Rome, Part I: A Glimpse of the Eternal City

One of the (many) reasons I love living in Zürich is how we are in the center of Europe.  We drive thirty minutes north and we’re in Germany.  Spend just over an hour on the train heading northwest, and we get off in Alsace, France.  Head east for less than an hour and we’re in Austria.  Or go south two and a half hours and it’s pizza and pasta just over the Italian border.  Beyond the car and train, affordable flights make yet more cities an easy visit, even if just for the weekend.  That’s how we found ourselves in Rome, joining friends heading there from Paris.  It was a few days filled to the brim with history, culture and art, a nice dose of blue skies and sun, and countless scoops of gelato.

Rome, Italy

Before we get to the sweet stuff (in the next post), below is a handful of snapshots from our endless strolls around the Eternal City.  It’s simply fascinating – and mind boggling – to walk around on such history, reading about it as we went along.  Legend has it that Rome was originally founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, on April 21st, 753 B.C.  That means it’s the 2,764th anniversary of the founding of the city !  I can only imagine what an experience it will be to be there this coming April 21st, and see members of the Gruppo Storico Romano (Roman Historical Group) dressed as Gladiators marching down the Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Colosseum !  This year also marks the 150th anniversary of Italy as a unified state, and celebrations have already begun.

Rome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, Italy

A quick piece of advice to people visiting Rome for a few days: the Roma Pass is excellent for transport and museum visits.  Best part is perhaps not having to wait in line ! Just imagine the Colosseum on a Saturday afternoon. I’d say the card is worth it for that alone. [I just learned on their site that April 9-17 is the 13th annual Week of Culture, and almost all museums and archaeological sites will be open to the public free of charge.] One thing to note is that you may need to make reservations for certain museums, like the Galleria Borghese. Wish I knew that in advance.

Rome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, Italy

We spent a good amount of time simply walking in and around the cobblestone streets of the Ancient City and in the Jewish Ghetto.  We were fortunate to see a local’s Rome too, meeting up with Hande of Vinoroma, bouncing around the charming neighborhoods of Trastevere and Testaccio, going to a local market and in and out of her favorite shops for the very best sweet and savory treats.  And of course, we visited the most impressive sites that are simply not to be missed, true iconic symbols of Rome.  We followed the circumference of the Colosseum, a true feat of architecture and engineering, that took less than 10 years to build and could hold up to 50,000 spectators.  And we read to each other about the “games” that took place there, when 2,000 gladiators and 9,000 animals died during fights for the three month-long inauguration in 80 A.D.

We walked through the Roman Forum, Palatine and Campidoglio, always with wide eyes and inquisitive minds.  Marveled at drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci and his inventions built as full-size machines at the Palazzo della Cancelleria.  We walked up and down (and back up and down) the Spanish Steps, threw a coin over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain (make a wish !) and bopped around town from one gorgeous piazza to the next: Navona, del Popolo, Campo dei Fiori and our personal favorite, Minerva, with the 1,900 year old Pantheon, still standing intact as it was way back then (first photo up top).

Rome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, ItalyRome, Italy

All this walking around clearly worked up a hunger.  Not that you need to be hungry to have gelato.  Something we proved many a time.  Stay tuned for our Roman eats, up next… 

Have you been to Rome (or live there) ?  What is your favorite spot and thing to do there ?

24 Responses to “Rome, Part I: A Glimpse of the Eternal City”

  1. Hilda says:

    I love love love the Capitoline Hill. And next time you go you must get to the Villa Borghese; fortunately, the last time I went almost 10 years ago(!), we had a very organized and methodical member of our little group reserve for us about a month in advance. And as I know you like the exercise, the walk up there is a bit of a hike but beautiful.

  2. Aston says:

    Mi Piace, molto.

  3. Amanda says:

    Ha! Like Hilda, the last time I went to the Villa Borghese was 10 years ago and I’ve been yearning to go back! I agree, you must see the gallery with all those lovely Bernini sculptures!

    …and boy, do I miss being in the center of Europe…

  4. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I’ve never been to Rome, but looks like you’ve captured it wonderfully. Love the cute little car.

    Looking forward to sweet round up! :)

  5. Kerrin says:

    Hilda, yes definitely, Villa Borghese was on top of my list. I was actually there too and *over* 10 years ago ! And I was clearly that organized and methodical person in our group. But don’t recall ever needing reservations. We’ll just have to return… Could be worse ;)

    Aston, grazie ! [tee hee]

    Amanda, ooooh I know you miss Europe – and we miss having you here !! We have no one to go camping with ! ;) So when are you visiting Switzerland ?? Hope all is well across the Atlantic !

    Julia, I so loved that car too. Saw a blue one like that and absolutely wanted to take it home with me. =)

  6. Katrin says:

    We were there with friends three years ago and because I had to work (on my laptop), I spent most of my days in the forum up on the Palatine Hill on a big lawn in the sun. As tourists came and went, I sat in the middle of all that history in my temporary “office”. Beats the heck out of four air-conditioned walls in some big glass-and-steel tower!

  7. Kristina says:

    I think the best thing about Rome is its airport. Not the airport in and of itself, which is worse than a travesty (don’t even start on the lounges!) but the proximity to other places. It’s an average of 2 hours away from most major European capitals, and an under 12 hour average from longer distances (except of course the extremes like South Africa and Australia and NZ).

    From the US, it takes longer to reach all these places, despite the fact that every map I look at says we are the center of the earth.

  8. Barbra says:

    Oh, how I love Rome. I can’t wait to hear what you ate, but in the meantime I’ll echo what others have said: I’m sorry you missed out on the Galeria Borghese. The Berninis are breathtaking.

