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THE EVIL MAP OF ROME
Written by Rick Archer
January, 2010

Our second stop on the Barcelona 2009 Cruise was Rome, the Eternal City.  Rome is special to Marla and me.  We both agree the highlight of our previous 2008 Greece-Italy-Turkey Cruise had been the day the three of us (including my daughter Sam, 17) had taken a long, exciting walk through the winding streets of Rome.  What a marvelous experience that had been!

Today Rome is a huge metropolis of 4 million people that sprawls over the Italian countryside.  Despite its vast size, what is unique about the city is that almost all the famous sites are within a couple miles walking distance of each other.   You literally cannot turn a corner without some famous landmark either staring you in the face or looming up just ahead. 

In a far-flung city like Barcelona, bus tours are the only way to go.  You get only a fleeting glimpse of things on the bus tours unless you have the patience to play the hop on - hop off game.  However, ancient Rome was so compact that it becomes very tempting to simply walk around and take in the historical sites on foot. 

For example, I estimate that last year's 2008 Walk Across Rome from the Borghese Museum to the Colosseum was only about three miles.  Along the way we saw the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Victor Emanuel Monument, and many other interesting sites as well. 

By the way, I received several compliments on my story of last year's walk.  If you have a couple extra moments, I think you will enjoy reading about the 2008 Walk Across Rome.  Let me add that reading last year's account will help put this story of our 2009 Walk Across Rome into much better perspective. 

Travel can be so frustrating because there are so many things to see and simply not enough time.  On our 2008 Walk, there were plenty of places we were forced to walk right past because we didn't have enough time to stop and look around. 

The biggest disappointment of the day had been missing the Roman Forum.  As we walked down the Imperial Highway on our way to catch the last Colosseum Tour of the day, our path took us right past the Roman Forum.  Marla's eyes bulged as one important structure after another tempted her to come over and take a closer look.  She got out her guide book and tried to identify each building. I literally had to take her arm and pull her away before we missed the Colosseum Tour.  Marla gave me the most pitiful look; she really wanted to stay!

Since Marla was so clearly bummed out from missing the Roman Forum, I agreed to make it the highlight of our 2009 Walk Across Rome.  As I studied the map, the Forum appeared to be about 4 miles from our departure point at St. Peter's Train Station. However, since we were getting a much earlier start, I didn't figure one extra mile would cause much of a problem.  This would be our chance to make another triumphant march through Rome.  I was so excited!

The Roman Forum of Today is pretty beat up

 
   
THE STORY OF THE EVIL MAP BEGINS

I got terribly lost during last year's 2008 Rome Walk. I got lost again this year on our 2009 Rome Walk.  Both times my problems were caused by the same map. 

Known to me as The Evil Map, this map tricked me last year and was responsible for all my misery this year. 

For the following story about The Evil Map to make any sense, let's start by looking at the map yourself and see what conclusions you draw on your own.

Please study the map below and decide if you can see any reason whatsoever to suggest why Marla and Rick should not simply walk through the Park on the way to the Forum.

Regarding the Evil Map

Rick's Note:
What this map does not show is that a formidable 14 foot high stone wall surrounds the entire park.  There is no information on the Evil Map to suggest any sort of barrier such as the wall shown in the picture.  To the unaware and unsuspecting, this park looks just like any normal city park that one would enjoy walking through.  Nor does the Evil Map indicate that there is NO ENTRANCE to the park from the Vatican side. 

As it turned out, we hit a spot that made it very dangerous to continue forward.  At this point, we had already invested 30 minutes into our walk.  It would have cost us an entire hour to turn around and retrace our steps.  Considering we had no idea how much time we would need see the Forum, we believed we had no time to spare.  In other words, we were in no position to do the "sensible thing" and turn around. 

We decided the only way we could possibly see everything we wanted to see was to gamble that we could survive the dangerous one-way street that presented itself.  Now look at this picture again.  Do you see Marla walking ahead of me?  We were forced to walk over half a mile down a 3-foot wide walkway with cars hurtling at us at 60 mph. 

Both of us were scared out of wits.


SOMETHING NOT SO FUNNY HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE ROMAN FORUM

The Journey Begins

Our cruise ship docked at Civitavecchia, a port located 50 miles northwest of Rome.  From there we took a quick 45 minute train trip into Rome and stopped at St. Peter's Train Station a quarter mile south of the Vatican. 

