There is nothing better on a nice spring day, than simply walking. I love those kinds of days – when there are no plans made, no appointments to keep. Being out in the warm, spring sunshine is all that is important, letting instinct guide you and your feet. What makes it fun, for me, is that you never know just what you will find, or stumble upon, on your travels. For example, on this particular morning, right at the foot of Ponte Milvio, the local police were displaying their new water-craft.I ended up in the rione (neighborhood) of Prati. This is a part of the city just to the northeast of the Vatican. Designed initially as a working class neighborhood, it has now evolved to become one of the more upscale districts of Roma. This is an area that deserves to be explored. Here, you will find everything that you could possibly desire – art, food, some of the best shopping in the city, and even history! For example, there is the Casa di Balilla – today a harsh reminder of the past. This was the home of the Opera Nazionale Balilla – an Italian Fascist youth organization, which functioned until 1937.The Domus Carmelitana is an upscale “guest house” or, more simply, a hotel.Below Prati, you enter the area known as Borgo Pio. This is a charming zone filled with small alleyways, all of which are lined with restaurants, shops selling religious articles, and hotels. While it can be very touristy, being so close to the Vatican, it’s never obnoxiously crowded. I find it to be a nice way to clear my head after spending hours in the museums, etc. Via delle Conciliazione was initially designed to be the primary route to reach St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican. While not very large, running only from St. Peter’s Square to Castel Sant Angelo, it quickly became one of the most popular streets in the Eternal City. Due to the current state of world politics and terrorism, most of the street is now closed to traffic. This has led to traffic congestion, and a bit of chaos on the surrounding streets, but for now, there seems to be no other solution. I continued my journey to the other side of the river, and before long, came upon the Monument to Terenzio Mamiani della Rovere, an Italian academic, writer, and politician.The Chiesa di San Biagio della Pagnotta dates from before the 10th century, and is the main house of worship for the Armenian community in Roma.The Chiesa di Sant Eustachio is most notable for the deer head situated on the top of the church.The Casa Santa Maria, or “the House on Humility Street”, as it is otherwise known, is the home of the Pontifical North American College. American clergy members, seeking graduate degrees in Roma, live here. The Basilica di San Marco is the National Church of Venice. Located in a small piazza to the west of Piazza Venezia, it was built in 336 by Pope Mark, whose body rests under the main altar.
Next up: a visit to Appia Antica, for an annual festival!
Note: this blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear.