Day 5: Rome
I loved Rome the first time I was here, but I sort of felt like I’d already “done” the city before, so honestly I wasn’t all that excited about coming back. But today reminded me of what I really love about the city. It’s just such a wonderful mix of ancient history, art and culture, in a vibrant living environment. And, also, gelato.
We started our morning with a really thorough tour of the Coliseum and Roman Forum. I had been to these sites before on a guided tour, but it paled in comparison to today’s tour. Our guide took us through the Coliseum, walked us through the Forum, and led us up to Capitol Hill. All the while she told us great stories about the history of each of the places we were visiting. My grasp of history is, admittedly, not the best, but I was happy to be along for the ride.
After we finished the tour of ancient/pagan Rome we encountered a huge parade – I’m assuming it had something to do with Palm Sunday but it’s hard to know for sure. At any rate, our group of 25 parted ways at that point; most took the tour bus back to the hotel, some stayed in the area, and nine of us headed off to Isla Tiberina and points beyond.
This was an area of Rome I hadn’t seen before and our guide had mentioned it was an area he enjoys (he lives in Rome when he’s not giving tours to the likes of us). So we walked there and had lunch and a beer and then meandered through the area. Eventually one couple decided to head back to the hotel, so then it was just seven of us.
We spent some time in Campo de Fiori – at least, that’s where I think we were. There was some sort of farmers’ market / flea market going on there. It appeared that there was a nice mix of tourists and locals.
And then we walked to the place that was my favorite last time I was in Rome: The Piazza Navona. It was in full splendor today, with its cafes and artists and spectacular fountains surrounded by lovely architecture on all four sides. It is an absolute treasure, and it reminds me of one of the things I enjoy most about Europe: the city centers. Most cities and even small towns have these plazas or squares around which you’ll find little shops and cafes and places to sit and meet people. In America, we tend to have strip malls.
So I took my time there taking lots of pictures, and we ate gelato, and it was just lovely.
Afterwards, it started raining a bit so we picked up the pace. We didn’t linger at the Pantheon – of the seven of us remaining, none of us know the significance of the place so we just shrugged and moved on.
I’m back in my hotel now and rumor had it I could connect to the Internet if I went down to the bar, er, lobby, so that’s where I am right now. Not a bad place to be.