Posted on July 16, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!