12/19/19 – Roman Holiday

I come to Rome every sixteen years; this was my third visit. I still vividly remember first time I came here: a young artist of Moscow Circus on his first tour abroad, awe struck by the images from his history textbooks coming to life.
It’s been long enough since our last visit to Rome to want to see the city’s highlights again. We had to squeeze our sightseeing in 48 hours. And there was a lot to see.
As on our previous visit in 2003, Julie and I stayed in Trastevere. Not in a convent this time around, though still close to our beloved Trattoria Da Enzo, which has since become a staple in travel books.
As we revisited Rome, we kept saying: “Remember when we…” or “Back in 1987, I…”.
We remembered Rome as being more spread out and less crowded, but in reality it was the opposite: we hit half of the attractions on our first day and even in December those attractions were crowded. It was a zoo at the Trevi Fountain. It was a bit sad to realize that Romantic Roman Holiday no more, at least for us. We tossed our coin in the fountain, but will we ever want to come back?

Every morning, we got up very early to have some elbow space while sightseeing. We weren’t the only early birds, but it made it more pleasant. We hit the major sites: St. Peter’s Basílica, Capitoline Hill, Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

When the major sites were checked off we visited a few lesser known churches: Santa Maria of this, Santa Maria of that… Santa Maria Maggiore was actually quite impressive.

Of course, there was pasta, pizza and lots of gelato in between.

Once again I didn’t bring my Brompton. This time however, I didn’t regret it. Rome, at least its center, isn’t made for cycling: cobblestones, narrow streets, no cyclopaths.

Rome in numbers:

97 km 128307 steps – distance walked
753 BC – year Rome was founded
900 – number of churches in Rome
3000€ – worth of coins tossed into Rome’s Trevi Fountain daily, which are collected and donated to a charity
435 AD – year the last documented gladiator fight took place in the Colosseum
7 – hills of Rome rise up on the east bank of the Tiber: Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal.