Tag Archives: Rome

Rome (If You Want To)

As promised, I’m putting up a couple of photos taken during our quick trip to Rome last week.   But first, a brief digression.

Years ago, when Barb and I began travelling together, we would return from trips to find the photos we’d snapped were either of Barb in front of something, or me in front of something, or featured neither one of us.  We rarely had any of us together.  And that was because we just never seem to get around to asking random tourists or locals, “Would you take our picture?”

I don’t know why we don’t ask this; as DC residents, we’ve been asked hundreds of times to snap photos of strangers in front of the Lincoln Memorial or Smithsonian, and don’t find it an inconvenience at all.  Yet, we never think to bother anyone with a similar question when we’re travelling.   Consequently, we were returning from trips with lots of great photos, but with absolutely zero indication that we were ever actually there because we weren’t in any of them.  They were photos that looked like  postcards.

So we decided to start bringing along the pets.com (remember them?) sock puppet and take pictures featuring him.  He’s photogenic, absolutely incapable of taking a bad picture, and he cracks us up.  We get lots of stares when we’re standing in front of some iconic structure as Barb fearlessly waves Sock Puppet around and I try to shoot the photo without laughing too hard. 

Right.  Now that you’ve got some context, here we go:

First up, the remains of the Roman Forum, an impressive field of fallen marble arches, broken columns, and crumbling foundations that still provide a tantalizing hint of what must have been a glorious open space for debating politics, arguing philosophy, or just people watching.

The remains of the Roman Forum.

The remains of the Roman Forum.

As we made our way around the Roman capital building, we came across a vocal and somewhat rowdy protest.  We’re still not entirely sure what they were protesting, but it was an enthusiastic crowd, regardless.

Pincherle ovunque!!

Pincherle ovunque!!

Next up was a stroll past the Colosseum, one of Rome’s most impressive sites and dangerous traffic circles:

Today's score: Lions 14, Trojans 7.

Today's score: Lions 14, Trojans 7.

That evening, I attempted an Artsy Photo of St. Peter’s, taken from a bridge crossing the Tiber, about a mile away. 

St. Peter's Basilica, night.

St. Peter's Basilica, night.

We made an easy trip through Vatican City, likely due to colder-than-usual weather, which kept the crowds away.  The square in front was relatively deserted.

St. Peter's Basilica, taken from St. Peter's Square.  Alas, the Pope was not at home.  And I had a good knock-knock joke for him, too.

St. Peter's Basilica, taken from St. Peter's Square. Alas, the Pope was not at home. And I had a good knock-knock joke for him, too.

Even to this decidedly non-religious tourist, St. Peter’s was an impressive and truly inspiring building, with some amazing art — including Michelangelo’s Pieta, shielded behind plate glass but still a marvel to behold:

Michaelangelo's Pieta.

Michelangelo's Pieta.

And finally, as we made a quick tromp up the stairs in the Keats-Shelley house — the house where the poet John Keats lived and died, just off to one side of the famous Spanish steps — I caught sight of this framed bit of paper, listing “Americans in Rome in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries”:

Washington Irving makes a cameo appearance on our Roman holiday.

Washington Irving makes a cameo appearance on our Roman holiday.

Yup, a cameo appearance by Washington Irving.  Perhaps I’ll devote a bit of space here shortly to Irving’s brief time in Rome.  He spent only slightly more time in the city than we did, yet nearly changed careers, thanks to his friendship with the painter Washington Allston.  But that’s a story for another day.

Roman Holiday

We returned from our quick sprint through Rome last night, boarding our plane in Rome on Saturday night at 4:00 p.m., Maryland time, and finally arriving at BWI yesterday afternoon. We’re exhausted, and I’m nursing a weird cross between allergies and a head cold (and my ears have yet to unplug from the pressure change on the airplane), but the trip was a rousing success.

Despite the brevity of our visit and the time Barb had to devote to her conference, we still managed to hit all the big sites in the area, snapping lots of photos (a few of which I might post here) and dodging speeding Roman traffic.  Roman pedestrians, we found, are absolutely fearless about stepping off a curb into the whoosh of traffic, casually holding up one hand to slow oncoming traffic even as they step directly into the path of a speeding Fiat.  We felt rather wimpy standing there — in a crosswalk, no less — waiting helplessly for traffic to break, before finally following close behind an elderly gentleman who went around us and stepped in front of  a screaming milk truck, confident it would stop if he barely raised his hand.  And it did.

The weather was colder than normal — we seem to have a knack for hitting places during an unseasonable spell of weather — but the cold also kept the sites virtually free of vistors, so we were able to get into the Sistene Chapel and St. Peter’s with absolutely zero wait.  Our only real disappointment came when we located the church of San Luigi dei Francesi and found that the three Caravaggio paintings in the Contarelli Chapel were being restored and were therefore unavailble for viewing. 

But we’ll be back — we know so, because we threw coins over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain.