A March 2000 trip
to Rome by Jose Kevo
Quote: With abundant tourists fighting to see an even greater number of world-renowned attractions, frenzy is about as inevitable as travelers' desires to experience the Eternal City. Prepare for combat? Here's Rome inspite of, beyond the Tourist Trap so you can leave the armor at home! VUELVERE - I will return!
I consider this Italy's Art & Architecture capitol because there's so much more of it! Even if you never enter a museum, you'll see more than anywhere else in the world. Cathedrals are masterpieces both inside and out; even small churches are too great to pass up with many hidden finds. And the Vatican Museum made a museum patron out of even me!
With all there's to see and do, Rome wouldn't be Rome without the Colosseum - the place I returned to all hours of the day and night to keep vigil over while reflecting on the realities of Rome present while imagining the passed...listening for the cheers from the crowds, the roars of the lions, the cries of the martyrs.
What more can be written that hasn't already been said? Enjoy my personal reflections and some of 275+ photos.
Perhaps there's no other destination where indepth study/preparation is needed BEFORE you leave to maximize knowing what you'll be experiencing. After returning, I was still miffed to see how much I actually missed that was right there...simply because I didn't know to look!
"When in Rome"... was hard to authentically find but of my 9-day stay, the second half was more enjoyable once I'd gotten the "must see's" out of the way and was able to enjoy Rome away from - yet amidst the Tourist Traps.
My trip in late March felt like anything BUT off-season further compounded by the Jubilee Year. Mid-season prices were set to go in affect for April/May. Climate was mild/cool and overcast with rain in the evening and at night.
All prices quoted in this journal were based on receiving 2000 lire on the dollar.
Rome's Metro system, costing 75-cents each ride, only has two lines and is somewhat of a joke. I had to laugh when the first train pulled into the station...a smaller version of NYC subways trashed beyond belief like you'd see in some low-budget movie which over did it on the ghettofying except this was for real! You'll need change for the vending machines since they don't accept bills over L1,000.
Like Lisbon, Rome is built on 7 hills and there's no better way to experience a city than on foot. Be in shape before you go! Walking, stairs, climbs, and strenuous physical activity are unavoidable though I did push the limits walking back to Termini area from the Vatican.
Navigating thru Rome's agressive traffic wasn't as harrowing as expected. Then again, I do it every day so most might find it intimidating.
There's an abundance of other public transportation options as you'd expect in any major city.
Hotel | "Locanda Otello Rossi"
Locanda Otello Rossi is the name of the lovely lady who seemed to understand every word I said, but only replied with smiles and gestures. The warmth and hospitality of she and her family made up for any personal incoveniences from within. They''ve 6 various sized rooms for rent - of which mine was a basic single that was plain and simple with sparse furnishings. There were large windows which opened into an unused inner-courtyard and allowed the pattering rains to enhance my "crash and burns." I paid L50,000 a night for the off-season though signs posted indicated rates would go up to L80,000 in April/May and L100,000 for the summer. All rooms used shared bathrooms/showers which were large and kept very clean.
NOTICE - Those allergic to cats and dogs should look elsewhere as the spoiled and friendly pets definitely had an unobtrussive run of the house!
One of the interesting and humorous aspects of Rome''s older buildings are the elevators. In this building, at 6''4" my head barely cleared the compartment which only had room for three people to squeeze shoulder-to-shoulder lengthwise. Standing side-ways was out of the question with the shallow depth which pinned your body between the walls. Those with luggage go one at a time. With all the accomodations, residents, office workers, etc. in the building, there was often quite the wait for the elevator. I faithfully took the stairs down from the 5th floor (piano 4 in Italian) and even walked up a few times.
I felt the location was excellent within a block-and-a-half of Termini Station on the east side. It yielded quick access to Metro lines, a nice hike to-and-from the Colosseum, and the area was loaded with stores and eateries. And while I was in my element, I''m not sure all would be completely comfortable with all the riff-raff which tend to collect near trasnportation hubs and were often lining the side streets.
* Read my "ACCOMODATIONS NIGHTMARES in General" entry for the real low-down on trying to find a place to stay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 18, 2001
Chelsea Motor Inn
Via Marghera 13
Hotel | "Accomodation Nightmares (Budget Hotels)"
In my vacation planning, I did contact the Italian Board of Tourism and received 6 free sheets with double columns listing places to stay that were 1-star rated hotels and pension/boarding houses - well more than 100 listings. (They''ve the same lists for 2-5-star hotels.) Lonely Planet''s Rome also had numerous budget listings leaving me to fantasize about walking into Rome and conveniently finding accomodations with so many rooms available. HAH!
I spent the first 2-half hours schlepin'' bags around the Termini area which has the highest density of accomodations. There wasn''t a room to be had; ALL places charged higher per night than any information I had in which they were listed. Eventually found a room...without bath...in a former bathroom with bed crammed into where the tub had been sitting for $30 a night. I wasn''t that desperate yet.
Checked out the Termini Station booth which gives assistance getting a room only to find both places guaranteed already full. By now, rates weren''t even a consideration though even higher-priced places also had no vacancies. To say I checked at least 35 establishments is no exaggeration. When finding a room in the private quarters reviewed in this journal, it was a blessing even better than I realized. I later checked several places on the western side of Termini which were either full or had vacancies for legitimate reasons. Let''s just say the west side had more of a "flophouse" feel that many immigrants were calling "home."
How to avoid these same confusions, hassles, nightmares? My only guarantee would be making reservations...which means likely a place out of the typical budget traveler''s means since pensions, 1-star and often 2-star hotels don''t accept reservations. $25 a night was $10 more than I''ve ever paid for anywhere in southern Europe. As for the off-season, I''m now convinced there is none in Rome...like New York, and while prices might have been somewhat cheaper, there obviously were few to no vacancies when I visited. I''m not sure how budget travelers should financially prepare for a visit and "chance" finding since even listed rates were obviously higher once at the hotel. Save up AND expect to spend extra. Still, it''s just one of those things you''ve got to do; kind of like the whole reason you come to a place like Rome to begin with.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 18, 2001
Restaurant | "Dining In General"
RISTORANTE DONATI FRANCO, at Via Marghera 27 near where I stayed, served up excellent grilled Italian sausages with salad and a steamed spinach-florentine side dish with bread for $10. On another night I had a bowl of Cream of Artichoke soup, heapin' helping of seafood Alfredo (appetizer portion) and bottle of wine for $11.
