by Judy Harrison
Rome is the magnificent “Eternal City”, so fascinating that a lifetime is not sufficient to experience all which this European center of culture, history and beauty has to offer. Rome is also the correct answer to Resident’s most recent Mystery Destination Contest, won by, who earned two roundtrip tickets for international travel on American Airlines for guessing the destination and submitting the winning 75 words-or-less essay on why he/she loves Rome.
Rome is an extraordinary city, a living museum to the vast treasures of ancient Rome, Medieval and Renaissance periods and a modern day vibrant metropolis. Since this timeless city has so much to offer, it may be helpful to begin with an open air bus tour or a guided walking tour. Of course you can just put on comfortable shoes, take along a guidebook, and explore the winding cobblestone alleyways with over 2,000 years of history and enjoy the scents of delicious Italian cuisine. A 3-day Roma Pass can be purchased for admission and transportation discounts. The best way to see Rome is to combine your sightseeing with shopping and relaxation.
The Coliseum (Colosseo) is a good place to begin. This is the largest monument in existence from ancient Rome, often called Rome’s greatest architectural wonder. In ancient times it was the site where crowds of 50,000 or more spectators would enjoy various forms of combat. The gladiators are most associated with the Colosseum.
At the Pantheon, first constructed in 27 B.C., (burned to the ground and rebuilt by 126 A.D.) the splendor and elegance of Roman architecture can be experienced. Once a temple to “all the gods”, it was converted to a church in 608 A.D. and has been extremely well preserved. The structure is considered to be an architectural masterpiece but the architect remains unknown. The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is one of Rome’s most important archaeological sites, containing 900 years of history. From Capitonline Hill you have an outstanding view of the Roman Forum. The ancient sites of Rome, named for its founder, Romulus, have been named as an UNESCO world heritage site. For a true feeling of the past, the Appian Way, just outside of Rome, is surrounded by ruins which will make you feel as though you have journeyed into antiquity.
The Trevi Fountain is the most famous of Rome’s many beautiful fountains and is a perfect example of the 18th century Roman Baroque style. The popular legend is that if you throw a coin in the fountain you will have good luck and return to Rome. Built during the same period is the Spanish Steps; the wide steps are the largest in Europe. At sunset, the Spanish Steps provides gorgeous views of Rome’s famed seven hills.
The world’s smallest sovereign state is Vatican City which can be accessed through St. Peter’s Square. Visitors of all faiths will be enthralled by the walled enclave, home to St. Peter’s Basilica. The legendary St. Peter’s Square is where the Pope walks out onto a balcony to offer Mass. The Vatican Museums house art from antiquity and the Renaissance as well as modern times. All the palaces and galleries can be overwhelming. Most outstanding is the Michaelangelo painted Sistine Chapel. The frescoes on the ceiling and walls were painted between 1508 and 1512.
Rome’s skyline is dominated by St. Peter’s 448 foot tall dome, designed by Michelangelo. No building is Rome can be built which would be taller, thus preserving the classical skyline. Rome has many lovely parks which can provide a relaxing break from sightseeing. Of course, you will want to sample Rome’s epicurean delights!
The food of Rome can best be described as a gastronomic miracle. Cappuccino is enjoyed for only at breakfast while espresso is the choice for later in the day or evening. Pizza is as extraordinary as is pasta, both prepared in an array of styles. Expect to find food made of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Local wines are great and not very expensive. Crostata di Ricotta (cheesecake) is a popular dessert. While strolling, visit a Gelateria and try some of the many wonderful flavors of gelato. Dining is leisurely as Italians like to linger over their meals. Outdoor seating will give you a chance to relax and people watch.
The mild and warm Mediterranean climate will keep you comfortable as you explore Rome. A visit to one of the world’s most important tourist destinations would not be complete without some shopping. Many shops can be found on the Via Del Corson, the main street of modern Rome, which is also a popular location after dark. It should be noted that this street is one of the few in the city to be completely straight. Via Dei Condotti is a leading shopping street for haute-couture boutiques. On Via Del Babuino there are major fashion boutiques of young designers. For the city’s most expensive shops, head over to Via Veneto. Campo Dei Fiori is a large market square with outdoor shops amongst Medieval and Renaissance palaces and churches in the piazza. Along the way you will meet the exuberant, friendly Romans.
Hopefully you have tossed a coin into the Fontana di Trevi so you can soon return to the splendor of Rome. The luxuriously comfortable seats (especially in business class) on the American Airlines flight to JFK will be even more enjoyable as you partake in the sumptuous meals offered in flight. You may dine upon request with your meal presented all at once at any time you may wish. Starters include warm mixed nuts and crudités and dip. The appetizer is smoked salmon and herb marinated shrimp. Salad is served and there’s a gourmet break basket. Among the main choice courses are Lemon Grass Chicken with Achiote Sauce, Rosemary Garlic Shrimp and Four Cheese Ravioli. For dessert you can savor ice cream sundaes made with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a selection of fruit and cheese. Breakfast is served on earlier flights. For your enjoyment, a pre-arrival beverage of chilled sparkling or still water with a fresh citrus garnish is provided.
Now you will have experienced the exuberant, enchanting Roman atmosphere which multitudes of visitors just can’t get enough of. It probably is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities you will ever encounter. Perhaps a visit to Rome can be best summarized by the 15th Century scholar Gian Francesco Bracciolini when he said, “Rome is the most beautiful and magnificent of all those that either have been or shall be.”
American Airlines Non-Stop Flights:
10:00 A.M. (next day)