The bus passed through Campo de’Fiori and as I had enough time to spare before my reservation at Borghese, I got off the bus to enjoy the lively market scene. It was colourful and beautiful. In that instant, I wished I had access to a kitchen with a stove and pots & pans and that I had no place else to go.
Oh what aromas I would develop with all these fresh products. How I would toss those colours together. But I had no kitchen. So, I bought a bunch of plump green grapes that were absolutely delicious. They also had seeds in them! Imagine! Alas, after years of being in America I had forgotten how to eat real grapes. These were not that genetically altered seedless and may I add tasteless/bitter things they call grapes in the supermarket.
Lovely, lovely, lovely. I walked all around smiling to the stall owners. Ah, no grazie. What, you want me to buy that lovely shank of lamb? Ah, I would love to but mi dispiace. No grazie, no space for your lovely organic honey in my bagagli, it’s carry-on you know, yes c-a-r-r-y-o-n, yes bagaglo a mano, yeah mi dispiace too. And we both shrug. I would have bought his honey too, you know were it not for the liquid restrictions with carry-on luggage. Damn terrorists.
I arrived at the Borghese park with some time to kill still. As I sat on a bench in its eerie peace, I wondered, “Why do I have to leave Rome? To go back to my patients…to my chart review…to job applications…to misery! W-H-Y?!”
At the Borghese Gallery, you are required to check in all bags. This time I took my valuables. You are not allowed to take photos. I paid 5 Euros for the audio guide which I found enough.
Walking through the galleries and learning about each piece of art, I wished I had taken at least one art history class at Wellesley. Then Bernini and Caravaggio would roll off my tongue like I knew what I was talking about.
But, the collections were beautiful. Sculptures on the first floor and paintings on the second. We owe this extravagance to the Cardinal Scipone Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, who designed the house and the park for pleasure and entertainment. The official website has some information on some of the pieces. The Borghese Gallery works on schedule. Two hours after entry, we all were booted out, so that the next group of tourists could begin their two hour visit. You have to make reservations in advance. I thought it was worth it, but then again I didn’t go to any other museums (aside from the Vatican).
I left the Borghese with the first bus I came across. It was bus-hopping time. I soon found myself upon the Spanish steps – the Scalinita della Trinità dei Monti – the widest and longest staircase in Europe. Really? Everyone seems to talk about the Spanish steps. Yes, they were beautiful and Piazza di Spagna did seem to be a happening place, but I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to be here.
Can you believe that last year, a man drove down these steps?
I wandered around and stumbled upon the Trevi fountain.
It looked so much better now that it wasn’t raining.
You are supposed to throw a coin into it over your left shoulder to make sure that you will return to Rome. I just sat eating gelato watching people trying to capture a photographic moment of said coin going into the water. I would occasionally have to find a new place to stand or sit as people just kept insisting they give me emphysema with their cigarette smoke! Anyway, the coin-throwers just kept throwing coin after coin after coin to get that perfect shot. I found it delightful.
When I was researching my trip, I read about a man, Roberto Cercelletta, who for over 30 years had raked the fountain, relieving it of coins tourists had left. He occasionally made the equivalent of over 600 Euros each day and nobody fussed about it until 2002 when the media reported that the Trevi’s collection, instead of going to charity, was going to an unemployed, mentally unstable man. He was arrested but I don’t think he was charged for stealing. The police are just more strict these days about fountain-fishers so I just wouldn’t do it if I were you.
Before returning home, I had a small ginger/cinnamon blend as well as honey flavoured gelato from San Crispino. It was the same price as many other gelato I had (2 euros) but oh so much smaller portions. But it was delish!
I rounded out the night by having dinner at Da Augusto in Trastevere. It’s a small family run trattoria. They were so busy. Packed with Italians out having a good time. Very reasonably priced as well. This is not a frilly tourist menu place. They sat me down at the children’s table. Don’t I feel small and oh so conspicuous? A full-grown and obviously black woman by herself, sitting with the owner’s children eating their supper. It felt like ages that I sat there watching them sop up their meal, while the young male customer sitting by the window next to us occasionally glanced my way observing me. I wonder what he was thinking? I didn’t talk to him as he had a huge black dog with him, otherwise, I may have just asked if he didn’t mind if I sat with him instead. The kids didn’t seem to mind my presence though. They looked like all they wanted was to finish their meal and go out to play one last time before being put to bed!
There was something called rocket on a lot of the menus, but I didn’t have the courage to ask what it was. Especially as my waiter here at Augusto, though a teenager, didn’t seem to understand English and had sent her older brother (my assumption) to explain to me what gnocchi was. So, I gathered rocket was some kind of vegetable and now know that it is arugula. My main meal was rabbit in spicy sauce. Oh, my goodness! Can you say delicious? I wished that I didn’t have the gnocchi only so i could have devoured every bit of it and sop up the sauce with bread like my young companions. It wasn’t spicy at all but was very well-flavoured.
And then I returned home. The end!