Roaming ‘Round Rome
Ecce Romani! Look, the Romans! This was the name of my Latin textbook way back in 9th grade. So my first thought biking into the ancient city from the not so nearby airport was Ecce Roma! (I don’t remember much Latin, only useless phrases like ‘dominus ancillam verberat cumbaculo’ the master beats the slave woman with a stick, which hopefully is never useful as my life unfolds).
Rome, city with more history, statues, and epic buildings than you can shake a sword at. Mortal artists made immortal such as Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rafael, Bernini, and Caravaggio have left their imprint on the city. I’ve never seen such a mixture of antiquity and modernism with historic buildings surrounded by tourists and bustling traffic.
So much of Roman history has been well documented that I won’t repeat those old grade school lessons, but rather show some of the highlights from wandering about.
The Colosseum: In person the Colosseum was smaller than I imagined, but that comes from its larger than life portrayal in movies like Gladiator. I imagined the heaving throngs of spectators mid bloodlust as slaves and fighters fought for survival and glory as I passed by, but the majority of spectators in reality were mid selfie-taking.
The Pantheon: The largest self supported dome in the world. It is amazingly well preserved.
The Roman Forum: You have to pay to walk through the Forum itself but great views are free!
The Borghese Gardens: There are lots of statues, a zoo, a pond with leisure paddle boats, museums, and free movie screenings happening at this park owned by legendarily wealthy family.
The Vatican Museum: I waited in line for two hours (transfixed to the audiobook I was listening to, Morning Star) to enter the small country with more statues and artwork per square meter than any other, by a large margin. The highlight of the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel (no pictures are allowed). Entering the chapel a hush fell over the idle chatter amongst the rest of the museum patrons. Overhead the masterpiece of Michaelangelo peered down with the iconic outstretched fingers of God and man almost touching.
Piazzas, Bridges, and Various Buidings: Many squares are littered throughout Rome, like the Piazza di Papolo and the Piazza di Fiori where I watched Italy defeat Spain 2-0 in the Euro Cup quarterfinals.
Museums Galore: Some museums are just as impressive from the outside as they are inside. While admiring the museum below a man from Senegal approached me and gave me a turtle figurine to celebrate the recent birth of his new son and a blessing for safe passage on my travels. I’ve kept it in my bike bag and been accident free!
The Trevi Fountain: The fountain is packed with tourists, but if you’re tall like me you can get an unobstructed view of its intricate details. Legend has it if you throw a coin in the fountain you’re bound to return back to Rome at some point in your life.
I don’t need to throw a coin to ensure that I’ll return someday. All I need are the memories of all the amazing history and culture pouring from the heart of this infamous ancient city to bring me back.