September 4, 2012
A view of Rome from the balcony of the hotel
We checked into our hotel in Rome – the roomiest, best located, most well-equipped in the trip – 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