All roads indeed lead to Rome, but there is also is a more mystical destination, bourne of which no traveller knows the name, some city, they all seem to hint, even more eternal.
A visit to the that city built itself to be the economic and cultural centre of the ancient world, and true to legend all the roads of #jongmasjourney led itself down to the heat of a Roman summer for the final stop on my trip with the family. We used it as an opportunity to delve into the world that redefined society and the landmarks that were central to ancient world.
The first challenge as always for any traveller are the moments where you arrive in the crazy mess of a transport hub. For us it was the rail station of Roma Termini, and navigating through the unknown streets to our accommodation. At this point we were at our lowest, and yet another 4 flights of stairs loomed above our red cheeks and messy hair. One more door opened for us and blustering air con and beautiful giant mattresses met our schedule for a fair bit of the afternoon!
Rome is absolutely filled with attractions and places to see, and in the rest of the post, I will tell a bit about each of the places I visited!
Easily the most recognisable building in Europe, the Colosseum is a must visit for anyone in the vicinity, it was the location where the public were entertained with Gladiators and beasts from all over the empire. The buildings history has marks from all its lifetime, from patches of white on the marble revealing its original colour, and holes in the arches where the metal was looted, right down to the ethereal Christian cross which stands from Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. As always with popular ancient monuments, I recommend a tour guide who can help you skip the lines and has a significant depth of insight!
This is a sight a traveller really needs to be interested in in order to grasp the full experience. You will see essentially what is the ruins of the ancient CBD of Rome, with government buildings, temples, and monuments. A big part of it is hearing about the reasoning for each monument and building, further adding to the importance of a guide! It was a slowly developed area, which flourished in the times of Julius and Augustus Caesar. It held the senate during early Roman times, and progressively developed to become the home of many early Christian churches. It is speckled with many stand alone columns in the main plaza but the racetrack for chariots can be overlooked from the second floor of the once illustrious palace.
The steps are of the monuments that is frequently on a bucketlist, but I personally found slightly underwhelming in the heat. It was an opportunity to walk through the streets, but the actual monument is quite simply, stairs. The do lead to a large church which holds historical value, and have a pleasing position with a straight view in line with the rooftops, but do not hold much magnificence in itself. As a point of interest, the English poet John Keets once lived in the apartments next to the steps and a memorial is there for him and his close friend Percy Shelley. As much as I didn’t find it invigorating, there was some decent gelato down the road!
A grand white building surrounded by armoured vehicles and green, red and white flags sits proud down the road from the Vatican. I didn’t have the fortune of going inside, but luckily drove and walked past a few times and was able to appreciate its grandeur.
Technically another nation in its own right, the Vatican is the result of centuries of propaganda, turmoil, politics and religion. The buildings themselves once housed the power to decide who ruled the continent, due to a forged document. Endless halls of statues and paintings are open for public display and observation. Regardless of opinions on Catholicism and Christianity, no-one should ever spend a life without observing the masterpieces of Michaelangelo and Raphael. The Sistine Chapel is lined with beautiful frescoes of the master of art himself, depicting creation and saints. While simply around the corner one can observe the Raphael Rooms, which depict a series of historical events, and are not to be cruised through quickly. A visitor will also find delicate statues and sculptures, that have been collected by the papacy over the millennia. One corridor has giant tapestries that show events of Jesus’ life, while another is lined with maps of Italy, and all the roofs are filled with art. The giant palace is a must do for all travellers!
This exhibit rates as one of the best preserved ancient monuments ever. Finished in the early first century the building was a temple to all the gods, and is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence. The massive temple now stands as a Christian monument, and baths in the natural light coming from a central opening in the roof. The front resembles the Greek Parthenon with 8 columns but the inside is a strangely ethereal dome. It’s not a huge drain on your time as it doesn’t take long to walk around, but can be an effort to get too!
As is custom, Italian food reigns spectacularly, with traditional restaurants covering the main streets. Eating out was quite the opportunity to both meet locals and experience brilliant local tastes, without the adaptation from Australian restaurants. The pizzas were vastly different, with a doughy thin base, and minimalistic toppings (compared to a classic meatlovers) and pasta was very varied, in style and sauce, with seafood making a regular and large contribution to menus. I would strongly recommend eating dinner and lunch out wherever budget and location make it possible.
Is this the end?
Unfortunately, this point of #jongmasjourney seems to hit a little bump in regards to travel. As I mentioned in my Bath post here my great grandfather passed away, and I have made a short trip home to be with my family for a short time. I have found the time to be refreshing to see old friends and catch up with family after nearly 9 months on my own. I will write a post on Sydney as a Stranger before my next adventure to Athens, so don’t fret, the blog will continue! Until I’m back, however…
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”