Rome Day 2 (Part 4)

“What island are we on right now?” asked the wife.

“We’re on Isola Tiberina, a small island on the Tiber River,” I replied.

“Look at them sunbathing!” exclaimed the wife.

Sunbathing on the banks of the Tiber

Sunbathing on the banks of the Tiber

Surprisingly, this was where Rome was started. Boats would sail upstream until they reach the isle. What is now the place for sunbathing used to be bustling with water mills, boats, fishing platforms and ports. The island is also home to a hospital, but maybe that’s because it’s isolated from the rest of Rome, it is a good place to recuperate.

San Bartolomeo on the isle (click to enlarge)

San Bartolomeo on the isle (click to enlarge)

Crossing into the main part of Rome, we are now at the Jewish Ghetto area. Unfortunately, it was already 5pm in the afternoon, most of the museums here are closed. It was all sightseeing for the next hour of walk. We’re going to take you from the Jewish Ghetto right up to Fontana di Trevi.

We’re going to bring you from the Jewish Ghetto to the Fontana di Trevi

The bridge that crosses the Tiber over here is known as Ponte Fabricio, or the Bridge of the Four Heads. This is due to the four-faced pagan god Janus. In front of you, towering above the tree rows is the Synagogue (Sinagoga) and the Jewish Museum (Museo Ebraico). The synagogue was initially the center of a four-square block area known as the ghetto.

The Roman Catholics were not pleased and they built churches at the gates of the walled-in ghetto, to spread their faith to the Jews. You can find one of them at the opposite of the Synagogue, known as the Santa Maria della Pieta. Notice the quote, “All day long, I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and faithless nation that has lost its way.” — Isaiah 65:2

Via del Portico d’Ottavia is where we are headed to next. Along this street lies kosher restaurants and remnants of the Jewish community. You can see men in yarmulkes and postings for community events. The namesake of the road is the monumental gateway with columns supporting a triangular pediment none other than Portico d’Ottavia.

Campo de’ Fiori: market in the morning, restaurants in the evening and party at night

Walk straight past Via Arenula and head towards Campo de’ Fiori, if you’re lucky you will be greeted with a produce market, usually in the mornings. Later in the evenings, the eateries surrounding the square will be open for drinks and people-watching. And if you are there on a late night during the weekends? Be prepared for a Roman street party.

Cross the busy Corso Vittoria Emanuele and follow the crowd to Piazza Navona. This famous square is home to the Bernini fountains, and also a place of congregation for street music, artists, buskers, scammers and the occasional pickpocket.

“Look at that street dancing,” pointed the wife at a group of people dancing to music.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (click to enlarge)

The most famous fountain at Piazza Navona is the Four Rivers Fountain (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi). This is the work of art of Bernini, with four burly gods representing the four continents (at that time).

Nile has his head covered, Ganges holds an oar, Danube is admiring the obelisk and Rio de la Plata tumbles backward

“The Nile has his head covered, the Ganges holds an oar, the Danube turns to admire the obelisk and the Rio de la Plata tumbles backward in shock,” I said.

“No way,” replied the wife.

“Not actually, he is actually gazing upwards at the church behind,” I said.

“The church of St Agnes?”

“Yes, because the church was built by Bernini former student, now rival. He made it so that the river god seemed to be horrified by Borromini’s work at the church,” I read.

“Interesting,” came the reply.

We met up with the rest of my family here and headed towards the Pantheon.

Pantheon (click to enlarge)

Pantheon (click to enlarge)

Take Via Orfani into Piazza Capranica. To make sure you are at the right place, look around you, if you see towers on top of the palaces, then you’re there because the Capranica family are a bunch of show-offs. On your right is Piazza Colonna, identified by a column of Emperor Marcus Aurelius victories over the barbarians.

Follow the crowds again to find yourself at Fontana di Trevi.

Night falls at the fountain (click to enlarge)

Night falls at the fountain (click to enlarge)

The whole journey would take you around two hours, including stops for photo taking and rest. But be prepared to add some, if you are not good with a map, or you ended up eating at one of the multitudes of restaurants available along the way.

We found one on Via Capo le Case 55.

Tien Tsin

After 5 days of cheese filled dinner and lunches, the parents were hankering for good old-fashioned Chinese food. And boy, did we found one at Tien Tsin. Located on a small road, it took us some time to find the place, it was filled to the brim when we were there, but most were from one of the tour groups who happened to choose the restaurant.

The meals were simple and the price reasonable. We were a group of six, so it was kind of hard to find a place for us, most of their tables are for fours, and the big round tables seat ten. But the waitresses were quite accommodating, and within minutes, they combined a few of the small tables to make room for us.

Sweet sour pork

Sweet sour pork

Spring Onion Beef

Spring Onion Beef

Day 2 Conclusion

It was a day of walking for us, starting with the walk within the Vatican Museum, then the climb uphill before a downhill stroll into Trastevere. The weather was a killer, hot and shiny, luckily the various churches along the way allowed us to rest and recuperate. And the various fountains and water pipes, allow us to rehydrate with cool, refreshing water, a direct opposite from the weather.

Our tour of the various piazzas on offer by Rome was also an eye-opener, not only for the sheer number of them, but also by the volume of tourists. Do remember to bring along a tripod for the night-time shots unless you have steady hands.

As for food, you don’t have to worry, unless you’re a choosy picky food person. There are plenty of restaurants littered along the way, although I would suggest that you stay clear of those lining the various squares, they could be cutthroats and expensive. Walk further along the small alleyways and maybe you will find something better, or at least reasonable.


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