Nine long hours on foot around Rome today. I was “losing power Captain” and I needed some help to keep my happy place and happy face in tact. Just then I discovered a cure for this uncivilized pain. It is app based and it is amazing. Little did I know until late this afternoon as I sat next to a beautiful and cooling fountain in a curiously silent piazza that life doesn’t have to be hard. Uber is a thing & it exists in Rome. Angus had the occasion to use it several times in London 3 weeks ago without a hitch. So what the hell, I started an account and began to see the simplicity in this service.
I know most of you know everything I’m going to say already, but I was taken with the process and the ability to monitor our Uber’s location on my phone as he made his way for our pick-up. I could see the drivers photo, I knew his name was Massimo and that he would be arriving in a black BMW 5 Series. All of which came true 6 minutes later. Massimo arrived in a Italian tailored suit, sporting short hair and a Roman attitude. This was fine. The app had sent me a quote for 18 Euros back to our Air BnB. Twelve minutes later and we were there. Slick, cool and a must do-over for sure.
What took us to the piazza that Massimo had just picked us up from you ask? Well I am more than happy to tell you. This morning was a rough one. We got up early again as it seems there has been little in the way of jet lag to suffer through so far. We walked Southeast on Via Aurelia until we reached our first stop of the day back at St. Peters Square. We knew yesterday that the Pope would be giving mass today and as you can imagine so did close to 90.000 faithful present. I never thought that this would happen but it has. I have seen the Pope live and on jumbo-tron. A life memory of epic proportion.
At the conclusion of the outdoor service we wandered back to the Tiber and crossed the Ponte Principe into the centre of Roma. Just like last year I was absolutely blown away with some of the most stunning hole in the wall churches and cathedrals that literally line the streets on both sides and in every direction. You wander into a nondescript doorway to find yourself in a narnian world. You think you are venturing into a phone booth sized room. The next thing you know you are in a room the size of a soccer pitch from end to end and floor to ceiling.
The ornate decorations are in like new condition but they average 600 to 800 years old. I said this last year but while I am in Rome or Florence or Venice I get religion. I know, I know, what a crass statement. Its true, you feel an attachment to the people who served a higher being to design, build and maintain the churches we have visited today.
We wandered on to Piazza Navona and sat by the fountain that marks the middle of this long and narrow rectangle . Artists were sat with examples of their work trying to attract the passing trade and tourists devoured their gelato. We shuffled through the back streets with a purpose. Our next stop was the the Pantheon. This is a place that stands alone as one of the most remarkable buildings in the world. You enter the piazza in front of the 60’ doors and your breath is taken away. I’m not exaggerating, it is stunning. Once inside the doors you try to compute how this very special place was raised from the ground in 126 A.D.. Emperor Hadrian had a sixth sense for hiring the right architect. Apollo Dorus of Damascus was the man. His handiwork lasts now over a thousand years and back home we suffer 10 year old leaky condos?
From the Pantheon we walked to the Trevi Fountain. The last time I was here it was closed for a makeover. For those who think a trip to Vegas and its Bellagio or Venetian Hotels are a true and accurate depiction of all that is remarkable about Italy, then think again. Neither are, and in fact they are a soulless misinterpretation for the slack jawed troglodytes that arrive via Southwest Airlines because they love the sounds of the slots and the taste of Marlboro.
The Trevi is the real deal. That is marble and lots of it. Those statues were carved not made of plaster of Paris. It is something. If I am lying why was there 5000 visitors standing shoulder to shoulder around me to make a wish and toss a coin into it’s pools. It is remarkable.
From the Trevi we made our way to the Forum and then on to the Colosseum. That walk has an innate ability to send you back in time. You are riding aboard a chariot or drinking wine under a palm. My retention of Roman history is not fantastic but I do recall that to be a Roman in the those days meant privilege and a life of civility. I believe to some degree the people here are still living a life of privilege. La Dolce Vita is here in spades. Style is seen on foot, in cars or aboard a screamingly fast scooter. Prada high heeled shoes do work as the perfect accoutrement to a Momo Scooter helmet. Believe me its true.
It was time to wander from the crowds, so taking another Rick Steves suggestion we walked west back across the Tiber to Trastevere. Immediately the pace of life slowed and the trattorias and vino bars were full of locals. This is going to be my go to for the remainder of the stay here in the nations capital. Awesome vibe. So here we are back full circle. I forgot to mention several notable moments today. My Lemon Gelato and my macchiato whilst standing at the bar, both were terrific in their own way.
Back at our Air BnB now, I am a converted Uber user. I travelled in BMW luxury. Upon receiving my e-receipt I was pleasantly surprised that the quote sent earlier of 18 Euro was a tad over zealous. The fare ended up being 16.00 Euros. I am a hipster and I didn’t even have to swill Portland micro brew over my perfectly trimmed beard whilst wearing a plaid shirt. I call that a good day!