It is gritty, noisy, chaotic, dirty and very, very crowded; but like Venice, Rome still has a magnetic appeal.
On Wednesday after the Papal audience, we stopped at most of the usual tourist sites. Some of them are closed; others are under construction.
The Trevi fountain has shed the construction scaffolding that shielded it from public view for many months. But there is still a fence and no water, so tourists still can’t toss any coins into the fountain. We read that rats took over the dry area recently, but all we saw were workers cleaning the site. The beautiful, large and ornate fountain still packs a crowd, and it was still hard to move past all the selfie sticks there. Italy has lots of historic sites that need renovation, but this one is being paid for by the Italian fashion house Fendi.
We also were unable to climb the Spanish Steps, which is closed for two months, as work is underway on the cobblestones, drainage and lighting. Another fancy private company, Bulgari, is paying that tab.
Greg and Sue’s son Damien and his wife Andreea have a favorite pizza place near Piazza Navone, and we had a great thin crust pizza there. A liter of wine was only 10 euros, so we had some money left for some usually great gelato which also is about half the price we pay in the US.
Lines were long at Castel SantAngelo, Emperor Hadrian’s fortress that also was used by various popes. People were literally lined up across a nearby bridge. So, we changed plans to go there. But we did see the filming at Castel SantAngelo of an Italian TV mini-series that featured a couple of actors with a shiny red Ferrari. We accidentally walked onto the set and thought the security was a little rinky dink, but the numerous trucks and trailers nearby showed it must be a serious show.
We finished our earlier walk on the way to the Vatican along the tree-lined Tiber River. We also visited packed squares like Piazza Navona and Piazza Populi and did some window shopping in the many posh stores between the two.
Final stop today was the Colosseum, where scaffolding made good photo ops a little difficult, but it was open and crowded like everywhere else. It is also undergoing some restoration and cleaning and also paid for by a private company. In this case, the benefactor is a leather company (shoes and bags) named Tod’s. We never heard of it, but the owner is a billionaire.