Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Saturday, May 31, 2014

John Hersey's A Bell for Adano: the Story of the 'Good Occupation'

Once the darling of the literary world, John Hersey's A Bell for Adano has fallen from grace, its reputation diminished to the point where no critic of standing would include the book in a list of the great novels of the 20th century.  Yet the book had its moment, and it was a long one.  Published in February 1944 to considerable acclaim, A Bell for Adano opened on Broadway (with Frederic March) in December of 1944 and in 1945 came to the silver screen (with John Hodiak) and won the Pulitzer Prize in Literature.  It was distributed free in millions of copies in the immediate postwar era, the play was produced for the Hallmark Hall of Fame Theater in 1967 and, whatever its literary merits, the novel was given in large numbers to American soldiers preparing for the conflict in Afghanistan. 

American troops on the beaches of Licata, 1943
The basic story is simple.  In the words of Wikipedia (why reinvent the wheel?) "it tells the story of an Italian-American officer [the novel's Victor Joppolo] in Sicily during World War II who wins the respect and admiration of the people of the town of Adano by helping them find a replacement for the town bell that the Fascists had melted down for rifle barrels."  How touching. There is some factual
Licata's Bell Tower
basis for the novel, though there is no Adano in Sicily.  Hersey was embedded with the US Army for 4-5 days after it came ashore at Licata, Sicily in 1943.  There, he observed the American Military Governor, Frank S. Toscani, deal with problems of the occupation.  Licata was, indeed, missing its town bell, hauled away and melted down by the Mussolini regime.

RST's interest in the book was piqued by an essay by Rutgers Professor Susan L. Carruthers in the most recent issue of The Journal of American History (March 2014).  You don't have to run out and buy it, because I'll tell you what it says--or some of it.  We can start with the title:  '"Produce More Joppolos': John Hersey's A Bell for Adano and the Making of the 'Good Occupation.'"  Carruthers' take is more complex than the novel, and more interesting, too.  She argues that all occupations--even those carried out by Americans, and even the occupation of Italy during and after World War II--are nasty affairs, a form of imperialism, really, in which the occupiers (the conquerors) are inevitably disliked by the native population (the conquered), no matter how warm and fuzzy the commanding officer and some of the troops might be.  Among the points of tension is that occupying soldiers (enough of them, anyway) invariably think that sex with the local girls is their right, to be procured by any means necessary, including "coercion and C rations."  Although some of Licata's citizens may have mourned for their bell, what they really needed was food, and getting it put them into undesirable situations (offering sex for food) or in contact with the black market, where a good portion of the available supply was whisked away by unscrupulous, greedy soldier-occupiers, to be sold at high prices.

These things don't happen in A Bell for Adano.  Flirtations, yes.  But no rape, no prostitution, no adultery, no sex for food, no sex period.  And no black market.

From the film: An American soldier, with a simple and
barefoot Italian fisherman
As told in the novel, it was, in Carruthers' term, the "good occupation."  The Americans were decent and caring, and Adano's Italians were, well, too simple to be bad: "fat, lazy, sentimental, garrulous, winsome," with
"protruding bellies, flappings hands, and gabbing mouths, given to theatrical displays of feeling and obsequious performances of deference."  Adano's Italians (Hersey's Italians) were, Carruthers argues, just glad to be liberated, eager to be instructed in the rudiments of democracy, pleased to have a strong (and benign) leader in Joppolo.  A simple people, not quite ready for self-rule.  (The myth of the good occupation has parallels: with regard to the deportation of the Jews, the myth of the good Italian and,
relevant to Italy's North African empire,
the myth of the good Italian colonizer). 

For Carruthers, A Bell for Adano's most important achievement--and arguably its most important purpose--was to present a way of thinking about occupation "without thinking of it as occupation.  Going unnamed, occupation lost its oppressive weight....Americans [who don't like to think of their country as imperialist, despite all that trouble with the Indians] could rest assured that they represented a force for good in the world, leaving only 'constitutions and parliaments,' not 'occupying armies,' as Bush put it in 2002."  Hersey's novel, she concludes, "helped freeze occupation at the euphoric moment of liberation.  What came next remained safely beyond the frame."