I dined more than caring to remember/admit at pizzerias which were just as gluttonously available as full-scale places. Meals were quick, convenient, hassle free. Pizzas were prepared on square baking sheets with thick, doughy crust and endless variety of toppings...including the strange yet tasty baby shrimp, broccoli, and mozzarella combo served cold. Indicate how much you'll like and they cut squares weighing them on scales charging by the gram based upon toppings. A couple of generous sized pieces and Coke never more than $5; cans of Coke were 40-cents seperately.
Countertop cafes also serve pizza for breakfast along with stromboli, sausage rolls and similar sandwiches. Those looking for typical breakfast - two cups of coffee and Italian pastries averaged $1.50. These were also good lunch places for getting inexpensive sandwiches specializing in Italian meats/cheese. Several also had deli-style buffets for dine-in or take-out; Via Gioberti west of Termini especially lined with eateries.
Italian wines flowed abundantly where good quality cost little in local shops/markets. Half bottles averaged $2.50 handy for inconspicuous take-out. I'm reminded of a place near The Vatican where "house wine" was homemade, refilled into the same bottles with worn hand-written labels, and WASN'T watered down enough to prevent a massive headache! Their pork/vegetables were pathetic so yes, not every place is worthy of Rome's perceived dining reputation.
If you've a sweet tooth, here's where you'll overindulge the most. Bakeries emit tempting aromas to lure you in for pastries, cookies and other treats; a favorite across the piazza from Santa Maria Maggiore. Was disappointed I didn't find canolis ANYWHERE! Italian gelati is supreme with tortufu and tiramisu being the authentic favored flavors. Biggest, detrimental deal was found in a small chain grocer near where staying - extra large solid Italian chocolate bars for L1,700/85-cents; variations with dark chocolate, pear nectar or amaretto. My backpack was heavier heading home where I'd emptied the shelves!
COLLE OPPIO linked with PARCO DI TIANO is where I spent the most time based on proximity to where I stayed and the Colosseum. On my first approach from the east heading west along Viale Del Monte Oppio, anticipation rose with every step knowing the borders skirted the Colosseum...and there it was beyond the groves of trees with the sun sinking behind. I'll never forget those first glimpses...nor following times spent gazing amid playful children under watchful supervision of nannies. Scattered about are ruins of Baths from Trajan, Diocletion and Caracalla. Below ground are remains of Nero's Golden Palace reviewed seperately in this journal. Avoid northern section hobo camps inside the park walls.
Just right of Santa Sabina Basilica atop the Aventine Hill is PARCO SAVELLO with seasonal rose gardens, orange groves. The highlight is an observation area on the western edge with spectacular elevated views across the Tiber towards the Vatican and also over the city. There are not many other reasons to come to this residential area...which makes it perfect for escaping crowds. Exit at metro-stop Circo Massimo for uninterrupted homage in the valley of the former stadium before making the uphill climb. Bus #27 also passes thru here.
PINCIO HILL & GARDENS border VILLA BORGHESE seperated by Viale del Muro and the walls of the ancient city. Take the metro to Flaminio, come into Piazza del Popolo to get your bearings and then proceed east up the massively steep hill. Pincio and Borghese might easily be one of the least discovered outdoor "jackpots" of Rome. Impeccably tended landscape beauty is combined with a large assortment of statues, fountains and other small monuments. Showers cut my visit short, but were a welcomed attraction to the lush greens in Spring. Food vendors sold snack/drinks. Within Borghese is Rome's zoo as well as a Museum-Gallery and Villa Guilia with arts/architectural features.
One area to avoid - On Capitol Hill in search of the Tarpeian Rock area (which was corridored off) I came across a western side park-like area. Unless you appreciate used condoms, hypodermic needles and paraphernalia, I suggest turning back the way you came.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 17, 2001
Attraction | "The Passed Haunts of Nero's Golden Palace"
The guide explained in several languages about this - the major wing of Nero's digs surviving ONLY because it was used as foundational support for Trajan's Baths. Separate palaces were destroyed and covered the Palatine and Celian hills converging at a lake, where the Colosseum now stands, and the wealth of goldness glistened on the waters.
Expecting a palace, it was more like touring a cave with the 9 stone rooms of cavernous proportions. (Only a small portion has been opened to the public so far.) It's hard to fathom how they believed many porticos naturally illuminated the rooms/courtyards while giving vistas across the lake to the other palaces. It's believed the emperor's chambers make up about half of what's currently navigable; the other half solely used for entertaining including an octagonal shaped room with 8 large porticos leading off to former sections - porticos so large there basically are no walls with the actual room which is capped with a domed ceiling. Written reports of other extravagant features, including a rotating dining room, can not be pinpointed.
Other than the fact it's Nero's Palace, what's most impressive are remains of frescoes covering walls and ceilings in several rooms. Some are faded while others quite vividly colorful. There were also a couple of broken-up statues and several smaller, all-but undetected carvings which had worn smooth over time.
When touring this area, let it all sink in deeply. Flash photography is not permitted and darkness made photo ops all but impossible. Otherwise, it's the memory or nothing.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 17, 2001
Nero's Golden Palace
Colle Oppio Park
Attraction | "In Honor of Their Efforts - Arches & Towers"
When entering the Forum from the east along Via Sacra, you pass under the Arch of Titus which was built in 81 A.D. following reconquering the Jews in Jerusalem. The inner-archway has detectable carvings of Roman soldiers carrying off spoils from the Temple and Judea. I overheard a tour guide explaining how these have significance with the book of Revelation and prophecy fullfilment...that Rome will someday return the haul to Jerusalem.
If entry from the west forum was still permitted, you'd pass under the Arch of Septimus Severus which was built in 203 A.D. to commerate the triumphs of his 10th anniversary as Emperor. After his death, fueding family members altered the original having names stricken from the monument. During my visit, the arch was sectioned off prohibiting close-up, indepth viewing of the intricate frieze murals.
The Arch of Constantine, built 315 A.D., likely receives top billing within shadows of the Colosseum, but a study-guide summarized the construction as an egotistical knock-off effort by Constantine to declare himself the ultimate center of Roman history both passed and present. He raided other projects of Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius using statues/sculptures around his own self-centered creations - therefore, creating a work that combines architectural styles and historical depictions. Still, the work is a sight to behold as close as barriers allow!
