(by clicking on the pictures you can see a larger image)
I love to experience a city by just wandering with no checklist of places to visit. We have had the luxury of many "wandering" days while living in Rome. With Luigi in the lead, we have been expanding our wanderings to new (for me) areas of the historic centre.
A few days ago, Luigi read in the Italian newspaper that the Rome authorities are threatening to "unlock" the "love locks." Now that Silvio is out of power, I guess the authorities do not believe in "love", at least not when it messes up one of the oldest bridges in Rome. And the City of Rome politicians have nothing more important to worry about than "love locks!"
The Ponte Milvio was first build in 206 BC. Apparently, padlocks started appearing on the bridge in 2006 after a movie based on the book "Ho voglia di te" ("I desire you"), in which the lovers wrapped a chain around a lamp post on the Ponte Milvio, padlocked it and sent the key into the Tiber river, ensuring eternal love. If only this were true, divorce lawyers would have to become padlock manufacturers instead.
We decided that we needed to make the trip to see the "lovers bridge" before the bolt cutters destroyed its ambience. Since the bridge was not far from where Luigi lived during his pre-teens, I followed him as he found our way from 50 year old memories. As we walked, Luigi would point out restaurants or businesses that he had been to as a kid. Most of the buildings, other than a coat of paint and possibly new owners, remain the same.
After our long trek to find the bridge, we were happy to discover that we had gotten there before the bolt cutters. It is definitely a bridge of eternal love (well, at least for now). There are hundreds of rusting padlocks with the couples initials "engraved" thanks to indelible pen. One small lock caught our attention. It read "Il tuo respiro sara' X sempre il mio, io e te X sempre" which is loosely translated as "Your breath will be forever mine, you and I forever." There are even "unlicensed" padlock sellers, just waiting for the next eternal lovers to part with some euros for a padlock and indelible pen. Did we perform the ritual? Nope. But we took pictures. Does that count?
From the Ponte Milvio we explored more of Luigi's childhood "backyard". As we wandered into the courtyard of a large villa, our conversation went like this.
Luigi "This is where I used to live"
Me "Where was your apartment?"
Luigi "No. We lived in this villa"
Me "But…which apartment?"
Luigi "The whole villa"
At first I thought he was joking, but then realized he was serious. I tried to picture him as a boy in this backyard. Unfortunately, just as I lifted the camera to take photos, a lady emerged from within telling us "no photos". It appears that the villa has been commercialized and is home to a few different businesses. I did manage to sneak one photo from outside the courtyard.
By the time we reached the Ponte Milvio to return home, it was evening so we stopped for a few more photos.
On our walk home, I noticed a poster advertising an art exhibit so we took a small detour. The famous Via Margutta near the Spanish Steps was lined with exhibits of 100 very talented artists. We strolled along, stopping at canvases that caught our attention (mostly those of water scenes or tuscan landscapes), and peering into shop windows displaying "out of our budget" objects.
Our final stop of the evening was our neighbourhood grocery "supermarket" (it has two aisles) to pick up some fresh pasta for supper. A perfect end to our day.