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.
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.
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.
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).
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 ?