The neat grid of streets that characterizes many american cities makes it difficult to lose yourself, and one of my favorite reasons to travel is to do exactly that. With that in mind I left my hostel this morning with a map, compass, wallet, phrasebook, and water and left behind any notion of an agenda.
After selecting a few streets at random, I reinitiated my favorite rule of exploring: when choosing between multiple roads, select the smallest path. This took me off of the busy streets and close to the Rome I was excited about – an unplanned city, with successive layers of history built directly atop one another.
I emerged from a winding backroad onto a major street and turned to walk down a hill. I joined a small group of pedestrians, and our critical mass braved an crosswalk across a busy section of road. Halfway across the street, I stopped and completely forgot about the cars around me. The Column of Trajan had just appeared between two buildings. I continued down the hill, eyes locked on something that I had heard of innumerable times, but only seen in books. I continued past the north end of the Roman Forum and sat on some steps at the Piazza de Campidoglio. I looked out over the city and marveled at its complexity. Short of building taller than St. Peter’s Basilica, I don’t see anyone could fit more into this city. Rome is saturated in the most beautiful way.
Unfortunately, I had to cut today’s adventuring short. My big toe is rather badly injured and without a phone, I was left to hopping from wifi to wifi in order to coordinate an appointment. I’d include the bit about buying a bottle of wine and setting off to do a bit of night photography, but jetlag is kicking in.
During the next three months I have the opportunity to take part in the University of Washington’s Architecture in Rome program. There will be much more to come (and pictures.)