Posts Tagged ‘rome’

Choose your own Rome cliche!!

1 May 2009

It’s like Choose Your Own Adventure, but significantly less exciting.

This post needs a title. Do you choose:

a) All roads lead to Rome
b) When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
c) Rome wasn’t built in a day.

If you chose a), please start reading now. For b and c, keep scrolling.

All roads lead to Rome  

But that doesn’t mean you won’t face obstacles trying to get there. 

The scene: Milan, early morning. Sunny and warm (it’s ALWAYS the best weather on the day you have to leave).

The Team rises from their comfy faux-sleeping bags to shove all of their worldly belongings back into too small bags. Dressed in clothes long since sullied with the burden of travel, they depart their lodging and make their way to the tram to the metro to the 9:30 train to Rome. However, as The Team approaches the tram stop, there appears to be a mass migration of people walking down the sidewalk next to the tram tracks.  The Team waits a few moments, and then decides that they are either caught in the movie The Happening or the train is not running. They decide to walk to the metro, along with many other unhappy commuters. Approximately 7 trams pass going the other way during the 15 minute walk.

Alarm begins to grow in some members of The Team. 0900 comes and goes, and time ticks forward with an uncomfortable rapidness. On the metro, each stop seems a lingering frivolity, a cruel game intending to toil with emotions. The Team consults their watches and ponders their accuracy.

Finally, The Team arrives at Milano Centrale and begins the epic dash from subway to train tracks. Time, the coyest of temptresses, seems to slow. The Team is running through the magnificent neo-classical halls of the station. The hands of the giant station clock click to 9:30 as The Team passes under with barely enough time for a slow-mo turn around and a weirdly deep “NOOOOOOOOOO!” But then, the track comes in to view and, lo, miracle of miracles, the train IS STILL THERE. The Team refuses to be lulled into complacency, and finally skids to a stop in front of the first car, frantically pushing the “Door Open” button. “No,” they think, “No this isn’t happening! We made it! We’re touching the train! Let us in! LET US INNNN!!”

And then, tragedy strikes. Before their very eyes, the train pulls away, sending The Team to their knees, grasping at the air in anguish.

Fade to black.

End scene.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quiet that dramatic, but I swear, at one point, I heard the music from the Qui-Gon/Darth Maul Star Wars EpI fight playing softly in the background. It was a little bit hard to make out though, over the pounding of our sneakers on the marble floor and the exaggerated heavy breathing noises that always accompany slow-motion running sequences.

After we stood on the platform in shock for a few minutes, we went to the ticket office and managed to change our reservations to the 10:30 train with no extra fee. But we seriously perplexed the ticket man in the process. I may write to the phrase book people and tell them the phrase “We missed our train” should be included in future additions.

And then we got on the 10:30 (Eurostar! posh) and passed through Genova and Firenze (I caught a glimpse of Brunelleschi’s dome on the Cathedral!) on the way to Rome. YAY.

If you chose b), please start reading now. For c, keep scrolling.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

It’s hard to evaluate the truth behind this cliche because I don’t even know if I saw any Romans while in Rome. I think the city is made entirely of tourists, only some have been altered to work in places in order to cater to their fellow tourists. This was good because everyone spoke English (huge sigh of relief on my part, since almost no one in Milan did), and maps were almost not needed because we could follow either signs or the tide of other tourists. This is bad because there were a lot of tourists, and tourists are annoying. Except for me. I am a good tourist.

There are SO MANY amazing things in Rome, and in 2 full days + 2 partial days, I think we made a good effort, but we still barely scratched the surface. 

To give you an idea of what we covered, here is my beloved trusty friend:


Pretty good right? And with the exception of the Metro to the Vatican (not back), that was all covered on foot.

Wait, I’ve just thought of something that the Romans and (smart) tourists do: Ignore the HORRIBLE street hustlers who try to sell you roses and tripods and noisemakers and light-up toys and ugly bean bag things and pictures in front of Trevi fountain.


No thanks, dude. I’ll take my own.

Oh and Romans have their gas stations on the sidewalk.


And they go to church. Though with something like 900 churches in the city, there’s really not enough space for everyone to worship. It’s a problem, and they should do something about it.

Seriously though. The Vatican. Blew. My. Mind. There are no words, so I will show you a video:

Taken inside St. Peter’s. And that doesn’t even account for the aneurysm of awesome I had in the museum. Guess what I did after shooting this video? That’s right. Climb up a death-defying 551 steps to the top of the basilica! And you have to go between the two layers of the dome and walk leaning sideways.


Ta da! Rome.

Here’s more of what I’ll call “Essence of Rome”

If you chose c), please start reading now. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day

In fact, Rome was built over the course of many, many, many days. 2762 years worth of days, to be exact.

Yes. 2762 years. And I know that because it was ROME’S BIRTHDAY while we were there. And WHEN IN ROME for Rome’s birthday, EVERYTHING IS FREE. Ok, not everything, but all of the state museums, including all the ancient ruins and all that. Silly Rome! You’re supposed to GET presents on your birthday, not give them to others! That’s not to say I’m not incredibly greatful, because srsly, thanks.

So in honor of Rome’s bday, we stumbled upon (and by stumbled upon, I mean saw people lining a street, inquired via my Italian skillz, and waited for like an hour) a PARADE OF ANCIENT ROMAN SOLDIERS IN COSTUME.


Except that the moment the parade finally started, it began to rain. Here’s a new cliche for you, Rome: When it rains, it POURS. It rained so hard. My shoes were wetter than marching band practice in a thunderstorm. We eventually had to take cover under the mighty edifice of the Colosseum, along with some of the paraders.


Most of my time in Rome was spent being utterly perplexed by how OLD everything is. Like walking around in the Colosseum and the Forum and looking at ruins like this:


and being like, “Oh, of COURSE there was a Temple here. And of COURSE Caesar and all those other famous ancient Romans hung out here thousands of years ok. Yes. That is totally reasonable and easy to imagine.”


It is impossible to fathom. My mindgrapes were thoroughly blown.

But it’s a great city, and I wish I could’ve spent more time there.

Photo roundup: I am not exaggerating when I say I took 700 photos of Rome. Seven. Hundred. So here are the best of the best, because the only person would ever want to see all of them is probably my mom.

Album 1: Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s

Album 2: The roof of St. Peter’s, Castel Sant’ Angelo, Piazza del Popolo, Trajan’s Column, VE II Monument, the parade, Ara Pacis, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon

Album 3: Chiesa del Gesu, Capitoline Museums, the Forums (foro, whatevs), the Colosseum, Palantine Hill, Circus Maximus, and the Bocca della Verita

In conclusion,