I left Florence at 15h30. As I was not sure yet on what time I would leave, I did not buy the ticket in advance, but still got one for 29 Euros. The ride from Florence to Rome is quite enjoyable, approximately 1h40min on the high speed train. I got to Termini station and contrary to the other cities, where I could easily find help and nice people, I came across a lady and a men, trying to “guide me” and when I declined they started to be quite rude. I ignored them and kept asking people to help with directions on how to get to Trastevere, where I would be accommodated. To be honest, did not find any helpful people and a “lady” even replied to me, in perfect English, “I do not speak English”. So, as a big girl I kept going until I found a place where they sold the Roma Pass that I intended to buy for 2 days, and they also gave me directions on where to buy the train ticket for the ride to Trastevere (I found out later that taking the tram or bus would have been much easier). With all that I got to Rome late afternoon, got to the B&B, changed clothes and went out to explore the surroundings and eat, as I was starving literally.
Trastevere is a very bohemian and cosmopolitan neighborhood. It is packed with restaurants, bars, cafés, small charming shops (where I bought THE most amazing pair of boots). It gets crowded specially at night, but it is a lovely place to go, lively and vibrant. The multitude of restaurants makes it difficult to choose but I finally found a not so touristy restaurant and decided to try the stuffed zucchini flowers, how delicious it was. I still had a saltimboca ala Romana and a nice glass of wine, before heading back to the B&B to sleep, as the following day would be quite hectic.
Next day I woke up to a beautiful and sunshiny day. I decided to walk to the historical center, to get used to the surroundings and to enjoy Rome to the most. As soon as I left the B&B I was already surrendered to Rome. I mean, it is stunning. As Florence is pure Art, and Venice pure magic, Rome is a fusion of all that, and above all, it is History at your feet. Literally. Everywhere you go screams history, tradition, ancient times. I confess, going to Italy and not seeing Rome, it’s not being in Italy. Rome, oh Rome.
I crossed the Garibaldi bridge, to the other side of the Tevere river, heading to Piazza Venezzia to find a place to buy the hop on hop off bust ticket.
And so I found myself at Largo di Torre Argentina and KABOOM awed, overwhelmed. C’mon how could I not be when ancient Rome was literally before my eyes? It is a square, the ancient Campus Martius, that has 4 Roman temples and also the remains of the Pompey’s Theater. It was here that the Great Julius Caesar was killed, in the Curia of the Pompey Theater.
Ok, and now I want to move to Rome, just because of this (wikipedia) – I am a cat lover as you can see:
Located in Largo Argentina is the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter because in Italy there is a no-kill law for homeless cats (of which Rome has many), and is guided by a group of volunteers who sterilize stray cats in Rome.
I had decided I would not validate my Rome pass yet, I would buy a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus, to first see the city and then decide where I would like to go. It was my best decision of this trip. For me totally worth it. I was approached by several people trying to sell a ticket and I closed the deal with a very friendly Nigerian guy, that took me to the ticket office. I was thinking of buying the red bus ticket but then the men there convinced me the green one was better and cheaper, Cheaper it was, better never. It was a bad decision and I would be much better served with the red or yellow lines. Not only the driver was extremely unfriendly, but we stopped for more than an hour at the termini station square with no information whatsoever on what was happening.
I hoped on the bus and did a complete ride first to see where I wanted to hop off and where to go next. On the second ride, I did hop off and on 3 times and it was just perfect. So the next pictures will be from my first bus ride around Rome.
After a complete ride, I decided it was now time to hop off and walk around. I descended a few blocks before Ponte Umberto I and headed towards it, passing by Via del Toro di Nonna. Surfing through the Roma Leggendaria Blog Website , I came across an interesting story about the pictures below:
The decline of Via di Tor di Nona in the 70s becomes unsustainable: the buildings facing the street needed a profound restructuring, the lack of services and the guilty absence of protection by the Municipality placed its inhabitants in a situation of concrete difficulty, so as to push them, in the summer of 1976, to a protest demonstration. The protest also welcomed the support of the students of the faculty of architecture and a very young Isabella Rossellini.
But the interesting thing about this protest was the manner in which it took shape: the inhabitants decided to paint the walls of their street with the “ideal world” to which they aspired, that is, with beautiful “murals”. In these murals to the drawings of shops, people animated by feelings of friendship and awareness, there were mermaids, flying donkeys and other fantastic elements, just to represent the “utopia”, that search for a better reality even if apparently impossible to reach (see photo).
Unfortunately, the event did not have the desired results, and moreover over the years these murals were largely lost, due to the same negligence for which civilly people manifested. The redevelopment of the street was in fact made only a few years ago, and with only one surviving element of the ancient mural: a very nice “flying donkey” (see photo), the element and the most representative symbol of the “utopia” of the protest original.
A happy ending to this story took place in December 2013: the original “writers”, with their children, and with the permission of the Municipality, have repainted, at least in one wall of the street, the murals as similar as possible to the originals depicted from them almost 40 years before, so today at least we can admire them
I walked around that area for a while just admiring the beauty and vibe surrounding me, before heading to Castel Sant’ Angelo.
I decided I wanted to see Castel Sant’Angelo and would then validade my Roma pass (I had a 3 day pass). The next photos will be of my visit to the Castle. Fascinating.
The castle was originally designed to contain the ashes of the emperor Adriano, his family and his descendants, and was completed in 139 AD.
Circa 590 D.C. Rome was devastated by the plague, and pope Gregory the Great called the entire people in procession. The legend says that when the procession passed over the tomb of Adriano, Archangel Michael in all his magnificence appeared to all, sheathing his sword, which was interpreted by the Pope as the announcement of the end of the plague, which in fact happened immediately afterwards. To make this event eternal, the archangel was carved on the top of the castle as it appeared to the crowd. And it was since then that it became Castel Sant’Angelo. The present angel is not the original and its an impressive sculpture with 5 meters high and a wingspan of 6 meters.
In the 14th century, Castel Sant’Angelo became a fortress connected to the Vatican through an elevated passageway – “Passetto di Borgo” that still exists. It was later used as a prison; a place where executions were carried out and where prisoners were left to starve. In 1901, it became a museum as it is today.
The Castel Sant’Angelo has five floors assessed through a spiral ramp, getting first to the chamber of ashes and then cells where many historical figures were imprisoned.
Going up, there are different rooms that were once a Papal residence, decorated with frescoes from the Renaissance and an extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace, with a restaurant, where you can take amazing panoramic photograph.
I was now in desperate need for a coffee and feeling hungry, so I decided to have a light meal at the small restaurant at the terrace. I know it would be a bit pricey as it is a touristy place but I was surprised that it was not as expensive as I thought. The coffee was amazing.
After lunch I continued my visit, awed at the beautiful views, rooms and ceilings.
It was now time to leave as I still wanted to walk around Piazza San Pietro, but that is for next post.
The visit was totally worth it and I highly recommend Castel Sant’Angelo as part of your travel plan in Rome.