The Last Two Days of Rome-ing

The last two days in Rome were, without a doubt, the best two days. The sun came out, the weather held, and Rome shown like a terra-cotta gem.

On Wednesday we decided to get outside of the city center for a while and go somewhere we wouldn’t find many tourists. The park we chose (Valle Della Caffarella) wasn’t on the tourists maps, it was out on the Red Line subway in a part of Rome no guide book told us to visit.

The thing about living in New York is that because it is so big, my mind become skewered to think that any type of distance between objects must be a really long way. For example: on a tourist map of NYC the distance between Battery Park and Times Square is only a few inches on the map, how long could it take to walk there? FOREVER. In Rome, however, this is not the case. To walk across the city does not take too long, the blocks are small and the big avenues aren’t that big. So, what looked like an hour long trip to Valle Caffarella was only 20 min by subway, the walk to find the entrance was an hour. We could not find the gate. We wound up almost circumnavigating the entire park to get inside. The worst part was walking along the border and catching glimpses of the oasis inside: empty fields, large green trees, small paths and (my favorite) no one there; and on the other side of us was a small highway with a non-stop stream of traffic.

Anyway, once inside we were so glad we went. The park was EMPTY. Like, so empty I thought we must have been on someone’s private property and it wasn’t until a dude came jogging past us about a half hour in that I was able to calm myself down a bit. If you are ever in Rome, I highly recommend making a pilgrimage to this park. It is stunning. We hiked for a while, stopping at a stone to eat our lunch of grilled Panini and to watch the wind sway the branches of the round, trimmed trees and observe distant horses casually munch on grass. Zen.

On Thursday I bought us tickets for a tour of the Forum and the Colosseum. I’d learned my lesson about “showing up” to the site and expecting short lines and other fairy tales. We came prepared. We decided to walk over from our apartment (which was in Barberini Plaza) to the Colosseum and on our way stopped to check out the Barberini Art Museum. What a gem! It was not crowded at all, the entrance was 7 Euro (cash only, which sucked) and the museum houses some incredible pieces of art, including a couple Caravaggio’s (he only painted a handful) one of which, his masterpiece of “Judith Beheading Holofernes” was a real stunner to see in person. We spent about 90 minutes walking around the old manor, looking at the frescos and gaping at the large dance hall, which was so big, the fireplace was even taller than I was.

Our tour guide, Davide, at the Colosseum was a character. He talked very rapidly and used a lot of emphasis on the wrong syllable. As an English as a Foreign Language teacher, I wanted so badly to walk him though some of the pronunciation of the words he was using! A wonderful thing about Italian is it sounds incredibly musical and lovely, but when that musicality is transposed onto an English sentence it’s very difficult to understand what is being said. He would also talk about some fact or piece of history and then, pausing in mid sentence say “…what-eh else-eh? Oh, yes-eh *breath* mah-nee faiters-eh foot here-eh…”.

The Colosseum was something really scary and wonderful. Scary because of the history it represented (God only knows how many people died there) and wonderful because despite centuries of ransacking and pillaging, so much of it remains today as a relic of most of the planet’s shared history.

The Forum was also incredible. Ruin apron ruin lined the streets and imagining walking through ancient Rome was not hard at all. I love visiting ruins because I can pretend to be a part of that history, if just for a few minutes, and share the same rooms and paths that ancestors did ages ago. Palatine Hill was the best part of the tour. The top of The Hill overlooks Rome. It’s grassy and there are trees and not too many people and it’s a great place to stroll, listening to Davide’s (pronounced: da-vee-day) voice on a headset as he talked about murders and suicides linked with the place. Charming.

The only problem I had with the tour were the idiot Americans who were in our group. I totally understand why the international community hates us. There were at least 5 of them that were outspoken enough for me to know they were ‘Murcans. They kept asking the DUMBEST questions, like, so dumb Caitie and I started to joke about it and would break into long gigglefests causing sideways glances from, I don’t know, the Frenchies who were also in our tour.

“‘Scuse me, David-ay? You said that in the Dark Ages people tore the lead out from the Colosseum’s pillars. How is the Colosseum still standing!?” *Face Palm* (I don’t know! Oh my god. You are RIGHT, dumbass! If you take away the lead that “holds” the arches and pillars together what could POSSIBLY be keeping the structure up? Must be God’s own hand!). Hint: Compression Force is an incredible side-effect of gravity which seems to withstand thousands of years of wear and tear.

I booked my tickets through CityWanderers/Viator which I found on TripAdvisor. Tickets were about 55 Euro each.

 

May 3, 2015 at 8:08 am by Natalie Allen