As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a bit tourist-ed out at this point. Weekends have been 48 hours of action-packed walking around the city, visiting damn near everything that one can see around the city in such a short time. So last Sunday, I hit up a few spots that had still eluded me, yet called it an early day to rest up for the week ahead (i.e. the one that is currently coming to a close).
The title refers to my morning ritual on touring days. Thanks to my British Isles heritage (Alba gu bràth), I would be a nice shade of crispy red by the end of any 10+ hour stroll through the strong Mediterranean sun. I crush the SPF 45 every touring morning, and usually re-apply at least once around midday (have no fears mom). My life out here in Rome is fairly solitary given that I live alone and eat most meals in solitude – don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly refreshing to have time to reflect. However, it also can lead to a few screws getting a bit loose, and this morning, I got a bit creative with my ultra sheer CVS SPF 45 lotion:
First off, I wandered over to the decrepit Mausoleo di Augusto in the neighborhood dubbed Tridente. I believe the name comes from the fact that the roads form a trident, the ‘staff’ entering at la Piazza del Popolo and subsequently trifurcating south towards the center of town. This Mausoleum is indeed where Big A (as I like to call him) is interred, though it lacks a certain je ne sais qoui nowadays. Basically it is a large mound of stone and earth in need of a face-lift, which is seemingly happening currently – it was all fenced off, and some excavations were definitely underway.
Next, it was the Spanish Steps. Many of you may recognize this towering staircase, and the only thing about them that is even close to Iberian is the fact that the Spanish embassy to the Holy See is (or at least at one point was) nearby. Not a bad workout for an early morning expedition, and complete with some rewarding views up at the top.
I then made a quick jaunt south to Piazza Barberini and a church/crypt that I had overlooked my last time in the area. Good thing I have some friends (Zoë) keeping me in line and making sure I don’t miss the creepiest thing in the city. The church’s name is Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione, and the home of the Capuchin monks. No, they are not little foot-tall monkeys decked out in monk’s habit, as I envisioned as well. These guys are your typical human image of ‘monk,’ complete with a brown robe, rope belt, big hood, etc. But many of these brothers now rest in an amazingly macabre display of life, and death. An ‘artist’ arranged the bones of ~3700 former monks into amazing piles, designs, light fixtures, omens, you name it. One hallway, five rooms filled with bones. No pictures are allowed, so check it out for yourself on the Google (look up Capuchin crypts).
My next stop was up to the heart of the Trident and Piazza del Popolo itself. This walk took me through some seriously ritzy neighborhoods with designer stores lining the first level along the road. My destination is a huge open piazza, seemingly almost too large, centered by – you guessed it – an obelisk/fountain. It seems to be a great area to hold large gatherings, and they were setting up the stage while I was there for what seemed to be a summer concert.
The final destination of the day was designed for a bit of relief from the city. As you all know, Tuttles need wide open spaces and greenery to thrive. Rome, though beautiful, is a pretty cramped town in some respects – with tourists, small winding streets, with gelato, you name it. But Villa Borghese in the north – now that is a nice public space. It is a massive public park where one can rent bikes, strange 4-seater bicycle/golf cart-looking things, etc. And a nice relaxing walk through, soaking in the green, was exactly what I needed.