Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Really Roman Holiday

Rome on a long summer holiday weekend (of which there are plenty) is lovely for residents who remain in town. The tourists are locked in their itineraries that take them to the Coliseum, and most of the Romans head for the beach, a few to the mountains (hiking is too much work for most of them). We almost had the Lungotevere – the streets that run along the Tiber River – to ourselves, breezily scootering along the empty streets, feeling like Nanni Moretti in Caro Diario as he scootered through an August-empty Rome.

The holiday weekend we’re covering here was in celebration of the city’s Saints Peter and Paul. Since it fell on a Tuesday, the Romans took a “ponte” or bridge, and made a 4-6 day holiday out of it. The homage to the city’s Saints was big enough that the Pope dropped into the nearby (to us) basilica of St. Paul, complete with helicopter entourage.

We stopped by the fair that annually graces the park and streets outside of the basilica, and in the afternoon, it too seemed sleepy and empty (photos).

But by dusk, we could barely walk through the thousands of people buying everything in sight – from the newest versions of vegiamatics to roasted corn on the cob to knock-off purses sold by itinerants. For those of you familiar with the Sunday Porta Portese market, this was at least its equal. The evening view looking towards the St. Paul capanile was considerably different from day (photo). In addition to music at the bandstand (video below), including classic Roman sing-along tunes, of course the night was capped off by fireworks, which we watched as we walked through our neighborhood, now dominated by cars and trucks parked in every conceivable (and some inconceivable) place (photos). Ah, Rome. Dianne

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