Not all those who wander are lost and sometimes getting lost is a blessing in disguise, for this is a tale of how I fell in love with Rome, one street at a time, all in a day.
The signs was already there when we arrived at our B&B in Al Colonato which was literally a stone’s throw away from San Pietro. As I alighted from the taxi, St Peter’s Dome was the first thing I saw.
I was giddy with delight.
Our B&B owner, beautiful and chic Signora Rosa Marie was there to receive us. Her eyes crinkled as quick smiles flitted across her face and she launched into her welcome speech.
Charmed by the Italian on the spot, I was swept away in a torrent of, “Buongiorno signora! Allora signora …Allora attencio…Allora Signora Juhi and Sheetaal, attencio…bello…permesso…grazie, prego…ciao.”
There were other general instructions in English-Italian mix regarding apartment keys, a bit of building history thrown in, some helpful touristy hints and finally stern warnings to be careful of the pickpockets. By the end, I was ready to explore the Eternal City with my companion and guide, Mami.
We had already decided to make a beeline for the free sights that day, Colosseum, the neighbouring Roman Forum and Palatine Hill included. Although warned about the serpentine queues especially on a free day, we were determined. After all, we were from a land of a billion people, crowds did not intimidate us.
Also in my mind, Rome was the land of the gladiators and toga wearing senators and Caesar, we had to see the seat of power.
So on Day 1, took the bus, missed our stop for the Colosseum (too busy gawking out of the window) and reached the Termini instead. Anyway, since we were high on adventure we walked, wandered, strolled in the directions pointed. By the end of the day, all the landmarks on the list were ticked and trust me, there were plenty.
We made another discovery- apparently we could pass off as Español (that’s the first time for me). Also almost all the water vendors selling chilled aqua outside the monuments spoke in Bengali to each other. It was India nostalgia big time.
Anyway here goes my list, all covered on foot with a break for wine and dine and gelato as well. So definitely doable!
* Collosuem (entry free day and surprisingly sparsely crowded too. Yay!)
*The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, its sweeping ruins next door was straight out of an Asterix and Obliex comic, but better.
* The majestic Pantheon and its Occulous- Thank you Dan Brown for the heads up because I remembered to see Raphael’s tomb in there.
*Largo Di Torre Argentina
I was finally at the site of the famed dialogue, “Et tu Brute?” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was my heaven and hell in school.
*Altare Della Patria – the white marble monument, the fluttering Italian flag, the gorgeous statues and the soldiers; it was magnificent!
* Piazza Navona
Fountain of 4 rivers and Dan Brown says one of which is Ganga. Nice touch!
* The wish fulfilling Trevi.
Now that was one place I battled the crowd like I’d probably do in our Bazaars before Diwali. Yet can’t deny its incredible magic.
We were euphoric for we had accomplished our goal. It was time to call it a day.
All roads lead to Rome and when you are already in Roma…
“Walk west”, a helpful young lad pointed at the Google map on his phone to show where we were supposed to go. “Or you can just follow the rays of the sun falling on the building tops.”
Pretty smart, I admit!
Along the way we enjoyed the street bands strumming tunes, inviting tables lined outside cafes promising refreshing spritz and a bite. All good until we realised that we had lost track of the sun and the alleys had turned into a maze.
Frantically we hailed a passerby who agreed that we were lost and since he spoke only Italian and we English, it was frustrating. The sun was high although the watch pointed that it would be dusk soon; an uneasiness bordering on mild panic was brewing beneath the surface.
Squaring our shoulders, we walked on a bit faster and then we ran into a Luke Skywalker. He spoke great English, was perfectly courteous and had an Indian connection too- he had lived in Mumbai for three years. He walked with us, casually pointing the high-end brand shops, the utterly crowded Spanish Steps and finally the way home via River Tiber.
We were ecstatic! Spanish Steps was not on the list but now it could be.
Hence, sitting on the crazily crowded Spanish Steps- done !
Happily we made our way back watching Tiber’s water rippling and gleaming in the twinkling lights, the fort of San Angelo standing like a beacon and just beyond was the Piazza San Pietro.
The Bridge of Angels
Time stopped for us on the cobbled piazzas, the busy streets, by the quiet riverside, the faint strains of music breaking the silence under the inky sky.
“At the end of the day, our feet were dusty, our hair messy but our eyes sparkled.”
It was heavenly!
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