Rome fascinated me, though it didn’t grab me the way Florence had and make me want to live there forever. On the other hand, in one way I fit in more in Rome than I ever have anywhere — and that’s physically. Walking through the streets alone, I was often struck by the fact that passersby looked like me. My father’s side of the family came from the central part of the country, near where I had spent the first half of my trip. But my mother’s family emigrated from Rome and Naples, and I’ve always looked more like my mother. I kept seeing local residents on the street and thinking they looked like we could be related. I’d been warned about crime in Rome, especially against American tourists, but I never felt the least bit unsafe there, maybe because I looked like a local. Of course, that illusion shattered every time I raised my camera to take countless photos of absolutely everything.
On this day, my first full day in Rome, I began by walking to the Campo de’ Fiori, the Flower Market. Unfortunately, near the stall of a fruit vendor, I slipped on a piece of pineapple someone had dropped, and banged up my knee. The fruit vendors were wonderful. Four men came running to help me up, find me a chair, offer me something to drink, and make sure I was all right. I wasn’t completely, but after a few minutes of resting my leg, I did manage to get up and enjoy the rest of the day. But for my remaining days in Rome, I decided I’d spare my knee by taking more cabs and doing fewer marathon walks for miles through the city.
The rest of this day, June 2, was spent exploring churches and museums and fabulous art and architecture, including the John Keats House, where the English poet lived when he was here, directly next door to the Spanish Steps.