s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . i t a l i a . 9 9

marcus aurelius

Capital Hill - a reproduction of a very famous statue of Marcus Aurelius

Below: the beir where Caeser's body was cremated after his assasination

caeser beir

Right: According to Don, this is where clients waiting to speak to their lawyers would play marbles whle they waited (they didn't have old copies of Readers Digest to thumb through back then.)

Where I Find Romance (or a Reasonable Facsimile) at the Trevi Fountain

I awaken with a new resolve to have a good time and not get ripped of again. I start by walking over to the station to get more money from the bank machine - carefully tucking it away in a spot where someone would have to get very intimate with me to find it. My plan is to go to the Vatican but I stop off at the cybercafe again to get caught up on my E-mail and then I find I am also close to Capital Hill so I stop and ponder the reproduction of the famous statue of Marcus Aurelius there and then I am close to the Trajan column and that forum so I keep following that trail until I wind up at the main Forum.tour guide This is pretty interesting (and free!) so I wander around there a bit until I encounter an English tour led by one Don Chamuso who is really a good guide. I hover in the background listening to his rap and as the group moves on I jog over to him and ask if I may pay to join his tour. He is very nice and says he does not object to me tagging along as long as I stay to the back and not make a nuisance of myself.... which I attempt to do. (I see the other members of the group eying me suspiciously but decide to ignore them.) After the tour of the Forum is over, I feel much better educated and thank the guide again and ask for his card so that I may recommend him in my on-line travelogue. Of course he is associated with Rick Steves (though he also does free-lance work) which comes as no surprise. As I head toward the Colosseum he shouts over his shoulder "Carpe Diem!" and I think this is the best thing that has happened to me in Rome so far.

forum games


Above: feet does the colosseum

Below: Inside the Pantheon - I think this is the hole Brunescehlli cut into the very impressive dome to see what it was made of

pantheon hole

temple of saturn, rostrum

Above: The forum - temple of Saturn and the rostrum where Roman citizens could discuss the assorted infidelities of their leaders

After that, I manage to find my way to the Spanish Steps. They are pretty impressive and I loiter there for a while.... then on to the Trevi fountain, stopping at a nearby street side cafe for the best meal I have had since leaving the states - the daily special featuring way more food than I was able to eat. At the fountain I let my hair down, remove my over shirt and cool my heels at one of the spigots that are all over Rome, courtesy of the aqueducts built centuries ago. (You can refill your water bottles at these for free - very handy.)

Right: The Spanish Steps

Below: Stephano and feet at the Trevi Fountain


spanish steps

According to Rick Steves, you are supposed to toss two coins - one for a wish, the other to ensure that you get to come back to Rome. I was not there long at all - contemplating what my wish should be - before being approached by a friendly (and handsome!) local named Stephano who obligingly shot a picture of me at the fountain and laughed at me when I tossed my coins (three of them - one for my wish, one to come back to Rome, and another for my sister Deb as it was her birthday and I hope that next time I come to Rome that she will be able to accompany me). Stephano had limited English but still was able to quiz me on what I had seen so far and expressed astonishment at all I had neglected. He treated me to an espresso at a nearby cafe and then we headed to the Quirinale for more sculpture. From there we strolled to the Villa Borghese where there is a wonderful panoramic view of the city and the Piazza di Popolo.

He was laying it on pretty thick and moving in fast (bellisima!), bought me a ring at a gift stand (a regalo), a rose from a wandering vendor and later some gelati. We strolled arm in arm through the park looking at the sculpted busts of long-dead famous Romans (including Bernini, who he took my picture with) and then we sat on a park bench and smooched like the other couples in the area were doing. I think this is an important part of the Rome experience. I had planned to leave the next day as I was finding Rome too expensive and not all that charming, but Stephano was doing his best to talk me into staying another day - offering to show me the Vatican and that was sounding like a pretty good idea to me.

He had a cell phone that he was constantly checking and I teased him that he was anxious about hearing from his esposo but he assured me he had no esposo.... just an amica and surely I had amichi as well? Yes of course, but I got the feeling that his amica was not at all happy with him. This was not my concern however, so eventually we found our way back to the fountain as it was getting dark, There were still a lot of people there and we shared a large Heinekin at a bar where he apparently was well known and smooched some more by the fountain. Finally, he led me to his scooter (the preferred means of transport in the city) and I got on the back for a hair-raising ride back to my hotel. In Rome red lights do not mean stop, just slow down a bit -- especially if you are on a scooter.

bernini bust

Above: Feet likes Bernini (bust found on the grounds of the Villa Borghese)

villa borghese view

He got me back safely and after a bit of unpleasantness concerning what he then expected of me and some language-related misunderstanding, he left after vaguely promising to come pick me up on his scooter the next day for my tour of the Vatican. I did really want to see it but was not at all convinced that he would show up and plus I had already changed my reservations with my hotel in Positano, so I stood him up before he could stand me up. Sort of cowardly on my part, I suppose and in retrospect I am feeling kind of bad about it as it would have been nice to see the Vatican with a local guide, but I left early Sunday morning and that was that.

The view from the grounds of Villa Borghese

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