Trajan's Column, located on the northern rim of the remains of his forum, was erected in 113 A.D. with spiraling friezes from bottom to top of the 40-foot tower depicting scenes from his two greatest campaigns against modern-day Romania. Honoring Marcus Aurelius after his death, a replica tower was erected in 180 A.D. that stands in the Piazza Colonnaection off Piazza Della Rotunda. Eyewitness Rome Guide gives detailed accounts describing differences and similarities between these monumental towers while also pointing out that the Pope's replaced both crowning statues - Trajan for St. Peter, Marcus for St. Paul.
Craftsmanship of the arches is one thing, but the intricate detail and designs used on the towers is simply mind-boggling. Close-up viewing is almost dizzying with the upward-spiraling progression of the work. Casts used for creating the tower would certainly be worth checking out at EUR's Civilta Romana museum.
Roman Arches & Towers
Attraction | "Museum Madness - An upended extravaganza"
The Palazzo Altemps, located at Via di' Sant Apollinare 44, north of Piazza Navona, is an architectural wonder unto itself with large collections of Greek and Roman statues/sculptures that in some places "litter" every inch of space with no sense of display. They're just there! The top floor has the dramatic creation of the Galata's Suicide - a muscular soldier thrusting a sword thru his upper chest while holding a dangling woman (a presumed dead love) with his other hand. A second statue of him positioned sitting on the ground waiting to die, (without the woman) has been situated next to the other one. Both are marble copies from the original bronze works. I was not only captivated by their detail, but obvious inspirations from so many barbaric deaths at the hands of the former Empire. Unfortunately, lighting wasn't good for facial shots of the statues, but captured expressions were as real as anything you've seen in the mirror.
My other "can't believe I'm seeing it" statue was in the National Roman Museum branch located in Palazzo Massimo on Via Viminale halfway between Piazza Della Republica & Termini; both of which have metro stops. The famous "Discus Thrower", seen in this entry's photos, has been around since pre-Olympic Greek days and is even displayed on the back of the 1000-drachma bill. As an athlete, I could relate to the finer aspects of this copied work...which must be a Rome favorite since various sized knock-off replicas were being sold everywhere.
Everything else in between is more than a blur; especially when including the works of art incorporated into buildings, churches and on the streets. There are more than 30 museums/galleries in Rome; enough so that you could build an entire trip around nothing but these and still not take in everything whether from time restrictions or short-circuiting of the mind from overload. Suprisingly, museums weren't crowded. Sparse crowds and napping guards allowed undetected shots from my camera; usually, they're prohibited.
Consider that with the wealth of Catholocism and the former Empire sacking many countries - if these are the works displayed in their museums/galleries, how much more must be in storage for lack of space?
Attraction | "Egotistical Eyesores in the Middle of Mayhem"
To further compound the problem, the area is a central magnet for dropping off/pick-up points of motorcoach tour buses; especially along Via Dei Fori Imperali. And with the crowds come hordes of street vendors selling trinkets, discussed further in my "What Spoils" entry, and what I took to calling "Sidewalk Chef Wagons" - the movable, overpriced eateries appearing to serve everything with a wannabe cook who had more attitude than motivation and know-how.
This all helps set the stage for two structures current Romans seem to loathe the most, as well as the circus-crowd the area attracts - and they've no problem telling you about it. The Victor Emmanuel monument and Palazzo Venezia are two places they'd like to pretend don't exist, but their being hard to miss is the biggest part of the problem.
Emmanuel was the first official King of a unified Italy as we know it today. Seems he didn't want anyone to forget, but he couldn't take a chapter from former emperors and simply build an arch or tower. Taking 40 years to complete, the Il Vittoriano literally dwarfs EVERYTHING in the area with the brashness of the white marble structure blending with nothing in color or architectural style. Guidebooks say Romans refer to this as the "typewriter" or "birthday cake" building; listening to nearby shopkeepers, you can only imagine what they say that's unfit to print! The structure is ego-gone overboard at it's best, but I found it to grow on me from the many different levels with varied artistic, architectural styles incorporated. Unfortunately, you can't get an indepth look as the monument is sealed off with armed guards for security reasons. Any wonder why? This Romans see; the other they remember!
Directly across is the 500+-year old Palazzo Venezia which houses a museum and gallery that has a $4 admission fee. Most unforgettable, it also once housed facist dictator Mussolini who, during the early-to-mid 20th century, went on a self-serving campaign to have large sections of historical Rome eradicated to clear way for his new empire in hoping to restore a world power. (His greatest efforts can be seen in the modernistic EUR complex somewhat south of the city.) On the elongated side of the Palazzo is the famous balcony where Mussolini used to address the crowds.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 17, 2001
Rome, Italy 00187
Attraction | "Ancient of Ancients"
When wandering this area among the relics, try to imagine it as what it was - Rome's central market area where foods, livestock and goods were traded next to what was the city's port on the Tiber. When looking at the round Temple of Hercules and nearby Temple of Portunus, it doesn't seem fitting that this area could ever be abuzz with activity the way Campo de Fiori is with it's markets or Piazza Venezia with its immense ammount of traffic/people. Did those 2,000 years ago see these structures as anything significant beyond a temple, or were they mere buildings blended into their daily lives...like we so often take for granted our familiar surroundings?
San Nicola and the Theatre of Marcellus at first look like more of the same - crumbling ancient structures so questionable as to their safety, they've been fenced off from public viewing. But next to Marcellus, which from the outside looks something like a mini-Colosseum, are three lonely columns indicating the significance of what was...and still is. Standing since circa 431 B.C., the columns are all that remain from a Temple of Apollo; compared to the theatre which was begun by Julius Caesar and finished by Augusta. This site, recognized as one of Rome's three permanent theatres, could hold up to 20,000 people. Today, guidebooks say the interior is all but missing and the outer structure has been heavily altered over the centuries to convert the theatre into fortresses, residences and other things.
Another separate area too valuable to miss is the Largo Argentina Sacred Area (Via Arenula) which contains foundational remains of what's believed to be the oldest temples found so far in all of Rome. The four places of worship dated back to early 3rd century B.C. and the Roman Republic. They're sunken very low in the ground and observed from street level. When passing, you're likely to think it's just more piles of rubble - which it is! A valuable tip for those who likely won't know the "main attraction": behind remains of Temples B & C are foundational tufa blocks from a rectangular building which housed where the Roman senate met. It's also where Julius Caesar was assassinated!
Attraction | "BE"a"WARE of what spoils Rome"
Cashiers, especially in eateries, seemed more prone to fulfill the "short-changing" act of which I got taken a couple of times. Give them a 10,000 bill for a 3,000 meal; they vehemently swear you only gave 5,000.