With appreciation and thanks to Susan L. Carruthers.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Walking the (Aurelian) Wall II: Porta Metronia to Porta San Paolo

"City walls, to a properly constituted American, can never be an object of indifference; and it is emphatically 'no end of a sensation' to pace in the shadow of this massive cincture of Rome....even to idle eyes the prodigious, the continuous thing bristles with eloquent passages."  Henry James, 1873

The Aurelian Wall near Casa del Jazz.  Here, from the outside, a sloping giant, with doors and windows added
later, perhaps to serve "inside" residents

Thwarted. Inside of wall not accessible here
Each section of the 3rd-century Aurelian wall has its own pleasures and mysteries and delivers its own lessons.  RST blog readers may recall we are on a mission to walk the entire (once 19 km, or 12 mile) wall.  On this section, going (roughly) south and west from Porta Metronia, we discovered how much of the wall is inaccessible, especially from the inside. [Update:  a Google map includes this itinerary.]

That lesson was delivered immediately, when, exiting Porta Metronia, we found ourselves barred from the inside of the wall by a gate (and inside, a half dozen plastic dishes and cartons--someone is feeding the area's cats).

Seems like suburbia, except there's a wall

We returned to the outside, which here skirts one of Rome's newest and best kept urban parks: benches and fountains, joggers, walkers, thinkers.  How long, we wondered, could we sit on a park bench without a book, a newspaper, or a cell phone?

Old scaffolding inside the wall/no access
At Porta Latina, through which runs the ancient via Latina, we peek inside and hope for access, just a fence and yards of year-old scaffolding.  Outside, the wall is sometimes marred by a fence (presumably to protect passers-by from falling bricks) and marked by the Papal families who restored it at various times: here, the Barberini family, with their bees on the shield.

Remnant of an aqueduct
The next porta is a handsome one: Porta San Sebastiano, through which runs (well, not now, it's closed for repairs, to reopen in the next century), via Appia Antica.  Just inside (besides a guy taking a leak) is another arch, and a grand one.  Not part of the wall, it's one of few remnants of the Aquedotto Antoniniano, which once fed the baths of Caracalla.  On the porta itself, we found some chiseled crosses and the date 1622 - ancient graffiti?  This porta is the entrance to the one part of the wall where one can walk inside: the wall museum, an RST Top 40 site.

Maybe they own horses
The next opening in the wall is door-to-door automobiles, but it is, indeed, a porta: Porta Ardeatine.  EUR is a couple of miles to the left, connected by the multi-lane viale Cristoforo Colombo. The baths of Caracalla are a half mile downhill to the right.  We're still looking for access to the wall's inside, and we're still being denied: on this side, a fence guards a long, maintained field, someone's private estate we would guess, legal or "abusive" we can't say.

Homeless "shelter"/locked gate to inside of wall
And on the other side of viale Cristoforo Colombo, another locked gate, a cat, and a primitive plastic shelter used by the homeless.  On we go, still outside, past the Casa del Jazz (taken from the Mafia as part of a legal penalty, years ago).  The grounds on this section are better maintained, and the wall is designed differently, with wedge-shaped cutouts wedges at its top (see photo, top of this post).  We noticed several ground-level doors--certainly not part of the original defensive system, perhaps once used as exit/entrances by families living on the inside.

Florentine Pope advertising wall work

At a sharp right turn, more evidence of Papal interest, this time the Medici of Florence (all those fleurs-de-lys)  And further on, the brick façade removed to reveal the tufo--of different colors, perhaps different eras--beneath.

Stairway into upper San Saba

Finally, at the next porta, we can tuck ourselves inside.  Immediately, the wall shrinks--we're inside now, on higher ground.  As we follow the wall around the corner and down the hill, we enjoy peeks through the wall at soccer fields and, to our right, views of the little-known and curiously isolated community of San Saba, constructed in the early 20th century.

Porta San Paolo (and at left, the Piramid)

Ahead, the wall is simply gone, victim of Rome's automobiles, and then beyond, the magnificent Porta San Paolo, out of which runs via Ostiense (the road to Ostia); today this porta, too, houses a museum.  Historically, the piazza is well-known as the site of short-lived but furious resistance to the German occupation of the city in 1943.

Cafe' du Parc. Table service, but order inside.  

Even downhill, this wall-walking is hard work, and so we treat ourselves to a glass of wine at one of our favorite redoubts, the Café du Parc, with its long, now fenced-in outdoor space.  From our table, we enjoy a view of the Ostiense Post Office, one of four designed by noted architects during the Fascist era. This one--worth looking at from the front, and inside, too--is the work of Adalberto Libera and Mario De Renzi.  When it opened in 1935, Mussolini was there.


