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Published: October 14th 2010
When in Rome…..
It is incredulous to consider that we have come to our last stop on this wonderful journey to Italy, but here we are, in the capital of both Italy and the Catholic religion, Rome.
We successfully turned in the rental car in Orvieto and hopped the fast train to Rome. With our limited understanding of Italian, we discovered too late that right at the train station was the “finniculari” which in English is a funicular railway that takes you up a rather steep incline to the city of Orvieto and places you feet from where the night before we had parked the car!
Being fans of incline railways and recently living in Pittsburgh where they have these fine examples of public transportation, we were chagrined in not having taken the time to experience a type of transportation that has been in rapid decline (great pun, eh?) due to the automobile.
Our journey to this point has been one of great beauty and education but it does not prepare us for the sights and sounds of this great city. About 2.7 million people call this their home and many, many more flock to this place
each year to take in the ambiance, the culture and the symbolism of Catholicism that exudes from every cathedral and basilica. This may sound a bit like a travel journal, but it’s true!!
Upon arriving at the train station, we hopped into a cab and were whisked within minutes to our home for the next few days, which was a lovely guest house just a few steps from the Tever river and more than a few great restaurants.
It did not take long for us to realize that the Travestere area was a wonderful choice for exploration. This is an older, quaint residential section of town. It exudes Italian charm and ambiance. If you are traveling to Rome please stay in this area.
Our host Mario suggested a few places to sample fine Italian cuisine and we tried all of them while we were here. Italians know great food and it is still amazing that every one of them doesn’t resemble a bowling ball due to all the wonderfully flavored high-caloric meals that land in front of you on a daily basis.
It would be easy to spend a few pages just describing the food here,
but there were also many amazing sights as well. Temperatures in the mid 70’s and cloudless skies presented us with perfect touring conditions and we obliged.
We took in most of the usual venues, like the Vatican museum, the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, but also took the time to venture up to the Piazza de Garibaldi, which allows stunning views of the city as well as just taking the time to wander about drinking in the surroundings. This was an outstanding view and well worth the bus ride to the top.
The Sistine Chapel is quite a sight and anyone who visits this city should make every effort to see this beautiful display of Michelangelo’s skill at painting. Hard to believe that he fancied himself a better sculptor than painter.
Both, the Vatican museum and the Coliseum were bigger than we had expected. The Coliseum would hold about 50,000 fans. Not that many by American standards, but then you’ve got to flashback almost two centuries. Thumbs up, or down?? Time to watch Spartacus again!
We thought the Spanish Steps were a bit disappointing and enjoyed the Trevi Fountain. It was fun to
watch all the tourists tossing coins into the fountain to re-enact a scene from the famous 1954 film.
Rome is a city crowded with traffic on streets laid out many centuries ago, which is a great lead in to the history of this city. The Roman Empire was quite the spectacle at the time, and we’re told that over 1 million resident inhabited Rome around the time of Christ. The influence of the empire stretched for thousand of miles in all directions. They were great conquerors and provided the citizenry with many advanced privileges and amenities not had by many. But then it all came crashing down and by 800 A.D., there were fewer than 30,000 residents of Rome. Seems like greed got in the way, a tale that continues to repeat itself in history.
Fortunately there were the Catholics, who through the Papacy and the Vatican helped resurrect (probably a bad choice of words here) the city and eventually made it grand once again, starting with the Renaissance period.
The cathedrals are wonderful monuments to the design and beauty of the period. It’s like “churchapolouzza” here. There are fantastic churches and cathedrals on every piazza. Not
St. Peter's Dome
from the river Trever
even the fascist regime of Mussolini could dampen the hold of religion on this city and the beauty that accompanies it.
We could go on about the food, the history, the architecture, the people, but instead leave you with pictures, which we all know speak much more than words.
Our final impressions-- Rome is lovely and has high energy.
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