Oh, Rome, beautiful Rome…named by the ancient Romans the “Eternal city” or the “Capital of the world” (Capital Mundi), they truly believed that regardless of what will happen in the world or how many empires will come or collapse, Rome will last forever. And there it is.
A city with a great history
Founded 700 years B.C the city of Rome passed through many transition periods during its glourious past, becoming in present one of the most visited city in the world. Attracted by the unique art pieces, spectacular construction and not only, hundreds tourists all over the world are queuing everyday in front of the ancient masterpices trying to experience on their own the greates stories read on the history books.
Built on 7 hills, Rome doesnt impress by size, being actualy a cozy city with a gentle weather which can be visited any time of the year, advisable by walk, every stone in the italian capital having its story which should be listened to.
Art and history at every corner of the street
Having a quick look to the Rome touristic map might get you in panic thinking that you will probably need a whole month to visit it, fact which is probably true if you are passionate by ancient art and history, but for regular tourists who enjoy sightseeing and good pictures it can be done in just one day. Myself being already “expert” in daily trips I will teach you the most pleasant way of doing it.
Without a previous home preparation, I start my first visit in the “eternal city” using the fastest and most convenient way of transportation: the giant hop on-hop off bus. The tickets can be found everywhere, you dont even have to bother about it, the street vendors will approach you with offers for the red or blue buses, which are following the same path but different routes. The advantage is that you can visit the whole city in just few hours, stopping only for the major sites without fearing that you will get lost, plus you can learn some interesting facts from the audio guide.
Once in Rome, you will always come back
This time, being already familiar with the city map and accompanied by few colleagues we decided to take it easy and enjoy a plesant walk through Rome.
The shuttle bus from the hotel just dropped us in Piazza Venezia, which is the best reference point for our “imaginary” journey, conecting all the important touristic objectives of the capital.
I can see from here the fabulos Colosseum rising with pride in the end of the street between other archeological sites with same great value and history behind.
We are passing by Forum Romanum stoping for few pictures and admiring the beautiful ruins so well preserved during the centuries, same how the ancient romans predicted.
Even if is the begining of autumn, few indian vendors are still selling refreshment drinks, shouting “vater, vater” making us laugh loud while the emperor Augustus is watching them carless from the other side of the road, cold as a statue can be.
Lunch accompanied by a live performance
The Colosseum is just few steps away but we decide to make a stop over for quick lunch before we continue with the magnificent symbol of Italy. We find a small family run restaurant located on a tiny street so common in Italy with direct view over the Colosseum. In a broken italian I am ordering food for the whole group as the contemporary romans are still being faithful to their rich latin vocabulary and dont want to profane it with any modern influence.
One of the owners is trying to interact with us, surprised of the different nationalities which are sitting together on the same table, performing some italian songs with a Pavarotti talent, which attract even more customers. Our pizza and mussels are already on the table together with the famous drinks, Campari Spritz and Proseco, and we are having a good time trying to know each other better. After the meal is over we are offered a strong espresso which give us enough energy to even “join” the ancient games in the arena of Colosseum.
Colosseum, the symbol of a glorious Empire
Once we reach the ruins of the roman Colosseum, the adrenaline is already gone and from courageous gladiators we become simple tourists queing in the same line with others for a quick visit of the theatre. Surprisingly after less than 15 min I am already inside, admiring the beautiful ruins of an old empire, while my colleagues prefer to take some snaps outside of the Colosseum. Paying the ticket for the amphitheater will guarantee you the free entrance for the Forum Romanum, which unfortunately was impossible to be visited during my short stay.
Again I am getting emotional as every time when I visit a new place with an important history value, thinking how fortunate I am for being here, surrounded by these stones which endured so much blood, so many sacrifice, so many glorious stories.
The inside disappoints a bit, being partially damaged by the time, earthquakes and stone robbers, not even close of the image given by the Hollywood movies but this doesnt make it less grandiose or impressive.
Actualy the Colosseum is known as the first public entertainment place in history, our modern football arenas following the same structure but practicing a sport less taught for the taste of the ancient romans who preferred to witness bloody confrontations such as mock sea battles, executions or animals huntings.
The hell beneath the Colloseum
Beneath the amphitheater, the things were even more dirty than that. Holding an elaborate system of underground chambers, cells, tunnels and passages, the “hypogeum” (underground) was responsible with the disposal of the dirt and dead bodies from the arena.
Thousands slaves lost their life in a terrific atmosphere filled with blood, excrement and humidity while others were used till exhaustion to supply the water system so important for the Colosseum games, which most of the time were extended to 100 days in a row.
Vatican, a state in another state
Leaving the bloody history behind, we start a 30 minutes pleasant walk, following the funny signs which direct us to another city, the Vatican. Its impossible to miss it since the face of the Pope will always show up on your way, every 50-100 meters.
Known as the smalles country on the world, Vatican is enclaved in Italy but politicaly independent with its own ruller, currency and laws, being the head of the catholic church worldwide.
If you are planing to visit the Vatican’s museums you need to make sure that you have the 40 euro entrance fee and enough time alocated for it. The San Pietro basilica its huge and crammed with artworks extremly precious for their culture value. Every Sunday the Vatican is closed except the last Sunday of the month when admission is free but it will take hours to get inside without a fast track ticket.
All the attention is directed now to the Swiss guards which patrol around the Vatican in their striped uniforms. They might have a funny look but actualy they are profesional trained solders, armed and ready to fight to protect the Pope and his kingdom.
Vatican is a place with a fascianting history and lot of unvealed secrets which I will refer to in a different travel story.
Now, leaving the beautiful San Pietro square, we cross the bridge over the Tiber river, stopping in front of Castello Sant Angello for a quick session of photos.
The most stunning fountain in the world
The weather is just amazing, unexpected hot for this period and we decide to continue our sightseeiing with the famous Fontana di Trevi. I am surprised to notice that some of my colleagues dont have any clue about it, even if it have been declared one of the most impressive fountain in the world.
My first time in Rome I was very disappointed to find Fontana under construction, restorations which lasted for more than a year and since then I kept the coin in my wallet and my wishes ready.
Struggling through the layers of tourists I make my way to the fountain ready to accomplish my mission.