Tales of a wandering lesbian

Rome, day 1 part 2

The mayor’s house sits at the top of Capitol hill.

Mayor's place

In front of it, at the bottom of the hill is the Victor Emmanuel monument.  It’s big, it’s white, it’s intense.

Victor Emmanuel monument

In the back, on the other side of the hill, is the Forum.

“That is the capitol.  It’s the capitol.  The one all other capitols were modeled after,” I was told by a friend.  Standing here, I believed him.  It had fountains and statues and a powerful view.  It even had ancient ruins.  After pondering ancient Rome and the origins of democratic government, I walked form the hill to Campo di Fiori, a beautiful plaza where vendors sold their wares, and a heretic/philosopher was burned at the stake for his dangerous writings regarding the sun as the center of the solar-system, and the existence of other similar systems.


I paid my respects to this martyr of free speech by purchasing a few things, and followed the wandering crowd through the streets, past mimes, to the next piazza, Piazza Navona.  I’d been told to visit here.  I could see why.  Along with housing three major fountains, including the “Four Rivers,” the piazza was alive.

Piazza Navona

I looked around at what was basically a carnival.  A carnival!  I like carnivals.  There was a carousel, carnival games (complete with barkers), and even fair food (I almost bought a giant doughnut the size of my head).

I held off, but was getting hungry.  The pizza from earlier was wearing off, and I knew that hunger-induced-hysteria was not far off.  Heading back past the pantheon, I kept my eyes open for a chestnut roaster.  I’d seen a number of them, and thought this would be a good light dinner.  But first, I happened across the piazza of the pizza place.  I seriously considered popping back in for another slice, but opted to go next door for a coffee and one of the little sweets I’d seen earlier.


Earlier in the day I’d taken refuge in the coffee shop during a sudden downpour, along with a couple of guys.  I blatantly eavesdropped as they discusses the pastries.  From what I could understand, they were debating what they were.  I think they settled on canoletti.  Not sure, but it sounded like canoli to me.  So, I picked one out and dove in.  They were like chewy, thin sugar cookie tubes filled with what I think was nutella.  Even when I try to steer clear of this stuff, it sneaks up on me.  Still, it was just enough of a pick-me-up to allow me to continue on my way.

Back past the Pantheon, which was even more dramatic in the increasing darkness, it was like seeing an entirely new city.  The Trevi fountain was another thing I couldn’t stay away from.  It is spectacular during the day, but even better at night.

Trevi night

And, there was a chestnut roaster in the square in front of the fountain.  It was a perfect dinner.  I paid for my seven chestnuts, and the vendor picked them off of the hot tray with his blackened fingers, placing them into a paper cone.

Chestnut roaster

I sat with the lovers and the drunkards and pondered the beautiful fountain.  After a while, when I could feel the protein of the nuts replenishing my energy, I checked my map and headed to the Spanish Steps.  The walk was full of more beautiful, winding streets and happy people filling them.  As I approached the steps, I saw a group of people huddled together around one of Rome’s many obelisks.

There were nuns in the group, leading the crowd in song, and there were more police present than seemed usual.  Looking up at the obelisk, I realized that a statue of Mary was on the top.

Crowd at obelisk Mary obelisk SPQR flowers

Well, it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, so it didn’t seem so strange that people were gathered here. However, I found out the next day that the Pope had been there earlier to bless the statue and place the massive flower arrangement.  Big excitement.

Next, I checked out the nearby “sinking boat” fountain and then headed up the steps.

Sinking boat

While the view from the bottom wasn’t so interesting to me, the view from the top was pretty excellent.

Spanish Steps view

Like in Venice, I was grateful for the rain that had come earlier in the day.  It made the streets of the city sparkle, adding a magical glow to an already magical city.

I looked out over Rome and smiled.  I had almost decided not to make the trip.  I would have only two days to pack up and head back to the US when I returned.  But even after 8 hours in Rome I knew I’d made the right choice.  And I was pretty darn sure I’d be back.  Rome is a place I could see myself living.  It has its own pulse, and its own heart.  It even has its own insecurities and crazy uncles popping by to bless phallic symbols.

I uttered a few “bella”s and directed myself back to the hotel, past old theaters, and fine fountains and ancient ruins.  For all I’d seen today, I knew there was infinitely more I would try to see tomorrow.

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1 comment

1 Dad { 12.12.09 at 9:39 pm }

Rome sounds like your kind of city Kid………you’ll be back.
Hard to believe that almost 7 weeks have passed since you arrived in Italy but looking forward to seeing you soon for Christmas in Sun Valley and maybe some fun in the sun thereafter. Have a safe trip home and see you soon.