Wandering around.. Rome

This summer I was lucky enough I got persuaded to go to Italy. Persuaded as it was not my idea, I was rather comfortable enjoying my working-stay in Bol, Brac, Croatia, with a laptop on my knees, glass of wine in my hand and a beautiful view from my terrace to the sea.

But I left on a journey to Italy, with only a small pack of things I could afford to carry around (I like to be very lightly burdened when I travel as I enjoy the freedom of movement that gives you).

The image gallery below tracks the chronological order so you can easily follow what was happening.

Rome picture gallery, August 2008

Arriving to Italy

Italy is just across Adriatic sea from Island of Brac so I took an overnight ferry to get there. It was extremely windy that night and I remember going out to the ship's deck around 3 AM only to witness the uneven struggle of a huge ship with the raging wind and the wild sea. We were only barely managing through. I wondered what must it feel like when you are in the middle of the ocean? (hint)

Upon arriving to Rome I immediately headed for the first hotel I saw on the bus station. I didn't plan this trip ahead so I did not have a reservation or a place to stay decided. I decided not to lose time searching for cheap hotels as I had only a weekend in Rome.

The hotel I decided to stay in was called Gemini and the room was at 60 euro per night. Fair enough, I left my things and headed for the Rome metro station.

First impression of the Colosseum

The day ticket for public transport in Rome is 4 euro. There are two metro lines in Rome, one that gets you to Colosseum and the other one to Vatican. I immediately headed for Colosseum. I am a huge history fan and I was eager to see it.

Nothing prepares you for the first view of Colosseum. As you step out of the dark metro station, and climb the stairs towards the light you suddenly realize you are standing at the base of the Colosseum. That's a nice trick you Italians... I was simply blown away by the sight.

I made a tour around it and decided to visit it in the morning when the queue to enter it was hopefully smaller (my estimate was a waiting line of about an hour on a very hot Italian day). So I strolled down to the city center.

Lunch in Rome's oldest restaurant

Rome is a huge historical mix of influences. From the ancient time through the middle ages to modern ages. You can see it all in one place and that makes it pretty remarkable. Other cities on the continent do not have such a historical weight, and most of the history in other European capitals goes back few centuries. But not in Rome.

As I was strolling down the street I caught with a corner of my eye a restaurant near the Trajan's market. It seemed cozy, and being right besides a nice historical spot caught my attention. I decided to have a lunch there. It turns out that it was the oldest restaurant of Rome and I could see the pictures of the restaurant's owner meeting with Pope. The whole lunch turned around 50 euro. I was just getting used to Rome's prices. They were high but not as high as in London for example.

I was also beginning to feel the spirit of the Rome as the city slowly grew on me.

The Gypsy story

After the lunch, I headed towards the downtown. I asked the waiter in the restaurant to point me to places I should see (you usually get a much better tip then any tourist guide can give you). And so my first stop was the fountain of Trevi, a beautiful fountain hidden in the Rome's tight streets.

I bought some souvenirs from a Hindu guy there and he was kind to warn me about keeping my wallet safe as there are a lot of robberies on the streets of Rome, most by "Yugoslavians", he sad. I explained to him that I am a Yugoslavian and he starts to apologize to me :)

The alleged 'Yugoslavians' he was pointing to, were in fact a group of gypsies nearby. I ask him first to look at the gypsies and then at myself, and tell me if there he sees any resemblance (which there is of course none). I then ask him to compare himself and the gypsies. He is already getting a puzzled look. I proceed to explain him the origins of gypsies - how Alexander the Great of Macedonia conquered all countries up to India and when he was returning back, he brought a lot off local people along, some as slaves and some on their own will. These people later inhabited the Balkans and became ethnic group called Gypsies today. At the end I told him, in all chance, they are more likely to be relatives of his then mine and left him wondering :)

Downtown Rome and tourists

Downtown Rome consists of a large number of very old and tight streets, going up and down in no particular order. But you can never get lost as there are hordes of tourists wandering around and all you have to do is follow them. I generally do not like crowds, especially if they are made up of tourists. It kills any satisfaction that you can get from any place.

And in Rome this is a huge problem. The majority of people you see on the Rome's streets are tourists. Having asked few Italians how they can live with that they told me that tourists are usually out during the day - when the most Italians either work or are just not going anywhere as it's too hot outside. In the afternoon, when the tourists are too tired from strolling the streets and already lying comfortably in their hotels, the Italians start to crawl out and have the city for themselves. Nice.

Romance in Rome

Still having not found any signs of romance, the word I think has the roots in the word Rome itself, I quickly strolled through the downtown, took a picture of famous Spanish stairs and went for a nearby park. Tourists don't like parks and that's why I like them.

The center of Rome is taken by a huge park called Villa Borghese . As soon as I stepped into it I knew this was going to be a great place. A beautiful Casina Valadier villa caught my attention immediately. It was a perfect spot for a wedding, that was obvious at first sight. The place was calm and beautiful, and the view of Rome laid behind. I asked so you do not have to - they do weddings and to rent whole place for a day would cost you less then 10,000 eur.

