People say they have bucket lists. Well, if you are one of them and would like to add a single City in the world to visit before you…khe-khe…, do yourself a solid and pencil-in Rome. Italians call Rome the eternal City. Indeed, Rome’s history is truly eternal. One cannot simply recite it in any single book, movie or story, no matter how authentic book authors, movie directors, and story tellers try to be. The Rome of today seems like the Rome that existed centuries ago. In 2016, it still feels and looks as genuine as we historically know it to be. Old stone castles, medieval churches, Domes, marble stairs, iron gates, ancient ruins, crooked cobble streets, and even laundry hanging from peoples’ windows. Rome is real and is preserved in the bubble of time.
Astonishingly, most structures and places characterizing ancient Rome are located right in the center of the City. I will annoyingly advise you to absolutely visit this area and that monument, but truly-you cannot skip pretty much anything in Rome.
Visit the majestic Colosseum and understand how colossal it is! Once inside, “transform” into one of thousands of spectators and feel the weight of the empire. All Romans, rich or poor, healthy or sick, brave or cowardly were welcomed to witness the notorious gladiator games, animal killings, and executions. History shows that the arena could also be filled with water to host naval ship battles! Only imagine the bloodshed, festivities, and thrills that took place within the walls of this massive, clever structure.
Next, proceed to the Palatine Hill and move down to the Roman Forum, just a short walk from the Colosseum. From the top of the hill, the Forum looks like all the ruins in the world were piled up right on the bottom and you are about to walk a long road down just to be violently sucked into the ground and disappear. Turns out, it is not true (no kidding, girl). Once I descended, I felt like I was an actress in the “Gulliver’s Travels,” but in a giant, “anti-Lilliput” place, where you stand so tiny. You can spend hours pacing through the enormous ruins area, marble statues with missing heads and limbs, buildings that look like a mammoth took a bite out of them, endless narrow steps and long cobble pathways. Oh, I cannot even verbally describe how exhilarating it was to see it all! And while it sounds like a place is a bit morbid, it isn’t at all. You touch the olive trees along the path and childishly peek through ruined bricks tricking your eyes to see only a fraction of this “titanic.”
Castel Sant’Angelo is a beauty. It is a towering structure, on the Tiber river, which first served as a tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, and later as a hiding place for popes in times of unrest. A medieval fortress, with gorgeous Renaissance interior, and now a museum with incredible weaponry, paintings and other treasures, the Castle represents a strong arm and a sanctuary landmark. And of course, this castle was solidified forever in our hearts by Puccini’s opera Tosca.
Next, you absolutely must visit Monumento Vittariano, a huge building with wide steps leading up to a colonnade. Once on its steps, it stands glorious and proud. The Italian flag never looked so good. The views from the top are nauseating, this is how gorgeous they are, and guards are always on site protecting the statue of an unknown soldier. The monument itself is a very regal one, and is dedicated to a man whose purpose was to make a united Italy. It is not possible to make a wholesome photograph of this structure, there is no way it will fit into any camera. You have to swirl around the steps with your video camera; make yourself dizzy but capture this building and the marvelous views seen from the high steps!
Some of the most spectacular views are from the rooftop of a restaurant in one of the oldest public museums, the Capitoline Museum. The museum is tremendous and houses immense bronze sculptures donated by the Pope Sixtus IV. So bright, with many statues of men and animals and marbled beauties, it is an exceptional museum.
The Vatican City State. The smallest country in the world and the center of the Catholic Church, the Vatican nests in Rome and its museum accepts close to 20 thousand visitors per DAY (we were told). While walking through museum’s hallways and rooms with my mouth open and phone camera over my head, I was rocked back and forth by the thousands of people in front of, behind and on the sides of me; honestly, I was wondering about the fire escape procedures.
You do not need to be a spiritual or religious person to appreciate and understand why the Vatican is a holy place. You can understand all that just by being a humble museum visitor. The Vatican is home to most telling precious art collected over the years, including the works by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. The maps, tapestry and chariots lead to the very beginnings of faith and carry on through the eternity of time. The painting, statues, and altar frescos are like a crystal ball that tell all of history. Finely embellished walls and ceilings hold and carry centuries of historical events; believers and skeptics alike cannot deny faith here.
One cannot be concise in describing Rome and its treasures. I imagine every visit to this eternal City will bring new experiences. How one experiences Rome is probably very subjective. Yes, many of us see the same attractions and sights, and go to the same museums; however, we live these experiences differently, imagine different worlds, conquer different battles and maybe even breathe different air.
Find your own Rome and imagine.
Thanks so much for reading!