Hot! Rome is Sneezing

48 Hours Rome

4 – 8 pm
Before I left Finale, my friend Alesandro gave me some advice about Rome: Don’t talk to strangers and watch where the locals eat. With a wink and a nod, I ignored his first rule and gladly followed the second.

After a roman siesta, I was ready for my next walking tour and headed toward the quiet neighborhoods of Trastevere. The district literally means across Tevere – the river that winds through the city. I did just that, crossing the river near the small Island Tiberina into shaded, tree-lined streets. I quickly ducked out of the busy main street into the back paths to the small Santa Cecilia basillica and through tiny alleys to the better known Basillica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Each church was a cool, calm stop in the hot afternoon. So was the local gelato stand, where by following Ale’s advice I had the best cup of this Italian snack ever. The serene streets of the neighborhood were filled with the muted, stone-washed colors of Italy. Each building beautifully adorned with flowers, vines and plants. And each small square anchored by a sculpture or fountain beyond description. It was bringing tears to my eyes… or was it?

I crossed out of Trastevere toward the boutique shops surrounding Campo di Fiori. This piazza is called Rome’s living room and it changes from day to night with markets, shops and nightlife. By 6:00, it was happy hour, and families and couples were out for their evening strolls.

I was ready for a rest and my dry throat begged for a drink. I moved away from the touristy Campo and listened. In the neighboring Piazza Farnese, the cafe on the corner was filled with locals reading papers, taking their aperitif, chatting… and suffering my same afflictions.

Humidity was high in Rome that day, and all those beautiful trees, flowers and vines were filling the air with pollen. As I sat at the cafe sniffling, the man next to me coughed. A chorus of “achoo’s” followed up the street. I took stock of my symptoms.

We were victims of a hayfever pandemic. Rome was sneezing.

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