Long day. Up earlier than usual to see Brandy off to the train bound for the airport and her flight home. Two more days I’ll be doing the same trek myself.
Since I was up early, I decided that I would go check out the big market in Porta Portese Piazza in Trastavere. It’s held every Sunday and I expected something more along the lines of the markets I’d seen in London. To put this place in perspective, I have to explain that this one grew out of a black market following WWII. It didn’t look to me like much had changed. Oh, there were some items that interested me, but all too large to even contemplate purchasing and getting home. Most everything else was either junk or out of my interest. Then again, it IS a huge market. I couldn’t possibly see much of it and it was hard to convince myself to hang out and check anything out more than a second. They day started out miserably cold, but by noon had warmed up nicely. Mid-afternoon I was almost too hot in my jacket.
But I had long since left Trastavere by this point. You see, when I got off the bus, I realized that I was right by the Tiber and decided that a nice constitutional up the river walk was in order. So, when I finished the market, I ambled forth.
Along the way, I stopped at Isola Tiberina, a small island in the middle of the Tiber river. There are mythological explanations of its reason for being there, but it’s a small wedge of land that houses a church and a major hospital. If you walk to the bottom end of it, you can get a good view of Ponte Roto (Rotten Bridge), the remains of Rome’s oldest remaining (barely) bridge which was built around 179 AD and was used (and refurbished many times) into the middle ages before it finally collapsed and was left behind. Also got a peak at the remains of where ancient Rome’s sewer system would have once dumped into the Tiber.
After that sojourn, I continued up to the Vatican area and checked out the much less crowded market there. Enjoyed that for a bit before crossing back over the Tiber. Totally by accident found myself in Piazza Navona (which Mari had recommended). It was beautiful and still decked out for a holiday carnival complete with Merry-go-round. Saw tons of Christmas and Epiphany stuff. Brandy will be jealous that I got to see tons of La Befana stuff, with one booth dedicated totally to her merchandise. La Befana, we learned, was a good witch who did not help the wise men when they asked for help finding the baby messiah. Later she felt guilty and set about trying to find the messiah. She’s become a legend here that surpasses Santa Claus. In fact, it sounds like some of our traditions may come from her. On Jan. 6th, Italian children wake up for candy and presents from La Befana. Good children get candy, etc. Bad children get a lump of coal! These days the coal is candy shaped as coal, however.
Wandering on from there, I walked up to the Colosseum, since it was such a bright and sunny day, I wanted to see if I got any better shots today. Tons of people with much the same idea in mind. It really was fantastically sunny and fairly warm (nothing that people from Florida would write home about, however).
From there, up to the Capitoline Hill to explore the beautiful structure that Michaelangelo designed. Really fantastic views both of the structure and of a sunny Rome day from the top. After I’d exhausted myself climbing all those stairs, I went back down and around to visit the museum. Even though there were some exhibits with no explanation for English speakers (and not much more for the Italians), it’s still a really worthwhile museum to visit. However, somewhere in the Tabularium, my interest in 2,000 year old statues, tablets, etc. began to wane a bit. There’s also a portrait section with comparably newer works of art, but given over mostly to religious art (well, the whole collection began as donations from the Pope before the Vatican Museum existed, so that makes sense).
From there, a meandering trek back to Termini and dinner in the usual spot (now that my dinner date is gone). While there was paging through the guide book to see what else there was that I could do tomorrow. Noticed to my utter dismay that I’ve been staying a couple of blocks from the baths of Diocletian… oops… of course, closed on Monday, so I’ll just have to kick myself for missing something so close for a few days. But I may take a bus out and see Caracalla’s baths or maybe just find an art museum or something. I really am getting kind of done with artifacts from 2,000 years ago. I didn’t even know that was possible, but it is!
Otherwise, I can tell the trip is winding down mentally as well as calendrically. I’ve been very introspective and in an incredible loner mood today. This was my first experience traveling overseas with someone else. There were plenty of moments that, I think, both of us had to make concessions to the other. But all in all, I wouldn’t have changed a thing (well, a room with actual heat would have been nice). It was great fun having someone to see the sites with and to battle the forces that sometimes seemed pitted against our common trip running smoothly. Our running jokes were greatly missed today.
As for Rome, beautiful place, no doubt, but also a bit on the dirty side I have to say. I am glad I came but I don’t see a return trip to this city in the immediate future. I would like to still see Venice some day and still think a return trip to Capri would be awesome though both are fairly expensive places to visit as I understand it. I suspect that very predictably my next Euro trips will be back to the UK or Ireland. There’s still so much there that I have an intense desire to see. Mainland Europe has less, at this point, appeal to me. That’s subject to change but right now that’s where I am. However, if I had to place bets on the next trip, it’s probably Mexico again (I’ve missed two Roger Clyne shows down there now and I wanna go back!) and maybe this time a little extra time to see some of the American Southwest.
That’s it for tonight. Time to go finish the book I’ve been reading and maybe catch up on a bit of sleep. Aren’t I a thrill a minute?