Very weary from yesterday’s adventures we put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and had a quiet morning dozing in the apartment. As it turned out I didn’t turn off the light last night until 2:00am as I was chasing down who I needed to make contact with to start the ferry ticket re-disbursement process. I got an email sent and had received a response later in the morning. So far, so good. I also got a response from the lost bag search company to a note I left them a couple of days ago. Nothing to report there, I’m afraid.
After I’d written yesterday’s blog we got moving. It was now after 1:00pm. Down to the market we went for some cheese and bread and then walked over to Piazza Navona. There we found a marble bench in the shade by a fountain and ate our lunch, keeping the pigeons very happy in the process. With no real plans other than to get some evening photographs of the Trevi Fountain we took the long road to Piazza del Popolo. That is to say, we avoided the main streets at all costs essentially turning right, left, right and so on at every lane until we reached the square. It’s a great way to spend time, just slowly wandering through the parts of a city you would never see if you stuck to the well-worn path. The large arch on the northern side of this circular piazza is called Porta del Popolo. In ancient Roman times it was called Porta Flaminia and was the gateway through the Aurelian Walls and hence onto the most important road to the north of Rome.
Adjacent to the piazza is the Villa Borghese, one of Europe’s largest municipal parks, sitting atop one of Rome’s seven hills. The park has many fountains, sculptures and monuments and is home to the Rome zoo. We climbed to stairs from the piazza to the park and found a shady tree and some lawn to sit on. Finding lawn to sit on was a really pleasant surprise so we made the most of it abd sat there for 45 minutes, being entertained by the people who were trying to learn how to ride a Segway.
This “great” European park suffers from the same problem that a lot of the rest of the Italian built-up environment suffers from – a lack of continuous maintenance to its infrastructure such as paths, fences, signage, lawns, garden beds and so on and a deplorable attitude to rubbish disposal. Italy is a G7 country so this can’t be because of a lack of funds. It can only be due to the attitude of the people. Not enough of them place enough importance on having a clean environment and well-maintained public infrastructure. That’s a real shame because Italy could be even better than it is. I find it somewhat incongruous that a nation whose economy and reputation is built partly on the beauty of the art created by past masters is happy to present such an ugly, third-world environment to its millions of visitors. The government could start by taking all the touts off the streets and providing them with funding assistance to start private cleaning and maintenance enterprises. That’d kill two birds with one stone!
After our rest in the park we walked back down to the Piazza for cool drink at a cafe on the perimeter of the square. The waiters were very nicely dressed and, for people watching, the location was great. I could see a hefty drink bill coming along. I wasn’t disappointed, my expectations were met when we left. We continued our zig-zag route through streets and lanes on the other side of Via del Corso until we reached Piazza di Spagna. Not too far from there we chose a little restaurant where a girl in the front windows was proving to the passers-by that they truly did serve home-made pasta. The pasta and the wine were very good. We got to the Trevi Fountain just as the sun was setting, not dark but getting there. The crowds were still enormous! Dusk, rather than night, photos locked away we headed back towards home.
By the time we reached Corso Vittoria Emanuelle II ten minutes later it was properly dark. After a detour to photograph Piazza Navona at night we grabbed the last gelati for our holiday near Campo de ‘Fiori and went to be entertained by “André Rieu” on the cello again. This time we bought his CD. Can’t wait to hear it.
Our bags are packed, were down to our last few Euros so it’s time to bid Italia and our holiday arrivederci!