From Palatine Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum. The Colosseum stands in the far background on a partly cloudy day

Rome, 2023

Rome doesn’t mess around. Its food, its history, its unmistakable architecture along narrow and cobbled streets, all of it graced by a patina developed over centuries, the city is a feast for all of the senses. It has been there and done that.

Our trip to Rome was a short one, only five days. The purpose of our visit was that my wife was attending a course and I would be tagging along and doing whatever it is that I do, which is mostly walking around and snapping photos while in search of cured meats. Coincidentally, we had also just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary and Rome seemed like a place you’d go for such a thing.

Kayaks parked on an iceberg
Fountain, closed to off due to renovation work
A man, working at a flower stand, filling a bucket of water with a hose
Family walking across a large group of parked scooters

Taken from a city tour bus while we waited to get into our apartment.

My favorite places to travel are the places that remind you that you are indeed nowhere close to home. Rome is one of those places. No matter the street, corner, or building, you will not find any familiar reference to some piece of something back in the states here. I enjoy that feeling because of how it reminds that I can ignore my daily concerns, live in the moment. It’s the little things, like having to mind your elbows when the occasional tiny car squeaks by so the mirror doesn’t knock the wine glass out of your hand as you gesture wildly, trying to fit in with the locals.

A vespa-like scooter parked on the corner near a restaurant. It's on a cobbled street with several small tables.

I Pizzicaroli serves some of the best Italian cold cuts I’ve ever had.

Neighborhood walks

I had most of the mornings and afternoons to myself to go off and explore. The old city streets were not designed for cars nor ever updated to accommodate them. Rome is full of textures, and everywhere you look, there's something to please the eye. No matter where you turn, you will find some interesting detail tucked away into some nook or cranny.

Group of older gentlemen laughing and sharing a bottle of wine at a park bench. One is turned around an seems to have noticed the camera
Man about to cross an empty street
Residential building with curved feature at the front
On the left, a bicycle. On the right, an older man leaning against a bike rake, looking in the opposite direction of the bike.

The Prati neighborhood, where we stayed

My walks were close to ten miles per day, probably the most amount of walking I’ve ever done while on vacation. This turned out to be an essential balance to my daily carb intake.

Looking down at a white wall with what translates to 'fuck covid' in graffiti
Stairway leading down to a walking path, framed by spindles on a bridge
Facing Vatican City from a bridge
A half-sunken houseboat or floating night club

Scenes along the Tiber river

Because Rome was built before the automobile age, driving around in a regular sized car, even by European standards, would be difficult. Some of the cars—if you would even call them that—were so small, they only had one seat. More of an enclosed motorcycle, really.

Small Citroen
Fiat parked between two trees

Very tiny cars

Rome is covered in graffiti. One thing that surprised me was how much of it was about soccer. Some people would make their objections known by crossing a team name out and putting another in its place, always with the swearing. I imagine this is how people argued before Twitter.

Graffiti reading AS Roma Merda
Graffiti reading Lazio merda, then someone wrote Roma over that

One neighborhood known for its street art, and food, is Trastevere. Once a poor neighborhood, Trastevere became the go-to place for all the hip restaurants and bars. It’s a typical origin story. Needless to say, this neighborhood was my kind of place.

Crowded street with people dining al fresco
Man standing at a corning, seemingly waiting for someone
Street art, an image of an elderly lady
Two older men standing in front a tourist shop

You want to get lost here (within reason, obviously). The entire city is a museum, and every corner of it has a story. If I had another week, I would simply spend my time continuing to walk the streets. While I might retrace some old steps, there’s always a new detail I didn’t see before. Whether it’s the way the light hits a particular building at a particular moment, or some ancient ruin hiding in plain sight.

People walking by a government building, dwarfed by its proportions
Two people standing outside of a luggage locker, harsh shadows on them
Roman street
Roman drinking fountain on an empty street
Archway between two buildings
Ancient columns
Light hitting a church
Light just moving past a doorway to a church
Woman standing at the entrance for a restaurant. A car is reflected in the window
Woman with a dog approaching a table of diners
Old walls protruding from a building
Doorway, heavily textured
A church in the late evening
Alleyway, looking towards a church
Alleway looking towards Victor Emmanuel II Monument

Being a tourist

Of course, Rome is contains some of the most recognizable structures on the planet. You have to see them, with your own eyes, up close. Do you feel like cattle? Yes. Is it worth it? Also, yes. You’re going to eat a lot of pasta later, so get those steps in!

Roman forum arch
Looking towards Colosseum from Roman Forum
Man reading something on the Victor Emmanuel II Monument
People walking around the Victor Emmanuel II Monument
Low angle view of the horse on the Victor Emmanuel II Monument as people go up the stairs
On the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, looking towards the city and a long, wide street.
Silhouette of someone taking a photo inside a dark church
Exterior of vatican
Statues on top of the vatican
St. Peter's basilica
Close up of arch in the Colosseum
The Colosseum floor from above
Colosseum floor from above
Arch as viewed from Colosseum
City view from a rooftop at the golden hour