Inside the wall, San Saba just ahead; the wall seems short here, but it's because the ground is high.  The wall
is much higher on its "outside."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

21st Century Churches Continued: Inviting or Not?

In January we began a series on Rome's contemporary churches, noting that much of contemporary Rome architecture is found in its churches, and most of those in the ex-urban areas. These churches tell us about the state of modern architecture and in many cases provide some social history. We continue our series with the remarkable church of San Franceso di Sales in the Rome suburb of Alessandrino (named for the aqueduct that still runs through the area).

Side view of the distinctive copper roof
One of us likes it better than the other, but there's no doubt this church, consecrated in 2005, is distinctive.  Its dramatic front, squared off repeatedly, then capped with a hood-like point, is designed to represent an inviting portal.  Whether it's inviting or not, we leave to you.

Speaking of inviting, our first trek (and it was a trek) out to this church resulted in the gates being shut on us.  You can see the large grey metal gates that are open in the top photo above.  But we arrived at noon, and the gates quickly closed.  Despite our pleas: no exceptions.

So, being RST, we retired to the bar across the road, where one has a front and center view of that dramatic portal.  And we had the chance to talk to the locals about their impressions of the church.  They seem to like it, but feel a bit disappointed that it wasn't by a famous architect and had few visitors such as us, in contrast to a Richard Meier tourist attraction, his gorgeous Jubilee Church less than a mile away in the area of Tor Tre Teste (you can do both in the same trip; see transportation suggestions at the end of this post).

As with several of the other "50 churches for Rome 2000" we have seen, this one too has an open plan, with little to separate the side chapels and other traditional church elements.  It also uses plenty of white travertine and paint, though it's not blindingly white like Meier's.

Besides the dramatic portal, the distinctive feature of this church is its copper roof, perhaps echoing Renzo di Piano's metal covered auditoriums at Parco della Musica.  Or, perhaps the shape of the roof inside and out and the interior wood suggest a ship--even Noah's ark--a frequent metaphor for the Church and one used by Richard Meier in his Jubilee Church.

View towards the back of the church
Blue-tinted windows and arching roof of laminated wood bring
streams of light into the church
The inside of the church is also distinctive, with an octagonal shape, a wood-beamed roof, and 100 or so blue-tinted windows that produce a bounty of streams of light.

Modern, white interior fixtures; no indication
of an artist separate from the architects

The fixtures are all highly modern, in white travertine as well.

Stations of the Cross are outside

Walkway for the Stations of the Cross
The church is unusual in having the Stations of the Cross outside, along the side and behind the church.

The architects are Lucrezio Carbonaro, Paulo Dattero and Alfredo Re of Studio Dattero and Re.  We could find no other buildings of theirs cited anywhere.

The parish was founded in 1961.  One can imagine the suburban area just beginning to sprout up then. But the parish, and its priest, struggled for more than 40 years to construct a church here, encountering many hurdles.  As we noted above, it wasn't until 2005 that the church was consecrated. Apparently the church hierarchy took pity on the priest and included the new church in its 2000 plan even though, as the hierarchy said, the church did not meet the economic considerations to be one of the "50 churches for Rome 2000"--maybe because it's so close to the Jubilee Church. The priest died days before the church dedicated to San Francesco di Sales was consecrated, knowing it had been built.
Parishioners generally seem pleased with their modern church

Unlike some of the 21st century churches, this one seems to have
had few "homey" touches added
Below are more photos of the church, and some of its surroundings.

 If you want to see it, remember it is closed from noon to 4:30 p.m., and likely after 6 p.m.  Address:  viale Alessandrino, no. 585.  It's between via Prenestina and via Casilina, inside the GRA.  If you can handle some walking, you can take the #14 tram from Stazione Termini to its end, on viale Palmiro Togliatti, and walk a half mile or less to the church.  Then, less than 1 mile away from the church is Meier's Jubilee Church, and you can walk back to the #14 tram line.  You can also be dropped on viale P. Togliatti 2 short blocks from San Francesco di Sales by taking the Red Metro line (Anagnina direction) to the Cinecitta' stop and taking a # 451 bus (every 7 minutes during normal hours, on the southwest corner of via Tuscolona and viale Palmiro Togliatti; bus is labeled "Ponte Mammolo") from there 10 stops; apparently the same route doesn't work well going the other way.  The bus service (ATAC) recommends you take the #14 to get back to the centro. (For all bus directions, we recommend the Web site.)