Using the Evil Map as a guide, you can see there is a fabulous city park just across the street from the train station.  Gianicolense Park is said to be "Home to 7,000 species scattered across bucolic gardens".  My plan was to take a leisurely stroll through the park on the way to Roman Forum.

All the passengers from the cruise ship headed north towards the Vatican.  All but two, that is.  As you can see from the map,  Marla and I headed south. I figured that by cutting through the park, this route would not only be pretty, it would also be a direct path to the Forum.  Only one problem - we were never able to get into the park!!

Thanks to the magic of Google Earth, here is a look at the first leg of our journey.  According to Google Earth, the route that we took to the Trastavere section of Rome was only about 1.3 miles long.  However, it took us over an hour to cover this distance.

The irony is that Marla and I walk Houston's 3 mile Memorial Park jogging trail in 50 minutes.  1.3 miles should have taken us 20 minutes, not 60 minutes. 

Why on earth did this part of the walk cost us nearly an hour in lost time??   The answer is that we could not cut through the park.  We were forced to take the long way.

In addition, we missed a shortcut I have named The Secret Passage.

Using this picture, find the "Secret Passage".  Reflecting on our daylong misery, it doesn't help to know we missed our best chance to enjoy our day at the very first moment of our walk.


So what is Marla pointing to? 


Marla has noticed an interesting driveway right across the street that seems to lead directly into Gianicolense Park

This was the Secret Passage (except we didn't know it at the time.)   As it turned out, this was the ONLY WAY into the park. 

Except it wasn't marked.   Our only clue was an obscure sign that said "Vendiamo Box" (Italian for "We sell boxes").  Obviously the sign was just an advertisement.

I took one look at that sign and dismissed it.  It didn't make any sense that this inconspicuous driveway was a possible entrance into the park. 

Google Earth reveals an overview of this position.  As one can see, there is no formal entrance to the park.  

That driveway appears to be a service entrance, but the sideways view doesn't indicate any purpose for the driveway at all.   It seems odd that the only Northern entrance to the park wasn't properly marked. 

It is also questionable whether a person on foot could somehow get to the "Giant Hill" that connected to the park we wished to cross.  I noticed there was a metal fence at the end of the driveway. 

I wished I had followed Marla's suggestion and at least gone up the driveway to have a look.   It would have cost all of five minutes.   My oversight meant our best chance of avoiding the later danger was gone.

This is a 2013 look at the same driveway using Google Earth.
Notice the green gate.  It may have been a "Secret Passage" in 2009,
but it is definitely no longer an option.

This is a 2013 look at the same driveway using Google Earth
Notice the metal fences.  Those fences were also there in 2009 which suggests we
probably did not have access.  Still, it would not have hurt to look.

   

I drew the black line where that stone wall is in the picture on the right.
 

However, the Evil Map gave absolutely no clue that there was a wall there.
That would prove to be my downfall.
 

VIA FORNACI

Here is yet another look at the Evil Map.  There is nothing to suggest the giant 14 foot high STONE WALL lining Via Nuova delle Fornaci that ruined our day.

The map clearly suggests there is an entrance to the park in the spot I have marked "Secret Passage".  My problem was the map seemed to indicate there was a large entrance to the park at that point, not some diddlysquat unmarked driveway with a stupid name like "Vendiamo Box". 

In my mind, I expected a Glorious Entrance complete with a welcome gate and proper sign that said "Gianicolense Park" in bold letters followed by the road labeled Via Nuova delle Fornaci.  No such luck.

There was another good reason I didn't pay more attention to the Secret Passage.  I wasn't concerned at the time because the Evil Map CLEARLY INDICATED another entrance just down the road, the one I have marked "Iron Gate Entrance".   All we had to do was walk to it.  What I did not know was that the second entrance to the park would have an iron gate blocking it.  The "Iron Gate" wasn't on the Evil Map either.

After we skipped checking out the Secret Passage (thanks to my skepticism), we started walking south down the Via Fornacci on the sidewalk.  Soon we made a very unpleasant discovery - the stunning Gianicolense Park was protected by a formidable 14 foot brick wall!   I think this was the point where Marla suggested we go back and give that driveway another look.  I absolutely do not recall hearing her make this suggestion, but as things turned out, I wish I had.  We were about to walk into a terrible trap.

