Thursday, May 31, 2018

Traveling: Roma Capitale - Impressions From A Recent Visit In Rome

(Drivebycuriosity) - My wife and I are back from Rome where we stayed about three weeks. We lodged in four hotels in four different areas of the city so we could explore the metropolis more intense. My wife and I walked there a lot there as usual. Hiking is the best way to explore a city and to discover things. Rome is a treasure chamber full of art. Over many centuries the eternal city amassed amazing architecture, paintings & sculptures. Being an ambitious amateur photographer I took thousands of pictures and present here my favorite shots.

Unfortunately Rome is the least pedestrian friendly city I have ever visited. The Italian capital is much less walkable than even Los Angeles. The city (2.8 million people) is a sprawl and stretches around countless green parks, huge ancient roman areas and vast Renaissance & Baroque basilicas and palaces. Sidewalks are often extremely narrow and sometimes they disappear suddenly. Traffic lights are rare and the Romans are driving fast and aggressive - driven by caffeine (they like lots of espresso) and on sugar highs (they really like dolci: Pastries & ice cream).

Fortunately the eternal city has a subway. We used 2 lines which brought us near the most monuments and other important places. Rome`s subway is relatively modern (compared to New York`s), fast & cheap. And I was impressed how cool the subway stations look. Some of the stations have their own style and are beautifully designed. Above you can see stations from the district EUR in the south, Piazza Bologna, central station Termini & the entrance to the Tiburtina station in the north.

I am a connoisseur of art & architecture and I enjoyed the designs of many buildings in Rome`s center, their structures and their colors.

It seems that the Romans like red, ocker, yellow and variations of these colors. In ancient Rome the color red was the color of Mars, the god of war and patron of soldiers and it became the color of the legion.

The eternal city has lots of fine piazzas (places). My favorite is the Piazza del Popolo in the north west.

                                                       Water Spewing Lions

Rome is famous for her ubiquitous fountains.  Above a detail from Piazza del Popolo. Aren`t the water spewing lions cute?

Piazza Navona also has some funny sculptures.

Above the La Fontana Delle Tartarughe (Fountain of Turtles) followed by the Fountain of Frogs, a fountain a Piazza Barberini and a fountain in the Vatican Museums.

Rome is also filled with monuments. Above a sculpture before the Ministery of Finance. The boy holds a book with the title "Finanzen", meaning "finance" in English. You also can see an elephant designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who also participated in the construction of St. Peter`s basilica and other famous buildings.

Rome´s center has some pretty and narrow alleys.

and we could see lots of green and flowers. Above a wall in the neighborhood San Lorenzo.

                                               The Glory Of The Roman Empire

The city still shows the glory of the Roman empire. The relics of ancient Rome are spread all over the city. I was impressed that many of them are still in good shape.  My favorite is the Pantheon, an the ancient Roman temple, which was  completed by the emperor Hadrian  about 126 AD (wikipedia). The Romans build this awesome dome with concrete. It is fascinating that this construction survived over 1900 years. It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church. So the Pantheon escaped the fate of the Colosseum and other Roman buildings which have often been used as building material.

I was impressed that the Colosseum still looks massive in spite of its enormous age. The antic amphitheater was completed in AD 80. Later the Popes - and others who ruled Rome - shamelessly used the Roman construction as building material for their cathedrals and other buildings. So we saw a mix of original Roman constructions and more recent reconstructions and repairs.

We saw many more ancient Roman constructions, above the Arch of Constantine, erected 312 AD, a view onto the Roman Forum (Forum Romanum), the Palatine Hill and some other Roman sights.

We watched a parade which celebrated Roma Natale, the city´s birthday and the glory days of the Roman empire.

                                                           Religious Monopoly

After the demise of the Roman empire the city regained power and global status as the capital of the Catholic Church which had over many centuries a religious monopoly in the Western World. The popes & cardinals amassed huge fortunes and invested large parts of that into many basilicas and palaces which shape the face of the city till today. Above St. Peter's Basilica and the almost intimidating facade of Basilica Di San Giovanni In Laterano.

Rome`s churches are the testimony that the city has been the capital of  powerful religious leaders, the popes, for 2000 years. Many basilicas are chambers of treasures filled with art. Above you can see an aisle of Basilica Di San Giovanni In Laterano followed by Basilica Papale Di San PaoloBasilica di Santa Maria Maggiore; Basilica Di Santa Maria In Trastevere; sculptures in Basilica Di San Giovanni In Laterano & Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova.

Above some details from San Marcello al Corso, Santa Maria Immacolata & Santa Maria Maggiore.

Above the amazing dome of St. Peter's Basilica, a hommage to the Pantheon.

                                                                Pretty Angels


And I spotted a lot pretty angels. The first 2 are from Chiesa Nuova and the following are from St. Peter's Basilica.

Rome also has some modern parts, even not as many as other metropolises. Above the train station Tiburtina.

We stayed some nights in EUR a residential and business district in the south of the metropolis. The area was originally chosen in 1930s as the site for the 1942 world's fair which Benito Mussolini planned to open to celebrate twenty years of Fascism, the letters EUR standing for Esposizione Universale Roma (wikipedia). History and World War II nixed these plans, but the district got realized in the 1950s and was used for the 1960 Olympics in Rome. EUR became a role model for an out-of-town business & residential district (satellite town) and followed by other big cities. I like the mixture of classical architecture with modern designs.

We visited also some museums of course. I liked a visit @ MAXXI, the Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (National Museum of the 21st Century Arts). The building was designed by Zaha Hadid, who was the winner of an international design competition. The late Iraqi architect is very famous and has won many awards, but unfortunately not many of her designs got realized. Apparently her ideas were to unconventional.

Rome`s sights attract other photographers as well. Above a fashion photo shoot in the center.

                                                             Dolci & Espresso

Some stops in one of the countless cafes (pasticcerias) with dolci (sweets) espresso or cappuccino are part of the fun.

But we also got into a tourist trap. One morning we decided to go to St. Peter's Basilica before breakfast, but we skipped the visit because the line before the security checks seemed already too long. Hungry & thirsty we had a breakfast at the border of Vatican City. Above you can see the bill, Euro 85.50 were about $100!