Sunday, December 13, 2009

City at Night

This post again recounts part of Day 1 of my Rome trip. The city is enthralling like that. There are so many sites to see; you feel compelled to continue on and on. Already, this day had included an early morning flight, checking into a hostel, exploring the ancient ruins of the Forum and Palatine Hill, visiting the Colosseum, and experiencing the Pantheon. Still, there was time to see a few more attractions. As the sun set, the lights of the town began to glow, and an entirely different city was waiting to be explored.

From the Pantheon, I followed a young family to the nearby Piazza Navona. Attempting to keep the children’s attention after what I assumed to be an equally exhausting day, the father informed that they used to race cars here around the fountains. On this night, I couldn’t have imagined an auto race. A Christmas market was being held in the Piazza. Dozens of Christmas trinket stands and candy vendors were organized in neat rows in the oval shaped plaza. While adults shopped for wooden manger figurines, teens loitered around the fountains wondering what might come next in their night.

After making the rounds myself, I struck out in a new direction, this time hoping to find a good place for dinner. My feet were sore and my stomach was rumbling, but it still seemed like a fine night for a walk. My southbound path next took me to the Campo de Fiori. In this city of plazas (at least 21 warrant their own page on wikipedia), they all start to run together. At this location, I only remember that the retail stores along the narrow path leading to the square remained open at least to 8 pm.

Continuing on, I passed a street car station just in time to hop on and save my feet a few more blocks of walking. My final destination of the night was St. Maria in Trastevere. The church is known to have beautiful mosaics inside, but I wouldn’t know. I was on the hunt for a reasonable place to sit and eat, and I was told that this neighborhood, south of the Tiber, was the best in town. There were too many choices. Of course, I wanted Italian, but how do you rate one pasta menu over another.

I decided to avoid the restaurant advertising that they stood opposed to “war and tourist menus.“ I didn’t know what that meant, but I didn’t exactly sound inviting to an obviously American traveler. Eventually I settled on a small pub packed with patrons waiting to watch the Real Madrid take on the defending Champions League winners, FC Barcelona. The establishment even boasted free wifi. I was able to send emails to a few friends while watching the game, enjoying the cannelloni and drinking some Italian brew. The food and the atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for that evening. With each scoring chance, it was plain that the patrons were pretty evenly split between support for each team. Even if the final score was only 1-0, I had a great time and was suitably rejuvenated to make the trip back to the hostel. It was a perfect ending to a magical day in Rome.

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This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.