Partly due to the onerous Roman public transport system, a piedi is my preferred method of navigation here in the Eternal City, even if I have to allot an extra hour each way. Thankfully I love walking so this doesn’t at all perturb me. At this time last year, an abnormal, viciously cold winter prevented me from indulging in the pleasure of an evening walk until spring came around. Now, an evening walk for me is not akin to the fabled pre-dinner la passeggiata for which the Italians are known (the New Yorker in me couldn’t walk at that pace for a million euro!), but neither would I classify it as an intense power walk….it’s not like I wear spandex and Reeboks while clenching hand weights and furiously swinging my arms. These walks are just me, whatever I’m wearing, comfortable shoes and my iPhone soundtrack, and I just head out to wherever the cobblestoned streets lead me.
Inaugurating this ritual last spring coincided with the rise of the ever-increasing flocks of tourists, so having seen the tourism season peak before dwindling around late November, I’ve come to learn that walking in Rome after 8pm during the low season is like walking in Rome after midnight at any other time of the year. Unless it’s unseasonably warm, the streets, for the most part, are somewhat all mine! There is less elbowing and no need to strategically maneuver my way through groups of people packed as tightly as canned sardines, and if I happen upon a street with a sidewalk, I can actually stay on the sidewalk instead of endangering myself by jumping into the frenetic street every 8 to 10 steps to pass people.
It’s these nights when I most appreciate Rome’s allure, free from the cluster of the meandering crowds, and I remember why I fell in love with this magnificently glorious, yet exceptionally chaotic, city. But alas, a good thing never lasts forever. March is right around the corner which means tourism season starts up again so it’ll be back to the human congestion grind before you can say Julius Caesar. Eh well, the reprieve was good while it lasted… plus there’s always next year!