Adam Bird

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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Rome

Rome

Thirteen years Stephanie and I have been together before finally getting married! Why that long? I really don’t know, but like our relationship and the famous idiom which links us with our final honeymoon destination the comparison couldn’t be any closer. Just as “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, the foundations upon which our marriage shall stand upon haven’t been either.

There has been a recurring theme within this series of eight blog posts and it may have come across as slightly repetitive, but history, culture, architecture and cuisine are the four staples of any tourist experience. Rome is the birthplace for each and every one of them.

From the ancient Romans, during the times of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire, or even before that with the Roman Republic and Roman Kingdom, the historical significance of the Eternal City cannot be put into context by someone of such limited knowledge as myself, but it’s fair to say, that looking around, whether it be at our legal or economic system, or the building opposite, Roman influences are everywhere we look.

As a tourist, the choice of monuments, landmarks and places of interest are endless, starting with probably the most famous of them all, the Roman Coliseum. Where the ghosts of epic gladiatorial battles whisper in the breeze amid the imaginary noises of a blood thirsty crowd there to witness human sacrifice in the name of entertainment.

From Palantine Hill to the Spanish Steps, via the Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill, the Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums, The Pantheon, Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain, Borghese Park all the way to into Vatican City, home of Christiandom, the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and the magnificent St Peter’s Basillica, St Peters Square, the Baths of Diocletian, all of which lie upon the banks of the great River Tiber, a geographical feature upon which all great cities are built.

But Rome has that something a little bit different - a country inside it's own city limit's! If Rome is the place which becomes our honeymoon destination I will have to remember to take with me Angels and Demons for a quick read on our flight out. It was the Dan Brown novel (his best I might add) that properly introduced me to the process and rituals of the Vatican and it's place as head of the Christian church. Not being particularly religious ourselves, a visit won't have the same emotional impact upon us as it does to the millions of visitors who pay homage to the pope and take part in mass each year, but it's importance isn't lost on us and we'll ensure that we respect those around us for whom it is.

As honeymooners, it may well be slightly daunting fighting our way through the crowds and tourists to get the best views for all that there is to see. But Rome, is without doubt one of the most romantic places in the world. Walking hand in hand along the river Tiber sampling the cafe culture and watching the world go by enjoying nothing but each other as company. One of the many Rome tourist websites goes as far as suggesting “for lovers who want to escape the crowds taking a walk up one of the many quiet alleys is always recommended”, but I’m sure the websites meaning and my reading are two entirely different things!

If a week in Rome sounds a bit much or we cram as much in as we possibly can to make the most of being on Italian soil, we could hitch a ride by train from the Roma Termini. We could travel south along the coast into Naples and view the ruins of Pompeii, or north, again along the coast into Pisa to have a snapshot with the leaning tower. If those two places don’t quite tickle our fancy, we could head inland to Florence and admire the ancient Lucca - home of Elisa Bonaparte.

If anything, the one thing that really excites me about a trip to Rome, isn’t any of the above, ashamedly, or even the chance to visit the Olympic Stadium, where in 1977 Liverpool beat Borussia Moenchengladbach to win their first European Cup. It’s the food!

In nearly all of my blogs within this little mini-series, I have made at least one reference about looking forward to sampling the local cuisine, but there is no getting away from it. Stephanie and I enjoy food, and Italian food is a particular favourite, even if our repertoire of classic pasta dishes, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Lasagna, Carbonara or Pesto do come prominently from the jar! We are both desperate to sample authentic, fresh, home made Italian food – learn some recipes and ingredients, adding dishes to our weekly home menu.

The very essence of travel! You experience something, you learn from it, you bring it home and you share it. A cycle that not everyone gets to experience, for whatever reason. But that's the gift Stephanie and I have been given. It's not whether we have a week in Antigua, Dubai, Dubrovnik, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Marrakesh, New York or Rome. It's the fact that we have a week together, it could be anywhere in the world for all we care, it's that opportunity to learn something new, whether it be about each other, about an ancient culture, the mistakes of the past or about possibilities for the future that is important.

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