Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rome Beckons. . .

 Overwhelmed by the tourists and the heat and the grandeur and the noise, one day in Rome last July, I wandered off our planned route while Paul was consulting the map.  I found myself alone on this beautiful lane, and then had to go back and convince him to join me in abandoning the day's itinerary -- he wasn't hard to convince and soon we were climbing this gentle slope, one of Rome's seven hills, the Aventine. . . .
 Lovely to remember back to that day as we are caught up in busier times right now, wishing for another push of the pause button.
 I've been thinking quite a bit about Rome because we have some news that concerns that city, but I'm not able to divulge it quite yet. . . .

I'm leaving in what I wrote when I first put this post together -- learning of a friend's death last Monday made it seem incongruous to post anything on Tuesday morning, and, as you now know, that grandchild made her poor parents -- especially her Mama! -- wait until Thursday.
I will say that thinking about the city is a pleasant distraction from the slight anxiety and great anticipation of waiting for a grandchild who is now a week overdue (having myself been between one and two weeks overdue for each of my four, I have tremendous sympathy for my daughter-in-law). Crossing my fingers that between drafting this post Monday evening and posting it Tuesday morning, I'll be able to include a different announcement. . . .
The street sign denotes the Clivo di Rocca Savella -- there's an informative webpage about this street's history here
 On that optimistic note, I'll leave you wandering a hilltop park in sunny Rome, enjoying the shade of orange trees, that verdant lawn, the towering umbrella structures of those pines Respighi composed a symphony about . . .






and the magnificent view from that hilltop. . .





















Have you ever visited Rome? If so, what were the "can't miss" spots for you? Any perfect restaurants to recommend? Favourite museums? Best walks?  Best season to visit? And if you haven't been there yet, would you like to? Or not? And why? And, finally, I'm looking for good mysteries or other novels set in contemporary Rome -- recommendations?  

20 comments:

  1. Beautiful. I have only been to Rome once - and I had a 2 year old and was pregnant;). Still, I remember that I found the early Christian stuff, the Coptic churches and art, most evocative.

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    1. I'll make a note. I think I need to make my approach slightly more systematic next time and having a focus might be useful . . .

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  2. I haven't been to Rome in over 30 years. On that last visit I had a toddler in tow. Imagine the stairs, the alleyways and the cobblestones with a stroller! They are lovely memories, but I long to go back with hands free, to wander at will.
    I have no suggestions or recommendations, but recall that every meal we ate in Rome was a pleasure. We were welcomed with open arms (really!) and our wee son was treated like a Crown Prince. Lovely memories - thanks for stirring them.

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    1. Yes, visiting with a toddler would be different than wandering at will -- I've heard, though, that children will get you a warm welcome anywhere in Rome, and it sounds as if this is what happened for you. We found this in Puglia last summer with our two granddaughters. . .

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  3. The Aventine! My first view of Rome was from that very terrace. Life changer. Read the Falco novels by Lindsey Davies. Brilliant, funny, gripping and historical. Imagine Raymond Chandler in ancient Rome. He is an Aventine boy too. So many and so much fun.
    Pantheon for me. Every. Single. Time.

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    1. Love it! Yes, I thought that view was just marvellous -- such a vista! I keep seeing recommendations of the Falco novels, but thought I'd prefer something contemporary. At your behest, however. . . .

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  4. I have been to Rome just once, one summer when I was 16. I ate so much stone fruit - mostly cherries and apricots - that my mother thought I would be ill (not much stone fruit to be had in Singapore). I loved everything about the city - the buildings, the history, the people, the language, the food ... I sometimes wonder if I have such a romantic memory of it that I will be disappointed if I ever get back there. I loved Florence too but, oddly, I did not like Venice at all.

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    1. Oh dear! I do the same thing with stone fruit when travelling through the interior of our province, the Okanagan where it grows beautifully in every delectable variety. My stomach doesn't appreciate as much as my mouth does, but that doesn't seem to stop me.
      16 is such a brilliant age for making those kind of memories, isn't it? So adult, and yet not. You might be the only person I've heard of who didn't like Venice. . . I've yet to see it for myself. . .

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  5. That's stunning and makes me want to go back to Rome. We only spent 3 days there,and feel as though we saw so little of it (though we did enjoy wandering into stunning churches and cathedrals, and enjoyed a guided tour of the Coliseum which included access to the uppermost levels not usually open to the public). Next time I'd focus more on the parks and just wandering.

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    1. We only had two days, and I loved some of it, but I do feel I need to be more organized next visit. I thought it was better to stay open, simply to wander, and that worked to a certain extent but might have been better after doing some planning. . .

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  6. I've been to Rome a couple of times. It didn't hit me the way some other Euro cities have - but I'd certainly give it another go! :-) You might want to watch the Anthony Bourdain Layover episode on eating there. It's silly TV but it does have some good food porn moments. And it will make you want to travel, that's for sure.

