I hope you had a wonderful Easter and for all University of Toronto students, I hope all your exams are going well. Here in Brussels, we have our final exams at the end of May, beginning of June. Therefore, we had 2 weeks of vacation for Easter. Most students went back home or travelled around Europe. My friends and I decided to go to Rome, Italy to visit this beautiful and sunny country and also to pay a visit to a friend that studied in Brussels the first semester. We thought we would be a small group, however another friend also decided to go Rome the same period as us, an Italian friend decided to go back home to Rome and at the airport we met friends that took the same plane as us. Also, when we got to Rome our Italian friend told us that other friends were going to come as well. It seemed that every exchange students in Brussels was going to Rome, it seemed that literally all roads led to Rome.
On the streets of Rome, there are Orange trees everywhere; it’s beautiful. Also in each specific neighbourhood the street name represents cities, old Roman populations or another specific theme. I really like this idea.
Inside the Coliseum. Have you ever wondered where the “thumbs up/down” action come from? Well when there was a battle inside the Coliseum, before the winner killed his opponent he looked at the emperor; if he gave a thumbs up the person lived, if it was a thumbs down the person died.
Arches in Rome inspired the French to build their famous Arc de Triomphe (cf. post about Paris in November)
The second dome on the right you can see is St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
We visited Vittoriano and Campidoglio (the Capitol Hill), the seat of the Major.
Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps). On top there is Church Trinita dei Monti.
In the movie Roman Holiday there is a scene filmed at the Spanish Steps with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
The Pantheon, “Pan” means “every” and “theon” means “divinity”. Inside you can find tombs of Margherita of Savoy and Raphaël.
The Fountain of Trevi
With our back to the Fountain we threw coins in the Fountain.
The Fontana of Trevi is the biggest fountain in Rome and is seen in a lot of movies such as La Dolce Vita.
We took stairs and on our left was Quirinole and on our right was a magnificent view of Rome.
Quirinole – official residence of the President
We visited the Vatican. It is surrounded by a wall so you can distinguish Rome from the Vatican. I learned that day that the Vatican is a country separate from Italy. The Pope rules over it and if you live there you have a Vatican passport. However, only the people who work at the Vatican live there and have the Vatican passport.
St. Peter’s Basilica, this is where the Pope gives his speeches.
You have to stand on this circle…
…and when you stand on it you can see all the columns aligned perfectly. On top there are statues of popes, they were all made by the same artist.
Here is a picture of the columns from another angle, as you can see unlike the previous pictures you can see all the columns even the ones behind.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica
The tomb of Pope John Paul II.
Saint Peter, the first pope.
Climbing the dome.
As a little bit broke students we decided to take the stairs instead of the elevators to go on top of the dome because it was cheaper. As you can see it was quite an adventure because the hallways where not always straight!!
Saint Peter’s Square
The Vatican’s park/garden.
One of the statues of a pope from up close.
One of the guards near an entrance of the Vatican. They have really colourful uniforms!
Sunset on the Vatican.
Castel Saint Angelo
Saint Angelo Bridge, there are beautiful statues on the bridge.
The Palace of Justice
The river is called Tevere in Italian or Tiber River in English. When you cross the river you get to Isola Tiberna, Tiberna Island.
Campo de Fiori, this is the place where all the executions took place. The statue is Giordano Bruno, an intellectual who was burned for heresy.
A very cute church, it seems that Romans like to build churches in every corner of their town.
Fountain delle Tartarughe at Piazza Matei.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo
There are stairs at Piazza del Popolo, up those stairs is the beautiful garden Villa Borghese and this is the view on top.
View on Piazza del Popolo
An interesting clock that works with water.
We visited the Garden of Oranges, a very romantic garden which as you can guess is filled with oranges. This is the view of Rome from the garden.
You can see on the right Vittoriano.
After the Garden of Oranges, we went to the Door of the Knights of the Order of Malta. Inside the door there is a little hole and guess what building you can see!! …Saint Peter’s Basilica!
