It seems like absolutely ages ago that I was in Rome, but I’m going to post about it all the same. I hope I haven’t forgotten too much to tell the story. On my first day I flew from Lyon to Rome and then successfully navigated to my hostel. All the Italian I knew was from the phrases I’d downloaded to my iPod and all my information on what to do in Rome was contained in a tiny guidebook completely written in French. I was set up for potential disaster, but the trip was far from that. That first evening I didn’t do much, just met up with two friends who were also staying in Rome and had some pasta and then red wine at the hostel bar.
I woke up early the next morning and decided my first destination would be the icon of Rome: il Colosseo. However, being that this was my first day, I got a little over confident with my free hostel map and ended up going in the completely wrong direction. I think I ended up at an old city wall, but I’m still not exactly sure. Anyway, I did eventually make it to the Colosseum and dodged the fake gladiators to get inside. It was spectacular. I had downloaded an audio tour to my iPod, so I wasn’t completely lost, and there was a cool exhibit on the history of the Colosseum on one of the floors. I wish that it was possible to see a bit more of it, although I would soon see many pieces of its former marble scattered around the city.
After my personal tour through the Colosseum, I met up with Mari and Natalie (both assistants in France, from England and Scotland respectively) at the Arch of Constantine. While waiting for them, I took the first of many portraits of strangers that I would take in Rome. Apparently I am completely nonthreatening and don’t look like I’ll steal your camera. I hope they turned out.
We bought some much needed pizza and bottles of water at a bakery before going to Palatine Hill. I mention the bottle of water because this turned out to be the only one I had to buy, as Rome has drinkable water everywhere. Even the water that comes out of the spouts in the fancy fountains is okay to consume. It was amazing, especially as the sun never stopped shining and there was limited air conditioning.
Palatine Hill was very cool, although I was glad there were so many walking tours in English and French for eavesdropping because it was hard to work out the imperial buildings from the ruins. The legend is that Palatine Hill was where the twins Romulus and Remus were kept alive by the wolf in a cave. Eventually in their story, Romulus kills Remus and it is from his name that Rome gets its moniker. Due to this, Palatine Hill was the most prestigious of the seven hills in Rome and was where many of the emperors had their palaces.
We got some gelato and then there were the first of many church visits. I stumbled upon San Pietro in Vincoli, known for its statue of Moses created by Michelangelo. It also contains the above relic, St. Peter’s chains, which give the church its name.
Then I saw St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, which has, in addition to this rather unsettling angel, the meridian line of Rome. The basilica was built over what used to be Roman baths.
That evening, we took a free walking tour that started at the Spanish Steps. It covered all the big piazzas of Rome and gave me a good idea of the city, which would come in handy later when the ticket machines in the metro wouldn’t take my money or card and I had to navigate the streets.
From the Steps we made our way to the Trevi Fountain (where we threw coins over our shoulders) and then to the Pantheon, which was just as amazing as it was made out to be. We ended up at the Piazza Navona and then headed to the Piazza di Fiori and had dinner outside. I had a pizza. Yes, for the second time that day. This would be a trend.
From there we walked back through the piazzas we had just visited, starting with the Piazza Navona. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers) by Bernini was even more stunning with the lights and shadows.
The Temple of Hadrian was also beautiful in the dark. It’sthe remains of the old temple built into a new building, but at night you can almost imagine the modern fading away.
The Trevi Fountain wasn’t any less crowded at night, but more atmospheric. Rome is definitely a city to experience by both day and night.
Wow, I did that all in one day! No wonder my feet were tired. I’ll post more about Rome soon!