At the end of our first week here in Rome, we went to see Michelangelo’s Moses in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli. To reach the church, you have to climb a staircase of about 60 steps. I could barely make it to the top. I had to stop every 10 or 15 steps to rest and catch my breath; I had to hold on to the railing to keep my balance.
Since that week, we have walked virtually every day. We have walked from the center of Rome to our apartment–about an hour. We have walked along the Appian Way with Eliza and Jessica–about three hours. We have walked to the market and the macelleria, we have walked through the Villa Borghese and the Villa Torlonia. We have walked to friends’ houses for dinner. We have walked up the steep streets of Macerata, in eastern Italy, while visiting our dear friend Giorgio and his family. (The streets of Macerata are very steep indeed. Giorgio tells us that women in Macerata have the lowest incidence of heart disease of anywhere in Italy.) We have walked the hills of Procida, the island in the bay of Naples where we spent a week at an institute on American studies. We have walked through the ruins of Ostia Antica with our friends Sheila and Dan, through the Vatican underground excavations with our friends Bernie and Rosanne, through Trastevere with our friends Donna and Bob. We have walked the streets of Bologna, under the medieval loggias, with our friend Dino. We have walked multiple times from the Pincian Hill down the stairs to Piazza del Popolo, then along the Corso to the Spanish steps and on to Trevi Fountain and on to Piazza Venezia, showing guests the center of Rome. We have walked the ghetto and EUR. Every time we leave the house–and we leave the house every day–we walk. There is no alternative: We take buses, and they get us near where we want to go, but they do not drop us at the door. We no longer think about it. We simply walk.
Last week we visited the Moses again. I looked at the stairs and had to smile. And then I skipped up them without a second thought.
Now the great challenge will be: What happens when we get home to suburbia, which will happen all too soon? When the car is sitting in the driveway, and the supermarket is two miles away down a heavily-trafficked and unpleasant road? I think the answer is that we will have to come back to Rome.