Romantic Rome

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hi everybody!

As part of our search for sun in the Dutch winter we spent a week in Rome at the beginning of February. We found lots of sun and beautiful weather the first half of the week and plenty of rain the other half, but still had a wonderful time seeing all the sites and wandering the ancient roads.

Since we had a full week in Rome, we spent the first weekend enjoying it by just walking around and not worrying too much about particular sites. Our hotel was located just inside the old city wall on the edge of Villa Borghese - Rome's version of Central Park. After checking in Saturday afternoon we took a stroll through the park and spent our afternoon watching the teenage rollerblade obstacle course, families with children dressed in costume (we don't know why they were dressed up, but it was very cute), and lots of runners and bicyclists. Upon exiting the park we found ourselves in a piazza at one end of old Rome - next to the old city gate - and took a nice stroll through the pedestrian shopping streets. Sunday afternoon seems to be the time to stroll as the streets were quite crowded and all the stores were open.

On Sunday there was a giant flea market in a part of the city without tourist attractions so we went there and spent almost the entire day pushing our way through another crowd. The market was huge and had a variety of stalls - everything from new cheesy stuff to antiques to swap meet material. There was also great food - roast pork sandwiches seeming to be the most popular. After the market we were a bit pooped but wanted to see more so we did something we almost never do - we hopped on a tour bus and rode around the city - which led us to another antique market! It was a really nice way to see a lot in a short period before starting the heavy duty siteseeing.

What can be said about ancient Rome? Man, is it OLD!!! It's just amazing to be standing in the Colosseum and to know that a very sophisticated (if brutal) society watched complexly staged events there almost 2000 years ago. And in the Roman Forum, ancient Rome's downtown, orators were orating, judges were judging and Romans were buying and selling goods and services nearly 2500 years ago! Even more amazing, the Forum was almost completely buried until Napoleon's time (mid 1800s). The tops of columns and arches peaked out from the ground and after being buried for 2300 years somebody decided it might be a good idea to find out what was underneath the dirt. The Forum is a public area today so local Romans go there with their takeaway lunch or sit and read or tourist-watch while tourists like us marvel at the civilization of such an ancient society.

We had wonderful weather the first several days with clear blue skies and crisp temperatures made warmer by the sun. We did all of the outdoor activities on those days. The latter part of the week turned very wet and colder so we hit the museums and Vatican City and some ancient churches.

The National Museum of Rome contains lots of busts and statues and presents, through the leaders of the day, the history of Rome. We followed Rick Steves' museum tour which gave just the right amount of history and allowed us to focus on the important statues and skip the rest. For us, the tour was critical as the statues can look pretty much all alike without some sort of guide.

The Capitol Museum seemed to be popular with educational outings. We saw a field trip of grade school children all tentatively listening to their teacher as well as a troop of military cadets who were visiting from Milan. The museum itself is in beautiful space on a hill behind the Forum. Parts of the basement of the museum overlook the Forum and offer great shots of Rome's ancient downtown.

OK - We have to admit it - the food was definitely up there on the highlight list. We had antipasti bars loaded with veggies soaked in olive oil, thin crust pizza straight from the oven at a little takeaway place close to Trevi Fountain (which we knew had to be good when the local cops were frequenting it), creamy gelato, al dente pasta loaded with marinara sauce or garlic oil, and lovely little pastries at a teeny tiny snack shop that also happened to make beautiful cappuccinos. Despite the fact that it was February, making fresh ingredients at a premium, everything still tasted fresh and flavorful. Another interesting Rome fact: Most of the fountains spew potable water. Unless otherwise marked the water is safe to drink and it seems as though there are fountains everywhere so we carried a water bottle with us and filled up as needed.

Rome was not as bustling and crowded as we had imagined. It didn't feel overwhelmingly big and busy - although it is a very vibrant city with a lot going on. We were probably expecting something more like NYC or Naples, but this was actually quite manageable. All in all we really enjoyed our time and Rome and were happy to have spent a full week there.

Happy travels!
Melanie and Chris

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ozziesescape on

Loved the gladiators
Very funny picture. We ran across a gladiator that was dating a woman who lived 4 miles from us in the USA.

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