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Rome, Day 2: The Source, the fountains and gravity


Tripoto.com

(Part 2 of "The Waters of Rome: 4 Days in theEternal City")

The fountains of Rome all operated purely by gravity- the source of water had to be higher than the fountain itself, and the difference in elevation and distance between the source and the fountain determined how high the fountain could shoot water. - Katherine Wentworth Rinne, The Fall and Rise of the Waters of Rome

Woke up to a window of million flowers and a lake already soaking up the Roman summer sun. Still, in my pajamas, and perhaps walking through the remnants of last night's reveries, on our second day in Rome, I found myself again sitting on top of the wall looking over lake Albano. I knew it was not in my nature to skip pee, gargling and a glass of water before going about the rest of the day's itinerary, but then, again, it felt like it was the most natural thing to do. We are all, somehow, always drawn to water.

Photos of Lake Albano, Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/1 by Unshod Rover

While at it, I felt calmer and more collected. I was asking myself where is this tranquility coming from? Where is this constant bliss flowing from? What is my source? How elevated is it, how far am I from it? I knew I should be agitated as we had to prepare early, get some quick breakfast, pack up some quick lunch and catch the early train. But I still took some time checking out the vegetable garden and continue on thinking, thinking. Thinking is bliss, I told myself, smiling. Where is my rhythm coming from? How am I able to contain everything? What makes me tick?

We were able to catch the train, but not without failing to buy tickets for there was no vending machine in sight. And so, in another twist of luck, the train man asked us either to pay quadruple the price of the regular ticket or get off the train by the next stop. The “poverini stranieri” (poor strangers) that we were, we got off at Pantanella, an unknown corner in the periphery of Rome, and from there we walked around four kilometers to get to the next train station. It made no sense, but we were in vacation, and we had time. And so we went with the flow.

Photos of Pantanella, Ciampino, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Pantanella, Ciampino, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/2 by Unshod Rover

We arrived at the Vatican just in time for the mezzogiorno mass, and we were consoled by the fact that there was no long queue outside San Pietro. The mass was in French with some Polish prayers in between, and our group composed of various people coming from all the continents could only chuckle. How did these “disgraziati” (disgraced) coming from all corners of the globe find themselves in the heart of the Vatican, the seat of the Catholic world, in the middle of the Roman summer? A certain thirst, I thought, hoping by now you are able to catch my drift.

Photos of Vatican City 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Vatican City 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Vatican City 3/3 by Unshod Rover

Rome was not at its chaotic best. The weather was relatively friendly. Not so many tourists, just the usual buzz of a living city. And by the shadow of Castel Sant'Angelo and in the company of an orchestra of cicadas, Rome was refuge as we had our lunch and the almost obligatory siesta there. And there, again, I caught myself thinking and felt compelled to write. Running out of water, we started looking for a fountain. It was a good thing Rome was full of them.

Photos of Castel Sant'Angelo, Lungotevere Castello, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Castel Sant'Angelo, Lungotevere Castello, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Castel Sant'Angelo, Lungotevere Castello, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/3 by Unshod Rover

From the Pantheon to the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (the Fountain of the Four Rivers) at Piazza Navona, up to the Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna and the water-spitting lions at the Piazza del Popolo, there is an abundance of fresh cold water for the thirsty tourists and travellers in the capital of a country where most of the time wine is more affordable than bottled water.

Photos of Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy 1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy 2/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/1 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Navona, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Navona, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/1 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/3 by Unshod Rover

Going home from the train station at Castelgandolfo, I walked barefoot with a Vietnamese friend as we listened to Abel Korzeniowski's music [which titles range from Stillness of the Mind to Drowning, Going Somewhere, up to Swimming], sharing earphones like two separate umbilical cords reunited as they draw nearer to the source. Of music, that is. He asked me if he could go with me in my bookhunting trip back to the city center the morning after. I knew it would not be the bookhunt as I've carefully programmed it to be, but I was really happy to take him along with the two other Vietnamese friends.

Photos of Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/2 by Unshod Rover

And as we continued tiptoeing along lake Albano, I realized that I, too, could be a fountain to others, a source of refuge. And by then, already secured of how high my Source was up there, while I remained in this great gravitational pull towards the Other, I was more than ready and happy to shoot water. (To be continued...) //


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