“L’arte d’arrangiarsi – the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.” – Eat, Pray, Love
Perhaps, this Italian expression is ancient too, coz indeed, they have the art to make something out of nothing, and it was perfectly done!
Rome is called as world’s largest open-air museum, every architecture sights and archeological sites were well preserved coz I believe that it was built to last centuries after centuries. Which is why Rome is one of the most photogenic city in the world, everything around you is majestic and has so much to offer.
Rome is not as expensive as I thought, however, I still need to tighten my budget as I am not even on half of my one-month trip yet. Tricky but I know somehow, I would still enjoy my stay in Rome without splurging too much. Most of the attractions are free, and just walking around the city is enough to experience what real Rome is, just like they say: When in Rome, do as the Romans do! :P
Though I have experienced funny things like being pinched, grabbed and touched by aggressive local guys (haha!), I still admire them for being so romantic towards their partner, the fire and passion are felt whenever I see couples in the street, trains, etc…can’t blame them, their city is really romantic hehe…I like the way they speak, it’s very contagious and very passionate, as the book/movie said — They speak the way they eat…EAT! Yeah, that is the only thing I am guilty of! I find it cheaper and really taste better!!! So I spent like more of my budget in food than shopping :D
Few attractions that I visited are the following:
1. Fontana Di Trevi (Trevis Fountain) – the famous wishing fountain in Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn, it was designed by Nicola Salvi featuring Neptune as The God of The Sea.
This is my first stop in Rome after checking-in to my hostel, I have to meet Kat for the first time and she picked this place and told me to meet at the Gelato shop opposite the fountain. When I got there, there are hundreds of Gelato shops there! Lol! So how?
Tried calling her using the payphone but I guess no one uses a payphone nowadays! So hmmm, I decided to grab and EAT my pizza, and stood in front of the fountain and minutes later, we found each other! Haha! So that was my first wish granted by the fountain :P (actually, I didn’t throw a coin, I just PRAYed *wink*) .
As we catch up with our own little travel and life stories, we were just around this fountain, and by far, this is my favorite spot in Rome! I fell in LOVE with it instantly, it’s very romantic and you will see the people around you (locals and tourists) are just holding their hands and kissing and honestly, I kinda felt like how I wished I have someone with me at that moment… ^emo^ lol!
2. Piazza Di Spagna (Spanish Steps) – famous of holding a fashion show during summertime using the steps as the catwalk coz nearby this square are the branded boutiques like Prada, Gucci, Valentino, etc. People just sit at the steps with their drinks and some will have their guitar or just plainly having fun with friends, I thought of Clarke Quay bridge in this place hehe. You will also find here the Barcaccia Fountain built in memory of the victims of the flood caused by Tevere River in the 50’s.
3. Piazza Del Popolo – a neoclassical square with the tallest obelisk in Rome, the Egyptian Obelisk of Ramses II, there are also fountains here, Fontana del Nettuno and Fontana del Obelisko.
4. Piazza Della Repubblica – a semi-circular piazza in Rome that is why it’s so hard for me to take a panoramic photo of this square hehe, you can also find here the Fontana Naiads featuring the Nymph of the Lakes (Swan), Nymph of the Rivers (Monster), Nyph of the Oceans (Horse), and Nymph of the Underground Waters (Dragon)
5. Piazza San Pietro (St.Peter’s Basilica) – located at the Vatican City, this is considered as the most famous church in the Christian world as this is where the new Pope waves his hand to the crowd after being sworn in. You can find the Egyptian obelisk here too where the Middle-Aged people believed that the ashes of Julius Caesar were preserved on top of the obelisk (?)
Kat shared to me that the Colonnade, when you stay at the obelisk and look at it, you will get an optical illusion that it is just one row instead of four, and yeah! I was amazed by the roman architecture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini!
Inside the church you will find the original masterpiece of Michaelangelo’s PIETA! (Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus on her lap) and a lot of paintings and sculptures by Michaelangelo, Bernini etc. You can also find here the burial site of St. Peter, but it was closed for public and can only be opened upon special request.
6. Piazza Del Colosseo (Colosseum) – originally known as Flavian Amphitheatre where ancient gladiators fought for public’s entertainment, when I went inside I was imagining the scenes from the movie “The Gladiator” starring Russell Crowe, it was sad to see where the gladiators were being enslaved and used to fight and kill animals or fellow gladiators just for the sake of one’s entertainment :(
7. Arco Di Constantino (Arch of Constantine) – located just outside The Colloseum to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius
8. Foro Romano (Roman Forum) – located just after the Arch of Constantine, this showcases the ruins of the Roman Empire, this is used to be the central area of the ancient Rome, it was designed by Vitruvius…I’m at awe to see the Roman columns that my professors used to ask me to draw, now I’m seeing them for real! And it’s really amazing!
