All roads lead to Roma and given we have been on the road for some time we were bound to find ourselves in Rome. Last year we only had one day in Roma and given Walter was sick with a migraine for most of the time, we wanted to go back again.
Roma is an old favourite and ignited our love affair with Italy. We decided to go and spend a night in Roma. This time we left Firenze on an express train and arrived in Roma 1h30 later travelling at 250kph. After arriving we set-off to take our overnight bag to our accommodation stopping off for the obligatory coffee and brioche.
We decided to stay at our new favourite guesthouse “Residenza Maritti” www.residenzamaritti.com. This is a family home (been in the family for more than 300 years) of grand proportions. Some 30 years ago they converted the home to house numerous guestrooms with ensuites. They have about 15 rooms over 5 floors. The location of the guesthouse is near the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and so much else. Even the Trevi Fountain is only a 12 minute walk.
So having dropped our bag we set off to explore some of the tourist sites but we also took time to go off the beaten track. What can we say about Roma. It seems each time we go back there is more to see. They keep discovering more of the ruins and some that covered for renovating are now uncovered. The thing about Roma vs Firenze is that it is spread over a large footprint. This means that it is not as crowded with pedestrians. Firenze however has very few cars in the centre. In Roma there is a lot more ‘noise’ with all the vehicles but at least we were not rubbing shoulders with someone every few steps.
The grandeur of Roma is breathtaking. The Trevi Fountain is spectacular. Surprisingly it was not as crowed as we expected especially given talk recently of them thinking of putting in a one way flow of pedestrians and not allowing people to just loiter.
The Altare della Patria also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele – was inaugurated in 1911 as a tribute to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy after the country’s unification. The colossal monument, which is 135 meters wide and 70 meters high, is comprised of scores of majestic Corinthian columns and endless stairs, all carved in white marble. The top is crowned with an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel cast in bronze and two chariots driven by the goddess Victoria.
We are two minds whether we like this very striking monument. The monument was strongly criticised at its construction, since it was necessary to knock down numerous valuable buildings to make sufficient space, and Italian citizens did not agree with the idea of having such an eye-catching and elaborate building next to the other classical buildings that surround it.
We walked over to Trastevere – across the Tiber river. One of the moving sights was seeing plagues on the ground at some of the doorways listing Jews that had been arrested and executed during WWII. We ended up finding a great restaurant for lunch time. It was called Hybris Art Gallery and was part restaurant and part Art Gallery. The décor was retro funk which we love and the art was great. The highlight though was the food. Really good freshly prepared Italian fare. The pasta was made from scratch and tastes better fresh.
One of the other interesting areas was the “Parco del Colle Oppio” which is a large park on a hill near the colosseum. It consists of gardens and the ruins of what was a large public bathing complex – the Baths of Titus and Baths of Trajan.
- The Baths of Titus were public baths built in 81 AD at Roma, by Roman emperor Titus. The Titus baths were built in haste, possibly by converting an existing or partly built bathing complex. They were not particularly extensive, and the much larger Baths of Trajan were built immediately adjacent to them at the start of the next century
The Baths of Trajan was a massive bathing and leisure complex, built in ancient Roma starting from 104 AD. Commissioned by Emperor Trajan, the complex of baths occupied space on the southern side of the Oppian Hill on the outskirts of what was then the main developed area of the city. The baths were being utilized mainly as a recreational and social center by Roman citizens, both men and women, as late as the early 5th century.
We did take time to visit one of the better known gelato shops where we used to have 2 gelato’s a day. The price of gelato seems to have increased. Whilst the gelato was nice, we prefer one of the shops we now frequent in Firenze.
On our second day we spent some time in “Rinacenter” which is a large department store. It is so smart (and out of our budget). None of Australia’s department stores come close to the presentation and number of staff on hand. We did see a bottle of water available for 250 euro and they even had Fiji water at 10 euro. Given that we are paying 7c a litre for our bottled water – I think we will stick to it.
Our trip back to Firenze was delayed. A number of the trains were running late – ours included. We managed to get onto another train so that the delay was about 45 minutes rather than more than an hour. Getting back to Firenze felt like getting back home. Interesting how somewhere we stay now for more than a week starts feeling like home.