Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where All Roads Lead

Ancient road number six: Via Appia (the Appian Way).

Connecting ancient Rome to the South of Italy.  I always thought the road led to "Appia." But there is no such thing.  No, it ends at Brandisi.  Funny how we'd heard of the road, but not known where it led.  Or, excuse me, where it came from.  Because as you know, all roads lead to one place.

With all the roads leading here, no wonder it is so crowded!  Josh and I felt like we had more space in Tokyo.  Rome's subway is the most packed transit we have used anywhere.  The lines to get into museums and catacombs and churches are monstrous.  The piazzas are choked with hawkers, and buses regularly caught in traffic.

It is so easy in a city like this to fall into the trap of seeing too much and doing nothing at all.  On Saturday, we tried to pack in the Vatican Museum, the Basilica of Saint Peter (photo below), and Trastevere.  We spent way more time waiting in line than anything else.  It works much better just to breathe, see a fraction of the things that are available, and spend more time soaking up the city.

When you do that, you begin to appreciate all the LIFE that is happening here.  Wisteria vines in full bloom, trained over decades to grow in the shape of pergolas and railings.  Chiseled marble and travertine everywhere, pieces of ancient city walls incorporated into the sides of houses and buildings, musicians playing the didgeridoo on old pedestrian bridges over the Tiber, small bookshops selling pocket Greek tragedies, and dramatic public quarrels (we've witnessed two so far, so brazen they almost felt staged).

Try as you might, however, you get sucked back into waiting in lines and dealing with bureaucracy.  Getting gelato this afternoon, we had to take a number!  And don't even get me started with the Post Office here, how they deflect all questions and send you round and round until you end up at the building where packages go to die.

I think we have learned a little about Rome, and more about ourselves.  Hopefully, Cairo in a few days won't be too overwhelming!

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