As someone who live's in a large city, I admit "we've" still not learned to keep from biting the hand that feeds us...no matter how many seem to constantly be waving in our faces. Rome, like NY and other meccas, have year-round tourist influxes that can be pretty overwhelming, unwanted at times. My understanding and tolerance of these locals' questionable hospitality/doings, warranted or not, came from countless times I've contributed to perceptions about "rude New Yorkers"! Struggling to live a daily life beyond, yet amid the Tourist Traps is something one only grasps if they've lived it. Since most of the traveling population most likely hasn't, there's an innocent ignorance that reaps hostility from AND for us all.
NY is melting pot of the world; ethnicity NOT a valid clue/hint for who visitors might be but actions sure are! Rome was different - often finding myself wondering where the Romans and Italians were? Aside from tourists, it would seem Rome's legacy has come full-circle. After conquering most of the world, tables have turned with large number of immigrants descending upon the Eternal City fulfilling roles all but stereotypically no different than NYC. Ristorantes post bouncers to prohibit Orientals selling flowers, trinkets, nonsense. Africans/Arabs drive cabs and run sidewalk businesses since shopkeepers pride themselves banding together, keeping them from buying all the stores like in Barcelona. However, their greatest contempts were justified against a problem so out of hand, even police have all but given up.
Indian immigrants have nomadically saturated the streets selling every kind of worthless junk imaginable. I'll never forget images of blue plastic bags hanging over dark-skinned arms as they chased/harrassed people everywhere. My well-polished "Back off!" NY-look kept them at a distance, but yet I found my heart going out to them wondering how bad former lives must have been if they considered this a better life? Perhaps you'll feel sorry for them, too...but not enough to make a purchase. Once a sucker - always a sucker!
Attraction | "The Pantheon - Worth a second look or more"
There's free admission with opening times from 9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. making it easily accessible for as many times as I couldn't help but pass through this central area. Seeing the Pantheon at all hours of the day is one of the added bonuses thanks to the oculus - the circular opening in the dome that provides the cavernous interior with natural lighting. Depending on the time of day, the sun casts its light and prisms across this suprisingly colorful setting which is likely Rome's greatest showcase for the use of differently toned marbles.
Hadrian's revamping of Marcus Agrippa's original from 27 B.C. is deemed "highly innovative" and one of the greatest architectural wonders to ever be accomplished in Ancient Rome. Guidebooks list the nitty-gritty of dimensionals and technical terms, but nothing suffices standing in the vast openness and looking up, all around.
Thankfully, the Pantheon survived because early on it was given to the Christians after initial construction was to house a place of worship to all the Roman Gods...and all such structures were evil and basically wiped from the faces of maps. There's some amazing accounts of what plunders and pillaging have taken place over the years - including that the Vatican's St. Peter's canopy over the main altar is made from bronze that was taken off the portico and melted down.
Considering Rome's abundance of churches/cathedrals, I wouldn't compare this in any way, but it certainly commands a silent reverant response from the massive crowds passing through; guards onhand to insure it, also! Aside from the art and architectural designs, the Pantheon is likely most known for housing the tomb of Raphael; the famous painter who contributed so much to the Vatican, Rome and the world. Found it also kind of ironic that King Victor Emmanuel II is also encrypted here - like the monstrosity of a monument he created unto himself wasn't good OR big enough!
The Pantheon earned more personal repsect for Hadrian at the top of my list for favored Emperors. Legacies may have passed, but his architectural contributions can still be seen ALL around the former Roman Empire; here was/is his best! Just east a couple blocks on side streets are columns from his Temple which have been incorporated into the Rome Stock Exchange building.
Piazza della Rotonda
Rome, Italy 00186
Attraction | "Mausoleums - Respecting or Disrespecting the dead"
Converting a mausoleum into a castle fortress involved leveled layers of both horizontal and vertical expansions - all of which maintain the original circular form. For L10,000, it's worth the effort to enjoy the tour which starts with lower courtyards littered with artillery which you'll wander around until the path enters and follows the same round, slightly ascending course thru the inner layers. Aside from also serving as a prison and citadel, what you see today is more from residencial apartments - turned museum where the Vatican's population sought refuge.
The actual highlight of Sant' Angelo are the 360-degree views from balconies at all different levels. A snack bar/patio cafe are located on the upper level. A.M. visits net great views of The Vatican; P.M. back into the city based on the sun's position. The other main attraction not to be missed is the Ponte (bridge) which Hadrian built linking his mausoleum to the city across the Tiber. Original parts were incorporated into the current bridge after it collapsed in 1450; the crowning touch from Bernini and his 17th century students sculpting the angels which line the bridge and guide your way across.
The inspiration for Hadrian's mausoleum came from the 29 B.C. version built by Caesar Augustus which lies further up on opposite side of the river. To say the final resting place of Rome's first Emperor has fallen into a sad state of disarray would be a gross understatement. After supposedly being used over the years for a fortress, vineyard, and theatre auditorium among other things, it's completely abandoned and disgustingly littered today. If Augustus could issue a monumental decree today like the Biblical one that lured Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, I've got to believe it would have something to do with honoring him and his legacies by fixing the place up! Maybe there's hope. The 13 B.C. Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) across the street, built for the uniting efforts of Augustus, was completely sealed off for renovations...as was the Palatine Hill's House of Livia; the modest home with many surviving frescoes where Augustus lived with his wife.
Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant'Angelo)
Rome, Italy 00193
Attraction | "Spanish + Egyptian = Italian?"
The concept of piazza likely originated from the ancient Roman Forums or Greek Agoras as a central meeting place for the people...and adapted in Spain to "plazas". As they became more modified and wide-open, seasoned travelers will know you can't go far in any European city without coming across yet another...and Rome is certainly no different.
Not counting St. Peter's square, Rome's largest area would be the Piazza del Popolo in the northern part of the city off the Flaminio metro stop. It has the twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria Montesanto. On the northern rim is the grand Santa Maria del Popolo which is supposedly the haunts of Nero's ghost. I made a quick exit from the latter realizing I'd crashed a funeral!
However, it was the smaller, more intimate piazza areas that I found the most enjoyable because they were serving their original purposes as a central meeting place for the people. Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere was peaceful by day coming to life of an evening in one of the few places you could actually pinpoint IT WAS the locals hanging out. Where I likely spent the most time was Piazza della Rotunda in front of the Pantheon. Small and jam-packed with sidewalk cafes and tourists, this was a varied enough area for people and Pantheon watching while resting tired feet.