9. Palatino (Palatine Hill) – it is overlooking the Roman Forum, this hill is like an open air museum showing the origin of Rome, this is also the setting in the Roman Mythology of Romulus and Remus, where Romulus killed his twin brother Remus and this is where Rome got it’s name. This is also the same setting where Hercules fought with the monster ^.^
10. Piazza Venezia – located just right at the foot of Roman Forum, it is very monumental and very WHITE!
11. Pantheon – world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome with an opening called oculus which the height is similar to the diameter of the interior circle, I am not an engineer nor architect but I was dumbfounded on how it was built, this building showcased how great Roman Architecture (and Egineering) is! It was built for the temple of ancient Roman Gods, if you read/watched “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown, this is where Renaissance artist Raphael was buried. This is where also believed that Romulus was taken by the Gods from the sky (hmmm maybe through the hole?hehe). I used to draw Pantheon quite often when I was still in school because of the Corinthian columns! So again, it was just an amazing experience to finally standing right beside it and able to touch it! Priceless!
12. Piazza Navona – it was used to be a venue for Romans to watch games, theatrical acts, circus or any form of entertainment as this is once part of a central market. For me it is the second most beautiful fountain next to Trevi, there are a lot of restaurants around it, but I didn’t try it there coz it’s expensive, I walk a bit farther going to Palazzo Di Giustizia, then I found a good and cheap pizza shop there ;)
13. Palazzo Di Giustizia (Hall of Justice) – as I walk along the Tiber River going back to Vatican City, I was taken aback by this building because it is huge like a royal palace! Well it was raining when I was there so I just had some few shots :(
14. Castel Sant Angelo – right after Palazzo Di Giustizia is this castle, initially designed for Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum, and later on became papal castle and fortress. Again, it was featured in Angels and Demons where they found a clue leading to the pope’s assassin ;)
15. Sistine Chapel at Vatican City – Noooooo!!!!! I didn’t make it ;( I went there as early as 7am, but I went to St.Peter’s first, then by the time I went out of the Cathedral, the queue was really loooooong!!! So decided to go back before it closes at 6pm as indicated on my travel guide. But when I went back at 4:35pm it was already closed! Coz their cut-off time is 4:30pm! Argh!!!!!!!! I tried to use my charm to the guards, but failed waaah!!! Hmmm, another reason for me to go back to Rome. I wanna see Michaelangelo’s works especially The Creation :(
16. Trastevere – since my heart was broken coz I didn’t make it to Sistine Chapel, I went back to my hostel for awhile before going to Trastevere where most of my Italian friends told me that I MUST go there…but I fell asleep!!! So please, don’t commit the same mistake I did if you have limited time! :P
FEW TRAVEL TIPS:
1. Avail the ROMA PASS, worth 25Euros only (US$34) definitely worth it! You are free to 2 Musuems or Archaeological sites, which I used in Colloseum and supposedly in Vatican Sistine Chapel, then free public transportation rides, discounted rates, maps, travel bookguide,etc!
2. Aqueducts are all over Rome, and since it was engineered very well by the ancient Romans, guaranteed it is safe to drink, so I don’t really buy my water after my first bottle ;)
3. I always see McDonalds “This Way” signs, but never found one! So my chances of getting wifi is just going to internet shops which are widely available anywhere, around 1euro/hour only.
4. Be extra vigilant with people who will try to get your attention, sometimes they are pickpockets only.
5. Do not expect high European standards when it comes to hostels. It’s expensive for its price for the room and service you are getting, so just be warned and not so fussy about it.
6. Brush up some of your Italian or Spanish words! It will help a lot, coz they don’t really speak English that often, I am also happy to realized that I could understand Spanish! Coz when they talked to me, I really could understand them, well just a bit hehe.
What an exciting trip it was! Even if I am tight with my budget, I was able to accomplish and see a lot of things in Rome. Whenever I look back, I can’t imagine how simple joys like eating a perfect gelato can make your visit priceless! Not only the rich can enjoy a holiday in Rome, L’arte d’arrangiarsi! Anyone with a talent for happiness, can indeed do this ;)