Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roman Holiday Part 7 - Never Ending Staircases and the Start of Wild Goose Chases

(My BBFF Nilor as we said good-bye at the bike rental place in Borghese. Gone but not forgotten...)

Previously: Nilor came to my aid in Via Borghese. Good times were had, but all good things come to an end. Having parted from Nilor, and now with only my feet now to carry me, I walked over to the cinema center in Via Borghese and had lunch – very delicious sandwiches to be had there! Afterwards, I took a final stroll around the grounds and head back to the Bat Cave-style Metro entrance that leads under the hill back toward Ancient Rome. As I start down the first bit of stairs, I got the first inkling of how Gypsies could make themselves a threat, as there was one sitting not so idly at the top of the stairs and a more suspicious-looking one standing on the first landing. They don’t pay me no mind as I pass, but there is a family coming up the stairs a few levels down. The children were running ahead of their parents and it looked like they were gonna take the side that would’ve brought them right up on the gypsies. I’m pretty sure I told them to take the gyspy-free side of the stairs, but I honestly don’t remember. It seems like something I’d do. I didn’t see what happened to the family, but I’m sure everything turned out okay.

The stairs going down are a endless as they were heading up and it really felt like I was traveling through the Mines of Moria after a while. Finally I emerged from the metro system to find myself situated right outside a gelati store! Excellent! I’ll take one with strawberry and lemon, please! Yummy! I turned the corner from the gelati store and Bam! What’s right in front of me but the 39 Steps! I couldn’t believe it. I had spent so much time the day before looking for the 39 Steps and then after that, looking for a gelati store in the vicinity, and this day I’m not looking for either and they both fall into my lap. I took my gelati up the Steps and decided this was the perfect opportunity to revisit my favorite painting in Rome at the Trinita de Monte. I wanted to make sure I wrote down the name of the piece and the artist who created it for future reference. I went into the church, took a good long gaze at the painting, sat down and said a prayer and then got out my journal to jot down “Corvi – Archangel St. Michael.” It is at this point that I notice I had scribbled down a note higher up on the same page that said “mouth of truth!” What was this? Oh, yes! On the plane the Tisi Women had told me I should see the Mouth of Truth which was shown in Roman Holiday. I almost forgot about it! I made a mental note to find out where it is after I make my next few scheduled stops.

I headed out of the church and travelled back down The 39 Steps. I made my way through town to Trevi Fountain to see what it was like during the day. Still as crowded as ever! But I made my way to the lip of the fountain and threw some change over my shoulder into the fountain for good luck.

(Trevi Fountain during the day, still beautiful and now 40 cents richer for my money.)

After that, I headed back down Via Del Corso toward the monument of Vittoriano. It’s this giant white stone monument that apparently the locals revile, but if you walk all the way to the top you can see an Amazing View of Rome, so that’s what I planned to do! It is a pretty long climb and the guards there are not big on letting people rest along the way. You cannot sit on the steps. This is the Vittoriano, not the Postal Building at 34th st and 8th Ave.

(It doesn't look like a lot from here, but I'd already climbed several levels to get to this point.)

So I climbed and climbed until finally I got to a level where you can take a lift the rest of the way to the top but you’ve gotta pay 7 euros for the ride. It’s worth it. The view from Vittoriano is great! It was a beautiful afternoon and it felt like the view just went on forever. You feel like you're up very high and it’s kinda of scary for agoraphobics like me, but I kept reminding myself that I’ve been sky-diving and been much higher than this and nothing bad happened to me then so I'd be okay now.

(Look! There in the distance is my beloved Colosseo! Rome is a beautiful city.)

When I finished taking in the beautiful sitting while basking in the mid-afternoon sun, I started my descent back down the monument. It’s funny, but whenever I face a long flight of stairs, I always think of my friend Suki who broke her ankle badly on some unsafe stairs at a 2-story Duane Reade a couple years ago. On my way down Vittoriano I kept thinking “Oh, Suki would not like these stairs.” Then when I was almost at the bottom with 5 steps to go, my ankle caves in and I go tumbling down. Luckily all that was injured was my pride. If you’d seen it happen you’d probably think it was hilarious, but at the moment I was very nervous that I had injured myself and I was alone and a fair distance from my hotel, and what about the marathon I had to run that was only a few weeks away?? But a quick assessment revealed that I was not hurt. It could’ve been much worse, as those stone steps can be very unforgiving. Somehow I managed to land on my right hand in just the right way that it broke my fall without breaking my wrist. Nothing else to do but dust myself off, walk down the last couple steps and head back to my hotel to get more info on the Mouth of Truth!

Now oddly enough, my Frommer’s Guide does not list Bocca de Verita or Mouth of Truth in its index, so after breezing through the different maps looking for it, I gave up and asked the concierge at the Mercure Colosseo for help. The lady at the counter printed out a small map of Rome from the interent and circled an area south of the Circus Maximus. She tells me the Mouth of Truth is there. This is not true. The Mouth of Truth is not there. But I don’t figure this out until WAY later. So in the meantime I’m about to get myself all sorts of lost on Aventine Hill!

Next Up: Part 8 - The Battle for Aventine Hill! Guns are involved! I'm not kidding! For the rest of trip: My Flight There, Emperor Palpatine's Hill, Good Times at the Colosseo & Vatican, SPB & The 39 Steps, The Pantheon, Gays and Dining Out. and Owen & Nilor Take Via Borghese

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