If the cannonball had appeared during that stretch, there was no way I could have seen it.
Finally at the top of the hill but not even at the Porta Pia yet, the wall disappeared.
I was looking forward to experiencing that looming feeling even more keenly walking at its feet. The ordeals began with a “sidewalk” that could only have been designed by forces of supernatural malignity. The embankments and sides of the walls were choked with vegetation, so much so that I feared I’d miss the cannon ball hidden in cascades of wild plants.If you’re thinking that maybe it’s not all that remarkable that a few hours of cannon fire would breach a 1600-year-old wall peppered with holes, cave-ins, crumbling ramparts and patchwork repairs, you are wise. He knew it was over; he just didn’t want to go down without some pretense at fighting back.After those three hours of artillery lobbed at Porta Pia, 72 troops — 53 Italian and 19 papal — were dead and the kingdom’s forces made their triumphal entry down the Via Pia, today named Via XX Settembre after that momentous day.The last I could see of it ended in a piney private park far above me. Crushed, bereft of cannonballs, I lost hope and had to find a new reason to go on.I walked heavily down the steps to the Spagna Metro station and made my way to the patrician domuses under the Palazzo Valentini in Trajan’s Forum where I had booked a tour.