I cannot believe it is already June! This summer is already flying by. My students arrived last Monday and it has been non-stop sightseeing, eating, and excursions ever since. In fact, we just returned from a brief trip to the Amalfi Coast yesterday.
But before students arrived I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Rome doing a bit of research and enjoying one of my favorite cities. There is so much I want to blog about Rome, so I hope you bare with me as the blog will be a bit Rome centric for a couple of weeks (but don't worry, I plan on covering Florence too). You can follow my adventures in realtime on Instagram.
Every time I stroll the banks of the Tiber river in Rome I cannot help but think about how much history has taken place on and alongside this river. My favorite historical anecdote is the story of Agostino Chigi. Agostino was a very wealthy banker who lived in Rome in the late 15th and early 16th centuries (he was in fact the banker for three Popes). He built a stunning Renaissance palazzo on the west bank of the Tiber in Trastevere (today the Villa Farnesina). He was famous for his lavish dinner parties, which he would host along the water's edge. It is said that at the end of each in dinner, in a display of his immense wealth, Agostino would have his guests throw their silver plates into the river! Of course, one does not get to be as rich as Agostino with that kind of wastefulness. In fact, Agostino secretly had a net installed in the water so that the next day his servants could retrieve the expensive silverware.
Today the shores of the Tiber river are far less grand. In fact, I would never recommend taking a cruise along the Tiber. It is a recessed river (the walls have been built up to combat the river's relentless flooding) that offers few views and is riddled with graffiti and trash. That said, it is worth a stroll if only for the views of St. Peter's and the Castle Saint'Angelo alone. The Romans, however, are attempting to revive the Tiber's riverwalk. In the summer, its banks are transformed into an outdoor carnival complete with games and food vendors. You also don't want to miss the adorable Tiber Island, which hosts outdoor movies and bars in the summer.