I booked a hostel close to the train station and I was very eager to reach it as fast as I could. I read enough stories and listened to Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” audiobook prior this trip and knew about pickpockets circling around the train terminal, which made me cautious not to spend any more time than I should.
One quick observation though, gone are the gypsies usually mentioned on most guidebooks that visitors should be aware of, now they are replaced by South Asian men who mostly does not mean any harm but can be annoyingly persistent selling either umbrella or selfie sticks.
That first night in Rome, like a kid I fall asleep wishing and praying that the rain will stop and tomorrow will be better in terms of the weather, for what is Rome without the blue sky and hot midday sun that perfectly goes along with exploring the ruins of Ancient Rome.
Relying purely on a photocopy map provided by the hostel and relentless walking, I believe I have seen as much of Rome as I hope for, even though for first timers like me it can be extremely overwhelming, there is just too much beauty in one place.
Walking the streets of Rome feels like walking into one giant open air museum of ancient ruins, but then and there again the sight of known modern brands like the upcoming H&M shop at the top of the Spanish steps at Piazza di Spagna remind anyone that after all Rome is still a metropolis and home to millions of people.
The absence of the midday sun did not spoil my unstoppable gelato cravings. Yes, I did that single woman who travels cliche thing too- sat on a bench while slowly eating a cup of gelato and stared at Fontana de Fiumi at Piazza Navona, not because I purposely intended to do so, I just need a break from walking and the gelato was so good that I wanted to savor every scoop.
But in all honesty, if there is one cliche thing that I really wanted to do is to toss a coin at Trevi Fountain and have my “La Dolce Vita” moment. Sadly, the Trevi Fountain is under renovation and the ambiance at the fountain is not as magical to what I envision it would be.
“Caput mundi” or The Capital of the World is what Rome once was during its imperial heyday, and everywhere around is a reminder of its glorious days- from the well-preserved Pantheon, the towering cylindrical Castel Sant’ Angelo at Parco Adriano, the once citadel of Capitoline Hill, the Egyptian obelisk and twin churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli of Piazza del Popolo and the Imperial fora of Trajan’s forum located close to Piazza Venezia.
Never once did I thought of taking a metro and hurried up to see one destination after the other, I took my time, dragged my boots, pullout my umbrella and took the alleyways less travel.
I searched for unknown piazza filled with trattoria, admired the façade of fading palazzo, read every street name mimicking an Italian accent in my head and my personal favorite thing to do, looked up to those windows and imagine what it must feel like to actually live in a city like Rome.
I believe many might say that much exaggeration has been used to describe Rome, for most part it usually depends on circumstances affecting once personal experience but at the end of the day I believe everyone will agree that Rome is Rome.