All roads begin and lead to Rome. We are finally back to the place where our adventure started 10 days ago – Rome. Our 12-day tour is coming to an end. We save the best for last. To me, Rome is more than just the capital city of Italy, it deserves to be the Capital of the Modern World. I saw Rome in London and Paris but never vice versa. Rome is the building blocks of today’s cities. It is the birthplace of modern civilisation – the origin of Alphabet, social laws, religion, concept of democracy, literature, theatre, arts, road system, architectural, medical tools, concrete, cement, aqueducts, arena sports, Caesarean-birth and the Pope!. Without Rome, the world we know today would be a very different one.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. We want to experience and visit the marvels of Rome. There could never be a better spot but to park ourselves right in the heart of Rome – where its power reigned 2,500 years ago – right beside the Colosseum! Our hotel overlooked the Roman Forum, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum and Markets of Trajan, the Capitoline and its museums. The hotel owner was kind enough to offer us a room with a window view of the Colosseum. We were lucky to eat, sleep and live beside this magnificent 1,932-year-old structure – day and night!
We are overwhelmed by the Italians’ friendliness and great hospitality. The hotel manager was very kind and she spent 20 minutes showing us where to go and what to visit. I always judge a society/country by the way the drivers drive on the roads. The Italian impressed me! For more than a couple of times, when crossing the roads, the Italian drivers slowed down and gestured us to cross the road even though we weren’t on the zebra crossings. (For the record, all drivers stopped 100% at all zebra crossings.) This is incredible! Another observation is the size of their cars. We saw many Italian drive very very small cars (it could be the narrow alleys). It is just so comical to see the way they park their small minis along the roads. I wondered how the car is going to get out!
Rome is an easy city to navigate on foot. (Make sure you have a map and a good walking-shoes. Be prepared to walk a lot!) From the spectacular ancient ruins to the buzzing city piazzas to the grandeur of churches and museums, there are so much to explore and awe. It is not easy to get lost even if you don’t understand Italian, there are lots of signs everywhere to guide you to the famous destinations. And there are a lot of Italian policemen on the road, you can’t miss one. Simply just ask your way around.
We walked a lot in Rome – covering more 15km a day. We spent 2 days visiting the old and new venues of Rome – the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna, the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo dei Fiori.
Thanks to my friend Jaslyn, we visited one very unique attraction. She led us to a very creepy place – the Santa Maria della Concezione, where it showcases 4,000 human bones. This is a very famous underground crypt with the over 4,000 human remains whose individual bones were painstakingly arranged in ornamental designs of macabre art. The Ossuary Crypt was quite an eye-opener. Felicia and Elkan freaked out as I didn’t warned them about this place beforehand. The security guard forbid photography – I managed to shoot some with my iphone. It is worth a visit if you are ever in Rome.
There are also many interesting shopping streets (Piazza Navona and Via del Corso) and shops. However, look beyond the main Via del Corso street and go into the side lanes. Just like Venice, all the gems are hidden within the narrow streets. I found an unique carpentry shop selling handmade Pinocchio and other wood crafts. I can’t resist the wooden temptation and I bought 3 wooden swords. After days of (wallet-less) searching, Felicia finally found and bought her new Italian-leather wallet! And for Elkan, he was sick of the cheesy western food. He managed to spot a Chinese restaurant and he dragged us in! (Yes, he had lots and lots of rice!)
Night falls, Rome sets into another different charm. I enjoyed the colourful night lights at the back lanes. We saw so many street stalls / artists / cafes. There are so much things to see and buy, our old folks will enjoy this! I told Felicia that this is one place where my mum and Auntie Amy will certainly like. Rome is just so charming in an old way. Felicia, Elkan and I love Rome so much that we wished we have more time to explore this magnificent city. Borrowing Julius Caesar’s famous line “I came. I saw. I conquered.” Certainly, Rome wasn’t built (to see or conquer) in a day or two. This won’t be our last trip for sure.