Monday, June 9, 2008

I arrived in Roma, Italia

Sunday evening 8 June

I admit that I take too many pictures of clouds, especially when I'm in planes. But they're so pretty and fluffy. These I captured as I neared Rome.
First sight of Italy, approaching Leonardo da Vinci airport in Roma.
From the airport I took the train into Termini, the transportation focal point in Rome. It's where all the buses, trams and trains begin and end. It's a half hour ride into Termini. I noticed that the ground is covered in red poppies. Later, while walking the city, I took this picture.
My hotel is located right near Termini. Right near my hotel there is a big showy fountain at Piazza della Repubblica, and right next to it is Santa Maria degil Angeli. I walked to this basilica and was stunned to hear Central American Spanish being spoken on my first foray. Apparently, the right side of the outside of the church is a gathering place for these immigrants. They meet to catch up on news, to exchange information. Most were men smoking and talking, and the few women were digging through bags of clothes, which I imagine they were exchanging.
When I arrive in a city for the first time I like to walk it. That's how I become intimate with it, how I enjoy its surprises and nooks and crannies. Walking Rome can be demanding, because so much of it is noisy and dirty, but at bends the unexpected is usually very pleasing. For example, there are many old decorated bridges crossing Fiume Tevere.
And there are fountains in just about every piazza; Fontana di Trevi is the fanciest of them all. When I stopped by it the day was already ending and people were settling in around the area's many outdoor cafes. It's a huge fountain, ornate, in the Baroque style. It was completed in 1762 and inaugurated by Pope Xlement XIII. The surrounding square is small, and it makes the fountain seem especially dramatic, particularly the large statue of Neptune in the center.
I really like the gorgeous fountain that sits at the bottom of the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps. It's a Barcassia done by Piero Bernini as ordered by Pope Urban VII in 1629, and accordingly it's adorned with the papal coat of arms. It's supposed to be a reproduction of a royal boat which ran aground.
Via Vittorio Veneto is very very pretty: there are lots of trees, thus though traffic is heavy, the noise is muffled. The sidewalks are wide and lined with beautifully draped (and some glass-enclosed) restaurants furnished in elegant upholstered chairs and lavished with flowers. There are also many upscale hotels on this street.
It's amazing to me that as you walk Rome at any turn you'll find structures that are hundreds of years old. This wall is near Villa Borghese at the beginning on lovely Via Vittorio Veneto.
This is interesting: there are gas stations--one or two pumps--on the edge of sidewalks, so cars just side in and fill up.
Buses vary in size and color, but the most common ones are red and long.
There are also trams (which look almost exactly like those in Tunis). Lots of taxis, cars, bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and of course a gazillion pedestrians and motor bikes.
And the subway... deep in the bowels of Roma... a bit shabbier than the one in New York, but fast and functional. Sometimes, almost all these modes of transportation collide.

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