Rome, the “Eternal City,” is a feast for all seasons, with incredible cuisine, wine, artwork, parks, ancient monuments, food, gelato, shopping, strolling, and food (ah, yes, did I say that!). Let me share some favorite memories of when I traveled with friends or solo to a favorite city and as I worked for an international airline, I was able to indulge my love of travel.
Forget your map and smart phone, except to get a general idea of the terrain and your surroundings. Rome is best explored on foot and is a fabulous city in which to get lost. Many times my friends and I could not find the Trevi Fountain or the Tre Scalini Restaurant in Piazza Navona (and that was with a map!). But it was always fun finding our way, very often discovering other places and restaurants to explore.
Several friends and I spent a morning at the Vatican Museum, had a long, leisurely lunch and then decided to head back to the hotel (across the Tiber River, about a 45 minute walk). Three friends opted to take a bus while a friend and I decided to walk. It took us hours, crossing the Tiber River several times and we somehow kept coming back to the same starting spot. That night at dinner, we could not stop laughing showing our friends on a map where we had walked.
Another time, a friend took me to The Church of St. Peter in Chains, where you can view Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. Yes, you will discover incredible artwork all about, not just in museums. My friend knew of a fabulous restaurant with the BEST pasta. It was! I still remember it. Several months later when I was in the area by myself, I could not find that particular restaurant. I quickly learned that while friends had favorite places, all of the local restaurants were very good.
The marvelous thing about having dinner in Rome (late dining) was that it would last for hours. We had lively discussions about food (always a major topic, with dishes being sent back if not perfect), wine, new restaurants, Vatican politics, sports (soccer, of course), love, life and food.
On a business trip, one evening I went with two Roman friends to the magnificent Baths of Caracalla to attend the Opera, “Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci”. Afterward, we went to a nearby place for wine and pizza. Many of the cast were at the same restaurant. It was great fun and it was the first time I ever ate pizza with a knife & fork. It was delizioso and so marvelously civilized.
Once, when in Rome with my mother, we met friends for dinner at a local Trattoria. My friend’s son practiced his artistic skills, sketching all of us. My mother joined in with the waiters and other customers in some rousing Italian songs (how did she know the words?) and she sang along when the waiter played his mandolin. It was a fun, memorable night. One of many that we all shared in this gorgeous city.
Traveling in Rome can be adventurous. I remember taking a bus, traveling solo, to the countryside and having the driver stop for 2 hours as there was a strike. Or being with a friend, trying to get a taxi, in the pouring rain. We quickly realized that they were on strike so we found a place for cappuccino and laughed and said “it’s Rome.” During a strike at the Rome airport, I opted to take a train to Milan and fly home from there. The train was quite crowded, at one point, I was in the aisle, sitting on my suitcase. But, it all worked out.
A favorite memory is walking about the ancient Roman Forum with a friend who knew more than any guide. Here, as in so many parts of the city, you can feel the history… you are walking where Cicero, Caesar and countless others walked … It is an awesome experience.
My sojourns were incredible experiences, with treasured memories, the more so because of fabulous traveling companions and the beautiful people I met. My days of studying Latin and Roman history came alive and I developed a love affair with Rome and Italian, especially Roman, food and wine. And thanks to the Romans, I learned to be very flexible when traveling… and to peek into beautiful courtyards rather than hurrying past them and take the road less traveled. Arriverderci Roma!
Travel well and often. Enjoy your journeys!
Additional Photos of Bella Roma: