Another gorgeous day. Our morning’s destination was “Il Vittoriano” — the 19th century Monumento Vittorio Emanuele constructed as a tribute to King Vittorio Emanuele.
But first, we made a quick detour — not far from our apartment, we veered off the route into Campo dei Fiori and its mellow morning market.
The market was just beginning to bloom into full swing; vendors were set-up, but the piazza was not yet crowded with shoppers. We roamed through tables and stalls packed with flowers, vegetables, cheeses, meats, housewares, purses, and — wait — a stall dripping with shiny Venetian glass pendants in every color and shape imaginable! The seller implored me to make a complete circuit around his stand before deciding what to buy. I happily obliged.
A woman chatted with us from her elevated meat and cheese stand as she cut a hunk of cheese we would save for a later lunch. Her husband sat in a nearby chair, good-naturedly bantering with us all. Later that afternoon on our way home, Gino and I stopped back by the market, still in action, and returned to the same woman’s stand for prosciutto. Recognizing us from the morning, she greeted us with a warm smile.
After the market, we resumed our trek to Il Vittoriano. Having seen this monument many times during past visits, today we were seeking its new “Rome from the Sky” panoramic elevator.
The all-glass elevator, which gave my acrophobic mom some consternation, shot us straight up to the terrace of the Quadrigas, the monument’s two enormous gilded-bronze statues of horse-drawn chariots named Unity and Freedom.
On the ride up, we joked with the elevator attendant, a short roly-poly man with a friendly sense of humor. He commented on “La Bella Mamma” and hinted he was single and looking. That started the trip-long teasing we gave mom — confirming she was being “hit on” and admired by Irish and Italian men alike, young and old!
The views from the belvedere were stunning: an architectural sea filled with church domes, roof gardens, and the crumbles of ancient Rome. A mounted telescope brought distant landmarks within touching distance. After gaping at the vistas stretching before us on all sides, we rode back down the elevator, Signor Roly Poly at the helm.
Still high above Piazza Venezia and its dizzying traffic circle, we walked down the numerous stairs that wrapped around and down the front of the monument.
Pausing at each level, we noticed two soldiers flanking the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Altar of the Homeland, something I had never noticed in all my visits past.