A romantic Roman holiday

A romantic Roman holiday
Definitely those coins I threw in the Fontana di Trevi almost 20 years ago brought me luck and brought me back to Rome as popular legend has it. As the train glided into Stazione di Roma, the main train terminus in Rome, we adjusted our back packs and headed straight for the information counter. Unlike most stations the information counter in Rome is on platform 27 which is away from the main area, and the rather large queue should have alerted us that we were heading for a problem. We learnt that there was a local transport strike on, so heading to our accommodation in the Vatican immediately was not an option.

But like they say, if one door closes, another opens, a chance question as to where the Colloseum was, had us heading towards it in minutes. “ It’s just a ten minute walk from here,” revealed the lady at the counter and off we went with images of Asterix and Obelix cartoon characters in our minds eye and their constant fights against the Romans! What a great decision that was, ‘cause that gave us half a day or more, walking around the Colloseum, easily one of the wonders of the world. Standing in the queue for more than an hour with the massive columns enclosing the lower area, one wondered at the imperiousness of the Romans constructing such a massive amphitheatre. As we ascended the steps to what was the seating area, the almost tangible roar of the 50,000 strong blood thirsty crowds engrossed in the battle for life between animal and gladiator seemed to rise up to engulf me in the shimmering heat. I felt a prickle of fear as I looked down at the complex chambers, where the wild animals were once housed and unwittingly listened in to a guide, recount the horrors that the Christian martyrs faced in the Colloseum.

All the way to and from the Colloseum there were interesting shops selling Roman trinkets, but what caught my eye were the numerous post cards of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s famous and much loved movie called ‘Roman Holiday’! Interestingly all the post cards were in black and white and could be found even in the Vatican shop which we visited the next day.

The grand St. Peter’s Basilica is the center of Christianity and the opulence of the building on the Vatican hill is testimony to the wealth of the 15th century church. The beautiful Pietà by Michelangelo, the papal altar by Bernini, and the Throne of St. Peter, also by Bernini are some of the treasures one can see in the church. The visit is free, but a strict dress code and silence in the church is enforced by guides all over the premises. Interestingly the Swiss guards still wear the dress designed according to legend by Michaelangelo for them. I made the mistake of asking for directions to the Fontana di Trevi in the Vatican Post office only to be told, this is the Vatican, if you want to know about Rome you will have to go out of the Vatican!

Going to see the Fontana di Trevi was imperative for me and if you have a map of Rome in your hand, you can easily look out at famous monuments as your bus drives past to your destination. Rome is akin to an open air museum so anywhere you go, you will pass a piece of history. And what’s amazing about Rome is the helpful friendliness of the common man in the street. He is so proud of his city, he will go out of his way to point out to you the quickest route to your destination.

Famous for their aqueducts, the Trevi fountain began as an aqueduct carrying water from springs for thirsty Roman soldiers. Later it was turned into a decorative fountain which is massive and stunningly gorgeous. Not even the heat of the noonday sun, beating down on us could tear me away in a hurry. Crowds of tourists like colourful butterflies, hovered around taking pictures and throwing in pennies over their shoulders for luck. Apparently 3000 Euros are thrown in everyday which are used to run a supermarket for the needy. Neptune the god of the sea dominates the center of the baroque masterpiece.

We love Rome, with its history spanning over two and a half thousand years. No other city in Italy comes close and just one visit will bring you back over and over again to enjoy its architectural heirlooms.

So dont forget to throw your coins into the Fontana di Trevi and make your wish!

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