A Slower Day in Rome

Trip Start Jun 02, 2013
Trip End Jun 29, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's time to slow down for a day and enjoy more of what Rome has to offer at our own pace.  Surprisingly, we awaken rather early, even after all of yesterday's busyness.  Diahann and Ron set off to experience the early morning, first by bus toward Trevi Fountain and then by foot to points beyond.

We arrive at Trevi a few minutes past 7am.  There is already a tour group (part of an organized travel tour) massed around the fountain.  Soon they are herded off to their next point while we are left to enjoy the fountain in near solitude.  Quite a difference from yesterday's late afternoon noise and crowd.  At around 7:30 the fountain slows down to a trickle and eventually shuts down completely.  A crew of workmen arrive and begin the process of cleaning up the area around the fountain.  Finally, they bring out what amounts to a turbo charged shop vac and, with long poles, squeegies, and other attachments, start vacuuming all the coins from the bottom of the fountain pool.  We were told that about $3000 worth of coins are collected daily, partly used for maintenance of the fountain but mostly for various charities.  The coins, of course, are tossed in by those wishing to return to Rome and to find love and possibly marriage.  The tossing must be done correctly, however, from the right hand over the left shoulder while you are facing away from the fountain.  One coin successfully tossed will guarantee your return to Rome, while two coins ensures your return as well as meeting an Italian.  Tossing three coins will result in marriage to said Italian!!  Anna, our guide yesterday, warned us that the women should be careful in their wishing because not only will the three coins get you hooked up with McSteamy but Mama comes along with the deal.  Beware of Italian mothers-in-law!

We move on from Trevi with a general direction in mind, but no specific route.  That's one of the fun aspects of wandering - we know we'll reach our destination, but also know that we are free to enjoy whatever we encounter along the way.  Today we not only wander past some of yesterday's tour hotspots, but we also come across unexpected delights, such as the beautiful little piazza where the University of Rome had its beginnings and now houses a chapel dedicated to St. Ives.  Further on we come across another of Rome's vast number of public drinking fountains - this one being quite unique in its design.  Many of these fountains are still supplied by the ancient aqueducts that once supported Imperial Rome.  Eventually, we reach our destination of Campo de' Fiori where we have some breakfast and then wander through the many stalls that make up this daily morning marketplace.  Just about everything is sold here - clothing, household items, spices, fruits, vegetables, and flowers (from which this piazza gets its name - Field of Flowers).

With our morning wandering at an end, we take the bus back to the apartment.  Kaylan, Lisa, and David are dressed and ready for the day when we arrive.   After talking about our morning, we all set off for lunch.   Today we decide on revisiting the spot in our neighbourhood where Lisa and David lunched on their first day in Rome - Il Tempio di Mecenate where pizza is one of the specialties.  We were not disappointed!

For the remainder of the afternoon we headed out for a little more sight seeing with our focus on one of Rome's central religious complexes - the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano.  It was first established by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century as the home of the empire's new official religion - Christianity. The present building, built in the early 1600s, is the 4th or 5th iteration of this church with the previous buildings being destroyed either by invaders, fire, or earthquake. Still, though, it remains the center of the Catholic Church outside of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

Across the street from the Basilica is another church building containing a stairway and small chapel. The stairway is known as La Scala Sancta (The Holy Stairway) and it was brought back to Rome by Constantine's mother, St. Helena. These stairs were the very same ones that Jesus ascended wearing the crown of thorns as he was led into the home of Roman governor Pontius Pilate for trial on the day before his crucifixion. These stairs are a pilgrimage destination for Roman Catholics around the world.  For those wanting to climb the 27 steps it must be done on one's knees.  In the past, different popes would ascribe certain benefits (indulgences) to those who climbed the stairs.  The most recent popes allowed only one trip up the stairs.  Newly elected Pope Francis has already relaxed some of these restrictions in order to promote the fact that this exercise is meant to honor the Passion of Christ, not to "earn" any favors.

We revisit Trevi Fountain as a group later in the evening affording Kaylan the opportunity for some coin tossing.  She wisely chooses the 2 coin option - no Italian mother-in-law for her! A short stroll away is one of Rome's prime gelato establishments,Giolitti's, and since we're on vacation desert is always a "must" before dinner. And now for dinner!

Our goal is the Taverna Romana, an out of the way place we tried during our last trip.  However, it was apparently TOO out of the way and after a few wrong turns we are not where we need to be.  With tired feet and tired bodies we reluctantly decide that bed is sounding better than food.  So we head back to the apartment and in the process realize how foolish that is!  We are, after all, in Rome and late night spaghetti is not hard to find.  We satisfy our late night craving and head home to bed.
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Kim McDonald on

Looks like a great trip!!! Have a fun and safe time!

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