Good food and wine plus great history made it very easy to be romanced by Rome. However, at about 95 degrees and humid every day, it was HOT! These public fountains of cold water were a lifesaver.
They were always running and always cold, though, I’m not sure why they didn’t have on and off. It seems like quite a waste of water.
I had 5 days to wander the city, soaking up it’s culture and history. I number of people suggested I had enough time to see all the major sites and also get in a day trip to the beach, a smaller town, or even Florence. I considered it, but did not want to rush through and just check things off the list, if you will. I prefer to linger, spend some time wandering without site-seeing, and to just soak it in.
Thanks to my switch half way through to the charming Hotel Lodi I was able to do just that. Perhaps the best part of my stay in Rome was meandering the residential streets around Lodi, near San Giovanni in Southern Rome. And even better was cooling off in Lodi’s shaded garden with a glass of wine and my journal or some new travelling friends.
I spent my first couple of nights in a soulless budget hostel near the train station. The neighborhood felt a tad dodgy and, irrespective of safety, was dirty, and filled with touts and the sort of travelers whose primary goal is to go home and say “I got drunk in [insert exotic city name].” I didn’t book Lodi to begin with because I was apprehensive about it’s ‘inconvenient’ location and about being alone so far from a tourist or other central area. But the location wasn’t terribly inconvenient -it was actually quite refreshing. After several days of vying for tables with the tour groups, it was nice to walk into a local restaurant and not automatically be handed an English menu. In fact, the neighborhood restaurants had no such thing available.
I did take the opportunity to see a lot of touristy things though, and some not-so-touristy things as well:
The pantheon, it’s cool echoy interior a welcome respite from the midday heat. The eerie shafts of light falling from the portal were otherworldly in contrast to the bustling plaza outside;
Silly, endearing little automobiles that make Smart cars look like giants;
Lots of ruins (Coliseum, Roma Forum, Palatine, as well as a few smaller sites) and some modern art too, the old reminding us of our fleeting presence in and lasting impact on the world, and the new of our continuing relevance;
The catacombs of San Callisto, of which I have no pictures, but which get my personal award for Best Ancient Site;
Pigeons. Tons of pigeons;
A relaxed afternoon in Trastevere.
After five days it was on to Cairo. Unfortunately the FCO airport wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the rest of the city.