So where was everybody else?  Many of the people in our cruise group were on a guided tour of Rome arranged by Dana LeDoux.  At a cost of a couple hundred dollars or so, they rode in a comfortable bus around Rome and saw all the most important sites (by the way, I heard that Dana's tour was a huge hit).  

But Marla and I had seen many of the spots that Dana's Tour would visit on our trip to Rome the year before.  We decided to rough it and see Rome all by ourselves. 

As we ambled along looking for the correct entrance to the park, I was proud of our decision to take this walk.  For the remainder of the trip, we would be relying on guides to help us in Florence, the Riviera, and Marseilles.  But not today.  Today we would be relying on maps and our own two feet to see Rome.  No guides, no buses, no tours, just Marla and me setting off on a big adventure across one of the most interesting cities in the world.  Not only would our do-it-yourself hike save us four hundred dollars of guided tour money, I was really proud of our self-reliance!

Plus I was on a mission of redemption today.  Thanks to me, last year we had encountered quite a fiasco in the morning which was my fault.  In 2008, I had completely misunderstood the tour guide map supplied by the hotel (yes, The Evil Map!)

So I screwed up a little last year.  Big deal. It all worked out in the end.  That was 2008.  This was 2009.  This year I had it covered.  No way I was going to get lost this year.  I knew exactly where I was going.

Except there was one problem - our sidewalk had just come to a complete dead end! 

See the picture.  The only thing left was a narrow roadway with one-way traffic hurtling at us moving 60 miles an hour!  We had just hit a dead end... and when I say "dead", it seemed to me that's exactly what would happen if we continued... 

I groaned.  There was supposed to be an entrance just up ahead on the Evil Map that indicated we should be able to walk through the park.  Where was that stupid entrance?  Surely it was close at hand.  We had walked over half a mile from the secret passage area to get to this point.  If we turned around now, it would cost us an entire hour plus an enormous amount of wasted energy... mind you, this walking stuff gets tiring after a while.  Would we have enough energy left in the tank if we turned back?   Would we have enough time? 

I did not want to turn around.  There had to be an entrance just up ahead.  The Evil Map said it was there!  As Marla glared darts at me, I kept peeking around that corner.  Was there any hint of a sidewalk further up ahead? 

Or maybe I could spot the life-saving entrance to the park just down the road a bit.  When the traffic let up for a moment, I walked out a few steps into the road.  I could have sworn I saw a patch of sun light crossing the street.  That light meant there had to be some sort of break in the massive wall up ahead. 

Although it would be dangerous to get to that opening, at least the light reaffirmed my belief that surely an entrance to the park was just down the street. 

Light or no light, Marla had no intention of continuing.  She thought I was out of my mind.  This wasn't worth the risk!  This narrow roadway felt like a trap.  There were huge walls on either side of the road.   Walking on such a narrow roadway would be like walking in a narrow canyon.  There was no escape.  Walking this road was tantamount to suicide in her mind.  And what if that light I saw wasn't what I hoped it would be?

Would it be instead the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel which turns out to be a train, not an exit?  Any one of those hurtling cars could take us out in an instant.

We stood there for a good five minutes talking it over.  Marla was very unhappy.  She had almost convinced me to turn around when out of nowhere some teenage boy came along and started walking down a narrow path right on the edge of the huge wall. 

Marla stared at the boy in shock.  I stared at the boy in shock.  We both expected him to be hideously smashed to death against the stone wall.  There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  Amazingly, the boy continued unhurt as the cars whizzed past.  

As Marla's eyes tracked his progress, she shook her head in disgust.  She knew what this meant.  I would say if that kid could do it, so could we.  Finally, with a huge frown on her face, Marla threw in the towel.  Without saying a word, Marla crossed the street and began walking down the narrow path. 

As the cars whizzed by, it took a large amount of courage to hang in there.  I was feeling pretty grim.  Marla was ahead of me walking fast.  Each time I stopped to take a picture, the distance increased.  Pretty soon Marla was over two hundred yards ahead of me.

