Ancient Rome cannot be conquered, but it can be walked around in a day!
Oh Roma! I know why so many people love it, why so many friends comment on this Facebook status over others, and why there are movies about it! It’s grand, magnificent, beautiful and just a little gratuitous in all it’s ancient glory. Like the star quarterback of Europe, Rome knows it’s great, but is pretty cool about it (I appreciate the American football simile is completely inappropriate, but I have no idea what the European football position equivalent is).
Rome deemed me worthy to appreciate some of its greatness as I toured Ancient Rome and walked all over the city. First, I took the metro to the Colosseum. And there it was, right out the metro steps, right next to a very busy street, just standing in ancient, grand Roman glory for all to see. I took about 12 pictures before crossing the street and walked around it, dumbstruck. This sight ranks right up there with the pyramids on ancient man-made phenomena and Kristin’s life list of world wonders. There were many tourists around, capturing just as many photos. I didn’t go in, but I took my time with my neck craned upward to the five stories of stadium seating.
Honestly, the Coliseum was so impressive that I could have gone right back to the hostel, completely satisfied with Rome, but RIGHT NEXT to the Coliseum was more of Ancient Rome – the Forum where democracy was created, complete with columns and ruins and more grandeur.
I walked past the ruins and up into a more “modern” area, which was home to a central plaza (named the Campodoglio) and gorgeous marble buildings with classical statues of gods and nymphs and guarding lions. In the sightline of all this was the Piazza Venezia, home of the pristine white building that symbolically houses the Tomb of the Unknown Italian Soldier. It’s a genuine military memorial so the vibe was hushed and proper. I used this as my starting point to continue down Via Del Corso to find the Pantheon.
I hadn’t been on this stretch of the shopping street before and found it a great central landmark for the city. From here, I could find any sight. I saw the sign for the McDonalds at Pantheon soon enough and walked through very narrow and tourist-filled streets to get to the historic building. Like most sights in Rome, it just sort of appears as if it likes the anonymity among other gorgeous Roman buildings. The building also large and lifts up to the sky. It’s 2000 years old and an open dome sheds light to all the visitors. Again, another building that defies my believe in what what possible to build thousands of years ago. I felt the light, thankful to be there, but also insignificant among such vision and greatness.
After the Pantheon, it was time for a Roman Piazza – this time the very nearby Piazza Novona. Like the Piazza del Popolo, there’s a beautiful marble fountain in the center and gorgeous Roman apartments nearby. The weather had been rainy all morning, but now there was a break and I used it to go into a gelato shop and order a double – egg creme and malaga, which I had no idea what that was but it was carmel-y and with raisins.
My next destination was lunch. Bethany had suggested a place that was near the Piazza del Popolo and walked through the posh narrow streets back to the Via del Corso and to restaurant Il Brillo Parlante on Via Fontenella. I walked to the downstairs and ordered the Roman speciality – Cacio de Pepe. It’s a sharp cheese and cream sauce with zucchini blossoms and pepper as the spice. I also ordered a house salad made with arugula, shaved Parmesan, raisins, pine nuts and melon and a glass of cabernet savignon from Umbria. This meal was DELICIOUS. It’s everything one hopes in a meal in Rome – flavorful, decadent, and creative. I left very full and very happy.
I went back to the hostel for a nap and then ventured back out for an evening stroll to the Spanish steps (Spagna). On route to the metro, I decided to walk instead and found that it wasn’t that far. I went north and walked along some very posh streets, up a hill to Trinita dei Monta where the sun was painting the rooftops of Rome gold and pink and setting with a striking pose amongst clouds. The Spanish Steps were just below the church and, frankly, they were just steps.
In front of them was another posh street with Dior, Prada, Versace, and Armani shops. I window shopped and walked all the way to my best friend street – Via Del Corso – and made my way back to my favorite metro stop at Piazza del Popolo. Dinner was much cheaper and much more functional because of my splurgy-lunch. I fell asleep under the spell of this great city and with sore feet. Tomorrow- Vatican City and Trastevere.