We had planned to take three different audio-guided walking tours so didn’t bother with an early morning walk. Our first walk was a Detour Jewish Ghetto tour and this was narrated by Pacifico di Consiglio and told the story of his resistance against the Germans during their occupation of Rome during WW2. He was 22 years old at the time and managed to escape arrest three times to live to tell his tale. This story really only came to light in 1988 when he was interviewed but has become a powerful story of triumph since then and has been documented further in the book; Dual in the Ghetto. In this tour Pacifico took us along the streets where he used to play with friends, past the home of family members who were taken to Auschwitz, to the hospital that helped to hide his mother and many other Jewish people, to the places he was arrested and held and to the site where he helped other Roman Jews celebrate when the Allies liberated Rome on June 5th, 1944. It was a powerful experience to be hearing his voice tell us his story and you really felt you were there with him on his journey and so humbling to walk the Ghetto seeing the many Stumbling Stones. I highly recommend this tour if you’re ever in Rome!
Some more facts I picked up from his story:
- 1943: Pacifico di Consiglio was 22 years old.
- Sept 3rd 1943: Rome was under Nazi control and Jews were told to gather 50 kg Gold or 200 men would be rounded up.
- Within 36 hours the gold was collected.
- October 16th at dawn: despite handing over the required Gold, German trucks block exits of Ghetto and start to arrest and deport Jews. They rounded up 500 by noon.
- 1555: Pope Paul 4th ordered wall to be built around the Ghetto.
- Jews were made to convert to Christianity.
- Mussolini also said Jews were a problem.
- Pacifio’s mother was in hospital at the time. Doctors registered her under a fake name. Doctors also created an infectious disease ward, with fictitious ‘K syndrome’, to save Jews. 45 were saved. Doctors also ran a resistance in basement of hospital with a two-way radio to talk to allies.
After this tour we headed home to charge up our phones before heading out again for lunch and to take another Detour walk.This time of Campo de’ Fiori.
We discovered a bit too late that this was, in fact, a walking food tour but we weren’t the least bit hungry after just having lunch! However, Mark spied a pub before we even got started and so we stopped for a preparatory beer! Mark did end up sampling some of the pork offerings at the Pork Palace stop though and we did see some interesting shaped pasta. The were only two really riveting facts for me though:
- Ice used to be brought down the Italian mountains via the Tiber river to Rome to help refrigerate food for the Vatican and wealthy families. The people who had this business were the Peroni family; the beer folk! That also explains why shaved ice and Gelato are such popular desserts in Italy.
- Pope Alexander VI had a mistress and she ran a chain of hugely popular restaurants and one was just off Campo de’ Fiori!
This walking tour was ok but I’d suggest doing it on an empty stomach! We were both pretty exhausted by the end though so we drifted home with just one rest (drink) stop along the way. Some suit case packing was needed before an early dinner out at a local restaurant. Our flight tomorrow is at 1 pm and we’re leaving the apartment at 9 am plus, I also wanted one last morning walk, so an early night was planned.