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    1. Exactly how I felt, K. I'm more than willing to explore again, but it didn't steal my heart on the first visit. I'll check out that Bourdain episode -- good food porn for the win!

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  7. "Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul!"

    I have visited Rome in May and September (both were wonderful) and have another trip planned for November this year (This will be the last stage of a three-city trip. My daughter and I are finishing up our holiday in Rome for a chance to relax and ‘hang out’ with no obligations). I know it is a tourist spot but I never tire of visiting the Pantheon. On my last stay in Rome I stopped in almost every day on my way to or from grocery shopping. I know the space is large and I also know that when I visit there are often other people there, but I don’t really absorb that or carry it away with me...I just feel a sense of intimacy when I am there. It is best to visit early in the morning and if it rains when you are in the area you must run there as quickly as possible and stand under the oculus!

    Other than that I like to stay off the beaten path and just walk, walk, walk. Try to visit a green space every day. The best restaurant is one you visit for the second time (or third, or more)...it is easy to become a regular.

    I have been reading a book called ‘City Secrets – Rome’ and have taken some ideas from that for new things to watch for, especially in the areas outside the centre.

    Something else...a comment you made in a previous travel post resonated with me. I have been thinking about this in a broader context but although I haven’t finished I will try to articulate what I have so far...there are many places in the world, and times in history, where and when things happened that we do not agree with (religious wars, slavery, class struggles, treatment of women...it goes on and on). How can we take the value in what is good and the lessons to be learned from what is not? What is to be thought when beauty and abuse of power come together? I don’t know the answer but Rome is a good place to think about it, especially since the history is so close to the surface (hee hee).

    This comment is far too long! Looking forward to hearing more about your plans...

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    1. Not too long at all, Georgia -- I'm really happy to have your thoughts about Rome and I'll make a point, first time I get back there, of spending more time at the Pantheon -- especially if it rains! I'm absolutely sure you're right about visiting a restaurant more than once and becoming a regular -- I actually have one in mind and will try fitting in a few repeat visits.
      Not sure what it was I might have said that resonated with you, but I like the direction you've taken it in -- I do find it enriching to think about other times, places, social mores, etc., away from home with events recorded in the surrounding architecture. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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  8. I may never make it to Rome, but these photos and accompanying descriptions gladden my heart, and so I thank you. Also, they may be enough to tip the balance of my ingrained homebody-ness (wd?)/reluctance to travel via airplane, and encourage me to find my way there!

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    1. It took me 61 years to get there, Marsha. . . ;-)
      My homebody-self always drags her feet right before a trip, but I do always find the travel worthwhile once I'm launched. . .

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  9. I visited Rome last April, following a longer holiday in Greece. (I had been in Rome 30+ years ago, and it had not been my favorite Italian city by a long stretch. Now I was returning with my husband, who was seeing Rome for the first time.) We both fell in love with Greece, and Rome suffered by comparison, aesthetically, in human feeling, and in the somewhat overbearing way it announces itself as a former empire. Our favorite museum was actually a hidden gem a bit off the beaten path, the Villa Giulia, a 16th century palace that is home to the national Etruscan museum. We had the gorgeous Etruscan artifacts almost to ourselves, while everywhere else the city was so crowded even at that time of year. The sarcophagus of a loving couple and the frescoes on the top floor moved us profoundly and made us feel closer to these early inhabitants of Rome with links to Greek culture. As English professors, we also appreciated the small Keats-Shelley museum at the Spanish Steps, and we took the metro early on a Sunday morning to the Protestant Cemetery to visit both poets' gravesites as well as those of Antonio Gramsci, Gregory Corso, and Hans Christian Andersen. We had excellent weather in April, but the city is crowded all year round. -- Amy

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    1. I think that next visit, I will have a short list of a few special places such as these -- I was turned off quickly by the obvious intimidation factor integral to so much of the architecture, an obvious legacy of the imperialism you mention. But there's also undeniable beauty, and there's certainly energy! Like yours, our visit was probably somewhat compromised by following a week in Puglia, which we loved. Thanks for the comment -- I love the specificity of your recommendations and hope someday to see that sarcophagus.

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  10. Am I too late to add my thoughts? I love love loved the Villa Borghese.It is small- set in a beautiful house. It has the most amazing sculpture- even my "I'm over art galleries" husband was entranced by Bernini's work. And it is in the middle of a park- I just love seeing people in parks doing the kinds of things people do in parks all over the world. But- you have to prebook- there are absolutely no walk-up tickets, and we met some disappointed people outside. I would go back in a heartbeat!

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    1. Not too late at all, Rose, and I'm so glad you chimed in. I'm putting Villa Borghese on my list and I'll take your advice about prebooking. It sounds like the perfectly scaled and varied gallery to visit and I'm like you in enjoying people-watching in parks.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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