Travel Diary: Buon Giorno from Rome
Travelling to anywhere in the world seems to take a really really long time from Sydney, or from anywhere in Australia for that matter. But it was time to refuel the spirit, a little adventure and a dose of the unfamiliar.
After three movies, several micro sleeps and a lot of wriggling around on the plane, I stepped out of Fiumincino airport at 7am. The warm morning sun greeting me with a big smile to let me know I was finally here. Ciao Italia!
First stop – Rome.
If you haven’t been, Rome is an assault on the senses. The city is built on the ruins of ancient Rome, which can be seen speckled across the city much to the delight of archeologists, students, history devotees, tourists and travellers alike. Throw in an endless supply of scooters, squares, churches, pizza, gelato and people and you get a densely packed city full of colour, constantly in motion.
As a first timer, I crammed in as many Roman highlights as I could comfortably fit in over four days in an attempt to get a deeper sense of the city’s rich history - with the help of local walking guides.
Walking through the Colosseum, I imagine gladiators fighting to the death, much to the amusement of the 70,000 strong crowd, as I battle my own modern-day crowds from every corner of the globe. Thankfully no blood is spilt on this day.
Making my way up to The Palatine Hill, the most significant of the Seven Hills of Rome, I momentarily feel like Indiana Jones standing amongst the ancient ruins, looking down on the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus in the distance, the arena made famous by movies like Ben Hur.
The city is full of well-preserved buildings, fountains and relics with new excavations taking place regularly.
My greatest disappointment was not seeing the Trevi Fountain in all its romantic glory. It was partially closed due to a massive 2-year cleaning project underway. I managed to see bits of it peeking from behind meters of scaffolding and streams of unrelenting tourists surrounding it. Since there is no water to throw my loose coins in, I decide on my first Italian gelato instead. Not exactly a fair compromise. Delicious nevertheless.
The Piazza di Spagna is a must for people watching and SERIOUS shopping. Although the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the steps and the Barcaccia Fountain below are also semi hidden due to more cleaning and more scaffolding, the square is a great place to STOP + OBSERVE as tourists flock to the Spanish Steps and whiz by on segway's as impeccably dressed Romans go about their daily lives looking oh-so-effortlessly chic.
No visit to Rome would be complete without a trip to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's famous ceiling firsthand. It's quite breathtaking to stand where some of the greatest artists of all time stood many centuries before me.
Of course there is sooo much more to Rome then relics. There is the art, the cuisine, the organised chaos on the streets, the citizens themselves and a photo opportunity at every corner. And don't get me started on the assortment of coloured buildings, window details and grand wooden doors. They just don't make stuff like that any more.
There is something so incredibly satisfying when you disconnect from your own day-to-day world and soak up the energy of some faraway land. Travel does that. It enriches. It teaches. It broadens the perspective and stretches old ways of thinking. It feeds the soul, fires up the creative juices and allows you to believe that anything is possible once again.
Next stop Tuscany.
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