  9. Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels says:

    I haven’t been to Rome in many years, but when I lived in Italy I was one of my favorite places. I loved visiting Porta Portese, the huge open-air market on the weekend, or see the painters on Piazza Navona, walk around Trastevere and enjoy a fabulous meal in one of the mainy Trattorias there – LOVE!

    I have been telling my husband I absolutely need to take him there, I think he’ll like it better than Milano!

  10. Kerrin says:

    Katrin, I know no one in the world with more gorgeous, awesome, exciting “offices” than you. Trains, planes, bikes and European cities galore ! Not too shabby.

    Kristina, wait, so are you saying that Zürich isn’t the center of the earth ?

    Barbra, I obviously have to go back to Rome. Eventually… And right after I book my flights, I’ll call the Galleria Borghese. It was a non-foodie weekend this time around, but I still got in some very good Roman eats. Stay tuned…

    Elisa, definitely sounds like you and your husband have a Roman getaway in your near future – a must ! On this end, I am still telling *my* husband that I want to go to Sardinia !!

  11. jen laceda says:

    I adore Rome! It’s a walkable city. My fave part of the city is Trastevere, where we stayed in a b & b. I also like the Spanish steps area. You are indeed lucky to be living in Europe!! I am green with envy!!!

  12. Food Lover Kathy says:

    I also adore Rome! My favorite thing to do in Rome is EAT! I have meals planned before the train gets to termini (sometimes even before I get on the plane in CA). So, I’m obviously looking forward to your next post. Another favorite is just roaming around the city and admiring the architecture and the pure antiquity of it all. Testaccio, Aventino, Trastevere, and Esquilino are some of my favorite areas.

  13. Danee Gilmartin says:

    I ate mint chocolate chip gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Rome! So good!

  14. Mariza says:

    Good job!
    Nice write that well describe Rome. I love this city. It’s rich of little favolous corner to see.
    See you soon in our country!

  15. Kristin says:

    Yes, being located in Europe is great. I’m in Zagreb, only 3 hours from many great cities. Beautiful post!

  16. Kerrin says:

    jen, the cities I always love are the ones that are walkable – and we do just that all day long. Rome is walkable, but it still feels rather huge – and we did take the underground and bus a few times too. Since I obviously need to go back (see above comments, the Borghese’s fault !), could you please share the B&B you stayed at in Trastevere (if you would recommend it of course) ? I loved that area too. Thanks Jen !

    Kathy, that is the way to travel ! And I normally do the very same. I was with friends who weren’t as focused on eating as I was this time around, so I had to be less on a mission ;) but I still got in my fair share of key spots – sweet and savory.

    Danee, that sounds like my kind of meal plan, haha ! And I have to say, mint stracciatella was one of my favorite flavors tasted over the weekend. Yum !!

    Mariza, grazie ! Hope to be back in your country again soon…

    Kristin, thank you ! You are so lucky to be in Zagreb as well, that is a city I would love to visit one day. I love the name of your blog, sounds like it’s right up my alley – chocolate ! =)

  17. mom says:

    Thank you for taking me back to Rome where I went so many years ago on my honeymoon. The memories all came back…running up the Spanish steps, eating gelato at every chance i got and taking some amazing photos as you have done.
    So merci merci for all those memories…..sharing and loving every moment….such wonderful photography.

  18. Sarah says:

    I absolutely love Rome – even visiting as a pure tourist, there was so much magic there! The gelati, the cappuccini, the history, even the shopping! Lucky you to have a local to show you around as well!

    xox Sarah

  19. Emma says:

    Your whirlwind weekend describes my visit to Roma – I was only there for one day! We saw as much as we could, and I too loved the Pantheon (seeing Ma Grippa up on top makes me laugh every time, it just sounds funny to say). But perhaps my favorite ‘spot and thing’ was watching a street musician perfectly nail Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing, guitar and all. His playing had me mesmerized:)

    I’d love to get back and see more of Italy, thanks for taking me there briefly with this post. Up next sweeeeeeeeeets.

  20. steve says:

    As always, graphic, descriptive and fun, captivating the amazing city of Rome. Great pix selection too. Like many of your friends, it’s been way too long since I’ve been there. And your post leaves me longing to return. Well, ok, gotta admit, your post and all that gelato :) Thanks alot.

  21. Kerrin says:

    mom, I loved thinking about being on the same streets and at the same places as you were years ago – and Grandmother and Grandfather too. I certainly understood why you all loved it so…

    Sarah, whenever we travel, we always search for the non-touristy things to do. But in Rome, we just get in line with all the tourists. Nothing wrong with that – especially when those tourists are waiting to get into the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican… as you said, places with so much magic in themselves.

    Emma, even with one day in Rome, certainly sounds like you had a rich experience there and hold on to those memories… of the Dire Straits ;) Funny about Ma Grippa, now I’ll never look at the Pantheon the same again, ha ! Last but not least, you said it best – up next sweeeeeets ! =)

    steve, thank you so much ! Hope you’ll get back to Rome soon… and when you do, please have an extra scoop of gelato for me. Sounds like you won’t mind such a favor ;)

  22. jkiel says:

    Cinquecento! great color on that one…
    One of my favorite memories of Rome was walking the Appia Antica – not the Appian Way with the catacombs, but further out, where you walk on the paving stones the ancient Romans (or their slaves, really) laid…
    and the gelato! limone, please!

  23. Valentina says:

    It’s been a good ten years since I was last in Rome. It was a very cold Jan, but had the best time walking everywhere with a wonderful Sardinian friend who has moved to Rome. Loved your post and specially the tip of the pass. Must check those bargain flights!

  24. A Lady's Life says:

    That’s the one best thing about living in Europe. You are so close to everything.
    It definitely is the way to go.
    There is so much to explore and see.

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