After a leisurely stroll from the Pantheon, via Largo di Torre Argentina, my friends and I parted ways at the Piazza del Campidoglio. They headed for the Capitoline Museum while I took a side alley onto Via di S. Pietro in Carcere and then Via dei Fori Imperiali, which overlooks the Forum (I didn’t actually go into the Forum. It was hot and I didn’t have the patience to queue for tickets for an unknown length of time. Of course, you can purchase tickets in advance. I didn’t have that foresight—but it’s fine. I had a great walk looking down at the ruins. And the ruins are as impressive as you can imagine.
Remember my last post’s warning about wearing sunscreen and a hat? And to take along plenty of water? There is practically no shade in the Forum, and, again, that Roman sun (and humidity) can be intense.
I made my way down Via dei Fori Imperiali, walking roughly a mile, to the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum (the crowds are bananas here).
At Piazza del arco di Constantine, you will find a bit of shade and people hawking bottled water. I sat on a curb here for a rest and an attempt to cool off. I decided to head back to the Pantheon area before it got much hotter. I planned to walk down Via di San Gregorio, past the Palatine, and head north from Circus Maximus.
Well, it was a good plan.
Circus Maximus was blocked off by fencing and police. There was no chance I was getting though. I walked over to the bar adjacent to Circus Maximus to plot my next moves. It was hopelessly full. People spilled out onto the street, filling the space between the barfront and the fencing. It looked like a party—and I assumed the Circus Maximus had been co-opted for a festival of some kind. I turned back to the street I’d been on, which had become Viale Aventino. I headed down, looking for a sidestreet to set me on course for the Pantheon.
The closest side street was five minutes away. I turned onto the Via Licinia, which became Via della Fone di Fauno, and, finally, Via di Santa Prisca. I was in a web of residential streets with no directional information. I was lost. And climbing up a hill. In the heat. I passed houses, a dancing school, and a massive rose garden. I figured I’d sort out where I was at the top of the hill.
With a quarter of a bottle of water left. I was overheated, needed a restroom, and impatient. Then I heard someone singing “Comfortably Numb.” It sounded a lot like Pink Floyd, but I knew that was impossible because why would Pink Floyd be playing in the middle of the day in this ridiculous heat?
I peaked the hill as the street changed into Clivo dei Publicii. The view I’d hoped for was obscured by foliage (at least I found a bit of shade). I started down, still on Clivo dei Publicii, a curving street that descended gently. I emerged onto a road covered in vendors’ stalls and rows of port-a-potties. I queued at a stall to buy some water and noticed the t-shirts on sale: Roger Waters on tour, 2018. I hadn’t been imagining it: I must have been privy to his sound check. That’s when I noticed where I was: at the back end of the fenced-off Circus Maximus. I had taken a 2.5 mile detour up a hill (the Aventine, it turns out).
I downed the water, determined to get back to where I was staying as quickly as possible. I struggled to my feet and headed toward a nearby busy road—and directly into an enormous crowd: I was in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which hosts the Bocca della Verità as well as St. Valentine’s flower-crowned skull.
I bought two more bottles of water at a gelato stall on the street, and found a shady place to sit–the steps of an administrative building (Unità Organizzativa Attività Commerciali su aree pubbliche). I sipped my water and cooled down. I spent this cool-down time staring at these:
My husband suggested I title this post piacevolmente insensibile (comfortably numb).
Next: Piazza Bocca della Verità to . . .the Capitoline. A street of “wow.”