The Forum at night, this is where there was the Palace of Peace. However, one should not forget that Romans where cruel at times and there was often a lot blood everywhere, in particular in the Coliseum.
The same evening we saw the Sacred Zone, this is where Julius Caesar died, and the old Italian Jewish Ghetto where there is a very big synagogue. This synagogue is surrounded by police stations and it is very well controlled because it is in a sensitive place where Nazis killed a lot of Italian Jews. I haven’t watched to many Italian movies and unfortunately I am not too familiar with them, however there is one film that really touched me called Life is Beautiful ( La vitta è bella) it is the story about an Italian Jew married to a Christian woman, the movie is about their romance when they met and the horror that occurred during WWII; I haven’t smiled and cried at the same time in a movie before. You can borrow it from Media Commons VideoDVD750028 or at Kelly Library PN1997.V58 1997 DVD SMS. For a movie that is a little more light hearted I suggest you to watch Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani), you can borrow it at Kelly library PN1997 .P36 2002 DVD SMS. It is really funny.
We also visited the Imperial Fora, it is quite big and everywhere there are ruins, beautiful views and plants.
Inside the Imperial Fora, at the very back you can see Vittoriano
View of the Coliseum from the Imperial Fora
Bocca della Verità; Mouth of Truth. In the past they put a criminal’s hand in the mouth and if he lied or was accused of a crime, his hand was chopped off. Today lovers go there, and put the hand of their partner in it and ask the Bocca della Verità if their lover does indeed love them.
On via Ripetta there is one modern building and fountain. Personally I think it fits perfectly with the landscape because the colour is the same as the buildings surrounding it. Nevertheless, Italians were outraged by this building because they wanted to keep the old building theme throughout the city. But then my question is, how can you build new buildings if they always look old…?
Italians have the best food in the world, pizza, pasta, ice cream… In Rome I wasn’t at all disappointed by the food! Every evening we went to eat gelato and our dinners at restaurants were great. Also one evening my friend cooked spaghetti carbonara for us, with bacon from his town, eggs, parmiggiano and contrary to what we get served in northern Europe, no cream in the sauce. I can’t wait to prepare his recipe!
This is Giolitti, it is a famous ice cream shop with lots of delicious ice cream with different tastes. In Italy they also put on top of the ice cream a very lovely crème fraîche. Apparently every time Obama comes to Rome, he brings his girls there for ice cream. Also, the European Parliament is close to Giolitti’s.
A restaurant where you get free insults with your food. Crazy Italians!
Wine and chocolate bars with very funny erotic names. Very, very, crazy Italians!!
Close up of the menu!
An historical caffé, an espresso only costs 1.20 Euro and it is DELICIOUS!
One evening we also went to Saint Lorenzo neighbourhood, where all the young people hang out on weekends. It was great to go to an “underground” place in Rome and not only to touristic places. On our way we passed Verano Cemetery, where a famous (and insane?) Italian proposed to his girlfriend. On the streets there are lots of small flower shops, Italians are intrigued and don’t know why they are open everyday, 24/7. Also in the city they sell University of Rome sweaters, there are lots of university there however University of Rome doesn’t exist! Hence it is funny to see all the tourist wearing them! These are a few Roman mysteries!
The last day we went to a very big park and sunbathed. I tried to appreciate as much as possible the sun and the intensely blue sky because although I love Belgium, it’s unfortunately always grey and it’s always raining. It’s weird but I felt the sky in Rome was a darker more intense blue colour than in Belgium.
I really had an awesome time in Rome. The fabulous sunny weather, the great Italian hospitality from my friends who were so kind not only to host my friends and I, but also to be the greatest guides one can have! Grazie mille for showing us your great city, I saw lots of things, I learned a lot and can honestly say that it’s an amazingly beautiful city. And thank you to the friends that travelled with me, I hope my insomnia, craziness, my loudness didn’t bother you too much. Hopefully you didn’t get a Nazanin-overload!
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures – Thornton Wilder