Not even crooks and hustlers could stop us
Rome Travel Blog› entry 3 of 10 › view all entries
Next day we woke up from a good night sleep in our hotel room. The area was very quiet at it had been nice sleeping with the window open letting the fresh air sweep through the room. The hotel breakfast was in the -1 floor at the hotel and the breakfast was good and I had the joy of a couple of cups of cappuccinos.
We wanted to start this day’s exploration of Rome with Piazza Spagna and the Spanish Stairs and just take it from their; none of us are big planners and we both like to take it as it comes. We started with the Metro that was functioning normally after yesterdays strike. It was a Saturday morning and the train station was well crowded anyway.
Crook number I
We got off at Spagna and followed the crowd to the Spanish Stairs that as usual is one of the many magnets of Rome. We walked up the stairs and greeted the morning sun with the best of our smiles; it was truly nice to be in Rome. We enjoyed the scenery for some time.
The Spanish Steps or in Italian; Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti is climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by Trinità dei Monti. The Scalinata is "without a doubt the longest and widest staircase in all Europe". The monumental stairway of 138 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, today still located in Palazzo Monaldeschi in the piazza below, with the Trinità dei Monti above.
Here we had the usual street hustler asking where we came from and this is the only part I get really tired from in big cities like this. This guy was one of the classic one basing his trick on making a colour ribbon on your arm with different colour of yarn while he and his friends at the same time pick your pockets. I have often wondered why some people can’t see through with these crooks.
At Piazza Spagna you also have the beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia, or in English; Fountain of the Old Boat. The fountain is a Baroque fresh-water and is named so because it is in the shape of a boat. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and was completed in 1627 by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The shape was chosen because, prior to the river walls being built, the Tiber often flooded and in 1598 there was a particularly bad flooding and the Piazza di Spagna was flooded up to a meter.
After enjoying the scenery here and having the usual pictures taken, we walked down Via Del Condotti with all its fashion shops; we walked in to some of the shops and looked at the things but continued almost down to the end of the street where we knew that there was a shop where we could get some fresh fruit and some water cheap.
The street end at Piazza Borghese and the large Palazzo Borghese, and here we had small rest enjoying the square and the palace. Palazzo Borghese is the main seat of the Borghese family in Rome; it was nicknamed il Cembalo; the harpsichord due to its unusual trazezoidal groundplan; its short "keyboard" front faces the Tiber.
From here we walked slowly watching the small shops of the book vendors at Via Borghese. I always found it funny to see what they have in these small bookshops with their old books, old family pictures and postcard collection.
Crook number II
We walked down the street and decided to follow the River Tiber down to the Vatican strolling along Lungutevere Marzio. Here we had another hustler which I didn’t recognize before later in the process, when I suddenly got a flashback to something I experienced in Copenhagen with and Italian hustler – these guys are good almost funny; when they don´t manage their trick to take your money.
I will give you the story in brief. We were walking down the pavement looking at the Castelo Sant’ Angelo, when a car pulls up with a guy looking at a map. He asks if we can help him with direction. I say that we were tourist, which we looked like a million miles away! He asked for the direction of Spagna which we just arrived from, so I tell him to go left and right. He tells me his from Milano and is working for Benetton doing some promotion thing bla bla bla... He asks where I am from and so it goes on. To end the story he wants to give me a souvenir for trying to help me; something special that I am not allowed to sell on. I think yet some bogus t-shirt with a company logo and so on; I am actually not interested because I don’t want to carry anything.
He hands over some leather thing and I look at it and say no thank you.
After this waste of time we walked pass the Ponte Umberto I, Ponte Sant’ Angelo and finally crossing the River Tiber at Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II which is a beautiful bridge with a lot of sculptures on. All the time we were walking along the river, we could see the Castel Sant’ Angelo also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Castel Sant’ Angelo is a towering cylindrical building, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family.
After crossing the river we walked to Via della Consiliazione (Road of the Conciliation). The street is roughly 500 m in length, it connects Saint Peter's Square to the Castel Sant'Angelo. The road as it looks today is not as old as you could imagine, it was constructed between 1936 and 1950, and it is the primary access route to the Square. In addition to the usual lining of shops and residences, it is bordered by a number of historical and religious buildings – including the Palazzo Torlonia, the Palazzo dei Penitenzieri and the Palazzo dei Convertendi, and the churches of Santa Maria in Traspontina and Santo Spirito in Sassia.
We followed the street and ended at the square Piazza Pio XII and finally entering the huge Piazza San Pietro (Saint Peter's Square) in front of the large Basilica di San Pietro.
After staying there some time we walked back crossing the River Tiber and followed the nice and quiet street Via Giulia where you in the quietness and tranquillity can find small artist shops and second hand dealers with all their fantastic things. At the end of Via Giulia you have a very nice view walking under Bridge at Via dei Farnesi. From here we walked to Paizza Farnese where we found a café where we could sit outside and enjoy the sun and the scenery; Caffé Farnese at Via Dei Baullari. At the square you will find Palazzo Farnese which is a prominent High Renaissance palace and currently houses the French Embassy in Italy.
After a good and very relaxing lunch we walked down to Campo dei Fiori.