The thighs had healed and we were on the road again. The day was blue like blue, and it was our last Friday in Europe so we were up for a big one. We went to the local bakery where French like pastries beckoned. But they were not anything like we might have expected. The Italians can't do the French style pastries in our limited experience. Oh well, when in Rome ...
We made our way back to the Forum. Our host had organised for the apartment to be cleaned and the young woman arrived just before we left. I had a little chat with her and she warned me that there were strikes on (the buses, she said). Oh, well, we wouldn't need the buses; we were close to everything. So we set off with high expectation. The streets did seem rather thin in terms of people and there was certainly less traffic on the road (including buses). But nothing was really triggering alarms. And then, weirdly, hardly any people trying to sell us scarves or mini Colosseums or bubble headed gladiators. Hmmm.
The gate to the Forum and Palatine Hill was shut and it was odd because it was about ten in the morning. I went up to the gate to see what was happening and there was the sign. Closed for General Strike. Damnation.
We walked back to the Colosseum to find out what was happening and if we could use our tickets tomorrow. The Colosseum was opened (though it was going to close at 1pm) and we were told that out tickets would be fine tomorrow. OK. Now what. Well, Rome is a big interesting place. That was good news. We wandered up to the Trevi fountain. I like this fountain very much if only for the fact that while there are beautifully carved figures, they lie on rough ledges that look very much like 'the real world'. It wasn't too busy here; there were a few Japanese tourists throwing coins over their shoulders. Niccolo thought throwing coins might be fun, but wanted to do it from the upper level but we had to convince him that throwing onto a series of tourists might not end well. So he tramped down to the lower level and threw it with the others. So did Paris. So they are certainly going to return to Rome. We had been walking for some time now, and Niccolo was white faced with hunger. So we fed him and the rest of us (very nice artichokes, just for the record) and headed off to the Spanish Steps.
I love the idea that an architecture is commissioned to design, and then builders are paid to build steps for the common good. And these are not any old steps; these are monumental and glamorous and fabulous. They reach up high and offer the average punter the joy of sitting in the sun on a beautiful piece of architeture that belongs to the world. Very democratic. Right beside the Spanish Steps is the Shelley/Keats museum. The door was being very firmly shut when we arrived (it was 1pm) so there was not prospect of doing some kind of sentimental tour of Keat's death bed. Oh well.
We walked up the steps to the Villa Borghese and messed around the the gardens for a while We liked very much that there were lots of busts of men around the gardens in various flattering and not so flattering poses. There had been many casualties with noses. It is a vulnerable part of the body; even in marble.
We were aimless in this too beautiful city, and that was kind of good. We then just set off to walk around; down cobbled lanes and up busy streets and into piazzas and largos. We looked in shop windows and admired dogs and stylishly dressed men having tiny coffees or tiny alcoholic drinks in little bars. We liked very much the colours of Rome; apricots (but un-bridesmaidlike), and light reds and pinks, and all rosy in the afternoon sun. We had ice cream at Piazza Navona and admired the fountains again.
And then we were back in Campo dei Fiori with the statue of the monk who had been burned here for hereasy in the 1600s. This was the favourite place in Rome for executions. Everything goes on here.
This is a very lively place; here were we live and is not more lively than a Friday night. On past nights, I have been woken by drunken youth wandering from Campo dei Fiori home; with their voices echoing up and down the walls and arriving all blurry up in our bedroom. I also woke to the cries of a newborn baby (could I be making that up?) and smashing of bottles, and the driving of vespas. But on Friday night, way after the night had fallen and we had been asleep for some hours, there was yelling and screaming, and some young man in deep distress being assisted by his friends who appeared to be laughing. I think his vespa had been stolen (or perhaps not). And all of this is the ghostly, echoy referred sounds created by the cavern like walls of the street. It spooked me a bit.
And we were woken again by geese. Really. Geese.