Return to Rome

Earlier this year, a friend and I went to Rome, which would mark my second trip to Rome (after my first trip).

The friend that I went with was actually Italian, and he had a bit of knowledge that I wasn’t aware of the first time I went there. We left Friday evening after work and arrived late in the night. We went to a bar and got some Italian beers (which I will post about later), and while there we ran into a bunch of people from Wales. There was apparently a big Rugby game between an Italian and Welsh team, so the bars were full of Rugby fans preparing for the game the following day.

We talked for a while, and then I remember how the conversation of course drifted towards Brexit, and the lad that we were talking with voiced his support of the move. When we pushed him for details, it was the classic “we want to take control of our borders back” and such, and when pressed for what he really meant by that, the conversation of course got a bit awkward. We knew perfectly well what he meant, and he just wouldn’t admit it and kept skirting around mentioning refugees. Not wanting to cause a scene, the conversation switched to something more benign, and we continued drinking in relative peace. After going to a club, my friend and I stumbled back to our hostel really late at night to get some sleep before the next day.

We woke up and I was still groggy, but we set out anyways, not wanting to waste the day. Having both been to Rome, we didn’t feel a need to see anything in particular, so we just wandered around at first.

Basilica Papale Di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica Papale Di Santa Maria Maggiore

This is the biggest Catholic Marian church in Rome, and I couldn’t fit the whole building in one shot without getting in traffic. What I found remarkable, though, was the security. I don’t recall nearly as much security when I was last in Rome in 2012. Now there was fences and military vehicles with soldiers with assault rifles all over the place. I suppose the recent events over the past few years have shaken people up a bit, which is very unfortunate. That being said, other than simply noticing the military all over the place, they didn’t really bother or impede us in any way, so whatever I guess.

Just a long street

Just a long street

 

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna

The Spanish Steps led down to the Piazza di Spagna, where the Spanish embassy is now located. There were people there constantly telling people that they couldn’t sit on the steps, lest the steps get packed with people sitting down.

 

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

 

An amazing pasta place near the Piazza di Spagna. Highly recommended!

An amazing pasta place near the Piazza di Spagna. Highly recommended!

 

A sphinx near the Piazza del Popolo

A sphinx near the Piazza del Popolo

 

Just a church while walking along the river

Just a church while walking along the river

We ended up getting to the Vatican, and after hanging out outside and seeing the ridiculously long line, we opted to leave. Instead of just going away, though, we decided to actually walk around the Vatican.

 

The wall on the outside of the Vatican

The wall on the outside of the Vatican

Since the Vatican is its own county, we technically walked the entire perimeter of a country, which took maybe up to an hour. Quite a feat!

 

The Fontana del Nettuno at Piazza Navona

The Fontana del Nettuno at Piazza Navona

There was an art exhibit that we went into, but I unfortunately don’t have the artist’s name anymore. The artist did some cool things with paint and melted plastic, though.

David Bowie

David Bowie

 

The Tiber River at night

The Tiber River at night

We then went out for the evening. We actually met up with a couple other Germans that my friend had contacted, and we met up in a craft beer bar, among other places we went to. I will be posting about some of the beers I had while in there later.

A poster inside the bar

A poster inside the bar

Even in another country, the Cologne Kölsch beer follows me!

Happy beer :-)

Happy beer 🙂

The next day, we simply wandered around some more.

The Altare della Patria, which is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel, the first King of a unified Italy.

The Altare della Patria, which is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel, the first King of a unified Italy.

 

A pic of the builders of the horse on top of the building in the previous picture, inside the horse itself while under construction. Those silly Italians!

A pic of the builders of the horse on top of the building in the previous picture, inside the horse itself while under construction. Those silly Italians!

 

View of some ruins from the Altare della Patria

View of some ruins from the Altare della Patria

 

Street art carved into a tree stump

Street art carved into a tree stump

We then went to the Castel Sant’Angelo again. We actually went the previous day, but we realized if we came back the second day, on Sunday, it would be free. The 1st Sunday of every month is free entry (for quite a lot of things in Rome actually, so take note!).

The castle from the bridge

The castle from the bridge

 

The Passetto di Borgo towards the Vatican

The Passetto di Borgo towards the Vatican

 

And the Passetto di Borgo towards the Castel Sant’Angelo

And the Passetto di Borgo towards the Castel Sant’Angelo

This passageway (the Passetto di Borgo) was used in the event of a siege so that the Pope could escape the less easily defended St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and get to Castel Sant’Angelo, which was much more equipped to defend itself.

A catapult inside the castle

A catapult inside the castle

 

Broken wings...

Broken wings…

 

The view from the top of the castle

The view from the top of the castle

It was getting later and we were hungry after leaving the castle. While walking up and down random streets, a heavenly aroma wafted out of one particular shop, beckoning us to investigate the source more closely.

An amazing prosciutto deli

An amazing prosciutto deli

 

Our order we split

Our order we split

With our hunger satiated, we continued our wandering through the city. It unfortunately started to rain, and we quickly sought refuge. We dashed inside a big church, but the church we went into was of course none other than…

 

The Pantheon! Which has a giant hole in the top. Brilliant! Everyone was huddled to the walls for a while when the rain was at its strongest.

The Pantheon! Which has a giant hole in the top. Brilliant!

 

View from inside the Pantheon. You can see a roped off area in the bottom left, which is where it was the wettest (and most slippery).

View from inside the Pantheon. You can see a roped off area in the bottom left, which is where it was the wettest (and most slippery).

 

We saw the Trevi fountain again. The person standing next to me kept bumping their umbrella into the side of my face, and I just had to start pushing it away from me.

We saw the Trevi fountain again. The person standing next to me kept bumping their umbrella into the side of my face, and I just had to start pushing it away from me.

 

A modern sculpture by Gustavo Aceves near the Colosseum

A modern sculpture by Gustavo Aceves near the Colosseum

 

We of course walked by the Colosseum again

We of course walked by the Colosseum again

You can really see the old part and the rebuilt part in this picture. You can also see a bunch of holes in the old part. This is because they needed metal and dug posts out from inside the Colosseum during the Medieval ages in order to make weapons.

And we couldn’t visit the Colosseum without seeing my sleeping spot from my first visit to Rome, this time looking at the Colosseum from where I laid.

Daylight view of my sleeping spot in the park with the Colosseum in the background

Daylight view of my sleeping spot in the park with the Colosseum in the background

After another busy day, we made our way back to the bar we went to the first night and had a couple beers before going back to our hostel for the night. Our alarms rang excessively early the next morning and we made our way to the airport in order to fly back to Cologne and get to work late Monday morning.

It’s not often that I visit a city that I just really fell in love with. I didn’t fully appreciate Rome the first time I went, but I think a large part of that had to do with the fact that I didn’t have an actual place to sleep (other than the park). Now that I could afford a hostel and experience the city in a different light, it really grew one me. Normally most cities tend to be “just another city,” even if they are nice, but the atmosphere, architecture, beers, people, and everything I encountered just really did it for me. I definitely would not mind going back one or more times.

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