I am very good with maps. Once I have my sense of direction, the map will help me to identify where I am and where to turn next. But, first I have to get my sense of direction. That is why when I arrive in a new city that I've never been to before, I first ask for someone at my hotel to point me in the right direction using my map as the guide and then I set out for a walk to make sure I've got my bearings. That is exactly what I did when I arrived in Rome Italy for the very first time.
After a hair-raising ride in a taxi from the airport and settling into my hotel room, using my map, I asked the man at the front desk to point me in the right direction and off I went. That first walk around a new city it always a bit of an adventure.
I found myself in awe of the tall umbrella pine trees that lined the streets and set the tone for my explorations.
I came to a monument that was not identified on my map but, the name on the plinth was Camillo Benso di Cavour, a statesmen who was instrumental in the unification of Italy.
A little further along I came to this rather grand building and my map called it the Palace of Justice. It houses the Supreme Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal in the country.
I learned that it was built in 1888 and is completely covered in travertine limestone. I also learned that it's popular name among locals is "Palazzaccio" or "the bad palace". I guess the idea is you don't wan't to end up here.
The building is topped with a quadriga sculpted by Ettore Ximenez of Palermo. What is a "quadriga" you ask? It's a word that describes a statue consisting of a chariot pulled by four horses. I've seen many such statues before but had never seen that word before seeing it in my guide book.
Before long I had made my way to the Tiber River and a stroll along the river under the shade of the trees was a special treat for this first time visitor.
I passed simple bridges and bridges adorned with statues. And when I crossed the bridge I found more places to explore and more statues and monuments to admire.
I found another bridge to cross back, confident that I had a good idea of how to follow my map and arrive at the places I wanted to see. It was time to head back to the hotel and freshen up for a long evening walk and my very first Italian dinner! I'll post more about walking and eating in Rome another time.