Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Rome Journal: Stadium Climbing
stadium at Philippopolis (photograph: Ivelin Vraykov)
Anyone who has ever done collegiate sports will recall
stadium step climbing. If you rowed you’ll undoubtedly remember the brutal
running up and down that produced those optimum aerobic states. Rome doesn’t
have a helluva a lot of top flight gyms. The word Equinox may derive from the
Latin aequinoctium, but there are as yet no branches of the Equinox chain of
fitness centers in the Eternal City. But there's a kind of working out which
doesn’t require elaborate equipment or high priced memberships and its one that
makes use of the surrounding environment. In this regard Rome is a fitness
freak’s paradise. It’s not surprising that the major American fitness chains
have either not tried or been unable to establish outposts there (as fast
food outlets like McDonald's and Subway have), despite the huge number of
Americans who visit each year. You don’t need any stair climbers in Rome.
Stairs are everywhere. If you are on the Gianicuolo which is one of Rome’s
seven hills and you want to go down to Trastevere you have your choice of
ancient stairs which offer all manner of inclines. You make your adjustment not
by turning a dial on a machine, but simply by following another path. Of course
the stadium itself is a Roman invention and while the guards might stop you if
you try to use the Colosseo or the Circo Massimo for a workout, it releases a
certain amount of historical memory. As you walk though Rome you can satisfy
your gladiatorial instincts by taking off your touristic hat and negotiating
the terrain as if you had come to conquer. Veni, vidi, vici!
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”.