Our place for morning coffee & sandwiches, Testaccio Market.
Planning my first trip to Egypt during the summer, looking for airfares, and looking and looking, I found it would be less expensive to make a stop on the way and continue on to Cairo on a separate ticket. I had unfinished sightseeing business in Rome, had seen many things on previous visits but not the Forum and Palatine Hill. Decision made, I would stop for 4 nights and spend my first, jetlagged days in Rome. Worse things can happen.
I have an English friend who lives in France. You may have seen the photos of her home I posted a while back. I emailed her to ask if she’d be interested in joining me and her immediate reply, “Rome? Yes please!”.
I found a 2 bedroom apartment on Airbnb, in the Testaccio neighborhood, across the river to the east from Trastevere which had been my original choice. Gillian booked a flight arriving from Paris Orly at the same terminal, an hour after I got into Fiumicino on my last of 3 flights. We discussed worst-case scenarios, just in case, but all went according to plan, I arrived on time, she arrived on time. We walked to the airport train station, bought our tickets to Trastevere Station and tram tickets that would get us to within 3 blocks of our apartment. We were in Rome.
Next morning we considered what we might do that day and agreed that aimless wandering was a good plan. I’d marked the Testaccio Market on my map, it wasn’t far and we were hungry. A left turn out of the building, then another left plus several blocks and there we were.
Fiori di zucca (zucchini blossoms) & anchovy sandwiches.
After breakfast at a table in the sunshine and a walk through the market...
...we set off north then west to the Tiber. Then north again, we walked beside the river along Lungotevere Aventino until we spotted steps ascending a precipitous cliff face, very tempting. After hundreds of stairs, some ramps and a couple of wrong turns we emerged at the top between the Basilica of Santa Sabina and a garden with orange trees still fruiting in November, Giardino degli Aranci. A look back from the direction we’d come was rewarded by a view across Trastevere to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Onward, down Aventine Hill, we arrived at the Circo Massimo, a big oval track built as a chariot racing stadium and overlooked by the southern edge of Palatine Hill. Turning left toward the river once more, needing facilities and seeing no likely candidates, I popped into a police station, much to my companion’s surprise, and was graciously escorted inside by the officer at the door. Ask and ye shall receive.
One cannot arrive at the Ponte Palatino, overlooking Isola Tiberina with its 16th century hospital, and not cross it.
A wander through the narrow alleys of once working-class Trastevere brought us to a likely candidate for a lunch stop disguised as an art gallery...
...after which we miraculously found ourselves where I was hoping we might, at the majestic Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. The church was shrouded in scaffolding but it had no effect on the glorious mosaics inside.
A late afternoon visit to the Pantheon.
Next morning, we got back on the #3 tram and rode it to the Colosseum. Standing on the sidewalk, Gillian wondered if this might be a day to go our own ways. The entrance to the Forum was not far down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, beyond the big metro dig, so we parted ways for the afternoon.
Next week, the reason for my stop in Rome, the Forum & Palatine Hill.
More PortMoresby in Italy.
And others of PortMoresby’s contributions here.