Walking down Roman avenues in the early morning instills an exciting feeling. We catch a bus to take us into the city. We ride the bus through the streets and see what anyone would see going through a city: shops, restaurants, fountains, buildings, a bustling metropolis like any other, but vastly different from any ordinary city.
We exit the bus and take make our first round to the Vatican. Huge, daunting, and awe-inspiring, it’s hard not to revel in the sheer enormity of it, Catholic or not. Every chapel is a sight unto itself. More than just a big church, it’s an entire museum adorned with sculptures and mosaics, crypts and tombs. It’s almost surreal, from the hushed tones of the tourists to the almost whimsical attire of the Swedish guards outside as we exit.
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We walk on. It’s midday and our hunger drives us across the river that cuts through Rome to a little café in the shadow of the Coliseum. We order what any unassuming tourist would order, various pasta dishes like spaghetti and ravioli. Our food arrived and it wasn’t even the portion sizes that came as a surprise, much smaller than anything I’ve had in any American restaurant, but how much different it tastes than an ordinary dish in a diner, a pleasant party for the palate.
Our excursion continues. We traipse through the city, through some shops, all the while taking in the scenery. We walk by the Pantheon, the Fontana di Trevi, Palazzo Navona, not just beautiful but just mind boggling, how such grandeur has stood the test of time, and how an ordinary Roman denizen can walk by these and marvel at them on a daily basis. Seeing the Italian language everywhere adds to the bit of culture shock, hearing it spoken in passing is almost like watching a foreign film in real time. We pass by musicians on the street playing their accordions and saxophones, street artists showcasing their talents on the pavement. Everything down to the street vendors selling fruit is a sight to see.
We stop by a gelateria and to take a break from exploring. Needless to say a fruity Italian gelato in summer’s late afternoon is incomparable to any dessert I’ve had before.
The day dies down and as the sun gets low in the sky, it’s time for us to head to the apartment where we stay. Before we go, I ask to stop by the Fontana di Trevi just one more time. It’s already evening by the time we get there. It’s dark and already there’s a tangible difference in the atmosphere. The tour groups have all gone to bed. The streets are crowded, but this time with people heading out to dinner. All the eateries fill up and the aromas of Italian cuisine fill the air along with the scent of wines and the sounds of chatter and laughter. Rome takes on a new life at night.
I see the Fontana di Trevi. It’s a great sight in the daytime, but at night it’s just something else. Lit up with lights, the way the dim yellow glow plays with the water as the shadows dance and play on the figures of gods and animals, it’s a sight like no other. It’s a fantastic ending to a fantastic day
Feeding one’s wanderlust is a wonderful feeling, and a day in Rome can satiate anyone’s traveling hunger.
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