When we first arrived in Rome Tawny wasn’t feeling well so I lit out to explore the city winding my way down from the Borghese Gardens area to the Spanish Steps and Bernini’s Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) fountain the the Spagna Piazza just below the steps.
Since Tawny had missed the Steps the first night I suggested we visit them after the Vatican since we had to disembark at the Spagna metro stop anyway to get back to our hotel.
We wandered out from the station to the Piazza Spagna into a sea of bottles and broken glass strewn across the cobblestones and hoards of drunken Dutch Feyenoord futbol fans. Dozens upon dozens of them where standing against the wall of the corridor to the piazza Spagna literally pissing a great yellow river that was running down into the piazza and puddling into pools along the uneven cobblestone street. We hugged the Northern wall (which still had a swath of cobbles above the flow of piss) and made our way into the piazza. As we turned towards the Steps and Fountain it became clear (if it hand’t already) that we were not in a safe place. That became more evident as the riot police arrived. Tawny suggested we get save the Steps for another time and get the Hell outta there. I looked to my right and recognized a street our taxi had driven down earlier that day. “We can go this way around and get to the top of the Steps to look down and see what’s happening.
We hiked up the steep road and into a stair case to come out upon the back side and top of the steps where we could hear clinking bottles, drunken dutch singing futbol songs, and police barking orders from behind a barrier of riot shields in formation to keep the Dutch from ascending the steps while police helicopters flew overhead.
We must have left before the Rome Riots started and made international news. Because it was getting dangerous I put my camera away in my bag to keep a low profile so I don’t have many pictures to share (click the link above to see images of the riots and arrests).
We made our way to our tour of the Borghese Gallery and eventually back to our hotel about 6pm. We went to the rooftop bar and thought we’d have a glass of wine. But at 6:05 they told us “Sorry, we can no longer serve wine. The city has been put on a city wide restriction to serving alcohol until Midnight because of the Dutch Hooligans”. “What?”. We went to the lobby and were talking to the concierge who told us that the police had come to tell the hotel to no longer serve any drinks. He told us our dinner reservation would probably also not be able to serve us. As we explored our diminishing options for enjoying a fine glass of Italian red on our vacation a pair of American’s approached us to announce they had just purchased two bottles of wine at a wine shop down the street which appeared to either not know of the temporary prohibition or was blatantly ignoring it.
The next morning we headed to the Spanish Steps and Fontana della Barcaccia to see the damage before heading to the Coliseum. Throngs of Italians had come out to see the damage to their beloved and recently restored Bernini fountain as well as the news media. The fountain had been drained, baracaded, and experts had been brought in to survey the damage.