I won’t lie, I was a little cranky on the morning of Day Four. The thing is, we stayed up a little too late on Day Three. We were hanging out at Da Claudia, and one glass of wine turned into four…and, well, you know how it is. Anyway, we woke up too late for the morning buffet and COFFEE at our hotel, and so we were on our own for breakfast. No problem – We seemed to remember from the night before seeing some great looking pastries at a place called “Giolitti”, which as it turns out is one of the most famous gelato establishments in Rome. So off we went.
They do things slightly differently in Italy, when it comes to coffee shops. If you actually want to sit down to drink your coffee, then you’re expected to sit at a table, and wait patiently for a waiter or waitress to come and take your order. If you want it more quickly, and you don’t mind standing up, then you should go to the counter, or “bar”, and order your coffee there, where you will drink it standing up at the bar. We had a seat at one of the outdoor tables, and put our order in with the waiter. We were sitting quietly and enjoying the morning bustle on the side streets of Rome, when suddenly a tour bus arrived with about 40 high school students. My coffee hadn’t arrived yet, and I have to be honest, I was quickly losing my composure. It was just too much for me to deal with, pre-coffee. This was one of those moments where Glenn had to lovingly remind me to “CHILL”, and to just take it easy and go with the flow. God forbid if I should be one of *those* Americans, who expects everything to always go their way.
We left Giolitti after our much-needed coffee and pastries, and began the day – our last day in Rome. The plan was to embark on a self-guided walking tour of the Trastevere area south of the Tiber river. Armed with only our Rick Steves guidebook and our sense of adventure, we took off. Our first stop was Campo de’ Fiori, just south of Piazza Navona.
Campo de’ Fiori is currently a thriving outdoor market area, but its history is quite grizzly. I noticed a statue of a rather grim looking man in the plaza, and a little Google research told me that this was the philosopher Giordano Bruno, whose opinions so angered the pope of his day (1600) that he was burned alive for heresy and his writings were placed on the “Index of Forbidden Books”. In the year 1624 the theologian and scientist Marco Antonio de Dominis was also burned alive in this square. Suddenly the “Fahrenheit 451” bookstore on the corner made more sense to me…we didn’t go in there, but I’m thinking it may have been an interesting stop.
Thankfully, in 2013, Campo de’ Fiori was a very colorful and bustling area to stroll through. By the time we made it there, most of the morning’s fresh vegetables had been picked through and purchased, but there were so many other things to see there; it was kind of like a giant outdoor flea market, with food, flowers, and trinkets galore.
Passing through the market, we headed south, until we reached the Tiber River. Trastevere is the working class comunity located on the southern or western bank of the river. The name literally means “beyond the Tiber”, and once you cross into it, you do almost feel that you’re in a different world, for the most part far away from the tourists and the crowds of central Rome. We crossed over on the Ponte Sisto, which was a pedestrian only bridge, pleasantly lined with artists selling their paintings, and strolling couples.
We spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering through the still medieval looking neighborhoods, generally enjoying the experience, until Glenn’s feet both started to develop annoying blisters. At that point the leisurely touring became a frantic search for socks. Eventually, we found a shoe store, and in the spirit of “beggars can’t be choosers”, we got him a pretty wild pair of socks that I can’t really imagine anyone ever wearing under normal circumstances. But they served their purpose, right?
By mid-afternoon we figured that we should probably start heading back to central Rome and to our now-familiar piazza. We really didn’t want to get caught in unfamiliar territory after dark, and since the streets have a way of twisting and winding, we thought it would be best to get back while we could still see where we were going. But somehow, even after all of our careful Rick-Steves-map-consulting, we didn’t go back the same way that we came. We crossed the Tiber River one bridge over, the Ponte Palatino, and had managed to accidentally end up right across the road from the ruins of the forum. We were able to get some great pictures as we made our way toward the Colosseum, which was a landmark that we couldn’t miss. We walked through the Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill areas and then headed northwest back to our hotel.
We spent a glorious last night in Rome hanging out in our piazza, and having dinner – again – at Da Claudia. It was bittersweet; we were looking forward to the next leg of the journey, but we had really fallen hard for Rome, and hated to leave.