Rome: Saturday – Part II

Ah, walking in Rome. But then, as with most things, there is walking in Rome, and there is walking in Rome. There is walking down narrow alleyways (“Hey, this one’s even narrower and darker and windier than the last!”); forever stepping out of the way of tiny cars and tinier Vespas as they buzz past with remarkable confidence in your cooperation (“Ciao!” – Eddie Izzard); happening upon a too-very basement level party for some American author that has, despite its private character, become too besotted with its own fabulousness to remain cooped up in a bookshop and so has spilled up the steps that rise in either direction from the subterranean door and out onto the street; marveling at the notion that Italian women might somehow be able to negotiate four-inch cobblestones with three-quarter-inch gaps between them while perched in three-inch heels and somehow not break their ankles or even their stride; and generally marveling at the dizzying array of restaurants, many of them tucked half out of sight, advertised only by a small framed menu to the left of the door, and seemingly indifferent to whether or not anybody actually happens inside on a given evening; all while soaking up the delicious cool and the heady mix of surrounding urban chatter and majestic overhead silence (if that makes any sense). That’s one sort of walking- that was Friday night. “Going out to dinner in a car can never match it,” wrote our dear Victoria, and she was right.

But Saturday – Saturday had other sorts of walking in store. First, there was the walk of shame, which took us from one part of Trastevere to another – from the Hotel Santa Maria to the Casa di Santa Francesca Romana. There wasn’t actually any shame involved – I’m pretty sure I was easily made as a tourista even without luggage – but there was a fair amount of effort. I was warm by the time we made it up to our room. Then it was off across the bridge to the Bocca della Verita – past the crowded line waiting for a picture with the famous mouth, and on to the bus stop. Destination: Villa Borghese, way up at the north end of the city. Ride up, walk back.

The Wife consulted her guidebook: “Bus tickets are available at major stops and at tobacco shops.” This was not, apparently, a major stop. Husband set off in search of a tobacconist, a search that eventually led pretty much back to the Hotel Santa Maria, though not by anything like a direct route. By the time I made it back to the bus station, The Blisters had begun. That’s another sort of walking.

(Little will be said about The Blisters, except that they were real, and they were spectacular. And Born shoes have a lot to answer for. And The Wife got many a sheepish chuckle out of watching me hobble for the next few days. And that I spent my final days in Rome strolling about in my awesomely comfortable Urban Slippers from Stegmann. Fashion be damned – I’m a tourist!)

The only good part was the purchase of a surprisingly good Prosciutto panini purchased at a tobacconist tucked along what turned out to be a dead-end street in the Jewish Quarter. (Two sandwiches and a big bottle of water for five Euros – as opposed to a four-Euro Gatorade at the Hot Dog cart near the bus stop. Truly, this was a foreign land – I stuck to water and wine.) That, and my wanderings took me past a patch of ruins that apparently housed an ancient public bathroom – a row of three gleaming marble sinks shone out from amid the flat brown Roman bricks, their rounded bowls making a pleasing contrast with all the long, rectangular lines.

Hot and miserable, or at least as hot and miserable as a man can be when he is in Rome with his wife and not having to manage five kids or think about work, I boarded the bus, only to discover what I imagine everyone knows: no one checks tickets in Rome. Not on buses, not on trains, not even at Papal Masses in St. Peter’s Square. The only time anybody asked for a ticket was when I needed to show a restaurant receipt to use a pay toilet for free in the Termini. So we could have waited to buy our bus tickets. So I hadn’t needed to go on my little jaunt. End of whinge.

We strolled through the Villa Borghese. We stopped and took pictures, including these silly shots (okay, the one of The Wife is adorable) inside a huge tree with a completely rotted center. (Please stifle all comparisons to the state of the author’s bloated soul):

Husband: “I don’t know why I look fat in all these photos.”

Wife: “You know, some people would say that the reason a person looks fat in pictures is because, well…”

Husband: “I hate you.”


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    You don’t look that fat. You’re over 35. I have a way out of hell:

    Breakfast 2.5 ounces of cooked plain oat meal.
    Lunch Small salad hold the dressing
    Dinner 3 ounces of brown rice, 1-2 ounces shredded chicken, peas, small salad hold the oil, apple for desert

    No liquor, refined foods, sugar, juice. No pigging out on the health food.

    Mrs. L looks girlish and lovely.

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Dammit, man, I won’t be 35 until June! But I’ll keep this penitential regimen of yours (no liquor?) in mind.

  3. I’m 51. I lost 25 pounds this year. I did NOT give up booze.

    (Just so you won’t lose the will to live.)

  4. Eoin Suibhne says

    Fat Flush Diet. It works. No booze in the first two weeks. (Ha, not much of anything in the forst two weeks.) It helped that I started the first week of Lent. I’m 39 and had added a little in the midsection; it’s mostly gone, and I haven’t really been exercising that much.

    Not that you need it, but 39 comes fast…

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