I noticed that Marla was getting closer and closer to the mysterious light that crossed the road.  My heart sank when she didn't bother to stop.  Soon enough, I discovered that although it was indeed an entrance, it was blocked by an iron gate.  My heart dropped.  

As we continued to walk the dangerous roadway, it seemed like Marla kept getting further and further ahead.  If the science of body language is accurate, I would assume she was sending me a pretty clear message she wasn't at all happy about this. 

Do you blame her?  Marla felt she was in danger.  At the time I remember being worried that a car could take her out at any moment and I would have a horror story on my conscience for the rest of my life.

Yes, I was definitely in the doghouse.  This was supposed to have been a lovely walk through a beautiful park.  How was I supposed to know there was no access to the stupid garden?   Instead we were forced to risk our lives walking along this treacherous road.  Maybe this "do-it-yourself" tourist adventure wasn't such a good idea after all.

Our walk down Via Fornacci was nearly a mile.  The dangerous walk covered half a mile.  What an ordeal.  This one-way street was a freeway.  These cars were supposed to drive fast.  I cringed every time a car approached. These speeding bullets took a serious toll on my nerves.  I was literally scared for my life as I cautiously made my way.   Although Marla never said another word about it, I have little doubt she felt just as scared as I did.

You can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs.  One car hurtling by at 60 miles an hour missed me by no more than a foot.  The displaced wind from the car was so strong it bounced me up against the wall.  This was nuts!  

Thanks to the Evil Map, we had just risked our lives. 
 

(2012 Footnote:  Thanks to another Rick and Marla argument over directions on a map during our 2012 visit to Tallinn, Estonia,I can now report that three years later, Marla has still not forgiven me for leading us into danger in Rome. 

Now that I am aware that I will be in the doghouse for life when it comes to maps,  I decided to revisit this story of our near demise. 

To be honest, I still have nightmares about our 15 minute walk with the cars hurtling towards us.  It really was just as dangerous as I have described.  I cannot recall another time in my adult life when I have felt more in peril.   RA)

The Park we wanted to cross is behind that wall.  When I looked for
the entrance to
Via Nuova Delle Fornaci, these parked cars were in
the exact place where the map had indicated an opening to the park. 

This gave us two choices:  Turn back now or follow Via Fornacci
to the right.  We decided to follow
Via Fornacci.
 

Uh oh.  The Via Fornacci Sidewalk ended right here.  Now what?

As you can see, not much room for error.   One careless driver on a
 cell phone and there would no escape. 

That little bitty car doesn't look very threatening in the picture,
but when it comes shooting at you 60 mph, it is terrifying.
If you look closely, Marla is way up ahead.

Up ahead was the light crossing the street that I had seen.  Only one problem: Marla was walking right past it.  Uh oh.

There's the source of the light.  It's an entrance, all right,
 but what good does it do us?  

So much for the GRAND ENTRANCE
to the park promised by the Evil Map

The Next Disaster

WAITING FOR US AT THE END OF THE ROAD

Finally we reached the end of Via Fornacci.  There was a strange surprise waiting for us. 

At the corner of Via Fornacci and Via Aurelia, we discovered two military sentries armed with huge automatic rifles.  They stared at us with very suspicious eyes.  I assume they were posted there to protect the entrance to the estate behind the huge wall on the right that we had been walking along.  Mind you, these were not your average security guards.  They were Italian military.  More than likely, the estate hidden behind the walls belonged to a government official.

I stared back at them with big eyes.  I could not believe the size of their weapons!  They were definitely not happy to see us. I can't imagine very many people appear out of nowhere from the direction we came from.

I wanted to take their picture to show how menacing they were, but hesitated.  Judging by the hostile looks I had been greeted with, I didn't think they would appreciate me taking their picture... so I didn't. 

I wasn't sure why they were so unhappy to see us, but I could see they were actually evaluating us as a potential threat.  I can't say for sure, but from the way they stared at us, Marla and I were probably one of the few tourists to ever show up on their watch.  Judging by their stern faces, they did not let their guard down for a moment.  The guards sensed we were a threat.  They watched us out just in case our ridiculous appearance turned out to be a disguise.   Marla definitely looked like she wanted to kill someone.  They just didn't realize it was me who was the target, not their boss.  Personally I was glad they were there. 


