Sometimes in life “All the roads are leading to Rome“ and the best thing to do is to take your time to understand what Rome is all about
The roads of my life took me to Rome in a very unplanned way and since I was having a true “Roman Holiday“ I was thinking that I should try to see the Rome behind appearances and stereotypes. Same as everybody else I was having an image about Rome in my mind and I found that in some aspects my imagination was going too far and in some my imagination was lacking depth.
My story begins in the morning when I woke up in my room at Suite Little Queen.
My hotel was in the heart of the city, not too far from Piazza Venezia and Comune di Roma. I could see the roman ruins from my window, apparently here was the place where Caesar was killed in 44 BC. Past and Present are walking hand in hand everywhere. Is it there. At every corner. On every street. It is some kind of synergy. The Past is so present that almost melts into Present.
The past and the present, Rome , Italy, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
For me was fascinating. If most of the people are associating Rome with the word amore, I would associate it with the word intriguing.Walking along ruins it has it charms. So many questions were rising in my head when I was walking through it. I loved how time was silenced and felt like being frozen. I walked around Rome most of the time not knowing what I was looking at, or where I was.
I sat there under the roman sun and I was smiling thinking that I am some sort of Dorothy, a time traveller, walking on the paths of Rome instead of Oz with my black shoes not red looking for something. I can say that I had no idea what I was looking for. But it was incredibly fun to explore the city at my pace.
Wondering on the streets it felt like a time travelling because in only a few steps the period of time I was walking through was changing . To me, it was fascinating to have a live history lesson.
There was so much information in the architectural details and I was absorbing it like a sponge. While walking I decided not to follow the touristic routes and just keep on walking Little by little I was reaching so many surprising places.
Piazza Campidoglio, Rome, Italy, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
At the beginning, I thought I was walking through a maze not knowing what I will find and I just let it flow. I could describe every place I have been to but I was thinking that everybody does that. Probably the best is just to let it unfold and create a story of my own. A story of a Rome I have seen, not a story of a Rome the rest of the people expect to hear.
Left the Roman Empire ruins and entered the streets of the Jewish Getto. I think that the multitude of fountains I saw in Rome are some kind of unique feature of the city. I was surprised to see that during the centuries it was quite a lively Jewish community which was more protected than other parts of Europe. This made me realise that I do not know very much about Rome. Because I always saw it as a hard citadel of Catholicism, but I was so wrong.
Jewish Getto, Rome, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
This was an impulse to keep my eyes open and look around me. Wandering around I stumbled upon a palazzo which caught my eye instantly. Palazzo Mattei di Giove it was like a magnet to me. The entire palazzo is like a live museum. From the marble statues in the interior courtyard, the sculptures and busts on the terraces, to carved murals on the exterior of Persian and Greek provenience everything looking like a big collection of a man with a big passion for art.
I was impressed and could not stop thinking about the person behind this the entire masterpiece, Adsrubale Mattei count di Giove. I could see and understand his passion for art in every piece he brought from over the seas to adorn the walls of his palazzo.
This Palazzo is one of the places you just stumble upon and it feels like finding a treasure chest on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean.
That moment it made perfectly sense the maze I was walking through since morning. I had to find Trastevere. People were walking on the streets or they were dining on the restaurant’s terraces. I felt so relaxed like I have been there before and now I was back after so long.
Placed on the East bank of the Tiber River Trastevere was since always a colourful neighbourhood full of life and it remained the same since then. I took a long walk on its streets and I had a glimpse of its back gardens.
From Trastevere going North on the East Bank soon I was in Vatican. The place wasn`t totally unknown to me because I have seen it in media, but seeing it live is different because lots of features will pass unnoticed unless you are there to see it live.
I have seen Vatican at night time and during the day and I think it is important to be seen at night when Saint Peter Square is empty and the entire complex seems to want to tell a story through all the symbols it bears.
I was surprised to notice that the obelisk is actually an original Egyptian Obelisk having hieroglyphs carved on every side. It symbolises the Axis Mundi the connection between heaven and earth flanked by two three layer fountains symbolising the fountain of life.
The obelisk is placed in the centre of a big round symbol of the sun. All these let me speechless because all these symbols predate Christianity and for centuries the church was trying to remove any philosophy which was not part of the official doctrine. I understood then, that Vatican, the ground zero of the Catholic world is more than meets the eye.
That was the moment when I started to see Rome in a different light altogether. The Castel Saint Angelo is a circle inside a square which is inside a pentagram. The list of oddities could continue and this makes of Rome a very intriguing place.
After Vatican, I start paying attention to every little detail around me and I discovered Piazza del Popolo where another Egyptian Obelisk of Ramses II was dominating the square. Apparently there are 15 obelisks , most of them are Egyptian brought by ships from Egypt by the Roman Emperors. These obelisks are placed in different parts of the city.
After few days of staying in the heart of the city, I moved to another hotel, Rome Cavalieri. The hotel is placed North from Vatican up on a hill. Suddenly I found myself away from the city looking at it from above.
I felt the detachment and I looked at the city from above. I could see the domes spread around the city and Saint Peter`s Basilica Dome in Vatican and it looked like a different world to me.
Every time I was finding myself up a hill I was trying to capture the Rome from above. Everything looked so calm and peaceful like there were hoards of tourists wandering around with a map in their hand trying to see everything there is to be seen
I was enjoying the Rome from above because that Rome it seemed to me to be the Romantic one not the Rome at the street-level.
The street-level Rome was bearing the marks of history and it captivate me despite my aversion for a big city. I was able to get over it and let myself lead by curiosity on its streets. Although I would probably never chose a big city like Rome as my travelling destination I had to admit that I liked being there.
I knew I haven seen enough, although I have seen more than I thought I would. A city like Rome is like having a glass of a very old wine. One must taste it with small sips, let the flavours invade the mouth and then try to recognise every one of them.
I took my dose of Rome and once more I had to admit I am a bit too judgemental and that sometimes I should go to a place having no expectation as I did in Portugal. To enjoy it in the small sips and then wander.
I was sitting alone around the pool at my hotel. Another journey was over. Thinking things through I realised that despite the fact that it was a total unplanned trip this journey was actually very well planned by my life. After all, all the roads lead to where I was supposed to go and in this case, all the roads lead to Rome…