This morning we packed up and headed out on the rails again. It was a short trip though, only and hour & 10 minutes and we were in Roma! After 2 visits and multiple cities we have finally made it here…not that we ever doubted we would. All roads lead to Rome, after all.
Once we’d arrived we had a quick lunch at our favorite Italian eatery: AutoGrill! They had one at the train station so Justine grabbed a hunk of pizza & Kris ordered a sandwich. Once we were fed we checked into our hostel, however the rooms weren’t going to be ready until 2pm. That was fine, we were in no hurry to move in. They did let us dump our bags though (as every good hostel does) so we could hit the town. First stop: National Museum of Rome.
The National Museum of Rome is said to house the greatest collection of Roman art anywhere. We found it to be rather similar to the archeology museum in Naples, except smaller. There were many interesting and amazingly crafted statues of Roman emperors, heroes & gods…not to mention this notorious fellow who looks an awful lot like a dark lord that we shall not name…
Ok, maybe the Romans weren’t making busts of Voldemort, but many of them resemble him due to their lack of noses. It seems a nose is a hard thing to keep while being lost/buried/neglected for thousands of years. To accompany the statues were paintings, mosaics, a super old & rare coin collection and reconstructions of the frescos of rooms found in unearthed roman homes. Our audio guide at the last museum left us so informed that we were able to name the styles each fo the rooms were decorated in. Go us! One room recreations had a 360 degree forest scene painting and extremely comfortable stools in the center. We carried out an interesting experiment as to how a change in perspective changes a piece of art. We may or may not have been doing this by laying on the stools with our heads upside down. Upside down it looked more like an underwater scene.
The National Museum is located right next to the train station. Right next to the train station is also a metro stop. And right next to another metro stop are the Spanish steps. This was the pattern of our next journey. The Spanish Steps are really just a large, long set of stairs leading up to a church in Piazza di Spagna. They are named for the nearby Spanish Embassy to the Vatican, which has sat there for over 300 years. But even though they are nothing more than stairs they are one of Rome’s iconic landmarks. Tourists & locals alike sit & visit on them, and they have played host to the ponderings of many famous romantics such as Keats, Wagner & Lord Byron. We enjoyed them for their “loitering in a public square” potential.
We didn’t really have a set plan for this day so we walked at random through the Roman streets. By chance we came across a legandary sight… The Trevi Fountain was built in 1762 on commission of the pope to celebrate the reopening of one of Rome’s large aqueducts (Do we all remember our lesson on what aqueducts are? If not refer to “Acquasparta! or Three men just forced their way into the romantic room…”). All of Rome’s fountains are powered by aqueducts and the one that was being reopened is now used to supply the 24 spouts of the Trevi Fountain. Although there’s not much to do there and it’s crawling with tourists this was a sight worth seeing. For one, it’s iconic. Secondly, it’s featured in the Lizzie McGuire movie. And (C), you have to do your good luck coin toss or you haven’t had the full Roma experience. We snapped photos, then made our way down to water level for pictures of the coin toss (both real & reenacted). Using your right hand to throw over your left shoulder, you toss your coin blindly behind you, hoping you hit the fountain & not some other unsuspecting tourist. We threw 2 Euros…one for good luck & to guarantee our return to Rome, and one for good luck in finding true love. Justine is considering finding another €2 to throw in if it will solidify the last part.