Look for more modern church posts in the future!


Sunday mass; the ubiquitous white, perhaps Roman, columns
The church's suburban neighborhood seen from the church's high ground

Detail on bell tower


Woman begging outside church was the recipient of alms
from the local parishioners, who seemed to know her well


Friday, May 16, 2014

The Protestant Cemetery is Now the Non-Catholic Cemetery, with an Updated History

John Keats' (1795-1821) and Joseph Severn's (1803-79) and his son's tombstones,
with the Pyramid in back; the graves came close to being moved, and this route
turned into a car and tram road, according to a new book on the history
of the cemetery.
The Non-Catholic Cemetery (as we now must call it; previously it had several names and most common being The Protestant Cemetery) is one of our favorite places in Rome, and hit #31 on our Top 40 RST list

Its history also fascinates us - so many stories to tell from those gravestones.  I confess to making an error by repeating a rumor that only Shelley's heart was buried there.  I was quickly corrected by one of the Cemetery volunteers... but the error remains in the print edition of RST, to my embarrassment.  Now I can't claim poor sources for any errors because there's a terrific new book out on the Cemetery:  Nicholas Stanley-Price's The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome: Its History, Its People and Its Survival for 300 Years.

Keats' tombstone; now
cleaned up; without his name,
as he requested of his friend,
Severn; only "Young English Poet"
 and the words he requested:
"Here lies one whose name
 was writ in water."
We had not known that the cemetery started in 1716 as a concession from the Pope to grant a place to bury non-Catholic members of the Stuart court, which was in exile in Rome.

Gramsci's tombstone, the third most
popular in the cemetery, per Stanley-
Stanley-Price's description of the various attacks on the Cemetery were surprising to me.  In his chronology he has a note for 1888:  "Proposal of 1883 Master Plan to destroy the Old Cemetery is blocked."  Nor did we know the cemetery suffered bomb damage (by the Allies) in World War II.

Stanley-Price relates a late 19th century plan to cut a road for cars and a tram-line through the Cemetery and sever the ancient part - where Keats lies near to the Pyramid, from the merely "old" part (now called the New Cemetery) which was the orderly beginning of the main part of the cemetery.  In the 1880s about 30 meters' length of the Aurelian Wall next to the Pyramid was destroyed to make way for the road, then left boarded up for decades, then in 1930 put back in place ("restored" or rather a simulacra of it put in place).  Hence those lighter colored bricks, the opening for the cat pound, and the placement of numerous memorial plaques on this rather new section of the wall.

The book has nifty sidebars with lists such as  "Artists buried in the 18th century with no grave known today" and "A selection of noted sculptors buried in the Cemetery," as well as some with interesting side stories:  "Hendrik Anderson's sculpture Eternal Life" and "Cosmopolitanism of the cemetery burials." 

Angel of the Resurrection by Franklin Simmons (1839-1913) for wife Ella and himself
The cemetery has a plethora of notable sculptures, and many are described, with their history and artist information, in the new book.

You'll also find out why Gramsci is buried there, even though Italians generally cannot be (it goes back to his in-laws - they were good for something).  And Daisy Miller is buried there - at least in Henry James's novel.

The book - a good read -  generally is available at the cemetery office/book shop, Euro 18, or by mail outside Europe for Euro 37.  See more information on the Web site: The old drawings, maps,  and photos of the cemetery are evocative as well.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Etruria: the perfect day-trip from Rome, with the perfect guidance

At the 16th-century "monster park" - Bomarzo, near Viterbo, in Etruria
We now have a ready answer to "What's a good day trip from Rome?" - and it's Etruria... so let us explain what that is and why we have picked it.

The day trip question is one we're often asked, and we often have multiple answers, depending... on whether one likes beaches or mountains, small towns or urban museums, a day without tourists or the hottest spot in a large town, etc.