Obelisks, centrally located in most piazzas, often had small fountains around their bases. Egypt was the main power-rival of the Roman Empire and obelisks captured and brought across the Mediterranean were seen as prize victory symbols. Throughout history, they've also been fought over within Rome as many have been pirated away from place to place depending on who was in power - like the one towering above the Castor & Pollux statues in Piazza del Quirinal brought from the Mausoleum of Augustus in 1786. Rome's oldest is at Piazza San Giovanni in Laterno, brought from Egypt in 357 A.D., but dating to 15th century B.C. One of the more popular is located in Santa Maria sopra Minerva not because of the 6th century B.C. obelisk, but the back of Bernini's elephant sculpture that it rests upon.
Spanish & Egyptian Influences
The fountain craze stemmed from what most of passed and present Rome has been built on - power and ego. Rome has long-prided themselves on freshness of their waters brought from surrounding low-lying mountains by elaborate aquaduct systems. It would seem that when some Pope or political figure needed to gain favor with the people, they'd build or restore another aquaduct into the city. Fountains were often placed at the end of the water-line, or in honor of their efforts. And keep in mind that most fountains you see today are less than 400-years old; part of the artistic mastery how they blend into their environs.
Cascading or trickling waters of/from a fountain is one thing, but the sculptures and works of art that they bathe around the clock are where the real ingenious artistic efforts can all but set the mind daft! You're obviously going to find and see the "famous" ones, but don't sell your trip short stopping there.
Opportunities are everywhere and some of my favorites included:Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini; a 1642 Bernini creation of a "buff" triton blowing upward through a conch shell.
In Piazza del Repubblica, it's worth dodging chaotic traffic to get to the center for a close-up look of Fontana delle Naiadi with four seductive (thought scandulous) sea nymphs centered around the Sea God Glaucus wrestling a sea serpent. Also, note the angelic statues atop buildings as if "watching over" the plaza.
Centrally located in the Ancient of Ancients, reviewed and pictured in a seperate entry, is the small Fontana del Tritoni where two Tritons hoist a large shell on their backs that the water trickles from.
The Quirinal and Esquiline sections are heading into more residencial areas where various forms of fountains, sculptures and art are hidden everywhere just waiting for your attention. Even the wrought iron fences guarding elaborate palaces have sculpted fence posts. Many of the smaller, yet grand residences have a tunnel entry for the building; beautiful courtyards within view from the street or with "potential trespassing" for a closer glimpse. At the intersection of Via delle Quatro Fontana and Via del Quirinal are unsuspecting sculptures and fountains within the buildings on all corners. You'll also undoubtedly find many favorites if you're looking for them!
Attraction | "The Bigger the Better! - Basilicas and Churches"
Santa Maria Maggiore in the Esquiline District and Santa Maria in Trastevere Cathedrals were by far the most decorated and prime examples of what my words likely inadequately relayed in the first paragraph. We're talking every inch of space covered with art from the gold-gilted and frescoed ceilings to the mosaic tiled frescoed floors! The more you know about Catholicism definitely helps to appreciate all you'll see in the side chapels, and smaller cupolas are often more detailed than the grand domes.
Other churches not to be missed are San Pietro in Vincoli (near Parco Opello) which house Michaelangelo's Moses statue and the chains which supposedly bound St. Peter. Santa Maria della Vittoria (southern rim of Via Veneto district) was built to resemble a theatre with statues watching angels ravish St. Teresa in Bernini's "ectasy" creation. Nearby Palazzo Barberini is also worth passing through.
One of the older, more interesting churches lies atop the Aracoeli Staircase...about double the amount of steps it takes to get to my 6th-floor walkup apartment. Stop half-way up and catch your breath while enjoying views around the city and back to the side for the Capitoline Hill before continuing to enter Santa Maria in Aracoeli; another artistic jackpot definitely worth your efforts.
You'll undoubtedly find many hidden and favorite treasures of your own. Also, no church is too small to NOT be worth your time to duck into for a quick browse. For all, it's handy to have Lira coins to drop into small light machines which further illuminate the works of art you'll be viewing. Persistence will also pay off for "lesser churches" which aren't as valid on open hours as posted in front or listed in guidebooks.
Roman Basilicas and Churches
Attraction | ""MUST KNOWS" for the Sistine Chapel"
I'm not sure if I read or was told this, but the biggest secret for enjoying the Sistine Chapel is to get there early!!! I arrived just before 8:00 a.m. for the 8:45 opening and was about the 30th person in line; within minutes, the line had snaked down the long street before disappearing around the corner. Larger escorted tour groups were allowed in earlier through a side door. Once the facility opens, pay your L18,000/$9.00 admission fee and make a bee-line for the Sistine Chapel passing any/everything else - still, a good 30-minute walk from the entrance without even looking! Use your time waiting in line to familiarize yourself with the way. It will make the difference for how you enjoy the most talked about artistic work of Rome.
By following these directions, I was only one of a small handful of people who was able to reverently move about and freely view Michaelangelo's magnificent works. Whether standing or sitting on one of the side benches, I remember feeling kind of numbed to the whole experience. This WAS the Sistine Chapel; small and dark as it was, yet I couldn't help but wonder if all the deserved hype causes one to create a preconceived notion of granduer that the simple beauty could or would never measure up to? I got lost in time with the indepth chapel map in the Eyewitness Guide identifying the various works, sneaking a picture here and there though camera use is banned with or without a flash. Here I was on my birthday in the Sistine Chapel looking...but yet I didn't see. Nor did I get goose bumps or deep stirrings from within unless you count lightheadedness from having my head tilted back so far looking up.
For now I'd had enough and thought I'd give it a second combing over on my way back through. When leaving the Chapel area, you'll be able to leisurely begin enjoying ALL else there's to see...which follows a loose-laid trajectory path. When coming to the exit area, it was no problem bluffing a guard to return to the beginning to catch all I'd passed the first go around.
By mid-day when reapproaching the Raphael Rooms, pedestrian traffic had came to a stand-still in narrow corridors/stairs leading to the Chapel. Once back inside, I could barely push my way thru the crowds that now spoiled uninterrupted views and reverent silence. Couldn't get out of there quick enough; more than grateful for the quality time earlier spent.