FOOTNOTE:  Curious to know what the sentries were guarding, I later checked.  Behind that massive wall was a huge 27 acre estate known as Villa Abamelek.  The estate is situated near the hill Gianicolo in the immediate vicinity of Porta San Pancrazio.  (I assume that the nearby Gianicolense Park that Marla and I missed visiting was named for Gianicolo Hill).

The estate was purchased in 1863 by Prince Abamelek, a rich banker from Russia.  His wife Maria Demidoff survived him and continued to live there until 1936.  At this point control of the estate passed over to the Soviet Union. Today the estate is the current residence of the Russian ambassadors. 

I MAKE A CRUEL DISCOVERY

Now that we were at the corner of Fornaci and Aurelia, Marla and I turned our attention to our next problem.  Via Aurelia, the new street, was no picnic either.  Like Fornaci, it was a freeway too.  In fact, the traffic was much heavier than Via Fornaci.

Making our problem worse, there was no stop sign or stop light at this intersection.  This meant there was no way we could cross Via Aurelia.  Our only choice was walk against traffic on Via Aurelia which meant no sidewalk again. 

But first we had to cross from one side of Via Fornaci to the other side, a distance of about 12 feet.  You would assume this was no big deal, but in reality it was a big problem.  Thanks to cars that were constantly turning right from Via Aurelia onto Via Fornaci, we couldn't just walk across.  We had to wait for a break in the traffic. 

In all, I estimate it took Marla and me a full five minutes to simply get from one side of Via Fornaci to the other.  The entire time we felt the automatic weapons poised at our backs in readiness should we turn out to be terrorists.  You think I am kidding?  I am not.  Those guards continued to treat us as a legitimate threat.

Finally we got across.  As you can see from the picture, walking east on the new street,  Via Aurelia, was no walk in the park either.  Which reminds me... we were supposed to take a walk in a park today, weren't we?  Instead we spent the morning dodging speeding cars.  This day had definitely not gotten off to a very good start.

A half a mile later, we reached this large monument.  Finally the danger was over. 

This monument is Porta San Pancrazio, a gate in the district Janiculum.  The monument was built in 1854 by Virginio Vespignani. It replaced the old one which was erected at the time of Pope Urban VIII.  However the monument was later severely damaged a second time during battles in 1849.  The Janiculum Hill area in Rome was where Giuseppi Garibaldi fought the French for Italian independence.

Most Americans do not realize that Italy has been a country for a 100 years less time than our own United States.  There was no "Italy" in 1849.  The Italian peninsula was still divided into a collection of independent city states controlled by foreign interests... primarily France, Austria, Sicily, and Spain.  The Italian Revolution actually began against Austria up in the northeast corner of the peninsula closer to Venice.  The fighting spread throughout the countryside until eventually the people of Rome decided to revolt as well.  Rome was a special case - the Catholic Church ruled Rome! 

On November 15, 1848, Pellegrino Rossi, Prime Minister of the Papal States, was assassinated.  Pope Pius IX fled to the fortress of Gaeta 75 miles away under the protection of King Ferdinand II of Spain. In February 1849, he was joined by Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany who had to flee there because of another insurrection.

Giuseppe Garibaldi came to build a "Rome of the People". A new Roman Republic was proclaimed.  Unfortunately the new Roman Republic didn't last very long.  A few months later a huge force came to the rescue of the Pope.  However it wasn't Austria, but another, unexpected enemy that put an end to the insurrection. In France, President Louis Napoleon needed the endorsement of the Catholics.  Seeking their favor, he decided to send troops to restore the Pope as a sort of good deed. 

The French arrived April 20, 1849, but Garibaldi's attack sent them back to the ocean. A siege constricted Rome through June.  Then then whole thing was over in early July. 

Garibaldi escaped to the United States, but Italy had not heard the last of him.  Garibaldi would return in the 1850s to help Victor Emanuel complete the Italian reunification (read Rick's complete story about Italian Independence).

Just as Marla and I walked past the Porta San Pancrazio monument, I noticed a large green area complete with a fancy gate.  I had a bad feeling about this. 

