6-22-07 Campo de’ Fiori


First day in The Eternal City. Our apartment in Trastevere (“trasTEVeray”) is wonderful –

– it reminds me of the Latin Quarter in Paris: narrow streets with 4 story Mediterranean buildings with red tile roofs, many of them hundreds of years old, with many sidewalk cafes and remarkable churches. We will be staying at Via della Luce #71 for the next week: a retrofitted 19th century building with a remarkable old wooden beam ceiling and 21st century conveniences.


We had a long night on the flight and were delayed at the airport by a lost bag, but a quick taxi ride brought us straight here and Laura the landlady was waiting – checked in with her, stepped downstairs to buy some waters, fresh fruit and a bottle of Antico Colle Chianti Colli Senesi – and then crashed hard for 4 hours. When we awoke we took our first long walk in Roma, summer of 2007:


Across the Ponte Cestio to Isola Tiberina for our first view of the Tevere (the Tiber river) and the Ponte Fabricio to the other side, then along the river to the Ponte Garibaldi where we turned north.

We saw our first antiquity at the Area Sacra of the Torre Argentina with its homeless cats, and then discovered the wonderful piazza Campo de’ Fiori, where we sat and had a cool drink in the square.

Around the corner a gentleman let us into the beautiful Church of Santa Barbara for a quick private viewing – a lovely gem.

We made our way back to Trastevere across the Ponte Sisto and found the incredible Church of Santa Maria – superlatives fail. And two delicious thin crust Roman pizzas at the Pizzaria San Callisto. A long walk and auspicious start!



Domenica. We just spent a rewarding morning in the Jewish ghetto just across the river. What a terrible history of oppression the Jews have suffered. But there have been Jews in Roma continuously since the 2nd Century BCE and what a magnificent Tempio Maggiore they have. We arrived at the HebrewMuseum at 10, and got a tour of the small SpanishTemple (a recreation of one of the Cinque Scola) and then the huge impressive main temple. After that, we wandered the ghetto neighborhood, to the Portico di Ottavia and another sublime church, the Santa Maria im Campitelli.

We just caught a bite of Kosher fast food, and now M. & I are off to find the market for supplies.




14:30. Just back from a long hot walk along the Viale de Trastevere looking for the supermercado (which was closed in the heat of early afternoon, but we know where it is now.) What we did find, which was eye-opening, was a huge open air market that took us at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted walking to traverse – and ultimately two small shops where we got supplies and the cold Peroni I am sipping. Waiting for them to deliver B.’s lost bag from the airport.




17:45. Hot shower after my adventure walk to the top of the Gianicolo (the Janiculum, one of the seven hills of Roma) with its panoramic views of the Città.

I started down along the river, under the Ponte Garibaldi and then back up to the street at the Ponte Sisto. Tried several times to get up to the hill (on the Via de Penitenza etc.) with no success until finally finding the steps at V. di S. Onofrio and thence up to the top by the Finnish Embassy and the Faro.

Many busts of famous Italians and a huge horse statue dedicated to Garibaldi, plus a spectacular fountain. Then back down the Via Garibaldi soaking in sweat and back through Trastevere to the apartment. M. is taking a walk of her own right now, and our lost bag finally arrived!


I am reading The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon. Really caught-up in this alternate history story: the Jews failed to secure Israel as a homeland in 1948, and instead were given Sitka Alaska for 60 years as a temporary homeland…which would place the time the story is taking place right about now. Read it in the dark for hours on the plane when sleep was hard to come by. Today’s immersion in the ghetto really reinforced the feeling I am getting from the book: the millennia of persecution.





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