Vatican Palace Viale Del Vaticano
+39 (06) 8530 1758
Attraction | "A World Unto Itself - The Vatican Museum"
I'd have to presume the Vatican Museum encompasses one of the top three art collections in the world. I write "presume" because before my experience here, I never considered myself the museum type; especially one for the arts. How that did change! Even not knowing much about anything when it comes to paintings, sculptures and other forms of masterpieces, I was recognizing "original works" that I'd seen in Bibles, story and textbooks all my life. Those looking to see familiars of the same, the Pinacoteca wing contained the largest collection of 15-19th century paintings including 'The Transfiguration'; the painting Raphael had almost completed before his death. The Pinacoteca areas are all but darkened allowing smaller spotlights to further showcase the impressive works.
The Eyewitness Rome has a pretty indepth key for all the different floors/wing with detailed information about highlights...but I didn't use it. I was surrounded, engulfed by art from the frescoed gold-gilted ceilings to the mosaic tiled floors. There's not enough film in Rome to photograph all the impressive, intriguing things you'll see; photos allowed everywhere but in the Sistine Chapel. And aside from the "mental overload intake" on the arts, take time to glance at some of your fellow tourists. That dazed look on their faces will likely best summarize what you'll be feeling but can't explain!
The lower hallway off the courtyard dedicated to Greek & Roman art reminded me of some gradeschool Show & Tell art project at PTA night. There was every size of head-bust and miniature sculptures laid out on tables/shelves, individually labeled, intact or severely mangled and all but vyeing for one's attention like could only come from a proud parent of their child's work. Otherwise, it was too much!
Continuing back thru the opened end of this exhibition hall was a good path for checking out the Bramante Stairway; a circular path built in a square tower as an entrance to the once palace. This area also feeds into rooms with larger sculptures; the Laocoon Trojan Priest (photo posted) a must see, and the Egyptian/Animal sections.
There's "supposed" to be a one-way course to follow through the museum, though, it'd seem, most don't. Was also disappointed not to find a good photographing angle for the "well shot" spiral stairway ramp which was used for the exit - not the entrance.
Attraction | ""Take a load off!" - Vatican Museum"
Towards the beginning of the tour on the lower level is an inner courtyard that can't be missed. A good way to find this place is to follow one of the large tour groups that's entering when you do. From what I detected, every group stopped here first as the inner courtyard walls are lined with maps, details and other added information for spending your day within the Vatican Museum. Possibly you, too might find this helpful or link-up with a group and tour guide speaking your language to catch all the extra trivia details they're always so well versed on.
Amid the maps and information, the walls are also lined with benches perfect for resting tired feet and fuzzy minds...hopefully while soaking up the warm Italian spring sun as I did. Whether sitting or ambling around, the views are impressive as works of art fill the exterior...second only to the interior! Most notable are the humongous pine cone, which used to be part of a fountain at St. Peter's, flanked by two bronze peacocks which were pirated away from the Mausoleum of Augustus. Throughout this journal, I've also referenced how ego contributed to the building AND downfall of Rome, but here you'll find the biggest head of all...literally! The colossus of Octavia, mounted against a wall, towers above the meager spectators below.
Another lesser resting place, but just as doable if needed, is an outdoor terrace just of the Pinacoteca Wing which is also near the small eatery and restrooms within the Museum. Here there are benches and shade trees while you can enjoy limited elevated viewing of the expansive Vatican Gardens and back part of St. Peter's.
Rome, Italy 00165
0039 06 69884676
Attraction | "St. Peter's - Rome's present circus?"
I'm not Catholic so I wasn't sure what to expect - religious or tourist experience? Aside from this being home of the Pope and a place seen often in various outlets of the media, this was simply one more stop on the jam-packed list of attractions I felt compelled to see while in Rome.
After poking around St. Peter's square which was heavily corridored off with only lanes for passage, I tried entering the Basilica...only to be sent back out and to a lower area right of the entrance. Everyone must check backpacks, purses, bags, etc. at no cost before entering so you might want to consider wearing something with extra pockets for camera, film, etc. they allow you to carry in. I also can't remember, but I think this same policy was also in affect at the Vatican Museum.
The Basilica could definitely win the title for "Church of all Churches" except it didn't have that feel once inside. The atmosphere was almost as chaotic as found around Piazza Venezia with the hordes of people milling about; even their quietest whispers and shufflings echoing within the cavernous interior. This may all be sounding disrespectful to Catholicism, but I found the indoor "circus atmosphere" even more disrespectful; especially with smaller mass services being conducted in various chapel settings.
I came here after touring the Vatican Museum so my mind was still blurred from "art overload" not to mention my lack of knowledge of Catholocism. But for those who do, there's a gazillion things to be seen. Frescoes inside the smaller cupolas and the great dome are definitely worth looking up for, and other works of Michaelangelo, Bernini, and noted artists are scattered about...though darkness makes flashless photography all but impossible.
There was quite the line waiting to descend into the grottoe-burial areas, but don't let it discourage you. Once below, the areas open up allowing you to leisurely or quickly pass the countless crypts, tombs, prayer altars and such including where St. Peter, himself is presumed to have been buried.
I can't imagine having came to Rome without touring The Vatican, but I didn't expect to leave with a "Been there - Done that" type of feeling either.
St. Peter's Basilica
Piazza San Pietro
Vatican City, Rome 00193
Attraction | "Wishing it WERE "Lonely at the top" - Vatican Dome"
For going to the top, ticket info is kind of misleading since it cost L7,000/$3.50 to take the stairs all the way, or L8,000/$4.00 to take an elevator part way. For St. Peter's sake, splurge and take the elevator for the short ride because there were STILL 320 grueling steps to the top even more gut-busting than climbing the spires of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Stairways were steep, narrow, leaning inward, crowded and stuffy - especially with the "out of breath" types who stop to smoke another cigarette!
Between the elevator and atop the dome, you'll enter inside at the base of the dome for magnificent views of below as seen in this entry's photos. But also look up to get a clearer, more indepth view of Michaelangelo's detailed interior work on the dome.
The circular observation deck gives a superb 360-degree view over Rome worth every huff-and-puff step it took to get you there. Width of the deck is narrow further compounded by support arches which impede traffic flow. Be patient and wait your turn to grab an uninterrupted, up-front view against the railing's edge from any of the viewpoints...and be content to gaze about until you've had your fill. From the backside, you'll also see the expansive Vatican Gardens; something you're likely not going to walk through, so look and enjoy it while you can. I certainly could have spent more time here if the crowds hadn't been so thick and the breezes so much cooler and gustier.
Once coming back down the steps, you'll come into an upper terrace area that allows you to walk out across the rooftop of the Basilica. It's a nice open-air, uncrowded breather after coming down as well as adding many unique vantage points in and around The Vatican complex.
