Rome, Glorious Rome.

Rome, my favourite city, is often visited at the beginning or end of our travels. There’s a problem with this and it’s taken me 32 years to work it out. Visiting Rome before heading off on a long journey allows you to see her wonders with fresh eyes, vigour and enthusiasm but often the visit is cut short by an eagerness to travel to the proposed, more anticipated, Italian or European destination. Visiting Rome at the other end of the holiday often means that you are less eager to wake early and are suffering from church and museum overload. Your legs will hurt as you wander along kilometres of Rome’s cobblestoned ways, but at least your muscles have been in training.

Often a mysterious melancholy descends when you realise that Rome needs more time. It always does. It doesn’t matter how often you visit, Rome will continue to unfold and excite, tripping you up along the way with unexpected finds, more exciting lanes and suburbs, new bridges and villas. I use the word ‘unexpected’ as this is what Rome does. Once away from the usual Roman icons, you discover lesser known classical ruins, just lying about, some rarely visited, and suburbs with real markets, Roman lifestyle and ‘local’ osterie, views never imagined from yet more hills, and more of that exciting Roman night-time brio. And just when you think you know Rome, you realise that you know nothing at all.

Memories are reinterpreted and revised as favourite districts and churches are revisited, a rainy day enlivens Bernini’s sculpture, all that masculine flesh glows with new vigour. Wet marble and muscle, pink and black veined. Sant’Agnese provides shelter from the storm and a rest for weary feet. Another Baroque church beckons, Sant’Andrea delle Valle, or maybe a visit to Feltrinelli’s bookshop, or is it time for a Prosecco? 

Although winter is nigh, Rome glows pink. I want to keep wandering all day and night, but my legs can’t keep up with my desires. And that thing that I finally discovered so late in life? Rome is a destination in itself. One day I’ll just go there and nowhere else.

More on Rome next post.

36 thoughts on “Rome, Glorious Rome.”

        1. Oh that’s no good, leaving so soon. We will be wandering about in the morning, up that hill at the back of Trastevere and then doing yet more walking. It might be a bit rushed for you if you are heading back tomorrow.

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  1. ‘ . . . just when you think you know Rome, you realize you know nothing at all . . . ‘ oh, Francesca how that resonates with me ! Was hugely fortunate in having to go to Europe on business [and pleasure :)!] annually for over two decades. After that long QANTAS flight we normally ‘acclimatised’ there for the first week of utter wonder at being back on the Continent. Until our small daughters , who came along after 6-8, decided that ‘they’ wanted Copenhagen first!! We did not mind, but I must agree with you that Rome does deserve time for herself . . . have only had that ‘sole privilege’ with London . . . Evocative photos as usual . . .

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    1. Very lucky Eha. Yes, it’s often been my spot to acclimatise. This is now my 6th visit. The first, with 3 children back in 1985, was expensive and not so memorable. The dollar had crashed and prices were high. So different now as aging gypsies. Prices here are the same as they were in 2008, maybe even in 2000. No inflation, low wages keeping prices down.

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  2. Absolutely right – Rome is a destination in itself. We spend too little time here, but duties in Athens keep us grounded to Greece for the moment. Rome, to my mind, is the perfect city to explore. Hope your leg muscles are in tune for those cobbled streets. Enjoy the time you have there. Puntarella is a must (that Roman anchovy flavoured chicory winter salad).

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    1. Yes, Puntarella has been high on the ‘contorno’ list. Also loving the carciofi dishes which are now in season. Roman food is more ‘gustoso’ than the food of the north. Have had some great meals, so my little kitchen is not getting any use at all.

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  3. Never having had the pleasure of visiting Rome (except the airport), your post invokes a desire within me to go. This will surely please my wife, asshe’s been wanting to revisit Rome for years. Looking forward to part two.

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  4. Una vita non basta per vedere Roma! I have the same problem …Roma is where I fly into or fly home from, so never gets enough time. Would you believe I go every year and have never been to the Galleria Borghese? La prossima volta…. Ciao, Cristina

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