My Trip to Rome, Italy – History, Art, Architecture, Grandeur

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The second leg of my March 2010 trip, that I am finally determined to finish the posts about, before another destination comes up! The earlier one on France is here.

Rome Day 1

The much panic-stricken running at Nice airport did result in our catching the flight to Rome & we landed well after midnight, so we had arranged for an airport pickup & hotel drop with a private taxi service since there was no public service available at the late hour. After more drama when he took us to the wrong place at 1 am, got upset at whoever had assigned him with much angry yelling in Italian on the phone, & finally found his way to the hotel, we were exhausted and ready to sleep wary of the early checkout. We were only staying one night because our couchsurfing host was taking us in the next day. That was going to be a great adventure, first time for us staying with hosts.

The Trevi Fountain Rome

The Trevi Fountain, Rome

The Hotel Julia was super, highly recommended to anyone for its central location in Rome. We began by seeing the Trevi Fountain was our first halt, walking distance from the hotel, and it was magnificent. Lived upto everything seen or heard including the famous scene from the movie, La Dolce Vita. Like everythingelse in Rome, we just came upon it. We spent a long time there as it was just too beautiful. History at every corner is the best way to describe Rome, cathedrals hundreds of years old are routine & any monument 200 years old is called young!

Rome

Sun setting over Rome, as seen from Castle San Angelo

From there we headed to the Castle San Angelo which is now a museum, and apart from the exhibits, also has a superb view of Rome & St Peter’s Basilica in particular. We also went to Spanish Steps, the longest and widest staircase in Europe leading to the church Trinita Dei Monti where a choir was in full swing. Our heads were buzzing with everything we had seen on just our first day. It hadn’t come to an end yet. We met Giuseppe, our host in the evening, and he drove us back to his apartment (we passed the Colloseum on the way, all lit up & a magnificent sight!) with a super tiny lift – no idea how we fitted us and our bags into that lift! He even cooked us dinner, pasta with mushrooms, served with some lovely wine. Honestly, we were relieved that he was so sweet. It’s not common to be offered dinner in your hosts’ home.

Rome Day 2

Roman Forum

At the Roman Forum - the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Rome has so much to see that a few days are difficult to do justice. The Foro Romano (Roman Forum) is so large that a few hours are not enough. It’s part of the centralised area around which the ancient Roman civilization developed & is an absolute must-see if you like ancient architecture and ruins. Next up was of course, the Colloseum and I had the fight scene from Gladiator playing in my head as I saw what the amphitheatre looked like.

The Colosseum Amphitheatre Rome

The Colosseum Amphitheatre, Rome

The impact of being in a monument built in 70 AD is like nothing else. This was followed up in the evening with a visit to the Pantheon, where we saw the full moon through skylight in the dome. The Pantheon is a beautiful structure, with its Corinthian columns & its gigantic dome. And we also met our second host, also Giuseppe, who volunteered to show us around Rome for the evening even though we were not staying with him. He was just as sweet, took us to some places we would never have been to ourselves. Like a place on a hill with a view of all Rome, we saw it all lit up at night.

Rome Day 3

St Peter's Basilica, Rome

St Peter's Basilica, Rome

The next day was devoted to the Vatican. This was also the most memorable day and a brilliant climactic ending to our stay in Rome. The lines are extremely long for both St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museum. So we were prepared to stand for hours but it was well worth it. Entering St Peter’s Basilica, it leaves you spell bound. It’s even more beautiful than any pictures can do justice to. Lined with murals, sculptures, paintings, it has more than you can take in all at once. It’s overwhelming in size and in its architecture. Next up, the Vatican Museum. Passing the famed and oft-seen Swedish Armed Guards in their typical uniform, we headed around the wall of the Vatican City to the Museum entry point. Its great to pick up the audio guides at all the locations as they give you a sense of the history and what’s special about each place. In here, you see the works of Raphael, from his paintings to his frescoes/ murals & of course, works of many other artists. The Sistine Chapel, where photography is not permitted, is an extremely large area with a high ceiling and you can stare at the beautiful panels, of which the central one is the most popular representation, for hours. Though one doesn’t have that kind of time, especially since its crowded and there isn’t enough sitting space.

The Pope, Vatican City, Rome

Yes, that is The Pope at the event at St Peter's Square, Rome

It was late evening by the time we finished and headed for some food. Sitting in an open air cafe, we had just finished our meal when we heard music emanating from St Peters square. Rushing over, we found a concert in full swing! There were popular local singing stars and choirs (from what we could make out since it was all Italian. There were large TV screens projecting this since the square is large. The energy of the thousands assembled there was something to see! There were also armed forces, army, navy present watching the show. Despite the cold wind sweeping through the square, for which we didn’t have enough protection, nothing could get us away! After a while, the Pope came out in a little car, he was driven around, waving at the crowds and finally made his way to the stage and gave a speech. The odds of just walking into something like this, not knowing this was going to happen, really put us on a high!

We met Giuseppe (not the one we were staying with) again at the end of the concert, and he took us to the area with the buzzing nightlife – Trastevere, with its tiny cobbled lanes lined with pubs. Italians also drive and park much like Indians. Can’t find a spot? Park anywhere and hit the distress lights. Live performances in our pub, kept us on a high after that superb evening. Next we went to a place that specialises in shots served in little chocolate

Menu at Trastevere, Rome

Menu for the shots at Trastevere, Rome. Succhiotto means Love Bite.

Shots in chocolate glasses!

Shots in chocolate glasses with whipped cream and chocolate flakes. In a word, awesome.

glasses! All the drinks are named after positions or actions e.g. 69, lovebite, there’s even the kamasutra. After pouring the drink into the glass, it’s topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes. The bartender also instructs you on how to have it. You have to hold it from the top of the glass, and put it bottom first into your mouth, swallowing it whole! Quite an experience this! And we wouldn’t have had it were it not for Giuseppe! What an end to our stay in Rome.

Couchsurfing is highly recommended, but you do have to tidy up and keep your host’s room & bathroom clean. If you are on your best behaviour, you will find bonding with your host also easy as the last thing anyone wants is strangers messing up their home and expecting them to clean up. As long as that’s taken care of, you will learn more from them about their country & culture than you could by reading guide books. That’s what travel is about anyway. It’s the human interaction that enhances the experience & makes you appreciate your surroundings.

Next up was Florence. So different, but just as memorable. More on that in the next post.

Giuseppe, couchsurfing host

Giuseppe, our couchsurfing host who took us around Rome.

Giuseppe, couchsurfing host

Giuseppe, our couchsurfing host, with the dinner he cooked for us.

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  1. Super! Keep those posts coming… You’re inspiring me to start dreaming again 🙂

      • Namrata B
      • September 6th, 2010

      thanks! definitely, there will be more posts. don’t stop dreaming to begin with!

  2. Greetings from the second Giuseppe… ahahaha

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