Rome is a great city and the last stop in Italy for us – I found it exhausting and enchanting all at once.
The city centre itself is pretty normal, for Italy, with towering buildings, the paint sunworn, with hundreds of large windows, shutters open to catch the breeze. Walking farther inwards reveals brick walls, ivy climbing gracefully to fortify the buildings within, some embassies, some hotels, and each one grander than the next. I saw countless statues, flawless white or green stone, carved intricately and rising high through the cobbled streets, and fountains dripping and gurgling with water into basins.
After travelling from Positano back to Sorrento by bus, then catching the circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Naples, then getting the fast train from Napoli station into Rome, we arrived pretty tired and slightly disoriented within the city, so we hoped into a cab and got dropped off at our hotel. It was a bit out of the city’s centre, but we decided to freshen up and start exploring. We grabbed a quick bite at a place called Peppy’s bar, near the Triton Fountain, and I opted for a slice of pizza and mixed salad – and I have to say, it was the first time I was disappointed in the food here! My slice was clearly reheated after sitting in the window all day and tasted worse than pizza from the grocery store. Luckily, Tyler had ordered a full sized pizza (a circle pizza, the waiter called it) and it was made fresh, piled high with mushrooms, artichokes and shrimp, and much better tasting.
We headed south, through the narrow, dusty streets, and the city’s buildings, bars, and cafes, soon gave way to even more impressive buildings, slate grey statues shining proudly as they sit on every surface, and then a quick glimpse of the outer walls of the coliseum of Rome – a landmark I was pretty awed by and we decided we’d have to come back in the morning to explore inside.
But everywhere you turn there is a building so amazing and filling your entire scope of vision too, that you need to just sit for a minute and let it sink in before being able to walk on and take in more. A gelato helps, too!
So we found ourselves, bright and early, waiting in line for the ticket office to open and lucky thing we did- by the time we got inside, hundreds more tourists were eagerly following us. The structure was big enough that it didn’t matter, though, and we were pretty free to roam around and read all about the bloody history of the gladiators.
The sun soon started beating down on us and we moved on to our next stop. The ticket price for the Coliseum also includes entrance to Palatine Hill and the ruins of the Roman forum across the street, so we spent a few more hours wandering through the preserved remnants of a previous time. It was pretty startling to walk through a garden of pieces of age old stone, carved with numerals, wild poppies curling around them, and then climb up a few steps to emerge out onto a busy street with modern day looming at you.
Our next stop was Piazza Navona, a square nestled in the city that is lined with gorgeous old buildings and in the centre rest a gigantic fountain. SItting here to get a bit of shade also means being accosted by people every 2 minutes, trying to sell you a knock off purse, a trinket, or a rose. There were these mimes sitting absolutely still as well, painted all in green camouflage and if you blinked, you couldn’t be sure if it was a statue or not.
Soon enough we were ready for a bit of relaxing and a late lunch. We went to a place called Alfredo – which was actually the same restaurant where fettucine alfredo was created! It was a bit on the pricey side, but we both opted for a bowl of the handmade, fresh pasta, and shared some wine. The server made the pasta right near our table, by putting the ingredients in the huge dish, then placing the steaming hot noodles on top and mixing throughly til it all melted and mingled together.
I know I have gone on about the food we’ve had on this trip, from pasta in Positano to pizza in Naples – but this ranked right up there at the top of the list of best meals eaten yet. I can make a pretty mean alfredo sauce myself and oh man – it was out of this world.
After our meal, I paid the bill while Tyler went in to use the washroom, and I was sitting there for quite awhile, daydreaming, enjoying the shade on the patio, just waiting for him to come back. And then waiting so long that I started to wonder if I should go looking for him, but quickly convinced myself that it was silly – he’d be out soon.
But he wasn’t. And so right when I decided I’d go check things out, I heard laughter, and there he was, pulling me from the table and down the street and telling me what happened. Apparently he had not only gone into the ladies room by accident, he then locked himself in (the lock was a really old one, with a key that fell out and wouldn’t be inserted back in) and he was knocking for someone to come and help! The staff heard him after a bit and got the door opened from outside, but they were pretty surprised to see that he wasn’t in fact a lady in there! It was pretty funny and I couldn’t stop laughing as we walked down the street, till I pulled off my cardigan and realized I’d had my shirt on inside out all day.
What can I say, we make a great pair!