I LOVE ROME!
I love Rome and want to return to feel the life of that ancient city again!
With the media attention on Vatican City the past few weeks, I wanted to make some comments about my own journey to beautiful Roma a few years ago. I planned a 10 day Mediterranean Cruise first, followed by a week in Rome. Flights, connections, hotels…I did it all without using a travel agent.
The hotel I found was in in the Pamphili Park area and had a large pool, extensive villa gardens and balcony. Breakfast was included daily and was huge even by American standards! Mounds of fresh rocotta, vegetables, cakes of all kinds, eggs and meats, fresh squeezed orange juice and cappuccino. (There was a free shuttle to and from the Vatican and Metro every 20 minutes.) The daily room price was a fraction of what the cost would be in Central Rome and the view from the balcony was absolutely beautiful, looking out on an old Monestary and Villa’s. Towards the end of the week, it was Italian Independance Day…and as I sat on the balcony, jets flew in formation overhead having just flown over the parade route in front of the Colosseum.
Every day I stopped at a little grocery-deli by the Vatican and bought water, wine, bread, meat and cheese for dinner to eat on my hotel balcony. There was just enough space to fit in the little hotel frig. and allowed my budget to be spent on pizza , gelato and espresso. (I just looked up the current price of a room for 2 with breakfast and it’s still about $100 a night !)
The hotel shuttle dropped and picked up at the Metro closest to the Vatican, a short 2 block walk from the walled compound.
Walk up some stairs, along that tall ancient wall past the Vatican Museum entrance, to the famous columned St. Peters Square. The view takes your breath away.
The vastness of the square! St. Peter’s, where throngs of people have gathered for monumental events! Was I really there?
I noticed an Obelisks (Rome has the most of any city in the World), this one from the city of Alexandria 28-30 BC was brought from Egypt by Caligula. It looked dwarfed by the size of St. Peters and the surrounding massive buildings.
This refuge became my place to rest and people watch while in Rome, sitting under the shade of ancient columns with tourists and local Romans.
Everywhere I wanted to go I could walk to. (You’d be out of your mind to wear anything but walking shoes with the cobbled streets and I never saw an Italian woman in heels.)
There are books that tell how to avoid lines (I never waited in a line), how to look up the days and times when the Vatican Museum and St. Peters are available for visiting (it is a Church). Some things are closed during the extended Roman lunch time, but most are open. If you don’t look these things up ahead of time, something you might want to visit could be closed. (I used the Rome book from Rick Steves and a pocket map as guides.)
By the Pantheon (noticed another Obelisk from Temple of Ra in Heliopolis) is the fanciest McDonald’s in the World (and it is). The reason I knew the McDonald’s was there is because I plotted out this as a bathroom location. In a city with no Starbucks or fast-food restaurants, knowing where there’s a bathroom is important.
Not far away from the Pantheon is the Trevi Fountain (which I recommend seeing at night when all the beautiful lights are on). The fountain is gorgeous! (You should watch the movies Three Coins in a Fountain and Roman Holiday before going to Rome). Make a wish and throw in your coins, because people still do this.
Churches and cafe’s, fountains and pictures of Audry Hepburn from the movie Roman Holiday tacked on the walls of many shops and restaurants, made the romance of the city all I hoped it would be.
My favorite day was spent wandering through the Vatican Museum, then winding downward to the Sistine Chapel was a big crowd of people packed tightly inside. The guards kept saying “No pictures, no photo’s” which nobody paid any attention to. All arms were raised with cell phones and camera’s held high taking pictures of the ceiling.
Along the side wall running the full length of the chapel, was a clear plastic bench with a back to it. I sat down and removed everyone from the room in my mind, leaving me alone with Michelangelo’s painted ceiling and two gigantic painted masterpieces (one being the Last Judgement) at both ends of the room.
At first, I was surprised at how small the space was inside the chapel. I had seen movies and books about the Sistine Chapel…but to be honest, there is no clear understanding of shape and form without seeing the real thing. The same can be said of St. Peter’s. The vastness of the space is hard to comprehend without being there.
Sound moves in bands like ribbons. The interior is golden-hued with particles of old incense hanging on beams of light. You can’t take a photo and see those things clearly.
It is cool inside. With hundreds of people walking around, you don’t feel that you’re in a crowd at all because the space is so enormous.
No sleeveless shirts, no tank tops and no shorts are allowed.
I like respect. I’m all for it!
The best time of day for watching people is late afternoon. Gelato time! Romans don’t drink coffee with milk at any time but breakfast. If you ask for it you might get a funny look. People stroll in the evening, whole families out and people sitting on benches or visiting with neighbors.
Something about how unassuming Rome was appealed to me. Romans don’t work too hard. They enjoy life!
A typical day might be: Go to work, stop for cafe…have a 2-3 hour lunch, stop again for gelato, go home. This is my idea of a perfect routine!
Add on a 4-6 week vacation every year and why wouldn’t you want to be Roman?!
La Dolce Vita! http://youtu.be/vFyaa5AB2sA (This just makes you feel good! These young men are from Rome)
I want so much to take my granddaughters to Rome, I want to return!