Variants of pale orange, starch yellows, and deep browns permeate a myriad of Italian landscapes, illustrating the vast complexity of this terrain. From the northern tip of Bologna to the intricate stone details that color Rome, Italy invites an exploration of extrasensory tastes. A melange of colors, architecture, and visual art bestow upon this Southern jewel the title of one of the most fascinating countries in modern history. From indulging in sparkling white Italian wine, to eating hand picked blueberries from Tuscany, which are sold in aged wooden crates from Toscana farmers, in my voyage to Rome I discovered what makes this city so magical.
It is common knowledge that one finds the soul of a city through its gastronomia (also known as its food). In my most recent voyage to Rome, however, I found myself discovering the soul of the city through interactions with local artisans, fleeting and temporary encounters with foreign transplants, and spending time with Rome’s furry felines. Exiting Rome’s Termini Station, I arrive on Via Maestro atop ancient cobblestones, under a dimly lit sky. Walking methodically yet tentatively towards my accommodation, I realize in this moment that Rome has a way of magically enveloping you into her arms. The soft whisper of human activity late into the night creates a buzz in the atmosphere. Walking further along via Maestro there is a melodic mixture of accents in the near distance. I have reached my hotel, The Yellow, and amidst the warm welcome of hotel staff is a greeting from the city herself. Wander with me into bella Roma and experience the history of a city that stands with and against the currents of time.
“Buongiorno, bella!” Said the elderly Italian gentleman sitting outside a cafe adjacent to The Yellow. His khaki colored pants complimented his crisp, white shirt and dark brown leather shoes. In front of his table was a classic Roman breakfast consisting of a croissant, fruit, and un caffe (coffee!). The lines around his mouth formed upwards and his eyes twinkled with genial candor. I opened my map and began to highlight all of the major historical landmarks until the elderly gentleman began a conversation with me about my stay in Rome. After a few exchanges, he suggested I venture to “the most beautiful park in all of Rome”.
Villa Borghese gardens in Rome offers stunning, semi aerial views of this magnificent Italian city. It is an oasis of greenery accompanied by a host of museums, fountains, lakes, and even a mini replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Galleria Borghese and Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna are located in the far north corners of the park. Fancy a quick stroll? It is possible to rent bikes as well to experience over 200 acres of Roman lusciousness. Another way to experience this park is by renting paddle boats on lakes within the park. Whichever method of transportation to experience the beautiful Villa Borghese on a lovely Sunday will take your breath away. And if it is too overwhelming for a single visit, just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Imagine: you are walking on a narrow pathway through one of the hidden corners in Piazza di Spagna. You notice a young, dark haired green eyed Italian man attempting to persuade you to enter his restaurant. His chestnut hair glows under the Roman sun, his broad shoulders hide underneath a chef’s uniform, and his hands hold a tray with multiple glasses of a mysterious yellow liquid. After walking the busy, cascading streets of Rome the first immediate thought to satisfy a growling stomach is gelato. The array of flavours and gelaterias found in Rome is plentiful. Luckily, this Italian stranger welcomes you into his restaurant and you find yourself amongst the delicious Roman gastronomiain the trendy, young neighborhood of Trastevere.
In this newly revived neighborhood, a sea of restaurants, bars, and overall festive atmosphere welcomes locals and tourists. Moderately priced Italian specialties and fusion themed cuisines are the piatto del giorno (also known as the dish of the day). So save the gelato for after dinner and stop by the best pizzeria in Rome Ai Marmi or, for the more adventurous souls, Coffee Pot Roma. After dinner, make your way back to the Italian gentlemen you spotted earlier and grab your glass of mysterious yellow liquid, the stuff Italians call limoncello.
After visiting historical sites such as the Colosseum and the Vatican, a day filled with furry beings is the perfect comfort activity. On your last stop in Rome be sure to visit Rome’s first cat cafe, Romeow. This quirky cafe hosts the most adorable cats in all of the city. With funky interiors to match, oddities found in this cafe will leave you possibly adopting a furry buddy to keep you company. Fear felines? Not to worry, another exciting alternative is simply strolling through various neighborhoods in this bella citta. In the off season in Rome, walking around piazzas such as Piazza di Spagna or Piazza di Popolo offers a much needed informal workout after consuming all the pasta in Trastevere.
As the sun sets and the evening casts a golden glimmer on the Roman horizon, it’s easy to see why Rome is la grande bellezza. Roman architecture predates that found in many European cities; and the majestic charms of the city cascades down from every building to every precipice found between aged cobblestones.
A great idea for visiting Rome is to choose a hotel or hostel near Termini Station . There are two metro lines that intersect and meet at Termini, making it the prime metro station to go anywhere in the city. A single ride will run 1.50 and a seven day pass in the city will run approximately 14.00. Termini also houses the major interrail train stations in Italy, so a short day trip by train to Florence or Milan is easily accessible. Day trips to Pompeii or Ostia Antica also depart from Termini Station. Ciampino Airport from Termini Station costs exactly 4 euro and the metro transports you back “home” in less than forty minutes. Saying ciao to bella Roma was difficult, but they call it the eternal city for a reason, and I will surely be back to visit la grande bellezza.