We arrived in Rome in the late morning. Like many cities before (specifically after Paris), I was worried that our hotel would be a disappointment. We had booked it before we left on the trip, and we learned so much while traveling that I wished we had waited. It was also within walking distance of the train station, which can sometimes be a mixed bag (to put it lightly).
In any case, we set out toward our hotel and I was surprised at how quickly we began to see ancient sites. I knew Rome was a historic city and we’d seen a lot of ancient things already, but to see old walls and ruins sticking out of modern-day pizzerias and clothing stores was very impressive.
When we arrived at our hotel and got our room, most of my anxiety about it disappeared. Our room was spacious and comfortable, and as we later found out, just up the street from the Forum, the Colosseum, and the other sites in that area. I was happy to see that Rome looked to be fairly walkable. Our hotel also sold us Roma Passes for the museums, and got us the nessecary reservations at the Borghese Gallery. It was great and I’d definitely recommend the hotel. It’s called Hotel Italia Roma.
After we checked in, we headed out into the town. We ended up going on something of a “fountain walk” as we somehow ended up visiting several famous fountains. One of those fountains was the Trevi Fountain, which like many people, I associate with the film La Dolce Vita. Unfortunately it was extremely crowded, but not without reason; with the water gushing out of all the stonework it’s really very impressive.
Next we went to the Triton Fountain, which despite being made by the famous sculptor Bernini, had almost no one around it. Of course, it’s not majestic like the Trevi Fountain, but we did stop to rest there for awhile. By this time it was also getting dark. We continued our walk to the Spanish Steps, and eventually ended up in the also sparsely populated Piazza del Popolo. It was a very pleasant walk.
On our second day in Rome we visited the major historical sites near our hotel. Using our museum pass we visited the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill. My personal favorite of these was probably the Forum, which surprised me because it’s less grand than the Colosseum, but still fairly crowded. However, I think was enriched it was that we read about it (on the iPod touch) as we walked around. It was fascinating to see and learn about events that transpired throusands of years ago in the same places we were standing.
Once fascinating thing about these sites (and, we learned, Rome generally), is that the ground level has changed dramatically over the years. The Forum has been excavated down to it’s original levels, but it’s also sort of in a pit. That’s because after the fall of the Roman empire the city of Rome eventually fell into disrepair. Dirt and debris kept piling up until most of the sites were actually covered up. I supposed I would have expected this to happen, but I wouldn’t have expected the ground level to change by many meters. In the Forum there is a catholic church, for example, that is built on top of an ancient Roman building. From the sides it’s possible to see where the ground level has been and how that effected where different generations built. It was a dramatic demonstration of how, over the course of two thousand years, even the earth itself changes, swallowing up the past.