After a wonderful couple weeks enjoying Sicily I’ve returned to mainland Italy. Jenn has joined me for one last night in Rome, before she’s off to meet a friend in Salerno. My mom will be flying in and traveling with me for the next two weeks. I’m excited to share a few of my favorite cities and places with her.
We have a couple of hours until meeting her at Termini Station, so we head out in search for some tasty gelato. Walking a few blocks down, we turn a corner… and there is the Coliseum! Just unexpectedly there… down the street. I have certainly arrived in Rome. I am content in this moment.
At the station, we wait for Mom. She wasn’t on the scheduled train, but knowing how nervous she was to arrive alone, I thought it smart to wait in case she just missed it… or her plane was late…or who knows! Traveling without a phone does complicate things, but I kind of love being unplugged for a small chunk of my life. 30 minutes later another train comes and i eventually see Mom making her way through the crowd. We went out for a nice dinner and had an early night. It’s an awfully long flight from California!
The next morning we’re back at the station, this time saying farewell instead of greeting. Jenn plans to visit me in California and I make promises to see her in Toronto. We had originally met in a hostel in Sorrento two-years earlier, so it was wonderful being able to reconnect during another trip to Italy.
My mom and I spend the rest of day exploring ancient Rome. We join the crowds at the iconic Coliseum, flash back in time on the Roman Forum, walking where Cesar once walked, and stroll through one of the most ancient parts of the city, Palatine Hill. After we get our fill; pictures snapped and the history relived, we make the walk to Capitol Hill and stroll through the Vittorio Emanuele monument’s exhibit celebrating the 150 year anniversary of Italy’s unification. Jenn and I spent the last week or so wondering who he was after walking down a street named for him in every Sicilian city we visited. We also found many Via Cavours, Via Crispis and Via Romas. I feel like I should have already known this that Vittorio Emanuele was the first King of a united Italy.
Stepping into Piazza del Campidoglio, between the former palaces turned museums we walk the back way and appreciate the two contrasting stairways. Michelangelo designed the piazza and his grand stairway leads up to it with a gradual incline, flanked with giant, black lions. The position of the staircase has the piazza turning its back on the Roman Forum and thus Rome’s ancient roots. It’s said that Michelangelo wanted to highlight the new, developing section of the city instead of the crumbling ruins of the past. In contrast, immediately left is a much older, much steeper stairway. This unadorned set of stairs leads directly to the Basilica of Santa Maria instead of the piazza. It is said the pilgrims ascend the 124 marble steps on their knees to have their sins pardoned. The disparity reminds me of the transition from strict Catholic Rome… to the of enlightened Renaissance.
That evening we do the La Dolce Vita Stroll… almost similar to the first time I was in Rome. We passed and enjoyed the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Spanish Steps. We window shopped along Via Corsi & Via Condetti picking out the high-priced designer clothes and shoes I would like to own. We end our evening in Piazza Navona. My favorite.
There is an art show filling the giant piazza. In the center, is the famous Fountain of Four Rivers, with each statue representing the major rivers of the four known continents of the time: Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. We stroll around the giant piazza which used to be a racetrack for chariots… and scan the different menus as hosts stand at the entranceway to lure you in with charm, promises of fresh pasta and a table at the front of the outdoor section, posed for prime people watching. We finally settle on a place and order pasta. No carb left behind in Italy! The waiter is charming and the pasta is, of course, delicious.We eat tasty food, drank wine and watch the scene laid out before us change as night falls. Street musicians play classic Italian music and then modern guitar. I am a sucker for an acoustic guitar so I’m happy. I’m even more pleased, because my mom is so incredibly happy here. I believe the easy charm of Italy has captured her already.
On the walk back to our B&B, we take our time through the Pantheon piazza and around the Capitol hill building.
Rome is lit up beautifully at night.