Unable to control myself, I morbidly walked over to look closer.  Sure enough, yes, my worst suspicions were confirmed.  Apparently the heaviest bit of Garibaldi's fighting with the French had taken place right here in the area Marla and I were walking through.  Not only did they put a monument to Garibaldi in that park we were unable to visit, this Porta San Pancrazio monument now marked the Grand Entrance to that park we were unable to visit.  Those were the key words... "unable to visit".

Yes, here it was.  I had finally found the Grand Entrance to the park I had been looking for complete with a Giant Monument.  The irony was not lost on me.  Too bad they didn't put a decent sign in front of the Secret Passage as a clue.  If Marla and I had taken the secret passage, this would be the exact spot where we would have exited Garibaldi's lovely park.   This particular piece of knowledge did not improve my mood one bit.  

A few blocks further, we came to the Fontana dell'Aqua Paola.  Also known as Il Fontanone (the big fountain), this monumental fountain is located on Janiculum Hill, near the church of San Pietro.  As we stared at the pretty fountain, I sighed with a combination of sadness and relief. 

So far the day had been a complete ordeal.  Yes, we were safe now, but that didn't erase the tension from the ordeal.  Far from it.  We had just spent the past hour worried sick that some inattentive driver on a cell phone might slightly lose control of his car and hit us.  If that happened, we would be out of luck.  Thanks to the claustrophobic narrow roadways, there was no way we could have ever dodged any oncoming vehicle. 

Marla was still pretty mad at me.  Yes, our gamble had worked, but had it really been worth that much of a risk? 

Another freeway.  Walking along Via Aurelia was dangerous too

Porta San Pancrazio

Garibaldi fights the French in Rome, 1849

The lovely entrance to the park.  Too bad there wasn't an entrance
like this on the other side near the train station.

   


THE EVIL MAP STRIKES AGAIN!

Now we made another mistake.  We were so interested in the fountain that we walked right past a pathway that would have shaved us at least half an hour off our hike. 

Using the Google Earth scenario for reference, our eyes were so riveted to the fountain on the right that we failed to notice the purple shortcut path to the left.

Once we stood in front of the fountain, the new secret passage was only 20 feet away, but it was out of sight behind us. 

It wasn't like I didn't study the Evil Map.  Actually I looked at it all the time! 

The problem was that my Evil Map was confusing.  Look for yourself.  On the Evil Map, there is no hint of the new Secret Passage.

What it does show is that Via Pancrazio merges with Via Garibaldi

This was completely misleading!

The Evil Map made it appear that all we had to do to get to Via Garibaldi was walk straight to it down Via Pancrazio.  Study the area marked by the blue line.

Well, guess what?  In reality, at the end of Via Pancrazio there was a CLIFF!  We were standing at the top of a huge hill.  Now it is true that Via Garibaldi was at the very end of Via Pancrazio if you were willing to jump.  You see, Via Garibaldi was 200 feet below from where we stood staring down at it!  

Was there anything in the Evil Map that warned us a 200 foot drop separated the two streets?  No, of course not. I had been set up again.

Thanks to the problem with the hill, now we were forced to take a long detour.  This marked our fourth bad break of the day.

First,  we missed the Secret Passage to Gianicolense Park. 

Second, the entrance to Gianicolense Park marked on the map was blocked by an iron gate.

Third, we had missed a fairly obvious short cut down to Via Garibaldi because it didn't appear on the Evil Map.

Fourth, the Evil Map had set us up by indicating that Via Pancrazio merged with Via Garibaldi.   In reality it was a dead end unless I wanted to jump off the cliff.  Actually, that was a real possibility. No doubt Marla was considering pushing me off herself.

Like little lab rats that hit the wall of the maze, we could either retrace our route... which would have brought us back to the short cut we had missed... or we could take the obvious right turn and see where it led us.  We decided against backtracking and took the right turn instead.  Now we were locked into a massive detour.   Although it was undeniably a very pretty walk, as you can see from the map above, we were forced to walk at least a mile further than we needed to.  

As you can see from Marla's body language, I was still in the doghouse.  It was about to get worse.  Marla didn't know about the latest Secret Passage that we missed.  Nor did she understand at the time how the Evil Map had confused me.  However, her instincts told her this was taking way too much time.  She was getting very frustrated.

