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A Roman holiday

October 22, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Rome is among the most magnificent human and political spectacle of antiquity. However clichéd its popularity might seem, new archeological sites continue to surface when the earth is dug to renovate a building or to create a new foundation for a building.

And then one can’t assimilate all 2776 years of civilization in just a few days of the visit. There’s always something new to discover in Romantic Rome.

Arriving at Rome’s Leonardo De Vinci Airport, named after the great artist is a reminder of the importance of aesthetics to this ancient city. Our Romance with the city began from Bernini Bristol; the 1870’s Palace now converted to a hotel. Splendid hotel with the glamour of the bygone era faced Piazza Barberini and was very close to famous Trevi fountain and the elite shopping streets.

Walking tour is the best way to witness the classic, elegant and antique city of Rome. As we set out on our tour, we encountered many people emerging from streets and small lanes to walk to their work places or to tourist sites. Cobbled stone streets, way side cafes and fine architecture of buildings, Churches and fountains make it worthy of every single tread.  No wonder the story of the princess (played by Audrey Hepburn) chucking her royalty toAntiques found at Vicus Caprarius enjoy life of a commoner in 50’s Hollywood film Roman Holiday was a blockbuster.

Cafes were brimming with people enjoying their Cappuccino (in its country of origin) and breakfast as we reached Vicus Caprarius

Vicus Caprarius

Vicus Caprarius is one of the recently unearthed archaeological sites.  It’s hard to guess its existence in the undergrounds of the busy Trevi Quarter. It was discovered during the refurbishment works of the ex cinema Trevi at the beginning of this century. The museum dates back to Emperor Nero, known for the grand fire of the first century.  It was a luxurious enclosure of domus (nobles’ residences).  It has an ancient castellum (small fort) and aqueducts (still functional). It’s good Piazza Navonaplace to imagine ancient Rome with its advanced civilisation.

Piazzo Navona

One can’t miss the Navona, the central square in Rome with three beautiful fountains, a Grand Pamphili palace and many prominent buildings. The stadium of the Emperor Domitian during the first century encapsulated Circus Agonalis’ (competition arena) of ancient Rome with a capacity of 30,000 spectators. It was transformed into a specter of Baroque  architecture and art by a Pontiff during the 17th century. It’s now a congregation place for important parades, competitions, Christmas market and carousels apart from being a tourist hot-spot.

Fountain of the Four Rivers at the centre of the square depicts the magnificent grandeur of artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini who has beautifully maneuvered the marble to bring alive the sculpture. The obelisk of Domitian rises above the fountain. Pamphili palace has a beautiful, long frescoed gallery.

The statue of Neptune has a fine expression while looking towards the sky at the Fountain of Neptune in the North. At Fontana del Moro in the south, statue of a Moor wrestling with a dolphin stands out amidst the four Tritons. The Pantheon interiors, Rome

Pantheon

A further walk across few lanes and many restaurants lead us to Pantheon. The 27th BC temple by Rome’s first architect Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and rebuilt by Hadrian’s Empire during the second century. It has undergone many remakes since then to be a well preserved monument. The large dome of 43 meters with equal diameter and height in stone work has a hole in the center called Oculus (meaning eye in Latin), for allowing the daylight. Sober interiors with empty space have six big niches where Italian Kings and Raffaello Sanzio, one of the masters of Renaissance art, are laid to rest.

Fontana di Trevi 

A popular fashion apparel shop in RomeLife of ancient Rome was centered on water and the city boasts of many celebrated fountains created by famous artists. These were once the terminating points for functional aqueducts for drawing water from outskirts. Fontana di Trevi, the popular fountain more known for tossing the coin in, is a fine piece of art. The fusion of the sculpture against the backdrop architecture of Palazzo Poli is said to have taken Nicola Salvi 30 years to mold it during the 18th century. Tourists were keen on flinging the coins into the fountain with a wish to return to Rome (as the saying goes).  We’re not sure if they will return, but their coins will be well utilized in providing for the needy in Rome.

Villa Borghese

If you feel that you have seen the best site ever, the very next one in Rome makes you amend our resolution. The magnificent Villa Borghese displays a splendid art collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V of the seventeenth century. While it’s a reference point for Rome’s art and culture, its sprawling vista makes it a place to relax and enjoy its beauty. Description by the poet Scipione Francucci says it all: “The gallery resembles the theatre of universe, the collection of wonders and the longing of human gaze.”

Via Veneto

Via Veneto makes you feel like an aristocrat walking through its beautiful boulevard with classy hotels, restaurants and shopping arcades.  The 19th Amphi theatre at Ostia anticacentury street leading from Piazza Barberini up to Porta Pinciana was celebrated through the 60s Oscar winning film ‘La Dolce Vita’. Our guide reiterated that Italy still lead in the number of Oscars in the foreign language category.

La Rocca della Verita

Tourists were crowded at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and La Rocca della Verita. Crowds were normal at the beautiful Church with the Romanesque bell tower according to our guide.  The remarkable attraction here though is the big mask of the river deity. People queue-up to anxiously slide their hands into its wide mouth to see if their hands are gulped away (if they have sinned!). It’s another fact that none of us had sinned or the river deity The baths of Caracallawas weary to engulf that day!

You pass through many arches while walking through the lanes of Rome. One such beautiful Arch of Constantine depicts victory.

Ostia Antica

As in history, early Roman life had begun at the harbor front. The harbor city of Ostia Antica from the first century was washed away by overflowing Tiber. It was excavated in 18th century and marks the culmination of River Tiber into Tyrrhenian Sea. A stroll around the beautiful site is fascinating. Walking down the main street of the ancient town brings alive the lifestyle of the bye gone era. There are ruins of markets, thermal baths, a fire station and even a synagogue with a menorah. The burg (fort) of Ostia was supposed to have been the way into Rome.

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla was the largest spa and entertainment centre of ancient Rome and is now an open air museum reminiscent of great history. The bath complex covered approximately 25 hectares and could hold an estimated 1,600 bathers with hot, warm and cold water facilities. It was supposed to have Hadrianeumalso housed a basilica, a gym, shops, libraries, schools, stadium and fountains. Sculptures and paintings are part of this spa town that opened in the year 217, after the death of its creator Emperor Caracalla.

Hadrianeum

The Hadrianeum seems the befitting monumental complex to house the Presidency of Chamber of Commerce of Rome that provides space for cultural interaction of its citizens besides its official planning of business and finance works for the city.  Hadrianeum is a temple from the first century that incorporates many remains and subsequent architectural layers.

One cannot have enough of Rome one or two visits.  The city keeps exploring newer sites of history and adding on latest fashion. Also, it’s a pleasure to re-visit those magnificent monuments with fine details.  We can reminisce on these till we return to the place.

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

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