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0480 Ruin-lover’s Paradise (Ita 006—new)

Rome Travel Blog

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Italy and Italian culture are symbolized by more random stereotypes than any other culture on earth.  You’ve got the Ceaser and Roman gladiator image… the Catholic pope image… the Mafia Godfather… Michelangelo, Da Vinci and the Renaissance… Mussolini… the canals of Venice… opera music… Gucci… pizza and spaghetti… They’re all puzzle pieces that I’m familiar with but have never really been able to put together because they just don’t seem to fit with each other…

 

Hopefully on this trip, that’s all going to change.  I’m going to approach this country with an open mind and see what I can discover.

And Rome seems like the most logical place to start…

 

Discovering Rome feels like trying to drink water out of a fire hydrant.

  As soon as you get off the subway, and step up to the plaza in front of the train station, you see ruins, magnificent buildings and layers upon layers of history in every direction.  You don’t know quite where to start…

 

Well, since I have to make a choice, I decide that The Vatican will be my first priority, since it is, after all an “independent country” and there’s no way I’m going to miss this chance to add another country to my collection. But to get there without getting distracted by so much stuff to see along the way, now that’s going to be a real challenge…

 

The walk down the main street heading west is almost surreal… In the other cities I’ve explored, all the “historical” buildings are a few centuries old… But here in Rome, there’ll be a 500 year old building next to a 1000 year old building right next to a the ruins of a 2,000 year old building… Each with it’s very distinctive architectural style and building material… And then I see two guys in suits talking together that I could swear I saw in a Godfather movie…

 

Further down the road I come to the enormous War Memorial--  the biggest I’ve ever seen, built to honor those who died in World War I… A clear throwback to the glory days of Roman power…

 

Up on the other side you climb a ridge and you can see the vast section of the city that is nothing but ruins for as far as the eye can see…


Rome is clearly the Ultimate Ruins Experience…


And very complicated.

  Since the city has been sacked several times, There are ruins on top of ruins on top or ruins.  In some places, Renaissance period structures have been demolished to expose the Roman ruins beneath them… In one place you can see a cutaway of a large Roman housing complex, now far below the ground level…

And as if the landscape weren’t interesting enough, right in the middle of this there’s a big protest going on against the expulsion of illegal immigrants, with folks camping right next to the ruins, a quick reminder of Italy’s 21st century reality…

 

Finally I make my way down across the Tiber River to Parkbench Vatican City

 

After Vatican City

 

After parkbenching Vatican City, I dive right back into Rome

 

I go to check out the impressive round castle on the Tiber River… the across the bridge lined with statues… then up the narrow alleys… More ruins, beautiful plazas, cathedrals, surprises waiting around every bend…

 

But I need to go grab my bag from the train station, since I’m paying by the hour… So I head up to the train station…

But of course I’ve got a lot more to see yet… Of course I’ve got to go check out the Colisseum…

The Colisseum seems a bit small--  but then, I usually have that impression looking at a stadium from the outside.

  But it’s still really cool to have one of the “New Wonders of the World as a backdrop for my clip…

 

Outside the Colisseum, gladiators pose for photos… I have the idea of offering them a little extra if they fight each other to the death--  they are gladiators after all, aren’t they?

 

From their I want to go check out the Hypodrome--  it looks huge on the map… but I end up walking right past it and not realizing it… I was kind of expecting to see something there, but all it is is an open field…

 

I continue on south, through a rather odd park that combines trash, chunks of ancient Roman pillars, and sleeping hobos…


The city quickly fades away and I reach the ancient southern wall… Nearby is the very historical Appian way with seems to have a lot of interesting landmarks along it, but I decide that I’ve explored far enough and it’s time to head back into town.

 

So I spend the rest of the evening just soaking in the sights of the ruins… wandering the alleyways and relishing the vibe of the city.  Yes, it is crammed full of tourists… but the city still feel alive and real…

 

One thing that’s noticeable lacking are a lot of government buildings… This is the capital of Italy, after all… but the city seems to be much more obsessed with the past than with the present…

 

Finally I decide it’s time to bid the city farewell… I know there’s still a lot more for me to discover, but I’m afraid if I loiter too much longer here, I might lose my momentum…

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photo by: vulindlela