Friday, October 03, 2008

Rome Bus Project, Update No. 1

Trip No. 1, Bus No. 85
Centro Storico to Colli Albani, October 1, 2008
Grade: C

The RBP got off to a rocky start when I get on the bus and try to validate my pass in the ticket-selling machine instead of the ticket-validating machine. Poor ticket-selling machine: I really tried to jam my pass in there. A friendly fellow passenger finally steered me straight.

The route passed the Colosseum, giving me my first glimpse at the world’s oldest surviving taxpayer-financed stadium (though it was a lot cheaper when the heavy lifting was done by slaves). By the way (speaking of slave labor), the bus was packed with German tourists. Once we moved into the suburbs, however, the Germans were replaced by a contingent of girls from a Catholic high school.

Teenage girls notwithstanding, there’s wasn’t anything extraordinary about my first ride, so I’m giving it a C.

Trip No. 2, Bus No. 671
Colli Albani to E.U.R., October 1, 2008
Grade: B

This was actually a pretty cool ride. The route goes through Esposizione Universale di Roma, or E.U.R., a neighborhood that was built by Mussolini for a sort of World’s Fair in 1942. The world being otherwise occupied at the time, the fair never happened, but that didn’t stop Il Duce, who went ahead and built E.U.R. anyway.

E.U.R. is a fascist dictator’s idea of the perfect city: humungous columned buildings separated by impossibly wide boulevards that resist all manner of pedestrianism.

Today E.U.R. is mostly government offices, museums, and apartment buildings. Mussolini fancied it a “New Rome,” with architecture meant to echo that of the Roman Empire. Instead it feels like a cross between Epcot Center and Pyongyang. But it’s still interesting to see, in a whew-I-am-REALLY-glad-we-won-the-war kind of way.

The bus wasn’t very crowded either. A solid B.

Trip No. 3, Bus No. 780
E.U.R. to Centro Storico, October 1, 2008
Grade: B-

The traffic on the ride back into the city was heavy, but I didn’t mind since I was neither driving nor in a hurry. The route passed through Trastevere, a funky neighborhood on the west bank of the Tiber River. A pleasant but not especially memorable ride.

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