Attraction | "If I had a Shovel...The immense amount of Ruins"
When beginning to look around, it won't take long for everything to begin looking the same despite former sifnificance. If you're guidebook doesn't have illustrations of what original sites supposedly looked like, I recommend frequently stopping in one of the many gift shops or bookstores where indepth study books, posters, and pictures give some formational shape to what was splendor and granduer. For myself, there wasn't possibly enough time spent trying to sort through and mentally picture what once was 2000+ years ago.
The Via dei Fori Imperali is "ruins central" and seemed all but impossible to keep from passing through at least once a day...if for no other reason, the flat surface before climbing the hill home to Termini area. Ruins from Trajan's Forum & Market areas have semi-elevated sidewalk viewings looking down into what remains. From these vantage points, you'll basically see the full scope of things, but for a small fee there's an indepth tour of the former market if you think you need a closer look.
Across the thoroughfare is what's left of the main Forum with no less than three entry/exit ways and no admission fees. Perhaps most perplexing about this entire area is excavations here didn't begin until a couple of hundred years ago. Before that, even the tallest columns and structures were buried all but to the top with centuries of dirt...and time. I felt like an ant amid the scattered columns and ruins which remain here; for whatever reason deeply touched to be standing/looking/touching what remains of the site where Julius Caesar was cremated...single flowers still laid in his memory. Freedom to amble through at all hours before dusk gave different perspectives; the best "overall" views coming from back of the Capitoline Hill.
The Palatine Hill was basically more of the same, except in a larger park-like setting that was a great escape from crowds elsewhere. Remains of the frescoed house of Livia get top billing...but were closed for renovations; you'll have to guess at what's actually the unmakred remains of the 7th century B.C. hut of Romulus. Otherwise, the imagination can surely run wild with what's left of all this...the former playground of the Emperors.
Lesser ruin areas are scattered about the city you'll likely, and understandably, not be interested in, though I do recommend checking out what's detailed in my Ancient of Ancients entry.
So can you imagine what's still buried and uncovered? It's why Rome & Athens have such limited Metro systems - everything becomes a potential archealogical dig. Kind of makes you want to pack a shovel!
Attraction | "Suprise at the end of the tracks"
Throughout the tri-leveled complex are a large assortment of eateries/stores selling just about everything you'd want or need. As for souvenir-type things, there were at least a dozen places with varied items, inexpensively priced, and great for other ideas to do comparative shopping when out and about on the town. And as in most European cities, the tobacco shop had a different, higher line of quality goods to select from.
Where I undoubtedly spent the most amount of time was in the large bookstore which can be entered from the main lobby of the station or basement levels. I joke about needing to buy Barnes & Noble stock from my patronage and finding this place was an added comfort of home. As you'd expect, 90% of books were in Italian. In the basement level were sections with other languages; especially the Travel Section. This was a great place for studying up on what I'd seen/done or planned to do. They've a wide variety of Travel Pictorial books, of which I collect.
A couple of friends asked me to throw coins in the fountain for them hoping they'd someday return to the Eternal City. Now they return everytime turning on their computer with the inexpensive decorative mouse pads which have the fountain and/or other Rome sites. I got these in the bookstore, though they're sold everywhere.
On the main concourse level across from the tracks was where I picked up my nightly gelati fix to enjoy while people watching; the sounds of the electronic time schedule constantly fluttering as time marched on. For those with the travel bug virus used to checking on-line prices, I also found myself frequently stopping at the automated ticket machines and entering Rome to other Italian and European destinations - wondering what could be...like here wasn't enough!
* As you'd expect, Tourist Trap shops are everywhere, but I made most of my purchases in stores along Via Cavour and the small side street leading up the steps north of Trajan's market. Other nice, inexpensive finds were figurines made out of crushed alabaster in shapes of various ancient Roman trademarks. Those looking for top-$$$ everything should head for the Piazza di Spagna and Via Veneto areas.
Termini Train Station
Piazza dei Cinquecento
+39 06 36 004 399
Attraction | "My Ultimate Destination - The Colosseum"
After settling in, the Colosseum was the first place I set out to find and was the only place I made a conscious effort to return to at least once in the day/night. "If these walls could talk" was a cliche usually floating within my mind whether gazing while walking around the base or from afar. Even best summarized still, the Colosseum is something you'll simply have to exprience; to see and "feel" that my many but mere words/photos can't begin to describe.
For those looking to pay uninterrupted homage away from the crowds, or get an overall photo with a standard 35mm lense, locate the Colosseo Metro stop across the street. Off to the east is a hard-to-detect path leading up through some bushes/small trees to the top of the wall above the station. You'll find these excellent, all-but-private viewings perfect at all hours; soul-stirring to watch floodlights come on with dusk.
It was over half-way through my trip before I paid the $5 to enter this place that felt more sacred than St. Peter's. Arriving early, I immediately dodged the tourist groups to begin self-indulging in my inquisitive child-mode explorative ways. There was no detail that was too insignificant to bypass whether cracks in marble, grass/moss growing between bricks, crumbling structures...every archway, curvature and detail could undoubtedly write a volume of stories. Afterall, this was the Colosseum! And for all your looking around inside, don't forget to continually be looking outward through all the porticos which frame the enchanting vistas of Rome beyond.
The side-shows outside are avoidable whether legal carriage drivers, merchant vendors or extroverted Italians somewhat wimpish-looking dressed as gladiators and on-hand for photo ops with a fee. And yes, the bands of beggar women with children for pick-pocketing are also quite evident. Restrooms are located outside along the eastern rim.
Within weeks of returning, the award-winning "Gladiator" was released in theatres. My timely experience was like the forewarning of "read the book before you see the movie". I've replayed the video several times and for now, a 16 x 20 enlarged shot of the Colosseum and smaller various photos on my walls will have to suffice until I return again.
Piazza Del Colosseo
Rome, Italy 00184
+39 (06) 7004261
Perhaps it's because Fiumicino is west of the city and the train loops around the south and unloads in the east, but my highly reliable inner-compass was definitely thrown off for the better part of my stay; the problem further compounded by the maze-like streets. I spent the first full-day thoroughly covering the entire city by foot just to get my bearings and back-tracked from there. Not only did this help with orientation, but by getting all the touristy "must see's" out of the way in the first few days, the last half of the trip was leisurely spent wandering around with no specific plan wanted OR needed. It was by far the most enjoyable in discovering Rome beyond the Tourist Trap and finally experiencing the Eternal City like a local.
