Jeff's Blog - Thursday, October 2, 2014 - Arrival in Rome

Jeez do I love Rome. Tons to see, great subway, friendly people, and it just feels comfortable to me, like home away from home. My trains from Paestum were just fine, Alien IV Resurrection kept me entertained. I arrived in Rome at about 10 this morning, breezed right to the subway, the train was already there waiting for me, got off at my stop, walked toward my hotel, passed the grocer who sells me a cheap Nastro Azzurro every evening and he was all smiles, walked into the hotel and the proprietor was all smiles, giving me a choice of two rooms he'd saved for me. After picking one and dropping off my heavy backpack, I was off to sightsee. I had about 90 minutes before a reserved time-slot at Palazzo Valentini, so I used to time to see several details of the Imperial Fora on the way; that's the Forums of Nerva, Augustus, and Trajan. After a bit of searching, I found the game board carved into the marble pavement of the Forum of Augustus -- the unemployed would spend their days loitering around the various forums of Rome, listening in on the court cases, and even cheering at the appropriate times for lawyers who had hired them to root for their side. They'd spend some of their time playing games with stone pieces, in game boards they'd carved into the steps of the various forums, or the pavement in front, and I actually found and saw one of these, thanks to Walter's description. It's easy to thrill me. Anyhow, several details like this filled my hour, followed by a quick lunch, eaten on the steps between Trajan's Column and Palazzo Valentini, then the tour. This is a really spectacular place, it's the house of a rich family from about 300 AD that's been excavated in the basement of a medieval palazzo. You walk on glass floors, 10 feet above the excavations, while a multimedia presentation with superb lights and a narrative in the language of your tour explains everything you're seeing, reconstructing the ruins before your eyes and telling the story of how these people lived. Put this high on your list for your visit to Rome; you'll walk away from here understanding more about a Roman home than anywhere else I've ever been. Could hardly wait to see this place again, and it didn't disappoint. From there I saw the early-medieval church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, and sights on the Capitoline Hill, which I'd not even known to look for in my prior trips. The central piazza on the hill is the Piazza del Campidoglio, shown in the photo below so my wife can see the piazza reproduced on my favorite money-clip. The bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius on his horse is at the center (the horse's ass is facing us), statues with meaning in the history of Rome are at the far end and also behind me, and the Capitoline Museum, the best museum I've ever been to, has it's entrance on the left. I can hardly wait for my day in that museum. A thunderstorm broke out for about 1/2 hour while I was exploring the part of the hill behind the museum, but I was near a covered-hallway and waited it out. When I got back to the room I took my shower before supper (it's always hot and sweaty for me in Rome, running from sight to sight). Anyhow, the shower in my room is so tiny that sometimes when I turn around, I knock the cheap plastic soap dish off the stalk it's precariously attached to, and damn if I didn't do it again today, even after thinking I'm not gonna fall for that one this time around. When I did, it was like that loose finial in "It's a Wonderful Life", I'm back at my home away from home. Looking forward to tomorrow's 12-hour walking itinerary, ending at the "Big Fountain" and the Janiculum Hill overlooking the city, tomorrow night.

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