Rome, Italy

September 4, 2012

A view of Rome from the balcony of the hotel

We checked into our hotel in Rome ā€“ the roomiest, best located, most well-equipped in the trip ā€“ and for once felt grateful that the staff had left the air-conditioning blasting at full power to a chilly 16°C. The journey here had been a test of heat endurance as we rode the bus from Florence to Assisi all through the cloudless summer afternoon.

Rome is a lively city trying to outgrow its past. At the center lies the ruin of the Roman Forum, once the heart of the Roman Empire. Inside, graduating archeologists work tirelessly while cars sped outside on basalt cobblestone avenues laid down by the Mussolini government over 70 years ago. An Egyptian obelisk stands as it for 1,500 years not to far from the Pantheon, a temple of all Roman gods, now a church. Right across people line up to get a taste of granita, a freezing concoction of cream and espresso, fitting for the heat. There are only two subway lines in the city of almost 3 million, many attempts to expand botched by archeological finds layered under the living world.

We meandered through the city in two walking tours, basking in its chaotic authenticity.

Statues line the House of the Vestal Virgins (Atrium Vestae) at the eastern edge of the Roman Forum

A street at the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum with National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II visible in the background to the right

One of the statues of Victoria riding on quadrigas gracing the tops of the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II

A few restaurants at Piazza della Maddalena, near the Pantheon. I had the most memorable seafood linguine here

The Pantheon, a temple to all the classical gods, now a Roman Catholic church

The dome of the Pantheon as seen from inside

View down Via Nazionale towards Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs in the far background

More Roman Forum ruins at dusk

The venerable classic Fiat 500 and its younger brother are one of the more prevalent cars to swarm Roman streets today

A typical street parking etiquette in Rome

Remains of Domus Severiana at the edge of the Palatine Hill next to the Circo Massimo, a chariot racing stadium

View of National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II from the front, a monument commemorating the unification of Italy

The Spanish Steps, a popular spot for sitting around in Rome

The Spanish Steps at noon with temperatures almost hot enough to melt plastic, and with understandably thinner crowd

The Trevi Fountain

Part of the Italy series →

The Tuscan Countryside

Pompeii

Milan Cathedral

Assisi