By Lynn Strough
Welcome to another chapter in the ongoing series by our world traveler, Lynn Strough. This week, Lynn roams Rome.
Rome, the Eternal City — it was known that way even among the ancient Romans, because the Roman people thought no matter what happened to the world, the brightness of Rome would burn forever.
One of my Travel Angels, Beth, made it burn even brighter, when she booked us into the Waldorf Astoria with her travel points, high up on a hill, a true room with a view. It’s a great city to share with a friend.
There’s so much to see and do in Rome, it’s hard to know where to start. The Trevi Fountain is undergoing restoration, hence it’s dry, but it’s still worth a look. They say if you throw a coin into the fountain, you’ll return to Rome. I threw one in 20 years ago, and here I am, but what does it mean that the fountain isn’t flowing?
Beth was smart and got tickets on line to the Colosseum, so we got in quickly, despite long August lines, and spent an hour or two with an audio tour learning that they don’t really know that Christians were thrown to the lions there, although gladiators did duke it out to the death, and lions and bears and other beasts participated, including 50 bears that came out of a fake whale once. Apparently the Colosseum was a site of many a spectacle, and the elite as well as the lower classes were allowed in, albeit in very different seating positions. Seeing the Colosseum in the rain was a treat, quite atmospheric, like a trip back in time. And then the sun appeared and I got some blue sky shots as well.
From there, we visited the Forum, a busy place in peak season and afterwards, treated ourselves to gelato — you really can’t eat enough gelato in Italy, in my opinion.
On the recommendation of a friend, we toured the Basilica of San Clemente, which is a layer cake of churches (our friend Sue calls it the lasagne church). It’s a church on top of a church on top of a church. Intriguing, although kind of spooky on the bottom layer. Sorry, no photos allowed inside.
We wandered past lines of people waiting to get into the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel — I’d already been there years ago, and Beth decided it wasn’t a priority for her. But if you do go to Rome and want to see them, I highly recommend that you buy tickets ahead on line, especially if you’re there in the summer.
After a peek at the exterior of the buildings we headed for a stroll through Trastevere, a lovely neighborhood full of old buildings glowing in the afternoon sun and we stopped at one of the small trattorias for lunch.
One of my favorite things to do in Rome is to simply walk. Put away your map and wander, up this narrow street, down that alleyway. You’ll see lots of beautiful architectural details and some of the local non-human inhabitants. You’ll spy interesting graffiti and who knows what all else.
Heading back towards our shuttle stop, we passed the Pantheon, so we stopped inside. It’s a place not to miss. The signs all say “silence please,” and a recording announces it in six languages, while hundreds of tourists keep talking. But despite the commotion and crowds, you still get a sense of the grandeur and spirituality of the place.
I’ve only scratched the surface of things to do in Rome — there are countless museums to peruse, gardens to wander, piazzas to linger in, bridges to cross and of course, bargain shopping for the kitsch, as well as high-end haute couture for the rich).
We only had a few days, but spend more time if you can, and enjoy the people, the food, the beauty and the history that is Rome.
About Lynn Strough
Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.
“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”
Reprinted with permission