The birthplace of modern civilization and the home to the Vatican and La Dolce Vita, Rome is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe. It houses some of the world's best archaeological treasures and cultural heritage sites. The paintings of Michelangelo on the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel is one of the best masterpieces by a Roman artist ever. Some of the top attractions include the Colosseum, the St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Mosque of Rome.
40 of us on the bus from Rome reached SBT late afternoon on the 29th, the 4 hour drive from coast to coast on the motorway passing picturesque towns and snow capped mountains. Accommodation arrangements were made at two locations – friends at a chic HOTEL on the broad walk by the beach and family in a villa 15 minutes away in the country with superior vistas of the rolling landscape and the gleaming Adriatic in the distance. 10th Grade Geography was the last time the Adriatic Sea was of any importance to me, when we were instructed to name and shade it in blue on an outlined map of the world and now here it was. Surreal.
The same evening was the 'meet the families’ dinner at the HOTEL. At 7.30 pm Eugenio’s (Jai’s) dad, mum and sister (accompanied by her boyfriend) arrived at the villa and were formally introduced to our large contingent. Dinner was an informal sit down affair (with nothing informal about the four course meal) during which Jai’s dad gave us a touching welcome speech and lots of wine was consumed. The after party that followed (for those under 36) was at one of the rooms at the hotel that only stopped when a resident of the town slammed it shut by threatening to call the police. The rowdy bunch moved the party to one of the nightclubs on the beach and I can only imagine what went down because by then I was well spent and shut down for the night.
June 18th, 39,000 feet in the air on board UL582.
The second meal service concluded amid mild turbulence with the seat-belt signs switched on. I’ve watched every hilarious episode of Family Tree on the in-flight entertainment screen and unreservedly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what funny is. The babies in the bulkhead seats and most of the passengers in the forward economy cabin are asleep. Its 2.00 am in Colombo, three hours from arrival and poignant that this red-eye from Rome is turning south over Pakistan into Indian airspace just as I’m about to conclude this account.
Would I travel again in Italy if I had a choice?
For a historyhead like myself, how could there be a more enticing country than Italy, the museum of the world? How could I not want to return to those landscapes of snow capped peaks and black pebble beaches, of gentle green hills and clear blue waters, of mysterious volcanoes and sombre valleys? They were as beautiful as beautiful got. Surely I’d want to explore those ancient towns with their charming architecture, perched over hills throughout the land? Wouldn’t I return to experience the richness of Italian culture and its idiosyncratic lifestyle? And the women, oh man, don’t even get me started. How is it possible to not want to be amongst them- beautiful and stylish, passionate and effusive- even if they do have an annoying obsession with small, bonsai dogs?
Would I travel again in Italy if I had a choice?
Honestly, no. I wouldn’t.
This is a beautiful, wonderful world to discover and our time is short. And there’s a voice inside me saying Italy already isn’t my best destination yet, and it won’t go away.
Saint Paul, an apostle of Christ and like Saint Peter, martyred in Rome under Nero’s orders was a Jew and a Roman citizen who actively spread the teachings of Christ between the middle of the 1st century A.D. until his execution in 67 A.D. In the course of his ministry he founded a church in Corinth in Greece before temporarily settling in Ephesus in modern day Turkey. During his three years from 53 to 57 A.D. in Ephesus he wrote two letters to the Corinthians.
In the first letter he speaks of love, of how it is patient and kind, slow to anger and its inability to keep an account of wrong doing. ‘Three properties remain forever -Faith, Hope and Love’ says Paul, continuing, ‘But the Greatest of these is Love.’
Eugenio and Ann, I wish the both of you Paul’s wisdom and much love in your lives together.
As I walk by the meandering lanes wonderfully interspersed with numerous cafes and souvenir shops, I knew that I am in for a delectable treat. After scanning various café options, I settled for one which seemed less pretentious and pocket friendly. As I settle artfully into the table on the alley, saving myself from getting pushed by the deluge of tourist, I finally decided what to eat.
After wonderful treats in Rome, I head to Venice for more delectable delights.
The cafés and restaurants near all tourist attractions are very pricey. So if you are looking to save money you can always opt for the snacks van for a cheap grab. These vans are well stocked with grilled sandwiches, gelatos, chips and drinks and costs approx 5 euros/person.
This ancient stone bridge is set against an extremely romantic setting. It is the bridge that connects the western shore of the Tiber to the Tiber Island. This bridge was built in 1st century BC and was renovated a bit in the 19th century. It is an important link to the Tiber Island from the west bank of the river. The bridge not only highlights the architecture of ancient Rome but is also a great place to stand and watch the Tiber flow underneath!
I am choosing not to devote separate sections for each site for then we’d be here forever. Take in the Vatican (Saint Peter’s, et al), the Palatine Hill and the nearby famous Arena (aka Hadian’s Arena, the Colloseo, as it is popularly called, is because of a nearby statue) and even from the outside is fine, the Pantheon, and the Trevi fountain. For all else you will need to do your own research and see what interests you. We did the Cappucin museum and it was nothing unmissable. Remember that Rome is a city built in layers where each existing layer got buried and superimposed with the next. The lovely thing they did was to keep the sense of integrity of many places, so theatres were built upon older theatres, squares on squares. The theatre outside which Julius Caesar was stabbed has a theatre at the same site even today. Another place to see history upon history is Piazza Navona whose shape and structure give you a glimpse of it. There is a Bernini fountain there too. He is everywhere! He built so much stuff around the city, both him and his father that is, you can say that he pretty much mooched off the city corporation for life. But in return, he did create some fine pieces of art for our loathsome generation to pose against and immortalise in the poor representations that we call vacation albums. Here is me and Karina in front of the Trevi fountain!
Definitely try Giolitti ice cream and an espresso just about anywhere. The Imago is awesome if you are in the mood to splurge and so are the Pizzerias in Trastevere and for pizza bianca (that’s pizza minus the tomato sauce, try Il Forno a Campo Di Fiori are worth it but watch out for timing as at certain times you won’t have a place to sit and will have to settle for grabbing a slice at the bakery and perching yourself at the fountain nearby. Do try the place 200 Gradi just before you hit Saint Peter’s for touristy as they might look, they serve some truly kick-ass sandwiches.