As we touched Roma Termini we did not really know, if we are going to stay here or would come back again the next day. Would we get a good hotel deal? How do we get all the tourist information? Should we buy the 3 day pass for local transport? Or should we be using daily bus passes? But things got clearer and easier on the go.
A man looking for tourists for the bus tours gave us address for hotel Fiesta and we had our accommodation sorted out. A room to stay for a night, is what we wanted and this was perfect. The rent of 60 Euro was more than perfect. After looking at the Punjabi Indian restaurants nearby, we could not help but enter and inquire about the rates and the menu. After all it’s been long that we had a proper India dinner, so here was our chance to celebrate a dinner in Rome with Indian food.
The first impression about Rome wasn’t that great, as the roads were not well-kept and the walls were painted with horrible colors. After a quick check-in activity we were back to Roma Termini to catch a bus.
Rome is quite vast, overwhelming and at times chaotic, I could feel it more, as I had been in the timely and tidy Swiss towns a week before. Its home to people from many countries and I could see a lot of Bangladeshi shops around. They were omnipresent, be it Colosseum or train station or the shops around train station.
I could compare many things with India out here, as the buses were late, people seemed to be in rush and the charm of a historic town was missing at all places, as I could see modern murals drawn using spays at many of the places and seemed like the government wasn’t taking enough actions to keep the city clean and tidy.
There were very few people here who understood and speak good English. If you find some college going youngster then you are lucky, but then otherwise it really gets painful, as the two languages are two worlds apart and after trying hard with few non-English speaking people, you would prefer following your own instinct. One college guy really walked all the way with us to find a bus driver and helped us find the right bus. Well every part of the world has few angels, he was for us.
There were few locations and the bus numbers, scribbled by me a day earlier at Assisi resort. That was all we had. I got map from the bus tour company agents, to give a better picture about Rome. Few places were “the must” and those were Vatican and Colosseum. We found out the bus number for Vatican, after good deal of efforts and soon we were traveling into a roman bus towards Vatican.
The driver was prompt enough to let us know the stop and we were ready to visit our first roman monument. We had at the back of our mind that this city has so much to see and wonder about, that two days would be too less to cover even 10%-20% of it. But then that’s the way life is, enjoy that comes your way and appreciate it fully and we had decided to enjoy this journey into the history, religion, art and culture. Having read Meena Prabhu’s Romraajya earlier we had some idea of what this country and City has to offer, but we still wanted to keep this as a first hand experience by not planning everything in too detail and enjoying every place we visit.
The biggest difference between the earlier Paris tour and this tour was we were traveling with the locals in a local transport, rather than a tourist bus. So for a moment you feel like local and live the life of a local. Here we had choice of food to choose from and get suggestions from the locals. The bus was quite crowded and as per the Italian practice we had to punch our ticket as soon as we started our journey.
We enjoyed our lunch that we had packed in the morning, appreciating the busy road leading to Vatican.The sheer size of the piazza, the architecture, statues and the grand entrance dwarfs you a bit. As you get absorbed into this environment, you would start walking towards the basilica queuing along with the fellow tourists, appreciating the huge vertical columns lined in circle around this huge open space in front of the basilica. A 5 Euro ticket and you are in for a journey into the history that dates back few centuries.
It’s hard to believe the amount of resources and time spend on these monuments, as we are in an age where time is the costliest commodity and we hardly have time for self and our families, how did they manage to have a society where people waited patiently to get some of these humongous statues, basilicas created spanning over years of effort. It seems more like fairy tale, where a King would decide and change the direction of the whole society around.
The stairs were never-ending as we ascended towards the dome, with the slope getting steeper and the gap getting narrower, finally reaching the first level, this was our first sight of the city as a whole and it was marvelous. Having seen Paris from the top a week back, could not help comparing the view with the aerial Paris view.
But the most spectacular view from here was the shape of the piazza right in front of the basilica, now we could appreciate the size and structure more from the top. The city had few beautiful gardens as well at the back and just like Sein River in Paris the Tiber River appeared to be the running through the heart of the city like a vein.
Vatican is not only a symbol of Christendom, but also the creativity of human endeavor to create something that would last for ages and inspire human souls. It is a symbol of art, culture, power and team work.
The Colosseum is a happening place and watching people trying to capture their life’s greatest moment of being there close to this timeless structure in different ways and poses is a fun to watch. We really did not find the cost of the ticket worth a visit to the interiors and restricted to an external view, but then some of the pictures taken by Samsung S3 were awesome, thanks to the real sunny day.
Piazza Venetia is a beautiful place to spend some time at. The structure with prominent white color and statues looks magnificent and stands there reminding us of the grandeur of the Roman Empire. This street is a collage of old and new architectures, with the modern roman economy sprawling through the remains of beautiful fountains, arcs and pillars. A street hawker selling fruits at the roadside reminded me of Mumbai. My cell phone battery was really low now and it just occurred to me that I do not have charger with me.
This was the most pleasant walk enjoying the roman weather and monuments as they are everywhere. It was getting a bit dusky now and we decided to visit the most popular and romantic Trevi fountain. As we approached, it appeared to have been hiding in an alleyway with just enough space for the fountain. The popularity of the fountain was evident from the huge mass of tourists around it.
Seemed like a perfect spot to spend rest of our evening at. The fountain is part of a magnificent artistic two storey structure, with beautifully sculptured statues and horses’ springing into action right in front of this building. The rhythmic soothing sound of the fountain water makes you feel blissful in the background of giggles and admiring remarks of its fans. The first day in Rome was quite eventful and charming.
The Indian dinner at little India was one of the surprises of our Rome visit. The “Butter Chicken” and “Tandoori Roti” made us feel home.