See our students’ work from Urbino this year at:
Final post this chapter: Three nights at the Pulitzer Hotel in Rome. Two & a half days, stuffed and stuffy.
Here’s where we went. Trastevere, Rome’s Left Bank, accessible by bus and trolley and lots of strolling through old alleyways. Piazza del Popolo. Peek in at Sunday service, bake through Villa Borghese to Etruscan Museum, tram back to Piazza. Trek down del Corso (no cars). Basilicas of SS. Ambroggio e Carlo and Ignatius Loyola. Argentina dig of four Roman temples. Crypta Baldi, the city’s least know national museum, where a Roman theater evolved for over 15 centuries into layers of family home, lime kiln, workshops, etc., each layer exposed, Rome explained. The steeped pyramid taken from Egypt by an emperor. The final EuroCup game on our hotel’s restaurant TV. Piazza della Repubblica. Church of Galileo Galilei (actually, it’s something like Santa Maria di Angelos & Martyrs, but this ancient basilica is a beautiful reconciliation with the cosmos of Galileo and of science). Church of Maria Maggiore. Church of San Giovanni in Laterano, by the old Roman gate. The Pantheon. Lunch outside Vatican City at a Rick Steves recommendation called Tre Pupazza. St. Peters (Libby climbed the dome; not I). Bernini’s Colonnade. Castello d’Angelo. Its footbridge across the Tiber. The Colosseum & Constantine Arch.
Scenes of Rome. On the subway, an American couple is standing near where we stand, staring at the void we stare at in subways. I’m looking at a man seated across the way who looks like he has no irises, just the foggy eyes of a blind man or a zombie. He must be staring at something far to his right, but I look and look and he doesn’t change that zombie look. Then Libby says the American man has just been pick-pocketed. Or rather, he just realized it. I look at his baggy shorts, pockets agape. I hear him say “Son of a bitch.” He and his wife look stunned silent, calculating how mad to be, and at whom – all Romans? Themselves? I look over at the man with the milky eyeballs, glad to see his irises have appeared, swung to the left in the same attitude of a saint in agony. The couple gets out at the next stop, to contemplate their loss in stillness.
The beggars on the street seem to be imports from India. Outside each church, there’s a figure, usually female & Hindu-looking, gazing up from her squalor with pleading eyes, or face bent down to the pavement with hands in prayer. Then there are the beggar men sitting on the busier walkways, showing missing hands, arms, legs, or a foot bent up against a shin. And the urchins that stand close watching as you put money into the machine to buy a day pass on the a subway. I gave one woman a euro outside a church. Walking away from the piazza there, an older Indian woman approaches us rather insistently, despite my waving her away with no, no. Then a younger Indian woman – her daughter? an apprentice? – approached from my right. Suddenly she is fumbling her hand into my pocket. I remove it. (Later, I will reconstruct this scene in my mind with a more forceful response, grabbing her thin wrist and giving her a deep reproachful stare that converts her to Christianity on the spot). Outside the Vatican, I see a priest pass a beggar, and I think I see them smile slyly at one another, as if to say, “We two are in the same enterprise, aren’t we, Mack?”