For the second time in three years, our flight to Italy turned around over the Atlantic. On a new plane but three hours late, we arrived at Leonard da Vinci (Fiumicino) on what our friend Massimo described later that day as the first day of Rome's spring. We're living in Monteverde Nuovo--essentially a hill behind (west of) the touristy, riverside section of Transtevere--on via G. Ghislieri, a short block from Piazza San Giovanni di Dio, which is centered around a huge, permanent outdoor market--the kind made of corrugated iron and tin and with about 100 sellers of meats, fruits and vegetables, bread, clothes, and housewares--and surrounded by dozens of small stores.
This dense, middle-class neighborhood rivals Piazza Bologna and Marconi (the latter not far to the southwest) for the vitality of its commercial life. Although most tourists would find it a bit removed, it is well connected to Rome's center by a tram that runs down the center of Monteverde's main drag, the curvy Circonvallazione Gianicolense. You can hop the tram at Piazza San Giovanni di Dio (not da Dio, which is literally "from God" or, colloquially, "really great," as in "a parking place da Dio") and be across the river in Piazza di Torre Argentina in about 25 minutes.
Anyway, we were so psyched by the neighborhood and the apartment we rented--which has four balconies/terracies, two of them spacious--and so badly jet-lagged that we couldn't sleep. Even sex didn't help. Tried without success to get online. At 4:30 a.m., in the cool of the night, we gave up and took the Malaguti for a spin around a nearly empty city: down the Gianicolense, across the Tevere, through Piazza Venezia (where we asked a cop if we could go up via del Corso, parts of which are pedestrian only during the day (yes--surprise!), and over to the Trevi Fountain (photo at right) where it was just us and four guys in a cop car.
Up via Veneto (video below), then down and up to the top of the Spanish steps (no one), across the hill to Piazza del Popolo (not a single person in the square), down via del Corso and on around the Coliseum, right at Circo Massimo and back up viale Trastevere and the Gianicolense to "home." Still dark at 6:00. Got La Repubblica at a newstand directly below our apartment's terrace (we told the owner we were "proprio sopra" [just above] his shop), had coffee and cornetti at one bar, just coffee at another (where the door was open to 45 degree air), both places decked out with huge chocolate Easter eggs wrapped in foil and hanging from the ceiling, then headed back to warm up, relax, read the paper, and plan the day.