Published: July 14th 2012July 14th 2012
Rome is every bit as magical in the flesh as it has always been in my imagination. As a great lover of history I had dreamed of visiting Rome throughout my childhood. When I finally wandered the well traveled path in search of the ancient Colosseum the beautiful city did not disappoint.
The Colosseum has always been fascinating to me. In my youth I found the stories of the gladiators awe inspiring but the sheer scale of what is left of this unique aged forum had captivated me the most. Yes, there were long queues on a sweltering hot summers day as I waited in anticipation to finally look inside and I was slightly distracted by the loud speakers belonging to near by tour guides and the incessant click of cameras as people stood and posed with men in gladiator costumes. This did not impact my enjoyment of the day at all and nothing could prepare me for how I would feel when I stepped into the vast forum looking into the arena below. There was a certain atmosphere around me, an electric excitement. Although the battles in the forum remain firmly in the past I felt as though my mind was transported to distant days when the arena had teamed with gladiators and exotic animals as the emperor and local people cheered overhead in the very seats I looked upon.
I exited the Colosseum in a rather dazed stupor as I headed towards the Roman forum. This in itself is a marvel to see although it is only a shadow of it's former glory. Despite it's age it is still inspiring to see ruins of a plaza where great speeches, criminal trails and elections were once held.
Although it was on my list of sights to see, I stumbled upon the Trevi
fountain by accident. It is in the middle of an area of shops and I heard the water gently tumbling before I saw the fountain in all its glory. Although it is nowhere near as old as the other areas I had visited it was just as breathtaking. In the daytime the fountain is teaming with tourists and it is difficult to get a good photograph unless you have a lot of patience. The chatter of the crowds is frequently broken by the sharp warning of a police whistle when people attempt to step into the water. In the evening the fountain is much quieter. I walked there in the moonlight and found only three other people and the occasional rose seller were there to disturb me. It is a wonderful time to sit and reflect whilst enjoying the view.
The small pavement cafes and restaurants are very romantic but as expected can sometimes leave you out of pocket. I found a nice restaurant tucked neatly into a side street with tangled ivy around the entrance. There was a man playing music on an accordion and fragrant flowers on the table. The food was delicious and the wine flowed.
As morning broke I eagerly headed towards Vatican City. I had a summer top on which exposed my shoulders slightly so I was asked to buy a T shirt to cover them up. Only then was I permitted to enter the city. The Apostolic Palace was much larger then I expected and my feet were very unhappy by the time we reached the Sistine Chapel. The frescoes were amazing but I was disappointed to see that you could not take photos of The Last Judgment. The experience of gazing upon this famous image was still very memorable.
As the day blended neatly into night I searched for the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita
). I joined the queue and recalled watching the memorable scene in Roman Holiday where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck visit this famous marble carving and simultaneously pretend it has bitten off their hand. I repeated the repetitive joke and pretended to tell it a lie while dangling my hand within it's open mouth. I faked mock surprise as my hand was left in tact. This was a little silly but definitely fun.
In the evening I drank cocktails in the Hardrock
cafe before strolling slowly down the via veneto
. A long leafy avenue that seemed to continue far into the distance. As the day came neatly to a close I hoped there was some truth in the words 'all road's lead to Rome' as I would happily travel any well beaten track back to this beautiful city.