At the bottom of the hill, on the corner of Via Garibaldi and Via Fabrizi, Marla and I had a huge disagreement about which way to go next.  I was surprised by the dispute.  Yes, we were getting some bad breaks, but I also knew we weren't lost.  Maybe Via Garibaldi was a roundabout way, but it was definitely the right direction. 

Marla wasn't so certain. At the bottom of the hill, Marla stopped, looked at her map, and wanted to go south on Via Fabrizi.  I disagreed. I said this wasn't a good idea.  I was certain this was the wrong way.  Unfortunately, I had lost so much credibility that morning that Marla was skeptical of anything I said at this point.  She had run out of patience with me and no longer trusted my judgment.  To her credit, Marla was willing to let me state my case.  She kept studying the map carefully to try to get it right. 

Although Marla did eventually agree to go in my direction, I remember feeling very shaken by the disagreement.  I have a lot of confidence in my ability to read a map.  I remember feeling bewildered by her loss of confidence.  It hurt to realize that she had lost so much respect for my sense of direction.   Yes, it was true that on this latest disagreement I was right, but everyone is right some of the time.  How was Marla supposed to know when I was correct and when I was wrong? 

Marla had a right to doubt me.  I now had three strikes against me when it came to directions in Rome.  My confusion last year over the bus direction to the Borghese Museum was not forgotten.  Today when I ignored her suggestion that we at least explore the secret passage to the park, I had doomed us to the scary walk (although I still contend I never heard her).  Now this ridiculous time-consuming detour was sapping what little was left of her patience.   Marla didn't have any proof, but she was convinced we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere up above.   This walk was taking forever.

We were both getting very tired.  It is difficult to be patient when you are exhausted.  I think we were both disappointed that our long-awaited 2009 March Across Rome so far had captured absolutely none of the magic and fun of last year's adventure. 

Clearly dispirited by the morning's events, we trudged on.  Fortunately things were about to get better.  The worst part of the day was behind us.

Via Garibaldi took us through an area of Rome known as Trastavere.  It is supposed to be a great section of town for nightlife, but during the day I can assure you the area is very quiet.

The Evil Map said the two streets merged, but when we got to the end of Via Pancrazio, we discovered that Via Garibaldi was actually 200 feet below at the bottom of Janiculum Hill.

The long detour down the hill which added half an hour to our walk

Marla is definitely not happy.  She is studying the map trying to decide whether to trust my interpretation or not.  As the results would show, my interpretation was correct.  However, my credibility had fallen to zero. 

WE CROSS THE TIBER RIVER

Curious about Trastavere, I took a quick peek at my guide book. 

I learned we were traversing the ancient slums of Rome.  The book said that Trastavere was a ghetto in ancient Rome.  The Tiber River served as the dividing line between the poor and the rich.  The famous Servian Wall built to defend Rome stopped right in front of Trastavere on the other side of the Tiber. 

There was no civic planning in the ghetto... people built wherever they could.  That is how Trastevere developed its narrow, winding, irregular streets.  The streets were so narrow there was no space for carriages to pass. Ever since then, Trastevere has remained a maze of narrow streets.   I frowned at this note.  No wonder we kept getting lost. 
 
Twenty minutes later we made it to the Tiber River.  About two hours had passed since we got off the train.  It was now close to 1 pm.  This had turned into much longer walk than we had expected.   When does the fun start?

Our spirits lifted somewhat after we crossed the Tiber using the Sisto Bridge.  We knew we were finally getting pretty close to the Roman Forum

As we walked along the Tiber River, we came to the famous Isola Tiberina, aka Tiber Island.  The Tiber Island is a boat-shaped island which has long been associated with healing. It is the only island in the Tiber River which runs through Rome.

As you can see, there are bridges on either side of the island.  We saw lots of people on the banks of the island laying on the grass as a lazy way to view the river.  In addition, there were quite a few fishermen.  It is a very pretty area.  In case you are curious, that impressive building on the island is a hospital.


Now that we had crossed the Tiber, Marla and I wandered around.  As usual, we were unsure how to read the Evil Map, so we ended up climbing a mysterious large hill to investigate. 

Little did we know we had accidentally climbed up Capitoline Hill, one of Rome's famous Seven Hills. Coming in from the back, we had no idea what to expect.  

