Monday, September 09, 2013

Roma, mi Roma

Rome has always been on my list of things to do before I die. There is something about Italy, specially Rome, that calls to me.


I try to rationalise. I tell myself there is so much of history in its streets, so much of art in its museums and art galleries, so much promise of adventure. But it isn’t just that. After all the rest of the world also has its fair share of things to see and do. Then why does Rome call to me?


I don’t know. It just does.


In the days when the Husband was trying desperately to woo me, he had, on getting to know of my desire to see Italy, magnanimously declared that he would take me to Rome someday. Excited at the possibility of love, and dizzy at the thought of ticking off a significant goal from my bucket list, I thrilled to his words.


And yet six years and two kids later, Italy remains as distant a dream as it has always been.


A mere palm away from India on the political map of the world, as seen in the much-thumbed copy of the Atlas that I had inherited from my older brother, I liked to think that there was something very symbolic in the span of a palm that separated me from my dream destination. It’s all in our hands, they say, don’t they?


And yet I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in the routines of corporate life and domesticity so much that Italy has almost receded from my horizon. And it is with an effort and a wistful look at my own bucket list that I am able to relive the excitement and the finality that prompted me to put it down on paper in the first place.


A dream delayed is a dream denied, I’ve heard it said. I hope it is only a dream deferred.


They also say that a dream shared is a dream that has a better shot at coming alive. I intend to share this dream with my children. Could there be a better way of drumming up enthusiasm? I will share my enthusiasm for Rome with them with prodigal liberality. And the Husband, an avid photographer, will learn to love that beautiful city through his camera.


This is what we shall do when we finally get an opportunity to say, Ciao, Roma.

I am not, of course, going to bore you with the details of the flight and other related issues. That’s what Yatra is for.


Having checked into the hotel, we will keep our valuables safe in the hotel safe deposit locker. Rome does have a reputation for being infested with thieves.


Schedules and itineraries are a great help on most guided tours and packed vacations, but I don’t see them as being of much help on the streets of Rome where every cobbled street and piazza might beckon us to stop what we are doing and explore them.



We’d brace ourselves for walking. As far as possible.


We’d visit the Coliseum at Rome, and sense the crowds that shouted themselves hoarse on its bleachers all those centuries ago. That massive arena would take our breath away and we would marvel at the sheer audacity that drove the construction of this great structure. And find our voices shushed at the memory of the violence that it witnessed in its heydays when men fought each other in gladiatorial contests or faced wild, hungry animals for the pleasure of some murderous spectators.


We’d make sure to catch the Galleria Borghese, considered the best museum in Rome. Located in a 17th century villa, this museum is a must-see for the wealth of artifacts it houses. The collections encompass a range that includes antiquities, the Renaissance and the beginnings of baroque art.


The Piazza Navone is where one can literally sit down and watch the world go by and still end up feeling totally enriched by the experience. This area, surrounded by baroque palaces, lots of pavement cafes, huge fountains, and the crowds and hawkers that will guarantee that I don’t miss home, is supposedly Rome’s most iconic public square. 

Built on the ruins of an ancient arena, the site is home to three fountains including the biggest, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which depicts personificaitns of the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate rivers.


When hunger gnaws at us, after we worked up an appetite walking along the streets of Rome (and walking is the best way to see this city) we’d satisfy ourselves eating, no marks for guessing, authentic pizza and pasta. And along the way, upon some corner, we’d find a bakery that would entice us with the sight of its freshly baked breads and cakes and by the aroma. And we’d eat chocolates and ice creams by the tubful.


The Campo De’ Fiori would also be an important sight on our agenda. This famous market is known to morph into a raucous open-air pub at night. On second thoughts, better not. Not with La Nina and El Nino.


But we would certainly head towards the Spanish Steps, 138 in number, which are supposedly the best place to sit and watch the world go by. Together they make up the widest staircase in Europe, and that alone makes it worth a dekko in my book. Remember “What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?” There are some amazing frescoes to be seen around here.


As a Catholic, I would definitely want to see the Vatican Museums. This 5.5 hectare complex consists of two palaces which are joined by two long galleries. We had better pack good walking shoes. We’re going to need them.


We’ll need to spend a few days in St Peter’s Basilica to be able to do justice to it all. And of course, the Sistine Chapel where I shall see Michaelangelo’s work for the very first time. So much of Rome’s architecture would require us to gape open-mouthed, our jaws dropping in sheer awe at the sight of all the finest that man’s ingenuity could be capable of creating.


We shall visit the Pantheon, once a temple, now a church. It is one of the best-preserved ancient monuments. The very word, pantheon, has entered the English language as a synonym for all the gods. So that should serve as an indication of the magnificence of this temple. After all, the ancient Romans built it for all their gods.


When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So we will find time to amble around the many antique markets that dot this great city. If we’re lucky, we might find something that suits our taste and budget.


And of course, even though the Husband will probably want to bop me over the head for roping him into this, and the children will be bored out of their wits, I shall grab for us all the experience of watching a real, live Italian opera.


Before returning home, before saying, “Arrivederci, Roma,” we’d close our eyes and stand at the Trevi Fountain with our back towards it, and we would toss a coin into the fountain, an act which legend decrees will help ensure our return to Rome.


For return, we must. The best part about Rome is that, like the greatest cities, it has so much to offer that a hundred guide books couldn’t quite contain. And so we must make multiple visits to this city of which Mark Twain once said, “The Creator made it from designs made by Michaelangelo.”






7 comments:

  1. I feel I have just made a trip to Rome! It is one place I want to visit too :)

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  2. I've heard a lot of people say that they would love to visit Italy. Maybe we are all old souls.

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  3. Now, you have a dream and a plan!

    Words of wisdom:
    "A dream delayed is a dream denied, I’ve heard it said. I hope it is only a dream deferred."

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  4. Best of luck for visiting Roma (BTW, if your post title is in Italian, it should be "Roma, mia Roma") :) I also love Rome and think that it is one of the most wonderful cities in the world.

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  5. Very nice its very interesting and beautiful.

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  6. awesome trip to Italy. I want to visit here such a nice information about Rome

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