The covers to Mary Jane Cryan's latest book on Etruria in Northern Lazio, for day trips from Rome
Our easy answer now for those who want an authentic Italian experience and no or minimal tourists:  Mary Jane Cryan's Etruria.  Etruria is the area north of Rome once inhabited by Etruscans, and others before them.  Cryan draws a line between the towns of Vetralla, Tarquinia and Tuscania to form what she calls the Etruscan Triangle - a stunning area.  She has done us all a huge favor by covering the area in the kind of detail and enchanting stories one rarely finds in travel guides - no doubt because she has lived in the area for more than 20 years, and in Italy more than 50.
One way to enjoy Tuscania  (and, it's in Lazio, not Tuscany) -
from the patio of a hotel on the "new" side of town, looking over to the old.

Lago (Lake) Bracciano and the eel-dominated (in a good way)
town of Anguillara Sabazia
Her most recent book, hot off the press, is Etruria: Storie e Segreti (Etruria - Stories [Histories] and Secrets), as of now, only in Italian.  For those of you who don't want to slug it out in Italian, she has several other guidebooks.  I hesitate to call them guidebooks, because they are so much more than that.  But guide you they will, through Etruria, and they will lead you to much more than what most people go for - the Etruscan sites.  Most accessible, for those who are looking for a day or two in the region, is Cryan's, Etruria: Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy.  You will find wonderful itinerary chapters, such as "Mysterious Sites of Northern Lazio," or "Connoisseur's Guide to Viterbo," as well as personal stories, such as "An Old Palazzo in Etruria - the sequel." 

Her other books about Northern Lazio are intriguing as well: Travels to Tuscany and Northern Lazio, Vetralla - the English Connection, and Affreschi - Exploring Etruria. All are based on her own, in-depth travels and original scholarship.  At least one of these books is a "must have" if you are traveling in this area - and you should travel in it, imo.

Mary Jane Cryan's info can lead you to Italian spas where
you will find no tourists.  She "takes the spa" at least weekly,
she says.  So she oughtta know!
Check out Cryan's in-depth Web site, for ordering the books if you're not in Rome.  In Rome they are available at the few remaining English language bookstores, including Anglo-American, on via delle Vite, and Almost Corner, in Trastevere.  Or most Feltrinelli's.  


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hiking the Alban Hills from Rocca di Papa: Monte Cavo, Monti delle Faete, Colle Lano

A view from late in the hike: Rocca di Papa's cemetery in the foreground, ancient Tuscolo on the ridge behind
RST goes hiking in Rome's environs regularly, using our scooter.  We don't usually report on these expeditions because the trailheads can be difficult to access or locate without a scooter or automobile.
But yesterday, on the May 1 holiday, we found a lovely loop trail--you end where you began--that's reasonably accessible.  The trail begins and ends at Rocca di Papa in the Alban Hills. It more or less follows, counterclockwise, the rim of an ancient volcano, with a populated plain at its center, skirting the summits of Monte di Cavo, Monti delle Faete, and Colle Lano.  Although the area was logged, the new growth--now perhaps 20 years old--provides pleasant greenery and cover.

The map at the end of this post encompasses the itinerary.  Monte Cavo is at left, Monti delle Faete at lower right, Colle Lano upper right.  The red star covers the descent from Colle Lano.

Bring: lunch, 2 or 2 1/2 small bottles of water per person.  Wear: clothing for the season, and hiking boots (no sneakers).  Hats, hiking pole, sunscreen recommended.  We found a few bugs but none irritating.

Time and distance: takes about 4 hours (about 8 miles [12 km]), more if you're slow or stop often. Dislivello (total vertical): c. 1600 feet.  That's not insignificant, and two sections of the trail are steep enough to make hearts pound; so if you're without hiking experience, think twice.  It's likely you'll be on your own for most of this hike, especially after Monte Cavo.

Transportation: car, scooter, or take Metro A to the end (Anagnina), and at the big Cotral terminal, catch a bus for Rocca di Papa.  It makes numerous stops, including several in Grottaferatta and several in Rocca di Papa before reaching your destination, Piazza della Repubblica.  You'll need a Cotral ticket before you board the bus.  You should buy a round-trip or day pass.  The trip takes about 40 minutes once you catch the bus at the end of the Metro line (Anagnina to Rocca di Papa).  Our research indicates that the last bus out of Rocca di Papa for Rome leaves at 5:20 pm, and that it may depart from via Ariccia.

