24 January, 2008

Weird Walking Things

Last Sunday morning the 20 of January, (at 8:30 am!) I began a mission with my peers to complete the infamous Temple Wall Walk: a tour of the Aurelian Walls (270-275 AD) surrounding Rome. I didn't get to post about it earlier because of my culture shock syndrome...

Anyway, the tour was run by a professor here named Jan Gadeyne who had apparently developed it himself and has also appeared on the History Channel and PBS and teaches at various universities in Rome and other fun things. In other words, we were very lucky to have the opportunity to take this tour with him FOR FREE :-) which always makes me happy. Even at 8:30 am when most Romans are asleep. The weather was beautiful and the tour was so interesting in a non-architectural-history sort of way, albeit a bit too lonnnnnng.

I mean, 8 hours of walking. 14 miles.

After the first half an hour or so, when we were viewing an old fashioned port-a-potty (sp?) built into the brick above us, the batteries on my digital camera ran out. So I will try to steal - I mean borrow - some pictures from other students and post them later.

After 5 hours, I was starting to feel like a contestant on the Amazing Race and considered giving up. We had only been allowed two short breaks, including lunch! Which was settling in my stomach and making me very sleepy, despite the espresso I had consumed on our first break.

BUT after 8 HOURS, I had finished the Wall Walk! All the way around the center of Rome, and into under-appreciated parts of the city I had ventured. Here is what we saw (reprinted without permission for the purpose of demonstrating how very long this walk was, and perhaps to refresh my own memory sometime in the future, when my blisters have healed):

  1. Porta s. Giovani
  2. s. John in Lateran
  3. sta. Croce in Gerusalemme
  4. Porta Maggiore and tomb of Eurysaces
  5. Porta Tiburtina or s. Lorenzo
  6. Castra Praetoria
  7. Porta Pia
  8. (Coffee Break)
  9. Porta Pinciana
  10. Villa Borghese
  11. Pincio hill
  12. p.zza del Popolo
  13. Porta Flaminia
  14. Altar of Peace
  15. Mausoleum of Augustus
  16. Mausoleum of Hadrian or Castel s. Angelo
  17. s. Peter
  18. s. Onofrio
  19. Oak tree of Torquatus Tassus
  20. Monuments of Anita and Giuseppe Garibaldi
  21. Porta Aurelia or s. Pancrazio
  22. (Lunch Break)
  23. villa Sciarra and wall of Urban VIII
  24. Porta Portese
  25. ponte Sublicio
  26. Monte Testaccio
  27. Protestant cemetery
  28. Porta Ostiensis or s. Paolo
  29. pyramid of Cestius
  30. Bastione Ardeatino
  31. via Cristoforo Colombo
  32. Porta Appia or s. Sebastiano
  33. Porta Latina
  34. Porta Metronia

In other news....

A few things that have interested me while traversing the streets of Rome "a piedi" (by foot):

  • There are not two, but three colors on the pedestrian "WALK" signs, and they light up like a traffic light... Ironically, the corresponding actions to be taken in Italy are remarkably similar to the traffic patterns of cars in the US. Red means "Stop," yellow-ish white means "Slow Down or Hurry Up," and green means "Go or Act Oblivious." In fact, now that I think of it... OUR "WALK" signs in the US don't make that much sense.
  • These rules DO NOT apply to Vespas.
  • There are mechanisms in Italy which are designed specifically to reduce the Vespa driver's recklessness.
  • One of these mechanisms makes (unknowing) American pedestrians look awfully funny while crossing the Ponte Giacomo Matteotti. And all other pedestrians as well:

Ring Around the Chain Links

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