Home > Travel > Honeymoon, Day 16 — Walk Through Old Rome, Part I

Honeymoon, Day 16 — Walk Through Old Rome, Part I

May 3rd, 2009

Sachi and I were never sure of the weather. As I mentioned before, probably 80% or more of the days we were there were slated for rain in the weather forecasts, only to clear up most of the time. Still, we did not want to press our luck, and since rain was forecast for the next day, we decided to do all of our walking tours in the one good-weather day we were fairly sure of. By the end of the day, we had walked at least 10 km (as measured by Google Maps Distance Calculator), not counting the backtracking and walking around inside places like the Roman Forum. This is what the walk eventually looked like:

Walking Map

We started out at the Spanish Steps, a tourist spot which is apparently used mostly for sitting and chatting, at least for tourists. There is a big floral display, and across the plaza there is a market street.

Spanish Steps-00

Spanish Steps-01

We then headed south, and stopped along the way for gelato. From the incredible abundance of pizzerias and gelato shops, I can only conclude that those two foods are the foundation of a typical Roman’s diet.

Rome Gelato-01

By the way, a note on Roman pizza: multiple toppings are not a big thing. Usually there are only one or two toppings, and despite looking carefully, I never found a pizza that had more than one meat topping. Prosciutto was common (and delicious!), and I found hot salami (I presume the same as pepperoni, but not called that), and sausage of some sort… but not together. A lot of pizzas were short on cheese also, at least from an American standpoint.

This is not to say that I didn’t eat a lot of it!


Also found everywhere are tourist stalls, everything kitschy that you can imagine. Big sellers seem to include short pants with Michelangelo’s David’s nether regions printed on them, and hand-drawn caricatures of Sylvester Stallone. T-shirts, bags, calendars, magnets, statuettes, caps, scarves–everything you can imagine they could sell they sell. A lot of street artists have their work on display, and a lot of musicians play for spare change. (Accordions are big in Europe, I noticed.)

Tourist Attr


We made our way to Trevi Fountain, where legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain over your shoulder, you are assured to return to Rome some day. Some €3000 are thrown into the fountain every day (it’s collected and used to fund a supermarket for the poor). Sachi did it when she visited Rome in her younger days, and there she was, back again, so I figure it works. We did it together, and so we’ll probably be back some day.

Trevi Fountain

Next, we hit the Piazza Colonna, which features the Column of Marcus Aurelius. This was a monument built to honor the emperor’s war efforts, illustrated in the relief sculptures spiraling up the column.

Col Marcus Aurelius

Column Detail

Something that I noticed in Rome was that the Catholic Church seems to have a habit of branding everything of note. This column was built for Marcus Aurelius, who, while not particularly anti-Christian, was not an avid pro-Christian, either, and under his reign, Christians suffered. So why is there a statue of St. Paul atop the column? The thing is, it’s not just this; any number of pre-Christian monuments, all of the major ones that I could see, are in some way stamped with the cross or other Christian icons. The various Egyptian obelisks all are capped by crucifixes, and the Colosseum has a prominent Christian placard installed. While some Christian history has taken place at and around these sites, slapping Christian symbols and signs on them smacks a bit of territoriality. I’m just saying. It kind of stood out.

St Paul-Cap

Moving on, we went north, intending to stop somewhere along the Via del Corso, but we overshot and ended up at the Piazza del Popolo, dominated by an obelisk of Ramesses II (again, note the crucifix cap).

Popolo Obelisk

The plaza is ringed by churches and fountains, and is a nice place to relax. However, you also have to watch out for the hucksters. Several people of south Asian origin were wandering the plaza with bunches of roses. They walk up to couples and offer them a few as a “gift for the beautiful lady.” I made very clear that I had no intention of buying any, telling the guy that we were walking all day and could not carry flowers. He insisted, and I said, even for free, we could not, because we had no place to keep long-stemmed roses. Still, he refused to acquiesce, and just to get rid of him, we said, OK, we’ll take them, intending to hand them off to someone else first chance we got. But of course, the guy would not leave. He stayed planted in front of us, trying to do something for a tip. He offered to take a photo and we declined. In the awkward silence after that, his eyes darted this way and that, and then he put our his hand and made the finger-rubbing gesture for cash.

We gave him back the flowers.

Flower Man

More on the walk through Old Rome later–it’s getting late, and there’s too much here for one post.

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