When walking around, distances won't look that far on a map or between metro stops. You'll quickly find how deceiving those maps/directions can be with the hills, stairs and round-about ways of getting places. I also credit this to my more relaxed second half of the trip - my feet/legs were too tired for much more!
Eyewitness Rome Guide has a specific chapter with 6 walking tours focusing on different aspects of the city; also great for the added information alone within the various areas.
Rome prides itself on having the freshest drinking water of all European cities brought from low-lying mountains by elaborate aquaduct systems. You'll find it safe to drink whether from the tap or one of the many fountains scattered about. (Unfortunatly, the number of public restrooms are FAR less considerable). Within a week back in NYC, I developed a pesky, itchy rash...though I prefer to think it was readjustment to our heavily treated water than the sparkling freshness served up in Rome.
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME
With my trip in the late part of March, I was caught by suprise when Europe switches to Daylight Savings Time the last Sunday in March...unlike the States which changes the first Sunday in April. I later found this tidbit of info buried in the overwhelming amount of guidebook copy. Here's another, more obvious reminder.
Of course, Rome is loaded with them but budget travelers should keep in mind that you're paying for the view; items ordered inside at a table or at the counter anywhere from 25%-50% cheaper. If you do splurge and sit at an outside table, at least keep your wits about you amid the environment and excitement. Outside the Pantheon and in other very crowded plazas, it's "prime pickin's" for anyone to take full advantage of someone not paying full attention. (Read my Spoils Rome entry.) Believe me - these things are happening and hopefully you'll see it rather than have to experience it. Madison Avenue doesn't just make-up those TV commercials where panicked travelers have just had everything stolen!
Living in such a large city, I'm somewhat apprehensive of seeking "vacation" in a potentially hectic environment that can yield much of the same of what I'm trying to leave behind. It's also why a seasoned traveler like myself could so unorthodoxly grimmace at the thoughts of extensive time in Los Angeles, London, or Paris despite their popularities. If you count Athens as part of Europe's "BIG 4" with must see's, Rome was the only one left. Thankfully, I found it most enjoyable of the larger cities...but also wrote in my post-travel notes - 'For my own personal preference, I'm much more comfortable and satisfied in the so-called "lesser cities" like a Barcelona or Lisbon; places that just captivate you the moment you arrive and don't have to "grow" on you as Rome did.' Strangely enough, I also compared the initial culture shock to that of Santo Domingo; "culture" more in terms of the chaotic frenzy than the people and even conditions.
So you might say that everything I'd heard or read about Rome was true and then some...as if understated for both the good AND the bad. But somehow, it wouldn't have been the same having one without the other. What I'd really consider Rome's greatest downfall is actually its abundance of everything! I'm not sure even a month would be enough to allow a traveler to physically and mentally take-in all there's to see and do. And for those of us planning to stay any less, there's an uncomfortable, inner-frenzied panic to make the most of our limited time that, if we're not careful, can quickly turn positives into overwhelming negatives.
Whether from physical exhaustion or the mental overload, I've earlier written that the second half of my trip was more enjoyable since I escaped the Tourist Trap for recovering and surviving my last few days - that ended up thriving and enhancing my greatest memories.
Wandering the back streets of Rome amidst the true Romans and witnessing everyday Italian life in the Eternal City were the kind of experiences I like to anchor my destinations around. With the pressure to see/go completely relinquished, I found myself lazily sitting around plazas and on the steps of out-of-the-way buildings and churches to gladly watch life pass me by.
I was literally melting into the background of Campidoglio on a sunny Sunday afternoon...entranced by the scores of brides and grooms, full wedding parties and well wishers who gathered for 15-minute Justice of the Peace ceremonies inside one of the Capitol's buildings. The refined beauty of these groups was like watching reruns of "The Godfather" every time another couple ascended Michaelangelo's Cordonata steps...an uninvited yet welcomed guest in beginning their new lives together.
I'll never forget the sights of dressed-up women leaving work, hiking their skirts up to strattle and kick-start motorscooters before racing off to somewhere...anywhere. Or, how lost tourists would stop to ask directions; my answering with knowledge, confidence as if I'd spent my entire life in Rome.
There were also a couple of afternoon/evenings I dared to venture out leaving backpack, camera and maps in my room to explore the Testaccio area which, aside from the pyramid crypt of Caius Cestius, would have passed for small-town America. And I'm sure not many travelers to Rome can say they've seen the deserted, former stockyards area which had a lower-class, yet friendly population; appearing all but excited that a foreigner would venture far enough out to see them.
Trastevere was my other casual destination where I struggled most without having my camera close-by, but you couldn't have captured on film the atmosphere, conversations, and presence in this close-knit community area where the locals DID dare to venture out among the visitors and interact. For those looking for the "real Rome"...romantic at that, head for Trastevere on an evening and expect to be soothed and cleansed from the daily tensions of travel.
These down times as a person on the "face of the earth" in yet another "place on the map" is when I reap the most from my travels out of personal reflections and exactly what I can take away from these experiences packed within my inner-being...not the suitcase. I also had to chuckle thinking about which of my undeveloped photographs I knew must be enlarged and framed to hang on my already crowded walls - something my sons and friends often joke about. But hey, after seeing how every inch of space in churches and museums is covered with something, I could at least honestly say that I came by it naturally from my quarter-Italian heritage.
Shortly after returning from this trip, I'd written in my personal travel logs - "And even though I was beginning to enjoy Rome more and more as each day went by, I left feeling and knowing that I'd seen and heard enough...glad that I'd had the chance to discover and explore one of Europe's grandest cities, but also having no desire to return any time soon if even at all. I'd finally done Rome. What more could one want?"
So will I ever return to Rome? Maybe in another 10 years or so to let another decade of history piggy-back onto the rest. Then again, my bottom-line realization of this trip was "nothing lasts forever." In the meantime, I've my photos, travel log, memories, and now this journal to keep me company.
And last but certainly not as an after thought - those of you still reading might have questioned how I could write an extensive travel journal about Rome and have no mention or photos what so ever of the "other" major sights? You know the ones I'm referring to...mentioned repeatedly in every other current journal in this Rome category. Well, I passed these places often, but really couldn't see them from the astonishing amount of people in/on/all around them! When in Rome...I did like the Romans and steered far and clear just as we do in New York and, undoubtedly as some Italians saw and did of me. Yet, I emerged a winner from my efforts and await for the arena to be set for whatever my next destination is to conquer. A Modern-Day Gladiator...traveling until the finish.