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Rome, Day 3: Following the River


Tripoto.com

(Part 3 of “The Waters of Rome: 4 Days in the Eternal City”)

Let Rome in Tiber melt. - Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

I've always been fascinated by the love affairs between rivers and cities in Europe: the Seine and Paris, Florence and the Arno, the Rhone and Lyon, Budapest / Vienna / Bratislava and the Danube. And it's always a welcome thought to just walk along the riverbank, following the flow of water. Among those who are lost, there's a saying that goes “follow the river and it will lead you to the sea.”

Photos of River Tiber 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of River Tiber 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of River Tiber 3/3 by Unshod Rover

On our third day in Rome, while I did prepare some big bookhunting plans at least for Saturday morning, a sudden change of itinerary with my Vietnamese companions made me resolve to just follow the flow and look forward to be drifted towards a certain sea.

Before taking the train, we went up the center of Castelgandolfo to buy extra tickets and pass by an old friend of mine who owns a shop selling religious articles. It was a pleasant surprise that she was still able to recognize me after all these years, and that we greeted each other with the same warmth as if time and distance had never interfered.

While, of course, she didn't remember my name, it made me believe that some great things do really remain. And that some things do wheel on in this great cycle towards a certain oneness despite the many walls and boundaries that our differences and the difficulties of overcoming them also continue to build around us. And if only we take time to recognize these great things, even the smallest acts of kindness and humanity, the most trivial of acquaintances, the simplest gestures, they accumulate in us and without much effort, we radiate them through our everyday dealings with the Other.

Photos of Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/3 by Unshod Rover

To stumble upon a bunch of Germans, Japanese and Thais while we wait for our train was no longer big news to us. The great announcement came when they told us of the Pope delivering the Angelus on Sunday at Castelgandolfo to the delight of my Vietnamese friend who hasn't met the Pope yet. It was quite a nice start to a morning which saw us having to get off the train and transfer to a bus that would lead us to Rome, and going through the labyrinth that is the Roman underground metro only to come out on the other side of the station to take the autobus as the metro was not working that day.

Photos of Roma Trastevere railway station, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Roma Trastevere railway station, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Roma Trastevere railway station, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Roma Trastevere railway station, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 4/4 by Unshod Rover

With the rest of the world trying to fit inside the autobus, we could not move a finger, all the more it was impossible for us to get off our desired destination, and so again, we ended up at the Vatican, quite far from the first bookhunting stop on my list. From there, we decided to follow the river Tevere and hoped it could get us somewhere. We docked at Trastevere, which literally means beyond the Tevere, one of Rome's most charming and well-preserved quarters, which housed two bookshops on my list. With one being closed for the summer holidays and the other selling books as if they're gold, our feet bare against Trastevere's cobbled streets led us to a Tibetan shop by the end of an alley.

Photos of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 4/4 by Unshod Rover


The colors and designs of the products displayed there would have been enough eye candy for all of us. But one of the owners offered to explain to us in English some meditation techniques using Tibetan singing bowls. Made of alloy of seven different metals connected to the seven principal planets, the bowls are used for meditation and relaxation. By encircling along its rim with a wooden stick, it creates sounds and vibrations that would help us harmonize with the universe. Adding water creates vibrations reminiscent of small fountains.

And our small trip into a Tibetan shop turned out to be not only an afternoon of meditation but more so of a dialogue with the Buddhist owner, with whom we shared stories of us coming from different parts of the globe to follow a lifestyle of unity. We agreed that one thing we have in common despite the many differences is our desire to be one among us and with the universe.

Photos of Piazza Venezia, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Venezia, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Venezia, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Venezia, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 4/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Campidoglio, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Campidoglio, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Campidoglio, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Campidoglio, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 4/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Campidoglio, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 5/5 by Unshod Rover

We could have stayed there longer, if not for a call from the rest of our companions already waiting for us at the Colosseo. And so we crossed to the other side of the river through the Isola Tiberina, passed by Piazza Venezia and Campidoglio towards the Colosseo. (Standing by the ruins of old Rome deserves another narration.) And after an eat-all-you-can apericena, again we walked along the Tevere, this time by night. It was a different sight altogether with lights flooding both sides of the river and the night markets and restaurants lined up.

Photos of  1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of  2/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Janiculum Terrace, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Janiculum Terrace, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Janiculum Terrace, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/3 by Unshod Rover

Capping the night with a hike up the Gianicolo hill, the second tallest in Rome, we were treated to a panoramic view of Rome's churches and bell towers and this “old world’s” version of skyscrapers. Catching my breath, I let my tired legs hang over the edge of the cliff dipping in the eternal city melting into a sea of serenity. As dawn awaited the sunrise that will paint Rome again with tourists and the typical modern city life, I just let every thing, my worries and my joys, flow towards that big Sea waiting for me.


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