2011 Spring Matthew Flocco Temple Rome

I Piedi

I wanted to write this one at the beginning of the semester after our first walking tour of Rome, but I figured I’d wait until the end to see how much walking I had really done.

Let me tell ya, it’s the most I’ve ever walked in my entire life. I really don’t know how the ancient Romans did it. I feel like all they had was sandals. That could be an inaccurate stereotype created by Hollywood, I’m not sure. Still though, I can barely go a day without my feet being a bit sore, and I wear sneakers. I don’t know how the girls do it with heels. What idiot created that invention? Sorry ladies.

There is something truly to be said for walking around a city. When I was a freshman at Drexel, my friends and I would walk into Center City Philadelphia all the time, but once I got to Temple, I didn’t do it nearly as much. I think this was a combination of distance and the fact that people didn’t want to go to center city as much after freshman year.

Now, I have learned that if people don’t want to join, I’m ok doing it on my own. And if it’s too far, so what? Get some exercise. When I get back to Philadelphia, I can’t wait to just start walking around and exploring again. It will be so much easier to get around compared to the mish-mosh of Rome’s winding cobblestone streets. Here are some of the best times I’ve had walking places instead of using public transportation.

The very first weekend, we went to something everyone calls the “Reggae Bar.” It’s actual name is Big Bang, it’s only got Reggae on Friday nights, supposedly. Anyway, before we knew it, it was about 3 AM and we decided to leave to get back to the residence. Of course we had no idea what night bus to take, so we were just going to take a cab. But of course, one student in particular had a drink or two and decided that he was going to walk home by himself. He absolutely refused to get in a cab (mind you we were below the Colosseo, which is a good hour and a half walk back). The guy had no idea where he was, none of us did, so we figured it was irrational of him to walk home by himself. But when we started to follow, he got mad and sprinted ahead. So his roommate chased after him, while the three of us hung back and walked aimlessly to what we thought was the Tevere (Tiber River). We got there, finally walked all the way back, and by the time I got in bed it was 6 AM.

The next miserable-at-the-time-but-great-looking-back-on-it walk my first day of High Renaissance Art History class. Our very first excursion was at the Colosseo, but instead of sitting in the warmth of the sun (which we’d been given the entire week and a half before), we sat there shivering in down pouring rain, trying to balance our umbrellas, our notes, our bookbags, and our pens all at the same time. From the Coliseum we walked to Piazza Venezia and Forum Romano, which at the time seemed very far away from eachother  but of course were right next to one another. From there we walked to Campo d’Fiore, and to a Palazzo by Perugino (I should know the name of it…I guess I need to study for my final next week). By the end of the walk we were freezing and miserable. But after that, we did not have one class where it rained.

Two Fridays ago, my friend and I were going to go to the beach, but because of a metro strike (which by the way, happens all the time), we didn’t go until Saturday. Instead of going back to bed, I decided to head to this “orange grove” my friends had told my about. So I walked from the residence, down to the Vatican, to the Castle of Angels, to the river. I made a pit stop at Tiber Island, which used to be used as a mill. It’s nothing too exciting, but there’s a bunch of benches and trees and grass on one side for pedestrians to hang out. From there I walked further down the river to the Temple of Vesta. Then I took some side streets to Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). The only other time I had seen it was at night when we were following our friend back to the apartment. It was like a huge, bare Rittenhouse square, with people just lounging and throwing a Frisbee. Except this time they were surrounded by ancient ruins, not the Double Tree Hotel.  From there I followed my friend’s directions (the wrong way), and walked to Terme di Caracalla, turned around, got directions from ten different people, then finally made it. It was a great overlook of the city, nothing too extraordinary. This was like Rittenhouse, grass and trees and little kids and dogs and families everywhere. I looked at my map to find the way back down…and realized that it would have been a two minute walk from the Temple of Vesta, which I had hit two hours before. Oh well, more to explore.

Before this trip, my favorite place in the world was Philadelphia. Then I went to Assissi, and that became my favorite. This happened in the second or third weekend here. My friend and I took a spontaneous trip up there, waking up very early on a Sunday morning so that we could check out the mass there and see St. Francis’ tomb. St. Francis of Assisi was a monk who is best known for his conservation of wildlife and being the patron saint of animals. After mass, we just walked around the medieval town, and then saw a castle sitting at the top. Of course, the little boyhood children inside were screaming “let’s go to the castle! Let’s go to the castle!”

So we followed some signs that clearly took us in the wrong directions. At one point, we literally just walked until we saw a path that looked like it might lead up there. We never found the entrance that way, but we saw some of the most breathtaking views in all of Italy, right in our backyard of Umbria. We walked back into town, followed the signs again (correctly this time) and went up to the castle about an hour before sunset. When we got into the castle, we could look out over all the town from different lookout points. Sitting atop the castle was a tower. We climbed this, and the pictures cannot describe what we saw. All around us, 360 degrees, were patches of clouds and fog, rolling up and down mountains and valleys. The sun kept peeking through the clouds at us, welcoming us into the sky. It was the most beautiful view I’d ever seen. That was until I got to Capri last weekend.

As of this point in time, Capri and Assisi are tied for first place as my favorite places in the world. Barcelona and Rome are tied for second (really third), and Philadelphia is third (really fifth). On a trip to the Amalfi coast last weekend, we went to the island of Capri for the day. We had the option of heading right to the beach, taking the bus to cliff jumping, or going on a quick but slightly difficult hike. Luckily I like hikes, but this was falsely advertised. It was the most intense thing I’ve ever done. I’ve hiked along the Appalachian trail and through Algonquin park in Canada, but they don’t even come close. At the port, we looked up at the mountain and joked that’s where the hike was going to take us. It was no joke, that was exactly where we went. By the time we got to the top, I was practically crawling, using both my hands and my feet. I will also be the first to admit that I was listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on the way up in order to enhance the environment, and in order to take my mind off of how much pasta I had been eating. We finally got to the top, and the view below was again, breathtaking. The temperature was significantly colder, and we were literally in a cloud. Below us, we could see the whole island, with the town, beach, port, cliffs on the other side, forest, and best of all, the clear blue Mediterranean Sea. As we all know, what goes up must come down, and so we hiked down the other side to the town AnaCapri, and then to the blue grotto. To top it all off, we jumped off of 20 and 30 foot high cliffs.

Long story short, walking has brought me so many more adventures than public transportation. For as long as I can, I plan on using my feet to get around.

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