Yesterday was Sunday. I took that day off to go into Rome. Since my first trip there last year, I've been keeping a long list of things to do in the Eternal City, and each time I check something off but also add two or three more things. This time, I also got to meet my cousin Anna and share the day with her! She's been traveling through Italy on her own, but we're going to spend the next week or so together.
Since yesterday was Sunday, we were able to go to the Porta Portese Flea Market which is held this one day a week, south of Trastevere (that's the part of Rome across the Tiber River). It was a little like the open-air market in Sora, except less food and plants and more dry goods. And it was huge! I bought a yellow summer scarf to protect my shoulders from further sunburn, and Anna got a long colorful skirt made from fair trade cotton in Nepal.
At one of the stalls, a customer who couldn't speak Italian was looking puzzled at a jar of confettura di fichi along with the merchant who couldn't speak English. The guy asked me if I could translate, and when I said "fig jam" (I only know this because we serve jam to the guests at Via Piana and it says confettura on the bottle) the merchant was SO excited and gave me this huge kiss on the cheek. He then enthusiastically gave Anna and I some cheese, which, in his words, came from a "baaaaaa"... :)
So Anna and I were laughing about that one for a while, but we also met a few other kind men in the course of our day. Our next stop, since it was nearby, was La Bocca della Verità or the Mouth of Truth made famous by the movie Roman Holiday. It's in tiny front courtyard or entryway of a church, and there was a line of people extending out the gate. They were all waiting to get pictures with their hands in this Mouth (which, if you are a liar, will bite off your hand). The kind man in this case was the security guard. He saw that Anna was about to take a picture through the gate, and stuck his hand through, offering to take a picture from a better vantage point. He indicated we were far to trusting by joking "thank you, goodbye" and pretending to pocket the camera (at any rate, it was a disposable camera). Then he laughed and took the picture.
After this, we made our way north through the old part of the city. We saw the Jewish ghetto, where all the Jews in Rome were forced to go on October 6, 1943. There are still many Jewish bakeries and shops in that neighborhood, many of which were unfortunately closed at the time we walked though.
We reached the Pantheon, which is one of my favorite places in Rome. It's just so old and huge and beautiful. Near there we got coffee (un cappuccino for Anna and un caffe freddo for me, which was an extra-sweet cold espressso) at Sant'Eustacchio Il Caffè, which I keep hearing about. It was worth the crowd of people filling the bar. SO good. Our next goal was to get gelato so we went to Della Palma, a gelateria with over 100 flavors. We tried two each: blackberry and ricotta fig for Anna, coconut and spicy chocolate for me. Again, SO good.
By this time it was almost time to catch the train to Anna's hostel so we could catch the bus back to Sora before it got too late. We decided it was time to eat some real food, so we went to this cute little pizzeria near the train station where Anna had eaten the past two days. In fact, as we were walking past the man recognized her and greeted us. We shared salad, the first vegetables Anna had eaten in several days, and pizza margherita. We shamelessly put the rest of the pizza in a zip lock bag to take home with us. When we went to pay, Anna told him that I was her cousin (cugina, we added). Then, in a hilarious turn of events he proclaimed in Italian, "and I am her uncle!" and gave us both a big hug (and a discount on our food). Such a nice man. The kindness of these people really characterized our day and gave us pleasant thoughts on the way home, despite our aching legs.