Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rome - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Rome, in all of its extremes, typifies the absolute pinnacle and the (at times) worst of Italian culture. On the plus side are the ancient ruins, opulent architecture and world class art collections capable of romancing even the most jaded traveler. Then there is the food (oh, the food!), the satisfying snap of al dente pasta, the creamy decadence of hazelnut gelatto, the rich, salty gluttony of carbonara sauce. And it's hard not to envy a culture where passion rules, pleasure is indulged and relaxing is encouraged.

However, the exchange rate can send a casual dinner into the exorbitant realm quickly, and the crowds of tourists seem to be omnipresent. Most likely you'll be doing quite a bit of walking, so pack comfortable shoes and your patience (or better yet: hire a private car to whisk you around to avoid the madness on the street).

Seeing the Colosseum was the highlight of my day and we took the audio tour (totally worth the few extra Euros) that dispensed lots of historical info about the games, gladiators and so forth. Afterwards we strolled through the massive Piazzas framed by baroque cathedrals and ivy draped mansions. Street after street offered one atmospheric cafĂ© after another, with fashionable locals in sunglasses smoking and chatting and gesticulating wildly with their hands while bands of serious looking priests wandered past (oh, how Italian!). We munched at crowded outdoor tables, downing snacks here and there – splitting paninis, bowls of homemade pasta and cones of gelato (the Tiramisu flavor is a must-try). One of our favorite spots was Cul de Sac, a streetside enoteca with a huge wine list and Italian tapas. It’s impossible not to be seduced by the charm, number and artistry of the sights, food and culture which is why, even though Rome can be chaotic and loud at times, it's absolutely worth visiting and a once in a lifetime experience.

1 comment:

Deepa said...

Not sure if you will get the chance, but if you have time, def check out the catacombs outside Rome - the are surreal.