I never knew the minute I stepped off the train from Grosseto at Rome’s Termini station in late June 2012 that six month’s later I would be planning a move to the Eternal City.
There was a certain electricity in the air that Saturday afternoon; the afternoon heat was warming the cobbled streets of the city to almost boiling point. I had a strange connection to the city…almost like I had been there before. Why was I in Rome? It’s simple. To meet up with a Roman I had met.
It’s easy to fall in love and in love with a city like Rome; it has all the key factors for a beautiful love story…culture, food, hedonistic heat that captivates you, history and architecture in every line of sight. Crossing the streets becomes a game of Russian roulette but this all adds to the chaotic charm of Roma. Getting lost in Rome is not a nuisance, but a bonus. You’ll discover beautiful side-streets that look like a captured postcard image.
This is how I discovered Rione Monti, one of the oldest and most beautiful areas of the city. Once considered the slums, it has risen up to become one of the hippest and most entertaining areas of the city. A stone’s throw from the Coliseum, you’ll find no chain-stores here. Local businesses and independent shops and cafes are the standard in this district. The New York Times recently featured it as a ‘hidden gem’ of Rome and I couldn’t agree more.
The famous tourist sights of Rome, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps are almost movie-set like. You scramble for space near the cooling fall of the water at the Trevi, surrounded by what feels like representatives from every nation on Earth, just to throw in a coin to guarantee your return to the Eternal City. Everyone making the same wish at the same time is a very intoxicating feeling.
During the summer months, the best way to spend your time exploring the streets is under the protection of a trilby hat and factor 30 sunscreen. Water is essential, but avoid the sellers near the landmarks, as they charge more for a litre of water than you’ll pay for petrol! Instead, fill up your bottle at one of the many free water fountains that line the city streets.
The walk to the Coliseum has become one of my favourite sights. The smell in the air will stay with me forever – a combination of heated sandstone and pine trees that line the streets up to the Coliseum. This famous landmark takes on a whole different persona at night when it is lit up, as does the whole city. Walk along the Tiber during the summer and be greeted with an endless row of market stalls, which are best enjoyed at dusk, at the city cools (only a little!) and the sun sets, creating orangey pink skies that could be mistaken for fruity colours of good gelato, of which there is no shortage of in the city!
Another favourite area of mine are the towns to the south of Rome that make up Castelli Romani. Ariccia, a town famous or its Porchetta, roasted pork with herbs, and red Romanella – a cold, sparking red wine, is a place I hold dear to my heart. On my first visit here I experienced Italian tradition at its finest. On cracking open the first bottle of Romanella, I was hit on the arm by the cork as it made its decent – I was told, that according to Italian folklore, I will be married within a year! The fraschette that adorn the underpass of Aricca’s famous bridge are an experience in themselves. The one I have frequented the most, Osteria del Borgo, is all paper tablecloths and home-made wine. Time does simply not matter here – order porchetta and the finest roasted pork is brought to you, same for any pasta dish. Request limoncello, and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of the whole bottle, not just a glass full. There is no rush to finish, and no rush to leave.
The beauty of Rome is its location. Being no more than an endurable car or train journey from something new, you can enjoy the chaotic delights of the city, the tranquillity of Castelli Romani as well at the perfect beaches of Gaeta, on the Tyrrhenian Sea all within one trip to Rome. They say that ‘all roads lead to Rome’ and in my case, there couldn’t be a truer saying.
Nina Butterfield is on a journey to Rome to set down some roots. You can find out more at her blog – http://anothergirlsshoes.wordpress.com/. You can also read her latest post on Valentines Day ideas in Rome at the following… Valentines Day…Rate this article by clicking here.
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