So we all know that I prefer two things: 1) clean air, and 2) not paying for things. So, as I’ve mentioned previously, I walk through the city every day to work, and complete the same trek back home. It can be a bit of a beast of a walk at ~2.4 miles, but it is actually quite enjoyable. You’ll see why.
My trip starts out at Borgo Vittorio 18, and after crossing a few streets I get a nice view of St. Peter’s Basilica greeting the day. Crossing a few more streets I get this nice view of the square, and the main entrance to the Vatican:
The change in this area each day is remarkable – when I leave between 0700 -0730, it is nearly empty. During the day, thousands pass through those walls.
Not a bad way to start off the morning. And to think, if I opted for the Metro, I’d miss out on such a view (not to mention the ones below), have to pay €1.50, deal with more commuters, and breathe in a whole lot of stuffy air. A good trade for a bit of exercise and 45 minutes if you ask me. Within a few blocks of the previous shot, I end up meeting the Tiber river.
The Tiber isn’t what I’d call a beautiful river, but the bridges that span it sure are. The first I cross is fitted with numerous large and intricate sculptures on either side. If you look to the left, you get a nice view of Castel Sant‘Angelo and it’s own bridge decked with angels. Despite being a very busy bridge filled with cars, this spot is still one of my favorites on the walk – it is not only beautiful, but it also tells me I’m almost home!
The majority of my morning and evening waltz is spent traveling alongside the river on a road known as the Lungotevere, though it changes its surname if you will every time we cross another bridge. To my left as I walk to work, the crazy Roman commuters pile into the city. Due to the number of buses and vespas/motorcycles/dirtbikes, the smell of exhaust is never far away, though it is manageable. Speaking of vehicles, cars are very small here. It’s a rarity to see one as large as a standard US station wagon, and the most popular brands are Smart cars, Fiats, Alfa Romeos, etc. Much more energy efficient and easier to park, though small cars do come with their drawbacks:
One can tell that the Tiber has the potential to rise to extreme levels and be a major force rolling through the town. On a few occasions, you can see deposits of lumber high on bridge supports, including quite a large tree trunk that I’ve seen. Not to mention, the remains of an old bridge stand as an example of the river’s true force during periods of heavy rain.
As I say goodbye to the Tiber, I cross the Lungotevere and march east to my destination. In almost no time, Ancient Rome comes into partial view. On my left is the Circo Massimo – an ancient racetrack, with the Palatino – the old palaces atop a hill – standing to its north. You’ll hear more of these sights in subsequent posts, have no fear. To my right is a beautiful rose garden, and about 100m further on is my main man Patria. Again, I call him s*#@head, and know you can see why:
As I crest s!%&head’s hill, the FAO comes into view, and thoughts of FMD control in East Africa start rushing back into my head. Up to this point in my journey I had only been thinking of avoiding dog crap (Romans apparently do not give a shit about picking up their dog’s gifts, which turns the Lungotevere walk into a bit more of a slalom course… My one goal this summer is to not step on any organic land mines – so far so good) and grooving to my choice of ~30 tracks on my ipod. Don’t ask. Anyway, after a fast-paced 45 minutes, I reach the building and get to work fighting the scourge of world hunger.