Note the image of the rocca on the fountain and high above,
remains of the actual castle

The hike begins at the main piazza of Rocca di Papa--Piazza della Repubblica-- below the old, medieval part of the city.  "Rocca" refers to the large castle at top of the town, once occupied by 12th-century Pope Eugenio III and the site of several scientific experiments by Guglielmo Marconi. The fine fountain in the center of the square bears the image of the tower.

May 1.  Big card game in front of the Caffe' Europa. The
Malaguti in foreground. 
Park here and, after a coffee at Caffe' Europa,  proceed uphill on the road that leads to the right at the upper end of the piazza.  Follow this road (be careful, the sidewalks, such as they are, are narrow and the traffic moves rapidly) for about 2 kilometers (1+ miles).

Magnificent house, on the road

At the gas station, keep right.  Once past a church on the left, look for a road up to Monte Cavo on the left--it's about two hundreds yards ahead.  Go up that road for ten minutes, more or less. Watch on the left for a path with a chain across it, marked by a large arrow pointing right.

On the via Sacra, walking where Romans walked

Take this trail up--it's steep but quite direct--and it will eventually spill you out on the via Sacra, a ceremonial stone road held dear by pagan Romans and then Christians.

Dianne, amid Monte Cavo's cell towers; a far cry from the Temple
to Diana that once stood here
You'll pass a shrine and come to a lookout with great views of Lago Albano and Lago di Nemi (the smaller one) and, beyond the lakes, the Agro Pontino and the sea.  Continue on the road and poke around among the towers at the top, once the site of a restaurant.

Here at the top of Monte Cavo you've completed about 1,000 feet of the 1600 total dislivello.

Retrace your steps to the asphalt parking lot/road.  Follow the asphalt road as it curves several times, then becomes straighter as it heads roughly southeast.

Nice woods between Monte Cavo and Monti delle Faete
After about 10/15 minutes on the road, be on the lookout for the entrance to a trail on the left (shortly after a road, on the left, with a sign noting that the road is for military access).

 You should see a sign giving time estimates to Monti Delle Faete (.55 hours, or about 30 plus minutes), and beyond that, to Colle Lano (another 50 minutes).

Take this well-used and red-and-white blazed trail east, along and about the ridge between Monte Cavo and our next destination, Monti delle Faete (more cell towers).  Enjoy the woods as you go.

The top of Monte delle Faete is enclosed with high fences, but along the fence to the left there is a place to eat and enjoy the views of the Campi di Annibale, where Hannibal is rumored to have quartered his troops during a futile effort to conquer Rome.

Shrine on the trail.  Avoid the trail that goes off to the
left (on this photo) here.

Retrace your steps a few meters and pick up the trail to Colle Lano.  It goes off left and a bit south (if we recall correctly) before rounding Monti delle Faete and  heading north/northeast, steeply downhill.  As your descent (about 800 feet) ends, you'll come upon a small, yellow-painted shrine and, to its right, a trail--don't take it.  Stay on the road here.

Follow the path with this kind of
Just ahead there's a junction of several roads/paths.  Take the road to the right, characterized by
low pole fencing along its sides.  As you wind your way uphill (about 400 feet of ascent), follow the signs for the lookout (Colle Lano).  At some point you'll come to a major fork: take the left--and steeply uphill--branch here.

Monti delle Faete--that tuft of uncut trees--as seen from Colle Lano

As you approach the top there's what looks to be an almost cultivated field of (in early May) flowers.  There's no great place to eat here, but the views--of Monti delle Faete on the left/east, Monte Cavo on the right), are worthy.

Weird space

When you leave Colle Lano, continue on the road you came on, now going downhill and west and perhaps a bit north.  Rocca di Papa isn't far.  About 10 minutes out, you'll face a choice between a seldom-used trail/road straight ahead and a more traveled path to the left that descends sharply downhill, initially to the south. Take the path left, downhill.  You'll go through a weird space with broken down cars, a house, and something resembling a jungle gym.  Go through that space and take the more traveled path out of it, the one on the right.

Built 1935,  Likelyonce HQ for local

That path will turn into a road, and that road will lead you into Rocca di Papa.

 Follow this road past a church with a huge white facade (on the right), around left and downhill (don't go up)
through the medieval section, past a school and ex-Fascist headquarters (marked 1935) on the left and, just ahead, the piazza where your journey began.

The view--of Monte Cavo--from Bar Centrale

Have a beer on the patio of the Bar Centrale (on your right) and enjoy the view of Monte Cavo. Love those towers.