A SIDE-STEP TO ROME
04.12.2007 - 14.12.2007 15 °C
Ubiquitous in Roma is the symbol S.P.Q.R. which stands for "the Senate and the People of Rome".
I joined forces with Tianni and Marie as we had a week to roam around Rome. (pun bad, but intended). We managed to see everything we wanted in this time. That includes all the main, 'must see' tourist attractions and a bit of 'off the well beaten path' discoveries.
So, my impressions of Roma?
Well, many PEOPLE dont smile and dont come across as being too friendly and some were just outright rude! But those that were friendly are what I expected from 'traditional Italian hospitality'. They were wonderfully accomodating, flattering (without being sleezy) jovial and treated us a honered guests with smiles and warm welcomes, the best of which would sing, dance and make jokes as though we were all long time friends. Unfortunately these types were a minority.
There were many people at the big tourist attractions SELLING junk like flowers, brollies, awefully tacky and badly made souvineers and other such stuff that we found very annoying, especially their persistance (some wouldnt take NO for an answer no matter how many times you said it or how many different languages). But I figure their just trying to make a living like everyone else. Why do they all seem to be Middle Eastern?
THE TRAFFIC is just plain scarey. All road rules seem to be at peoples decretion and even if you cross the road at a pedestrian crossing with a little green man, you still take your life into your own hands. And from what I heard the cabbies will take any chance to rip off foreigners.
THE TRAINS are efficient and regular, though very dirty, always covered in graffiti inside and out and are usually pretty packed (prime hunting ground for pickpockets). This is because there are only two underground train lines for the whole city of 4 million! They are digging a tunnel for a third train line but so far it has taken 11 years, because, wherever they dig they stumble across ancient Roman ruins and have to stop and send in archeologists etc. to inspect and clear the sight before they can continue to dig.
You see, Rome as we know it today is built on the ruins of the past. In the past the river Tiber would flood on a regular basis and carry with it sand and silt, which slowly buried the city of Rome after its downfall when it fell to ruins. As a result, to this day discoveries are made on a regular basis and many more secrets remain buried. Remember, Rome wasnt built in a day!
THE FOOD! Oh, dear. This is perhaps my greatest dissapointment. The pizzas, are folded in a cool, take-away, sandwich style but are very unimaginative when it comes to toppings and most would only have two or three toppings max and never go to the edge. They were usually served just warm enough to be cold before you finish. Pasta was mediocre and overpriced. Coffee was small, expensive and never served hot. The best coffee I had was in a coffee shop that overlooked the Pantheon, it was huge, hot, tasted great, came in a handleless mug like a soup bowl and a price tag of €7.00.
As far as BEER goes, I have no complaints. The most common local brew (also the oldest and most popular) is Peroni a really refreshing larger that is served colder than German beer. It is tasty and cheap, most places sold tallies for about €2.50.
There was a severe lack of MUSIC, I dont know what I expected, maybe Im used to all the street performers and buskers in Munich. The only people we came across were guys dressed up as Roman soldiers that charged €5 to have your photo taken with them and others that dressed as Roman statues or Egyptian Pharoes and didnt move until you gave them money.
We took the advantage of tours there and I think it was well worth the cost as we got more out of the sights than we ever would have had we gone on our own. I would like to highly recommend 'Romaround Tours', we did a tour of the Colluseum and Palatine Hill with them one day,
then the Vatican Museum and Saint Peters Basilica the next day
then again with them to the Catacombs,
Circus Maximus, the 'Mouth of Truth' and on to Michelangelos 'Moses' the following day. The amount of history, the age of everything and the sheer magnitude and number of masterpeices that were created here is staggering!
There were literally ruins just lying around! Archeological wonders that were not considered good enough to salvage or re-use.
The cathedrals were representations of the wealth of the church and the magnificence of all that is Holy. The quintessential zenith of art and architecture! I felt ever so humble within those lofty, hallowed walls.
To stand infront of original works by the Masters of the Renaissance blew my mind, I barely resisted the urge to reach out and touch the canvas or stone and indulged instead in the less harmfull act of leaning in to give it a good sniff (I often get in trouble in galleries etc. for doing this but I love to smell things and this is obviously something that a picture of these works cannot provide. Yet?).
Of course, as with all places I have travelled it is great fun (and free) to just sit around and people watch for a while. It gives one a chance to rest your feet and mind, relax and absorb everything.
The Famous 'Trevi Fountain' where they sung 'three coins in a fountain' in 'Roman Holiday'.
Inside the Pantheon, an architectual wonder that has never been repeated, lies the actual resting place of the great Raphael (no, not the Ninja Turtle)!
Ancient maps of the, then known world, with of course Rome in the center all all roads leading there.
Everywhere you look, amazing statues,
beautifully ornamented facades and when you stop to take a break from mankinds amazing acheivements then every now and then nature steps in to show you one of hers.
So long, from ROMA!