Last year, in July, I visited Rome (my first ever double-deck flight experience), the capital of Italy. And, oh my.., are there many places to see ! The architecture of its buildings and landmarks, with a history of more than two and a half thousand years, is a marvel ! And, then, there is the Vatican ! I don’t know where to begin and where to end..
I guess, I should start by talking about the food. You cannot be in Italy and not talk about the food. Whether its the Pizza, Pasta Carbonara, Risotto, Ravioli, Prosciutto, Gnocchi, Gelato, Tiramisu, or Traditional Roman Oxtail (Coda Alla Vaccinara), you always have something to satisfy your taste-buds and moods. And, the Roman meals have so many courses ! You start with an antipasto (appetizer on the heavy side), primo (your choice of pasta), secondo (generally meat with a side dish), dolce (dessert) which could be followed by a beverage, if you want. here are few pictures 🙂
And, for the sights to see, there is the unending list such as Colosseum, Pantheon, squares and fountains such as Spanish Steps with Piazza di Spagna, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Fontana de Quattro Fiumi, Piazza Venizia, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Barberini etc. Places like Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus (Roman chariot racing stadium) and Roman Forum (the excavated center where you can walk through the period of the Roman history) show the interesting interplay of religion and politics in the Roman era. It is an amazing journey. I highly recommend taking a guide to know the interesting facts and watch history come alive 🙂
And, if you are a fan of art, you can’t miss Caravaggio’s works at the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, one of the most famous being ‘The Inspiration of Saint Mathew‘. A picture is shown below (No flash used). There are also museums like the Castel Sant’Angelo and churches like Santa Maria in Trastevere and Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Rome is also very unique as in, it is a very old city with narrow streets but almost every common building has an architectural pattern which speaks of the abundance of rich history in its past. It is busy, crowded and every tourist landmark has a sign to warn against pickpockets.
And to top it all, the most surprising and unexpected of all my experiences was the fact that during my entire bus tour of the city Rome, I met so many people from Bangladesh, either as a helper guiding tourists to buses or shop keepers, that I did not even have to speak one word of English to ask for all the directions to different places (I am a Bengali from Assam, India).
And now, we go to Vatican city , the smallest state in the world both by area and population, with its head being the Pope. With beautiful religious and cultural sites such as the Italian Renaissance church of St. Peter’s Basilica with beautiful creations by Michaelangelo, Raphael, or Dali , the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and ‘the Sphere within the Sphere’ statue outside the museum symbolizing the complex and fragile world, it is a treasure for art lovers. These remind us of the ambitious spending of the rulers and religious leaders to keep it as a symbol that stood the test of time. This was possible only by putting a lot of thought behind the meaning of each of the creations and focusing attention to even the most intricate and minute details such the hue of the color of stones and other architectural details etc. Here are some memories from my trip 🙂
All in all, I just have to say that Rome has so many stories imbibed in each of these attractions, that you need one week or more to actually understand and mingle with its culture, tradition and history 🙂 And, you need to take it slowly and allow sufficient time to digest the countless amazing facts.