The whole park is heart-shaped and beautiful. It has a pond where you can rent a boat and enjoy with your loved one. A lot of mostly local people were just lying on the grass and having a nap or reading. It was a very quiet and serene place. To my surprise, I found a statue to the great Petar II Petrovic Njegos, something that is a rare sight even in the capital of Serbia.

I was soon very tired and proceeded back to my hotel. I was eager for the following day.

Back to the Colosseum

I woke up at 8 wanting to get to the Colosseum as soon as possible. When I came around 9.30 there was already a massive line formed, although it opens doors at 10am. So I did what all Italians do, I just sneaked into the beginning of the line and pretended it was perfectly normal.

I could not help but notice how poorly Colosseum seems to be preserved. For example when you enter you could freely take a chunk of it and carry it away, something a lot of people has been doing judging by the state of it. In Germany I am sure they would not let you enter such building at all.

Although in poor condition, the Colosseum is still one of the most impressive buildings I ever seen. I was impressed by the shear size of it and I still can not comprehend how in the world they built it 2000 years ago.

The main stage of Colosseum was not a place of just gladiator combats but also various other performances. They could rise entire scenery from below the stage, like small hills or tropical forests. Even naval battles were staged after the Colosseum was filled with water (imagine the effort to do that). And if it was raining, the roof would be covered with huge "sails" that scores of sailors would pull over. Impressive.

On one of the pictures I selected you can read the history of Colosseum.

I tagged along the group of American tourists to listen to their excellent guide and learn new things. I suggest you do that too :)

Work in Rome?

My work as a WordPress consultant has many merits, one of being mobility. I was checking my email in an internet cafe (which are rather hard to find for such large city) and I received one from who seemed to be an Italian guy seeking help with a project involving WordPress. That's great I thought and I left him a note saying I am in Rome and if he is too, he should give me a call. Surely, fifteen minutes later my phone rings and we schedule a meeting.

My new Italian friend shows me a couple of interesting spots in Rome which you can read about on a very interesting site of his called Italian notebook, I recommend for all travelers to Italy.

Vatican

My next stop is of course Vatican. Vatican is 'embedded' in Rome and is few streets away from a metro station. I put only one picture of it in the gallery as the magnificence of the place needs to be experienced personally.

Everyone has different emotion when Vatican is involved so I'll leave it at that. There is also a post office where you can send postcards with the Vatican stamp on it, something I took advantage of.

Gianicolo hill

Near the Vatican I spotted the Gianicolo hill, from where it seemed to be a very good view of the city. A half an hour of walking later I was on top of it and I was right. I could see the Rome like on the palm of my hand.

And generally you would be walking a lot around the Rome. Everything seems to be so close, which it is, but there is so much to see that you end up walking 10-20km every day. And in the summer it gets very hot and that doesn't help it.

So I needed water and I needed a lots of it.

Swimming pool in Rome

Being a passionate swimmer I like to visit swimming pools. It came as a surprise for Italians whom I asked about one. They were all trained to tell me in their poor english where the Colosseum or the Spanish stairs where, but 'swimming pool' was something new for a tourist to ask. Finally I found a taxi driver who took me to one.

It was a very nice swimming pool called La Rossa, and luckily it was nearby my metro line so I could easily get back. Although it was Saturday and a very hot day, there were not a lot of people which I immediately liked. If I was in Belgrade in a swimming pool at this time, I know I could not enter the water from the crowd.

The water was fresh and clean and it really made my hot August day in Rome. So, Rome, I congratulate you on the swimming pools too.

Nightlife

This day I decided I would go out and with a tip from my new Italian friend I knew where too. I asked him specifically to point me to a place he would go out with his friends.

The place was on the shore of the river (I forgot the name now but it was between Circo Massimo and Gianicolo hill). A lot of cafes and lounge bars, a lot of young people, it was great indeed. I had a pleasant conversation with an American girl who sat at my table (something she obviously learned from Italians - very nice). She was in Rome on business and decided to stay - no wonder I thought.

The night quickly passed in good company and I was out for my last morning in Rome.

What is Rome?

It is certainly one of my favorite places now. Rarely in any city it can happen to you to stroll down the street, turn your head at the crossing and see one of the most magnificent buildings in human history, casually in the distance.

Or rarely you can find a city with such a huge selection of cozy little squares to drink your morning cappuccino at. And everyone will greet you no matter who you are or where you from.

Great people, history and fifth economy in the world truly makes it a very desirable place to live.

It was time to wave Rome goodbye, and hit the waves of the Adriatic sea again...


More like this:


Posted in: Leisure
TAGS:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

5 Comments

  1. Jun 10th, 2011 2:12 PM

    I'm getting jealous here. Italy is one of the countries I wish to visit.

  2. May 4th, 2010 11:00 PM

    i'm really glad you enjoyed my city! i'm roman and sometimes i forget how incredible and beautiful it is!

  3. Katiem
    Feb 1st, 2009 4:36 PM

    Hi, loved your trip report. Can you tell me where the swimming pool is in Rome, I cant seem to find any pools listed on the internet. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous
    Aug 25th, 2008 10:27 AM

    very nice . i like!!!!

  5. Aug 24th, 2008 8:54 PM

    its nice to see all these places visited by others .. in the same summer as i did
    brings back memories :)
    hope you liked Rome .. i know i did ;)