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fountains and aqueducts, and getting lost

March 25, 2009

Days 10 and 11 – Getting out of the city

villa-deste-2Our plan on Saturday was to escape the noise, crowds and traffic of Rome and take a bus ride to Tivoli. It was a sunny day, but still very windy and cold, so we decided to keep our itinerary light and visit only one of the enormous villas there, Villa d’Este. Getting on the bus was relatively uneventful and uncomplicated, a tremendous blessing considering some of the transportation difficulties we had experienced so far. We got off the bus and stood on a corner long enough to overhear an old Italian lady explaing to a young Italian couple how to get to Villa d’Este from the bus stop. We watched her hand gestures and then decided to just follow the other couple from a distance and try to appear that we knew what we were doing. Sure enough, they led us to the right place, no communication necessary! The villa is famous for its fountains, and rightly so. Only about 2/3 of them were operating on the day we visited and it was spectacular. If you’re interested in the history of the villa, you can read it here.villa-deste

On Sunday we decided to venture out of the city again to tackle Eric’s must see – the aqueducts. Several huge ancient aqueducts are now surrounded by a lovely public park, very popular with locals, and not so popular with the tourists. I think we were probably the only people there who spoke English. Getting there was a little more difficult than getting to Tivoli. We were told to take the metro to the Subaugusta station. Well, we did, but when we got off the train there was nothing but buildings and city. We started to walk in the greener direction and eventually Eric spotted aqueducts in the distance. We walked some more and eventually we were there, standing next to the enormous towers of stone and brick, surrounded by jogging Italians and their dogs, unleashed and perfectly behaved (the dogs, not the Italians – although I suppose they were behaving quite nicely too). We walked along the aqueducts for an hour or two, enjoying the peace and quiet and marveling at all the people who live so near all this history and who probably don’t ever even think about it. If we had gone back to the subway at that point, it would have been a perfect day.

aqueducts

Instead, we decided to try to see more of the park – the part with the Appian way and some ancient catacombs. Sounded cool enough. So we got on and off the train again, supposedly somewhere near the main part of the park. We walked around for hours right next to a wall that we were sure was the outside of the park, but clueless as to how to get in. We spoke to a couple people who didn’t speak English and tried unsuccessfully to interpret the hand gestures. We were starving and tired, so we decided to give up on the Appian way and wandered back into town (I have no idea what town it actually was) and found a little pizzeria. We went in and were greeted with a friendly ‘buon giorno’. We smiled and responded with “parle Englese, por favore?”  At this the waiter went into a back room and then reappeared and despite the many empty tables said “we’re full” and motioned toward the door. Okay. So we were still hungry, still tired, and very lost. We walked until we came to a big road that had several bus stops. We used thebus signs to figure out which direction we needed to walk to get back to Rome and determined that if we kept walking in that direction we would find a metro or a bus that would get us back to town. We walked and walked and walked. Well, actually, I walked while Eric hobbled on his injured foot. No busses, no metro. Finally, after who knows how long, we turned around and saw a bus approaching us that said “Piazza Barberini.” AH HA!! That was our hotel shuttle stop! We jumped on the bus, very thankful for the two extra bus tickets we bought before we left.

I have no idea how long we were on the bus before we got back to Rome – probably 45 minutes or so. When we finally got back it was during the hotel shuttle siesta, so we decided to eat and rest for a while and then take advantage of the sunshine and see some more of Rome. We walked through Piazza Navona and to Castel Sant’ Angelo, checking off a couple of the things we missed because of the weather. Believe it or not, we managed to get lost again, but this time, inside Sant Angelo. Okay, we weren’t really lost, just really confused. You’re supposed to be able to  climb to the top for this incredible panoramic view of the city. We could see people at the top, but we couldn’t figure out how to get up there. We followed signs that led us in circles. The map of the place was unhelpful. All we could find were the stairs that came down from the top with a big red sign saying basically “don’t go up.” We waited at the bottom of those stairs for someone who spoke English to come down. Finally we found someone who could point us in the right direction and before long we found the door leading to the stairs we had missed and were on the top of the Sant Angelo admiring the view.

view-from-sant-angelo

From there we walked back to Piazza Navona where we ate dinner. As soon as the sun went down the temperature dropped significantly, but I insisted we stop for gelato on our way back to the shuttle. We ate it in a tiny alley trying to avoid the wind and then we made our way exhausted and freezing back to the shuttle.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Debby Morton permalink
    March 25, 2009 9:55 pm

    Kendra,

    Your blog on your travels has been wonderful. I had a lot of days to catch up on tonight since I hadn’t been reading for a few days. I am glad that Eric’s foot wasn’t to hurt and he was able to do all the walking that you both needed to do for your trip. I am sure that your 10 anniversary will be one that you both will remember with fondness for the rest of your lives. Thank you so much for sharing through your blog.

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