic and lovely. And the scope of the project was even grander than David.

  • Ponte St. Angelo to St. Peter’s Square, for a bit of Easter mass on the Square.

The approach to St. Peter’s Square was littered with hotdog, pizza, and gelato vendors; souvenir carts filled with cheesy stuff, including the requisite Superman and Sponge Bob t-shirts (the perfect reminder of your trip to Italy); beggars; street performers (in case mass isn’t entertaining enough); and gawkers. Audio was piped out to the crowd, and the music was particularly nice at that volume, filling the wide, outdoor space. We expected a much bigger crowd than we found, but it was still more than we wanted to contend with for long. Smoke, smoke, smoke everywhere is, as you know, my big complaint; although, I am well medicated this time to minimize the effects, and it’s helping.

Souvenirs, hot dogs, ice cream, and mass all in the same picture.

Easter in Rome: Souvenirs, hot dogs, and ice cream on the left, mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral on the right.

The choir and people near the front of the cathedral.

Easter mass in St. Peter’s Square.

  • Piazzale e Passeggiata del Gianicolo, a park on Gianicolo Hill with views out over the city and monuments to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his wife, Anita. Every day, a shot fired from a canon here marks 12:00 noon, precisely. I admit I’m skeptical about the precision—not Italy’s strong suit—but we did, indeed, hear it today at what might have been the precise time.

Home for lunch, a long nap, and dinner. And then a wonderful nighttime stroll.

  • Ponte Garibaldi
  • Teatro Marcello, an unexpected discovery for all of us. This is an ancient ruin in the middle of modern Rome. I think it’s being actively excavated now. Seeing how the old was incorporated into the new fascinates me.
A modern building with part of the ancient structure revealed.

Here, the Teatro Marcello is partly excavated from a more modern building in which people are currently living. The old is incorporated in the new.

  • Campidoglio, to look at the illuminated Forum.
  • Colosseum, in night lights.
The Colosseum with lights in the archways and a spotlight on the side.

The Colosseum illuminated at night.

  • Parco di Constantino
  • Circo Massimo, again, because it’s on the way home.

Home to bed, ever so grateful for my healthy legs and feet.

Categories: Italy, Travel