Today, instead of Michele, Luigi is riding with me, in the short fifty kilometers long trip to the campsite on the Via Flaminia; so he also rides for a small part of the journey that will connect, pedaling, the extremes of Italy.
In two hours, shirtless under the sun, we ride towards the Center to meet up with the camper exactly at the entrance of the campsite, where we stop to clean the very dusty green and purple skin of our faithful team car.
Today Michele is the official cook, he replaces Luigi, who has been busy in recent days to whet our appetite for too long used to tuna and bread. After the culinary experimentations we can relax in the now familiar camper bed, waiting for tomorrow: an intense shooting day.
On the train from Rome to Viterbo, frescoed by spray cans, we arrive in Rome, near Piazza del Popolo: Today is the first day of sightseeing.
Some shooting and then we talk to Visenta Iannicelli, head of UNESCO in Rome. The Capital City: full of offices and headquarters of municipality, province, region, government, ministries, banks; choked by traffic and full of tourists; so rich in monuments, churches, palaces, squares and museums that is impossible to see everything at once, there is the risk of turning your visit into a mere path through the most important places, losing the city as a whole.
Later we meet Manuel Roberto Guido, head of UNESCO at the Ministry of Culture, who warns us that by the end of our trip we will be already behind: it is probably coming the nomination of the 45th Italian UNESCO site, the paleontological area of Mount St. George, on the border with Switzerland. When the big trip across Italy will be over, we will have to ride a little more to reach this new site.
On the way back to the camp we have a taste of what we will see tomorrow: the Trevi Fountain and Piazza di Spagna, crowded with tourists from all over the world who want to admire the Eternal City.
Before taking the train, in the middle of Piazza del Popolo, the Egyptian obelisk is watching us, it is talking to us. That piece of stone, extracted from a mountain, carved, erected, venerated, conquered, stolen, replanted; there it is, to observe the daily life of another age, time passing by, days and millennia, it rules the square with its mute, immobile impassivity.
The second day Rome is chaotic and hotter than the day before. We are guided by Augusto, my cousin, who works in the capital as an archaeologist. We cross narrow streets and large boulevards full of people, sometimes following the flood of people and sometimes facing it.
We enter through Porta del Popolo, the ancient way used by pilgrims who were going towards the center of the holy city and we visit the homonymous square, with the Egyptian obelisk stolen in the early AD years by Emperor Augustus and the twin churches, completed by Bernini in the second half of 1600.
Then we walk through Via del Corso, the street of the old Roman carnival, where once a year it was lawful to do anything. Then we pass by Alberto Sordi’s gallery, a monument dedicated to the great actor who became a symbol of Rome, while across the street, in front of the Parliament, we see the column of Marcus Aurelius standing out in the afternoon sky.
After taking a brief look at the Pantheon, architectural miracle of the Emperor Hadrian, who Raffaello wanted as his tomb, our guide takes us to Castel Sant'Angelo, whose uses have been the most varied throughout history: mausoleum for the emperors, strength of the Popes…
Then we go back to Piazza Navona, ancient horse racing stadium, then flooded for naval parades, and then a square, likely to preserve Bernini and Borromini ‘s masterpieces, today inhabited by a large community of street artists.
It’s night when, after having appreciated the Capital’s food, as well as its masterpieces, we reach our last goal, Rome’s icon in the world. After the Trajan markets, which are full of light and dark mystery thanks to the masterful lighting, we are in front of the Colosseum, the colossal witness of Rome’s ancient grandeur.
Thinking about the stages of our long trip in the "Eternal City", that led us in the shadow of this impressive masterpiece, we really feel to be in the place that was once “caput mundi”.
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