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Roman Holiday or Mr. Ripley?

June 10, 2013

I was tired today. Its been a long time away from home and today it hit me. I slept late and did a little work before heading out. My Vatican visit got pushed to tomorrow in order to get a private tour, and I was thwarted in my desire to check out Capitoline Hill and the wolf therein because its closed on Mondays, but a slow day wouldn’t be the worst thing, thought I.

With a few stops in mind, I decided to only take small streets, no major roads. Map in hand I headed in the vague direction of Campo Di FIori. Along the way I came out at the piazza housing the Vittoriano. I had passed by yesterday, but wandered in and up up up today. After many flights, I came out to a terrace above the city that housed a great glass elevator to the roof. Zipping up, I was treated to the best views in the city and saw the building’s winged horses at eye level.

Making my way down, I wondered a bit of the Roman Forum, a labyrinth of ruins, for a while and then headed back on to the side streets. While there seems to be nowhere in Rome that you don’t run into tourists, I found some great little pockets of charming local flavor and art studios. Along one path, I found a little vegetarian restaurant, the only one I’ve seen here, and one that excited my taste buds desperately in need of some non-carb based foods. Alas, it wouldn’t open for an hour. I optimistically took their card, knowing  I wouldn’t make it back and on I traveled.

A little handmade jewelry store caught my eye and I ventured in. The plastic and enamel pieces were unusual and fun and as I tried one on, the woman manning the stored rushed over to adjust my approach. You will break it, she screamed. I quickly fixed what I was doing, but she stared suspiciously at me. I thought about assuring her I wouldn’t break it, but who am I kidding, I might well, so I just slunk out of the store instead.

Eventually I saw an impressive round building in the distance and discovered it was the Castel Sant’Angelo and I was WAY off course. I walked along the river for a while, and finally made it to Campo Di Fiori, and its bustling farmer’s market that just made me want veggies more. This is not a country for salads, I’ve found.

I nearly bought a bag, but restrained myself and headed off in search of food. My choice of places to eat has been directly related to my need for a bathroom and when the need became too great my food pickiness lessened tremendously. I found a place and hit the loo. Yesterday I bought some purell because I’ve had a terrible time making water come out of the sinks. Today I figured out that there is a lever on the floor that, foot controlled, turns on the tap. Finally – really clean hands. And a great lunch – the salad looked terrible – limp iceberg covered with olives and cheese, but the penne was divine).

Next stop – the Capuchin crypt. Housed below a church with some impressive Caravaggios, it contains the bones of 4000 friars. And they are all displayed in crazy patterns. It was a little ghoulish and totally great. But they watched me and my camera closely, so I have no stolen images, alas.

With a  little time to kill before I headed back to Brooklyn (Trastevere) for pizza, I set out in search of a green space in which to rest and read for a little while. The one closest to me was closed for renovations, and I realized I couldn’t find another without a long walk. I’m sure all of you who know Rome will have suggestions of tons of green spaces, but I’m telling you, they just aren’t readily available. I actually began to panic a bit looking for a little shade and grass. No green veggies and now no green lawns. I had a (brief) moment of absolutely hating the city.

I decided to bus my way over there, and headed back to the station. I waited among tourists, students, locals, and several nuns. There are lots of nuns in Rome. The two standing nearest to me had on panty hose with their habits, I noticed (nuns in Rome still wear habits which is so much better than our more liberated nuns). It makes me happy to think that they were spanx or similarly control top. I’m pretty certain that at least one of them was wearing lipstick as well. I liked these nuns.

My “marble slab” pizza opened at 7, so I killed a bit of time wandering in and out of stored. I played priest for a while, standing at the pulpit of a lovely church, until my guilt over the folks praying silently in the pews while I made up sermons in my head got the better of me. The pizza was thin and crisp and delicious. I was one of the first in the place, but in minutes it was nearly full. I added some rocket to my margarita pizza and embraced the green of it all.

I long walk back to my hotel as twilight descended on Rome, has made me love it again. For a while this afternoon I had zipped out of Roman Holiday into the Ripley movies, but I’m Audrey again and happy! Tomorrow the Vatican.

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