Big City Tales

When in Rome…

December 29, 2011
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A guardian angel welcomes travellers to her fair city of Rome.

…do as the Romans do, or so the saying goes!

The famous Swiss Guards watch over Vatican City.

Thus, on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon, that means hitting the streets and roaming about with the masses.  Along the way, be prepared to stop and gawk at an impressive array of spectacular Roman ruins and to part with some Euros as you indulge in gelato not once, not twice, but three times (did I mention it was hot, and did I mention it was Rome?); as you partake of the most basic, but oh so delicious slice of pizza imaginable; and, as you shop in the discount designer stores and bargain with gypsy vendors along the street – both resulted in purchases of little black dresses, what more could a girl want?

Yes, Rome has a lot to offer and exploring it on foot revealed one historical masterpiece and visual delight after another.

If you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain legend has it that you will one day return to Rome!

The cascading water in the Trevi Fountain can be heard for blocks, but when you’re traipsing through narrow side streets it’s not immediately apparent where the noise is emanating from until you round a corner and it suddenly appears out of nowhere in all its grandeur and gurgling glory.  Truly, this is one of the most gorgeous fountains to be found anywhere in the world and is a definite must-see that will undoubtedly produce a few more than fine Kodak moments.

The Pope's window where he delivers public blessings from on Sundays.

Photo opps certainly abound in Rome and here are some other highlights to whet your appetite for all this city offers up to feast on:
The Vatican Museum – Smack dab in the centre of Rome lies Vatican City and the elaborate and well-kept museum that pays homage to the current and past Catholic pontiffs.  The luxurious interior with its tapestry-lined walls and painted ceilings is not to be outdone by the luscious exterior that provides a great view of the Pope’s garden and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica/Square – Michelangelo’s Pieta is the star work of art on the inside, but there are several other impressive statues in the aisles leading up to the exquisitely carved altar, and there are Latin phrases gilded in bronze and placed high along the walls just in case you needed something more to stimulate your eyes before exiting into the awe and splendor that is St. Peter’s Square.  Designed by Bernini, who also provided the inspiration for interior of the Basilica, the most impressive features of the square are the two colonnades that wrap around four columns deep on both sides, and the numerous full height statues that line the top of the roof.  One saintly figure after another is permanently and proudly on display for believers and sightseers alike to behold.

Exterior shot of the Vatican Museum.

The Colosseum / Arch of Constantine – Home of the gladiators who would ‘fight to the death’ and entertain politicians and the public in equal measure, the elliptical structure of the Colosseum could hold over 50,000 spectators that were spread out in four levels of seating accessible by some 80 entrances.   An earthquake in the 800s AD caused the southern portion to collapse and some of these ruins have been used in other buildings around Rome.

The Colosseum's south side was damaged by an earthquake.

The Arch of Constantine celebrates just one of many Roman war victories over the centuries.

Piazza Navona – This is a large public square/plaza area that boasts some of the finest Italian sculptures, fountains, and eating/shopping establishments.  In the middle of the plaza is the famous Four Rivers fountain /Obelisk and on the northern end is the just as famous Neptune fountain that depicts the god fighting with an octopus.
The Pantheon – Originally constructed as a temple for all Roman gods, this structure is one of the best-preserved in all of Rome and was, in fact, undergoing some sort of restoration when I was there in 2010.  It now serves as a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs of the Catholic faith.

A small portion of the Pantheon not under restoration.

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

The Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona.

Some of the imperial ruins along the road to the Colosseum.

Ceiling detail at St. Peter's Basilica.

Roof detail at St. Peter's Basilica.

Close-up detail of one of the many sculptures that adorn the Trevi Fountain.