With spring kicking in and summer just round the corner, people are more keen to go abroad and take their mid-year break. And that’s exactly what I did just two weeks ago; where with the excuse of going to Italy for a sport event (Spartan Race in Orte), I extended the stay to another four days in Rome.
Just something short about the main event of my weekend in Italy i.e. a 14 km race in the town of Orte, in the Italian region of Lazio – What a BLAST! We were a group of six buddies who train together weekly, and we pushed and helped each other until all of us made it to the finish line. It was tough, and muddy, and messy, and sweaty … We had to climb steep hills, carry a heavy chain, jump over wooden walls, go under barbed wire, cross freezing water, and overcome a number of other obstacles on harsh terrain. I can say it was all worth the pain, the bruises and the cuts, as that satisfaction of making it to the end settles in.
I am not trained enough to compete among elite athletes – I don’t do this for winning – I just do this for fun and as a challenge with myself to push harder. The only competition is with myself.
The weekend was full of activities; the race, rafting, and going on a Segway PT around Rome- a lot of first times! Rafting was scary at first, as I kept imaging myself tippling over and being hit by a branch in the face. Then I started to enjoy myself especially when observing the peaceful and picturesque scenery – What a SIGHT! I laughed my heart out with the rest of the team as we paddled down the course of fast flowing water. The Segway tour was a fun and interesting activity as we underwent 3 hours of sightseeing, travelling from one touristic landmark to another with a very friendly tour-guide, who gave us a better understanding of what we were seeing.
Eventually, Monday came and I was all alone in Meridiana Hotel, 5 minutes away from Termini Station, and 26 minutes away from the Colosseum and most attractions. Now I depended only on my own sense of direction and my day planning. I will not stay narrating what I did every day – that stuff can be boring and I don’t think you really give a damn about what I did in Rome. But I will instead share with you some of the things I observed in general during my time there.
It’s true I have a sweet-tooth and I love chocolate and sweet pastry BUT I don’t fancy sugar in the morning. However, Italians stop at coffee shops for an Espresso or a Cappuccino e una ciambella! They have to start the morning with some sugar; not my idea of breakfast. They also have the tendency to drink coffee in quick sips standing at the bar; yet again, not my idea of tea or coffee which I associate with a relaxing catching-up, sitting down, talking and sipping the hot beverage slowly. Then there’s their experienced, hurried way of driving, barely giving pedestrians time to cross the streets. A large number of vehicles flow into the streets congesting Rome during various hours of the day – It was good to walk around despite my feet shouting for mercy!
They so much believe in bread, pasta and pizza. It’s the food on every menu with eateries specializing in such Italian food. Heavenly pizza cooked on a wooden stove (a la legna) – there was one place I kept going to for an organic slice of pizza close to La Fontana di Trevi. However, what I found most appetizing was a piece of bread with porcini mushrooms, truffle cream, and Parmesan cheese from ‘Pane & Salame’. This was a small shop on a side street, in the Fontana Di Trevi area, barely noticeable but well-known by locals and tourists alike. People were queuing outside its doors before it had opened – I thought this should be a must-try before I head back to Malta, and indeed, on my last day, I tasted this lovely sandwich in a lovely place with a cool ambiance and a super jolly staff.
Rome was overcrowded with tourists – you need to literally push to make your way through so maybe you can catch a good photo of La Fontana di Trevi. Thankfully, I had bought a combined entry ticket over the net to visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill over two consecutive days of my choice – this included skipping the lines.
Well, I not only love Italy for its history and art it has to offer, and the so many places to explore, but also for its language. I love hearing the Italians speak among themselves with the accent and their tonality. Most often I could understand what they were saying without them realizing I could! Most of them thought I was Spanish or Greek. Then I say that I’m from M-A-L-T-A, and they are like “aaaa Valletta“, and we’re friends 🙂
Below is just an overview of the places I managed to visit during my short while in Rome:
- Colosseum – Roman Forum – Palatine Hill
- The ‘Wedding Cake’ i.e. Il Vittorioso – the big white building that one surely cannot miss among the other so contrasting buildings. I climbed to the rooftop for a panoramic view of the city.
- Fontana Di Trevi
- Piazza Di Spagna – Spanish steps
Beautiful Piazza di Spagna with pink-purple flowers going down the whole steps. It was raining when I decided to try out some lavish tea (indeed, the tea you see in the picture cost me 12 Euros) @ Babingtons which seems to be a posh tea/coffee shop where celebs and important Italian people meet up.
- Piazza Del Popolo – a high standard area
- Pincio Promenade
- Castel St. Angelo
- Vatican City – St. Peter’s Basilica
- Piazza Navona
- Campo De’ Fiori – a busy market
- Trastevere – A colourful, traditional area with narrow, winding streets, churches, and local shops. I visited two main squares here; Piazza Santa Maria and Piazza Santa Cecilia with its Basilica. I also ate a hearty breakfast in the area as you can see in one of the photos – eggs, toast, fruit and pancakes!
- Aventine keyhole – located on Aventine Hill where one can peep through the keyhole for a perfect view of St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican State)
- La Bocca Della Verita’ – The mouth of Truth. There is a legend associated to this that says that if you put your hand in the mouth and say a lie, the mouth will shut and bite your hand off!
<Ancient Rome has a story of its own>
By Leanne. H.