At the top of the hill, we walked through a row of buildings.  Suddenly we emerged onto this amazing plaza, the Piazza Campidoglio.  Apparently this wonderful place had been designed by Michelangelo.  I gasped.  The statues in this place were unbelievable!

The Seven Hills of Rome are all located east of the Tiber River.  The Vatican Hill is northwest of the Tiber and is not one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Likewise, the Pincian Hill to the north and the Janiculum Hill to the west are not counted among the traditional Seven Hills.  Connected by the Servian Wall, the Seven Hills have always formed the geographical heart of ancient Rome.

Tradition holds that the Seven Hills were first occupied by small settlements and not grouped or recognized as a city called Rome. The denizens of the seven hills began to participate in a series of religious games, which started to bond the groups. The city of Rome, thus, came into being as these separate settlements began to act as a group, draining the marshy valleys between them and turning them into markets and forums.

The Capitoline Hill is definitely the highest of the Seven Hills of Rome and, along with the Palatine Hill, one of the two most famous (Washington DC's Capitol Hill gets its name from this place).

Today t
he Capitoline Hill contains relatively few ancient ground-level ruins.  They are almost entirely covered up by Medieval palaces (known as the Capitoline Museums) that surround the Campidoglio Piazza.  However the greatest Temple of them all was once located atop Capolitine Hill.

The Temple of Jupiter (built in 509 BC) once graced the top of Capolitine Hill.  Unfortunately, it burned down in 81 BC during a fire the erupted during a civil war initiated by the dictator Sulla which was fought right in the middle of Rome.  

After the Temple of Jupiter had been rebuilt, it was destroyed again during another dramatic civil war fought right in the center of Rome in 69 AD. 

In a time known as The Year of the Four Emperors, after the death of Nero in 68, Rome saw a succession of short-lived emperors and a year of civil wars.  First Galba was murdered by Otho, who in turn was defeated by Vitellius.  Otho's supporters, looking for another candidate to support, settled on Vespasian.  Seeking to overthrow Vitellius, Vespasian sent an army to Rome.  There was a dramatic battle fought long and hard right on Capolitine Hill.  Unfortunately the Temple of Jupiter was destroyed during the fighting.

That is the Temple of Jupiter up on Capolitine Hill behind the Forum. Today very little remains of the greatest temple of all.

Vespasian was the winner of the Civil War. He and his two sons Titus and Domitian made sure the Temple was repaired, but 400 years later the Temple was destroyed yet a third time during battles with the invading Vandals led by Genseric in 455 AD. 

Rome, now in full decline ("The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"), didn't put up much of a fight against Genseric.  Apparently the Temple of Jupiter was one of the casualties of the fierce attack.

Although history remembers the Vandal sack of Rome as extremely brutal making the word "vandalism" a term for any wantonly destructive act in actuality the Vandals did not wreak great destruction in the city; they did, however, take a great deal of gold, silver and many other things of value.  

The Temple of Jupiter was never rebuilt.  What little remained became part of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, built during Michelangelo's renovations of the Capolitine Hill.

Neptune.  Hmm.  Interesting picture.
 

This statue of Marcus Aurelius dominates the square. 
That building is the Palazzo Senatorio

Jupiter
 

   

FAREWELL TO THE CAMPIDOGLIO

The famed Renaissance artist and architect Michelangelo Buonarroti created the Piazza del Campidoglio and the surrounding palazzos in 1536 - 1546.  The beauty of this square cannot be adequately described.  In the middle of the plaza stands the only equestrian bronze statue to have survived since antiquity, that of Marcus Aurelius, the gifted philosopher emperor of Rome.

The red building with the bell tower on top and the statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in front (see picture above) is known as the Palazzo Senatorio.  These days it serves as Rome's current City Hall.  During our inadvertent visit to the Piazza Campidoglio, Marla and I figured out that the Roman Forum was directly behind that building.  Unfortunately, it was time to move on.

Leaving the Campidoglio wasn't easy.  There were wonderful statues designed by Michelangelo all over the the plaza plus at least three museums that all beckoned to have us come visit them. 

However, the Roman Forum was at the top of our list and time was precious.  We made a calculated decision to move on, but neither of us was happy to be leaving such a beautiful place.  The Campidoglio definitely rates another visit if we are lucky enough to be given another chance.


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