A Tourist for a Day

Bocca della Verita

Since I now have the pleasure of calling Rome home, a “resident mentality” of sorts has started to kick in and I keep  putting off the items that I would like to see and/or do on my ever-growing Rome bucket list. In my defense, it’s not that I’m lazily lying around. From taking Italian classes to teaching English lessons to  working (mostly from home) to what seems to be an unending stream of meetings, I had to back-burner the sightseeing. Until this past weekend.

My friend Toni, with whom I worked at NoMad, was in town and our adventure-filled Saturday started with a typical Italian colazione: cappuccini, succo d’arancia rossa, and cornetti at Er Caffettiere. We then headed down Via Cavour and when we hit Via dei Serpenti, we turned left  towards the Colosseum. Once we were street level on Via dei Fori Imperiali, we took another left and joined the throngs of crowds as we circled the Colosseum, passed Palatine Hill  and turned right at the vast & verdant Circus Maximus–Ancient Rome’s largest & most famous chariot racing arena, now a public park–to arrive at our first destination: Bocca della Verita. Legend has it that if you’ve told a lie and place your hand inside “the mouth of truth,” it will be bitten off.  If you’ve seen Roman Holiday, you’ll remember when Gregory Peck brought Audrey Hepburn here…he tricks & frightens her by pretending that his hand had been lopped off. If you (gasp!) haven’t seen this movie, Netflix it immediately. In the meantime, you can watch that cute and heart-warming scene here.

Next, we schlepped up Aventine Hill, one of the seven celebrated hills of Rome, to see the beautiful orange tree garden with its cupola-dotted vista of the city before peeking through the Knights of Malta keyhole for a perfectly framed view of the dome of St. Peter’s, which was awesome. Can’t even begin to fathom all of the engineering and detail that went into the keyhole’s construction.

Eager for a stellar Roman lunch, we headed across the Tiber to Le Mani in Pasta in Trastevere; I had amatriciana & Toni opted for cacio e peppe.  We then re-crossed the river and after two quick, but important, stops at Gelateria del Teatro and Feltrinelli, we climbed Capitoline Hill to see the Michelangelo-designed square and, from its terrace, a view of the Forum. The Capitoline Museums were incredible, but, alas, they also involved a fair share of climbing. In fact, I was so worn out that I couldn’t bring myself to hike up another two flights to the painting gallery to see the Caravaggio. In fact, if  it wasn’t for Rick Steves‘ nifty tip on how to enter Santa Maria in Aracoeli, we probably would’t have set foot inside the church either because, at this point, the last thing we felt like doing was ascending another 124 steps up the same hill that we had just descended.

I’m not too worried about missing the Caravaggio this time around. I’ll be returning to the Capitoline Museums for sure because you need way more than just a few hours to even begin scratching the surface in a place of that capacity. Hopefully, I’ll get there before my next visiter.

Also on my list: The Helmut Newton & Titian exhibits.

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