The Eternal City

In Holidays, Traditions, Travel, Urban Exploration
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We love Rome. It’s a magical city where the past isn’t even just below the surface—it’s all around you, all the time. We like to stay near the Pantheon, the best preserved Roman temple and (as my husband likes to point out) a masterpiece of engineering, with its concrete domed roof, the largest in the ancient world. Everything is then within walking distance: the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the major museums.

There are certain places we have to visit every time we go to Rome. The Forum, obviously, where the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Caesar, Cicero and other famous Romans just never gets old. The Capitoline museum, which overlooks the Forum, contains busts, statues and inscriptions. We always go to say hello to Cicero, and the giant statue of Constantine.

We also make a ritual pilgrimage to see the frescoes from the Villa of Livia, the wife of Augustus. The brightly coloured plants, fruits and birds look as though they were painted yesterday, and are displayed in their original configuration, around the walls of a single room, to give the impression of sitting in a garden. But you are, in effect, sitting in the emperor’s wife’s dining room. Another ritual visit is to the Largo di Torre Argentina, a square that contains the ruins of Pompey’s Theatre, where Julius Caesar was assassinated. It is, bizarrely, now home to a cat sanctuary, and cats can be seen lounging among the fallen columns.

But alongside these old favourites, we like to do new things. On our most recent visit we went to parts of the Forum we hadn’t seen before. We paid homage to Romantic poets at the Keats-Shelley Museum, and went back in time to the pre-Roman period with a visit to the Etruscan Museum. We visited the modern art museum with some Italian friends to see a Sebastião Salgado exhibition, which is another story. And we explored the bustling food district of Trastevere, across the river Tiber, which was a revelation.

It was lovely just to be able to walk the streets again, surrounded by the old and familiar, but with the promise of the novel and unexpected. Although Rome is an ancient city, there always seems to be something new and exciting to do.


1 Comment

  1. Love! Also, I’m sure you always learn (and shoot!) something new too.

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