My flight thundered down the runway of Leonardo Da Vinci Aeporto (Airport) in Rome, the capital of Italy at exactly 11.30am. It knifed into the tarmac moving slowly to taxi so that passengers could disembark. It was a bright and breezy morning in Fumiciano, Rome. This is an amazing city from the rest of the European cities I have been to so far. The people here are very warm and cordial. In spite of the language barrier (Italian) everything seemed to be moving well that fine day of my arrival in Rome. Everywhere I went, I could hear the word “Boungiorno! Boungiorno”! I was curious to know what that meant. I was told it meant “good morning or Good day”. The drive to Lazio where I would be lodging in the Alessandro palace hostel for the next few days was very long and winding. The traffic and heat from the afternoon sun was already building up. The cab driver knew his way in and out of the whole of Rome, he needed no Tom-tom or SatNav. We took an authorized route in order to bypass the stagnant traffic that had snaked its way into the highway. Finally, we were in Lazio and I gave the hotel address to the cab driver who took me to Alessandro Palace. I paid him 20 Euros for the fare from Fumiciano to Lazio.
The hotel was strategically located to the Termini Station, which is just a walking distance. Commuting to and from any part of Rome was made much easier and quicker in that way. I needed to get some food to eat as I was now starving having skipped breakfast. Italy in general and Rome in particular is noted for its finest pizzas and pastas the whole world over. What more could a hungry and starving person do than ask for a bowl of pasta! I managed to find a little cute pizza hut on the cobbled streets not far from my lodging place that do not only pizzas but pasta and wines as well. After my lunch I needed to relax for the next day.
The saying that Rome was not built in a day is embedded with philosophical meanings. I had an agenda of seeing Rome in one day. I was yet to discover why that was a common saying. The first week of my time in Rome (Roma) was incredible and relaxing. Here are some of the highlights from that period.
Rome is amazingly charming with a variety of historic sites, amusing shops and outdoor tratorria lining the streets. Everywhere you go there were unique street names that started with piazza meaning place. Most of the streets are named after heroes and heroines of ancient Rome or after other ancient Roman cities. The Colosseo is the crown jewel of Rome. It has a magnificent panoramic view of Lazio. This was where several battles were fought by gladiators. A long queue outside the Colosseo snaked its way into the entrance of this spectacular and most visited ancient monument. A lot of tourists the world over were waiting patiently for their turn into the beautiful monstrous architectural building that tells a story spanning several centuries ago. It was truly an honour to set foot into the Colosseo that had witnessed such a significant history that was shaped by aristocrats, plebeians, religious leaders of the highest order and the proletariat.
My next stop was the Trevi fountain or Fontana Trevi. It is said that one’s visit to Rome is not made whole without visiting this place. The heavy presence of the Polizia or Guardia is a striking feature at Trevi. It is probably due to the number of tourist it attracts in minutes. Trevi fountain means the fountain that stands at the junction of three roads. I was also told that it is one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. Legend also has it that at the aqueduct site, one must throw a coin inside the aqueduct making any kind of wish thereafter. This is to ensure a safe return to the city of Rome.
It is even more colourful to be at the fountain at night when the light beams fall on the splashing water from the aqueducts reflecting a golden glow of light. Another myth that holds is that at night the gods come out to make love.
It was a perfect day in Rome, the sun had splashed white clouds across the horizon and rivers of silver light ran through the streets. Walking was the best option to see and admire the most if not all of what the Romans were not able to build in a day.
Drifting away from the Trevi fountain, I could not miss the best ice creams or gelato as they are popularly called in Italian that was being sold in almost every outlet. The feeling was too tempting not to grab one, but the further I walked away passing each shop, I could hear shop vendors shouting out “gelato, gelato”. I could also see people of all ages, young and old alike feasting away to either a cup or cone size gelatos as if that was going to be their last meal of the day. The temptation was growing too stronger when I stood by one of the shops when all of a sudden; a discerning young lady speaking Italian came to offer me a sample of gelato to taste. Ding dong! The taste was so amazing I thought if the “Gods nectar” was at work. The taste was so fresh there were no artificial flavours and colors used in comparison to the taste of other ice creams that I was used to.
The Pantheon is not so far from the Trevi fountain. The apex of the pantheon domes is only visible after a careful and close look from the Trevi fountain. All other parts of the pantheon are hidden by other buildings across the streets. The Pantheon is believed to be the temple of all the gods in ancient Rome. The splendid architectural prowess of ancient Romans still amazes me. The dimensions of the pantheon are exactly the same as from the floor to the top and its diameter. What even amazes me most is the mathematical precision, building materials that were used thousands of years ago, without the help of heavy earth moving machines such as cranes or diggers. Almost every structure was laid by hand and physical strength that stood the vagaries of the weather even up to modern-day.
My target of seeing Rome in one day was not materializing as I had thought it out earlier. The quickest means was to get on the hop-on-hop off double Decker buses that were dotted all over the termini station. These buses leave at the termini station every 15-20mins. It was convenient that way for me as I could get to see most of the places of touristic interest in and around Rome and move effortlessly around. I could get off and explore a place of interest in detail and hop onto the next tour bus. I bought the 24 hour ticket at the cost of € 20. There were eight major stops that were to be done to cover up the entire Roman Municipality. They included the Termini, Piazza Barberini, Piazza Vaticano, Piazza Venetia, Piazza Augusto Imperatore, Colosseo /Circus Massimo, San Pietro, Tritone and Piazza della Repubblica.
My tour of Roma lasted until the wee hours of 6pm. All in all, even though Rome was not built in a day, I saw Rome in a day. Thanks to the open top tour. What I saw has left fond memories of liking this city to bits- wonderful and historic. So I say Ciao, Roma, ciao to the gelatos, ciao to the splendid architectural beauty and ciao to all the good foods and wines in Rome (pizza, pasta, soave etc). Bourngiorno Roma!