Friday 12th October
We actually arrived into Rome late on Thursday night, checked into the apartment and then grabbed a quick bite to eat before turning in for the day.
Our apartment is an AirBnB and it is located in a 200 year old building opposite the Parliament. It is a lovely old building with lots of character and lots of beams but, thankfully, has a lift which, being on the 4th floor, is a great help with luggage. There is a roof top space that offers 360 degrees views all over Rome and with a lovely view out to St Peter’s.
We went on our usual morning walk but then didn’t leave the apartment until after 10 am and our first stop was to check the location of Domus Aureus, where we had a tour on Sunday morning. It was a 30 minute walk to the venue and we were struck by how many tourists were thronging the streets. Rome is packed!
With the location locked in we decided to grab a bite to eat before our 3.30 pm walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto and Travestere area. We found a nice little restaurant, La Pigna, tucked away in is small piazza that had cloth napkins so I was sold. I wasn’t sold though when we asked for tap water and were given a 6 € ($10 AUD) bottle! Anyway, it was a chance to rest up, out of the heat, before our walking tour began.
The Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere walking tour started in front of the 1445 Palazzo Venezia, built for the Venetian Cardinal, Pietro Barbo, who went on to become Pope in 1464. It had a varied history though being the seat of Mussolini’s fascist government in 1922 and, once, the Venetian Embassy, hence, the name.
Our guide for the afternoon was Sarah, a North American girl with an Italian mother and so the interest in Rome. She was a great guide, well informed and was easy to hear and understand. We greatly enjoyed the afternoon as we covered some ground that we’d not passed before so the novelty was most appealing; especially the Jewish Ghetto section.
Bits of information that interested me on our walking tour are noted below.
- Il Vittoriano King Emanuel 1870 United Rome. Monument.
- Commune di Roma. 300 AD.
- 13 BC Teatro Marcello: Emperors Augustus. Existed until Sack of Rome in 410 AD. Now has apartments on top. AirBnB costs 1,000€ per night. The plans of the Colosseum were based off this plans for this space.
- Nero: accused of sacking of Rome. 64AD. But Nero accused Peter and Paul of fire and locked them away. Explains symbols of keys on Vatican emblem.
- 18 BC Emperor Augustus Portico OctaviaL After Spanish Inquisition, This was gateway to Jewish Ghetto. Population 4,000 grew to 9,000.
- Jews: had to wear yellow hat (men) scarves (women). Hitler got the idea for his yellow stars from this Roman concept.
- There was some short lived reprieve with Napoleon.
- King Emmanuel 1888 tears down wall, opens gate and in 1905 he builds a Synagogue.
- Then: Fascism in 1920s brings discrimination of Jews back to focus..
- WW2: October 1943: over 1,026 Jews taken to Auschwitz: only 17 returned. They had been asked to find 70 kg of Gold to avoid being detained. The Jews found this amount and handed to the Germans who then rounded them up anyway for deportation!
- Stumbling Stones: placed outside their homes to commemorate their death.
- Campo Dei fiori: a market. 8-5. Used to be site of executions. Statue of A Brvno statue: burned at the stake for heresy for saying ‘sun is center of universe’. Now; is a monument for truth.
- Piazza Farnese: named after Palazzo Farnese. Built for Pope Paul 3rd. Detailing by Michelangelo. Now embassy of France.
- Trastevere: Now sort-after area for young people due to bars cafes restaurants etc. trendy. In Roman times: used to be undesirable.
- Via del Moro: nice street.
- Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. Basilica. 4th most important in Rome. Built in 240 AD.
One of the great aspects of the tour was discovering some great new shopping, cafe, bar and restaurant areas. The Jewish ghetto and Trastavere are both worth checking out and we made a decision to ditch an expensive day trip for our last day to return to some of the areas we discovered today.
After the tour we had drinks at one of the bars in Trastevere that served free nibbles and so we made do with that for dinner. This is a concept you find in the Trastavere area where you pay at bit more for a drink but then can have unlimited access to the bar top buffet. On offer for our buffet was crumbed eggplant, some meat casserole-type dish, a spinach pie, artichoke au gratin, a bean salad plus a range of other items but it was a very substantial food offering at that! More than enough for dinner! We then walked home with one stop off for Gelato but we were weary after our 17 km walk for the day. It had been a great day though as we discovered some new territory and we planned to head back there again before we went home.