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Thursday 3 September 1998

Well yesterday was a much more disjointed sort of day, starting at 0430 and ending at least with a good night's sleep.

The idea was to go to Rome like I usually do, by the very first train in the morning at 0524, and finish up with a skate at Marino & a late train back here; but in view of the chafing from Thursday's walk, skating didn't seem reasonable.

[. . .]

At Termini I found an OK book on walls — Mauro Quercioli: Le mura e le porte di Roma (Newton Compton) and 2 others of the same series ₤88,000; armed with that and a map-booklet to Rome, I thought I'd do a stretch of walls including the Castrense; so I went down the via Giolitti along the S platform of the station — whores, garbage, homeless — finally after 31 years to have a look up close at the Venus Medica º — closed, of c., although a young man, unshaven, red tank top, good start on a beer belly, in sum he appeared to live inside the enclosure and indeed there seemed to be a family doorbell inside the grill, was wandering about —

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A branch of the Aqua Julia. For another view, see offsite here.

Six arches of aqueduct a few hundred feet away in the v. Guglielmo Pepe; a bit further, the Porta Maggiore, where I must've spent a good 45 minutes: inscriptions (incl. one of Stilicho), aqueduct channels, the Tomb of Eurysaces that I remember seeing in 1966, the gate itself, a piece of pavement but almost certainly reconstructed, several times even.

From there, forgetting what I was doing, I turned N, thus missing the Castrense (next time: I wonder if this is going to be like St‑Caprais d'Agen or Ravenna that I never quite get to!) and instead doing the section of the Aurelian, in this part of town very close to the Servian surprisingly (a close-up of which in the station, by the way). The small, hidden, rather attractive Tiburtina, all locked up, or at least, like Cordell Hull's sheep, on the side I was on; to the P.le Sisto V where the walls start to peter out, although a whole bunch of old stones, including several sculptural fragments and at least one small piece of an inscription, can be seen assembled in a brick wall around a military facility at the corner of the v. Gobetti.

At that rather natural break, having devoted three hours to a circumnavigation of the train station under hot sun, I headed down to S. Maria Maggiore — German shepherd frolicking in the fountain, I played with her and got sopping wet — and down the Merulana [. . .] by a rather dumb circuitous route past the Baths of Trajan (a 3‑storey-high block of greyish-white plastic sheeting flapping in the wind against some scaffolding) to the Colosseum.

Website in mind — it really is astonishing that there should be no good site on the Coliseum — I paid my ₤10,000 and (after hearing a minute of a guided tour that'd just started, which sounded exceptionally good) back to the ticket booth and 6ML more for the guide. In fact she was exceptionally good, outstanding; only the 2d good guide I'd ever heard, the other being years ago with James in Strasbourg cathedral.

Very interesting, yet accessible τοις πολλοις historical, cultural, architectural illumination of the building, with an excellent sociological and political view crowning the presentation; deftly sidestepping all kinds of things not to say — and she didn't — very clearly thought out and precisely expressed, in sum truly impressive. Turns out of course the young woman (looking much like a movie actress and speaking flawless English, I was doubly fooled in a way) teaches at La Sapienza — Jessica della ––––– (waved a pass at me but I stupidly failed to catch all of her last name: that's what search engines are for, I hope);​a anyway it was wonder­ful and I told her I'll surely crib from her talk extensively when I set up Colosseo Booby come December.

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From the 2d story of after all 4, good views of the Arch of Constantine - Meta Sudans complex; if I do this again, I should do it in the morning — and certainly never around noon when I'd have the sun in the lens flat out.

Took the Metro back the 2 stops to Termini, and with not too much wait got on the 1918h to Foligno; in Foligno the trenino was waiting on the same platform; very slow walk uphill and 2130 I was home: turns out I have 2 blisters, quite unsuspected, on my feet; and 2 calluses, them I knew about. Quite tired, ate some noodles and garlic and pinoli, drank tons of fizzy water and fruit juice, although a nice cool shower first: wasn't until I took it off that I noticed my T‑shirt was quite drenched with sweat, such a treat I'm sure for my fellow train passengers.

By 1030 I wuz asleep, and this morning I woke up at ten to eight. Today is the day of rest, and of not wearing shoes to give my blisters a chance! Washing clothes, etc. Nice long breakfast on my terrace — biscottes, Gorgonzola, jam, coffee, fruit, pineapple juice, prosciutto. Vague lunchish snack at around 3 (it's 4:05 as I write): a piece of Zia Ida's cake and some milk. Waist this morning at 83½, I'm targeting 76 by the time I leave: so far I've been eating less than on previous trips, but drinking fresh milk isn't so good — the only skim is the uperizzato stuff and it's not really for drinking — Prolly should stick to water and fruit juice.

Later Note:

a Well, they didn't work, despite periodic tries; but eventually Ms. dello Russo found me: in Sep 00, as one of the people involved in the International Catacomb Society she got in contact with me to ask me to include their site in a large weblist I was running at the time. . . .

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