Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rome

The wandering turk is travelling again. He wrote, San Francisco is quickly climbing up the charts to become my favorite city in the US. I love the fact that one can walk pretty much anywhere. I love the fact that public transportation actually gets you to where you need to go. I love all the different cultures, harmoniously intermingling. I love the food...

His post made me think about cities I've fallen in love with ...

It's clear I get homesick for Istanbul but I fell madly and passionately in love with Rome. I wandered there expecting to be disappointed by a myth fallen on hard times and found something else ... a city that was more than I imagined a city could be ... a mix of ancient and beautiful, sophistication and real people who wanted to chat ... (or show me the kitchen down in the ancient restaurant basement, as was the case with dear Enzo. I declined, not sure about visiting ancient kitchens with waiters who kissed hands).

I stayed on Campo de' Fiori in a hotel with the same name ... the entrance was stunning. There was a daily market in the square ... flowers, food and 'things', with a superb little bookshop where I found a good book, and in another corner, a delicatessen with wine and cheese for my evening ... because I was in Rome.

It was a city of angels ... Bernini and his students had sculpted a series of them on Ponte Sant'Angelo in the 17th century, and across the bridge, Castel Sant'Angelo seemed full of them ... arrogant angels like Raffaello da Montelupo's 1544 rendering of the Archangel Michael and Peter Anton Verschaffelt's rooftop Michael, sculpted 1752.

Angels and archways perhaps. I fell in love with the architecture too. I spent hours in Castel Sant'Angelo, fascinated by the history and feel of it. It was originally built as a mausoleum for Hadrian, as in Hadrian's Tomb, but was converted into a fortress for popes in the 6th century. It was magical wandering there, or just sitting in the sun trying to comprehend that that really was Roma's River Tiber below me.

I had lunch with Paolo, a friend of a friend and we wandered the city some. An old friend took me home to his family for dinner on the back of his scooter, his wife cooked a beautiful Roman feast, introducing me to mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto parma and bread, then veal, artichokes and chard ... and a midnight tour of Rome.

I bought a painting from another Paolo, in Piazza Navone ... the place where the artists gather and he took me off to a cafe for coffee. We talked for a long time, he had been a history teacher until his art had become self-supporting. We talked of movies, books, writers, societies, children and life ... it was magic. The painting was a titled 'Diving into Life' and in Italian he had written 'detail of the Greek diver VIII century BC' ... it seemed like something I had to have.

I loved Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City and bought the ticket that allows one to climb the 300+ steps to the cupola on top of the Basilica ... there's no turning back once you enter the stairway but the view of Rome laid out below you more than makes up for any claustrophobic or heart attack-type thoughts entertained on the way up.

Inside the Basilica ... the sculptures are outside my powers of description ... I stared for a long time, perhaps wanting an absorption of beauty by osmosis. Michelangelo's Pieta was stunning but Bernini's monument to Alexander VII was almost overwhelming ... somehow, Bernini had made heavy red marble resemble soft velvet.

I have no individual favourite, I loved it all ... the Pantheon took my breath when I turned a corner and found it in front of me. The Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps ... I have to go back, there's no other solution.

9 comments:

christina said...

Beautiful. Despite living in Europe for so long I (we) have yet to visit Rome. Real life, children, other obligations just seem to get in the way of a lot of traveling, you know?

My mother was actually born in Rome (English mother, American father) and lived there until she was 4 when she moved to the U.S. with her mum.

woman wandering said...

Save Rome for when you can savour it ... I went in Autumn, not too many tourists and warm days but you must go :)

wandering-woman said...

Oh, serious envy from the yank in Salamanca. Never been. Got to go. The people sound a lot like the Spanish, somehow..

woman wandering said...

Roma is just something one has to do ... choose your time wisely though. I had Castel Sant'Angelo mostly to myself weekday November.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Reading your blog made me wish I was back in Rome... ahhhh... it was the nicest time and I wished I had a longer time there... we spent majority of our time in Sicily... Love your blog and this Aussie girl will be keeping an eye on what else you get up to... love the photos. Did you take those? Ciao...
Felicity

http://flissandmikeadventures.blogspot.com/

woman wandering said...

Hey Felicity

Nice to hear from an Aussie ...:)

Rome ... I wonder, perhaps everyone who goes there longs to return.

And yes, I took the photos. I wanted to try and take something of the city with me.

D said...

Beautiful photos and I love your descriptions.

The Wandering Turk said...

Di - thanks for the plug. I love your description of Rome and what you did there - it sounds so fulfilling. And I dig this sentence: "I stared for a long time, perhaps wanting an absorption of beauty by osmosis". I did this for hours in San Fran, stepping in and out of a number of small art galleries as well as SF Museum of Modern Art. I yearned for the beauty I was experiencing to diffuse throughout my cerebrum, maybe touching, stimulating and awakening that 90% which doesn't get used. Maybe this is greed.

woman wandering said...

Hi d, thank you.

Sounds like San Francisco has been superb ... and greedy, no never! I'm sure of it, wandering turk :)