Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Rome Journal XII: Working the Steps
photograph by Hallie Cohen
Rome is great place to work the steps, whether you’re in
recovery and working the 12 steps (for which there are programs of all sorts
conveniently listed on line) or just trying to keep in shape. The Steppes are a
different matter entirely. You’re not going to find too many of those in this
city surrounded by hills—even though it was the famed she-wolf, a creature of
the Steppes, if there ever was one, who nurtured Romulus and Remus. If you live
on a hill like the Gianicolo you have a choice of steps which will take you
down to the nearby Trastevere neighborhood. The only problem is coming back up
after a heavy meal and wine. Rome doesn’t sport many high tech gyms like the ones
you find in American cities, but the city is a walking gym. Having one of those
step machines you find in American gyms would be redundant in Rome and also a
joke to a population who take climbing in their stride. What’s so astonishing
is how ubiquitous these steps are. You can’t get away from them and it’s
apparent that in ancient times, there weren’t too many worries about wheelchair
access—probably due to the fact that the life span of the citizenry was so
markedly shorter that there weren’t worries about accommodating to those who
weren’t able to climb up and down. There are, of course, a lot of famous Italian
bikers, but when it comes to physical fitness you might think that New Yorkers one up Romans due to the huge variety of venues in which to work
out. But in Rome fitness fanatics are not easily distinguishable from average
people, since everybody has to do lots of step work to get from here to there.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.