Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walking Rome at Night

We spent most of our first full day in Rome either walking or standing. Having spent hours waiting on line for our tickets to the Papal audience, and flying through the Vatican museum before it closed, we stopped for some refreshments at a small cafe at the base of a long flight of stairs leading to the Metro. As Bill had never eaten gelato before, we ordered cups of mocha/chocolate gelato. Bill was so smitten that gelato in different flavors became an afternoon tradition for the rest of our journey.

Photo of a Roman Soldier out of his element

Concerning Gelato: “Let’s Go: Italy,” one of the most helpful of the tourist guides we’d brought along, described the difference between homemade or factory produced gelato. Gelato served from plastic containers is factory produced. Stainless-steel means homemade. Checking the color of the banana gelato is also a good clue. If it is bright yellow, it is factory produced. Slightly grayish banana gelato means homemade. Same with lemon. Homemade lemon is white whereas factory produced is yellow.

When we arrived back at the Piazza di Spagna we encountered an irritable Roman Soldier who’d somehow arrived there from the Roman Forum and was directing traffic with his sword and swearing at a huge group of chanting youth crowding the intersection. We hurried past him to our apartment where we rested until it was time to go in search of supper.

Fountain of Trevi at Night

“Where shall we go?” Bill asked. I suggested we head toward the Fountain of Trevi – a glorious sight at night and one Bill must see. Certainly there would be a good restaurant there. We headed out, confident we could find the Trevi Fountain by following the city map in our “Let’s Go” guide – a task not so easy at night when the print is small and the city streets dark and often narrow. It was the sound of rushing water that verified we were heading in the right direction. The fountain is huge and the water cascading from it voluminous. At night the fountain shimmers in blue and white light and the immense statues of Neptune, the sea-horses pulling his chariot and guided by Triton seem lifelike. Caught up in the visual, I forgot the tradition of standing with back turned to the fountain to toss a coin over one’s shoulder to make a wish.

Catacombs under the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

Unwilling to merge with the throngs of tourists crowding the nearby restaurants, Bill and I walked in the general direction of the Piazza Venezia, a busy thoroughfare over which looms the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, erected over archeological ruins to celebrate Italy’s unification.

It’s not easy to cross the streets in Piazza Venezia. The traffic there is fast and heavy, so, though we headed in what we thought was the direction of the Coliseum and Roman Forum we ended up walking past the Capitoline Hill and the Theater of Marcello (which that night I thought was the Coliseum) and ended up near the Jewish Museum in the Jewish quarter next to the Tiber. This was a fortuitous turn of events for it was there that we finally found a place to eat. Nona Betta is an “authentic kosher restaurant” with empty tables on the sidewalk that beckoned to us to “sit and eat.” Which we did with great joy, dining sumptuously on penne picata, gnocchi parmesan, and a fennel, radiccio and orange salad.

Theater of Marcello

It was after 10 p.m. when we finished eating. Unable to find a taxi, we began our long walk back to the Piazza di Spagna and our apartment, on the way passing the Teatro and Area Sacra Argentina, and the Pantheon.


Pris said...

What a wonderful trip!! Thanks for sharing it.

Pris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mary Beth Magee said...

Beryl, I always enjoy sharing your journeys - whether physical or spiritual. Thank you for allowing us to accompany you.