At this point we started noticing a trend among the other people on the street. Everyone seemed to be carrying gelato in various forms…some in cups, some in cones and some looking like a creation of the gods. This tipped us off to our close vicinity to Giolitti’s. Giolitti’s is Rome’s most famous gelato shop. We had heard rave reviews of it, and Rick Steves recommended it so it couldn’t be bad! We looked into the prices and found them slightly higher than what we have paid before, but remember we are quite cheap, so in reality they were quite reasonble. At this point it became a “When in Rome” moment and we went for it. Justine had raspberry & lemon. Kristin had mango & pink grapefruit. The gelato was plopped onto a dark chocolate dipped cone and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The flavors were full and so true to life that it out-tasted our amazing Venice gelato for top spot. If you think we are exaggerating about the “creation of the gods” comment, check out the photos below:
Since our wanderings had already covered half of it we decided to follow Rick Steves’ walk through tourists Rome. It took us past many a square, multiple fountains and a whole mess load of columns/obelisks. Two of the coolest things were the Egyptian Obelisk and the Four Rivers Fountain. The obelisk was taken by emporer Augustus after he defeated Mark Anthony & Cleopatra…so it’s super old! Now it works as a sundial in front of the Italian Parliament…which may be empty now that their President resigned. (As a side note, there are a lot of police around in Rome right now and we think this might be why…we are all for heading off riots before they happen, so power to you Carbinari!) The fountain was built in 1650 and features four male statues representing the major river in each of the four continents that had been discovered at that time. With St. Agnes church as a backdrop it was very picturesque!
Rick’s walk took us right by the Pantheon so we figured it would be an opportune time to stop in. The Pantheon is the only ancient building in Rome continuously used since it’s construction. The Pantheon was the religious for ancient Romans and after the fall of Rome It became a church dedicated to the martyrs. This means that you can find some mixed iconography throughout. The interior is open and spacious, which allows you to get a feeling for how massive the structure is. Everything is marble covered with hues of green, red & white. But the most awe-inspiring part of the Partheon is the building itself. The dome is 142 feet high and wide, Europe’s biggest until the Renaissance…and this was built hundreds & hundreds of years before! The front portico is composed of a Greek style triangular roof held up by hulking columns. Each column is 40 feet high and cut from a single piece of granite. Basically the place is an amazing engineering feat…which is why Kristin loves the Romans!
The walk ended at the Trevi Fountain again, so we sat ourselves down on the lowest level where we were somewhat out of the madness. The amount of people surrounding the fountain had almost doubled in the handful of hours between our visits…it still was nowhere near what Mom & Pops Padget experienced, but it was amazing to see what a difference a few hours makes. We had fun snapping a few more photos, but we mainly used this opportunity to people watch. We noted that most people use the correct coin throwing technique, although not everyone is fully informed, and that everyone takes not only the coin throwing picture, but also the “now let’s re-enact it so I can get one where don’t look like an idiot” coin throwing picture. When things got a little too busy for our liking we headed back to the Spanish Steps. There we loitered in classic Kristin & Justine fashion. This attraction was also busier, but they are a vast set of stairs and there was still plenty of room to squeeze our cute bums in. Here we continued people watching and wrote on a batch of postcards. There were lots of “We’re in Rome” and “Miss you lots”‘s recorded.
We have come to the conclusion that Rome is walkable, so we headed back towards the hostel on foot. We don’t have a very good map, so Rick Steves was acting as our guide (we were piecing together information from all of his random area maps). Eventually we stopped at a local eatery for supper. They had a nice tent outside that was trapping the heat…it was quite nice out today, but got a bit nippy after dark when we were only in our cardigans. We both went for the carbonara pasta, which was called, in the English description, ‘small pasta’.
Upon returning to our hostel we were able to fully check-in and go to our room. Turns out we have a private…heck yeah! We did celebratory high kicks…Justine fell down…Kristin nearly died laughing (like literally, remember she has border-line pneumonia). All in all, a fun time.
Today was a really good day. Rome has filled us with a renewed touristy urge that we didn’t think we could have any more by the 4th month of traveling. Over & over today we experienced that “Oh my god, we’re in Europe” feeling that we can only compare to our first day. It was the same sense of wonder we felt crossing the Westminster Bridge and sitting writing our blog post in Trafalgar Square. Basically we are so psyched to be here and are ready for two more awesome days!
Things We Learned Today:
– Geographically we live so much further north than the Great Lakes!
Love, Luck & Lest We Forget (cause we did not forget it to honor those who fought so we can live these incredible lives…11/11/11)