Glimpses of Rome and Thoughts of Home

Walking up Via del Campidoglio toward the Piazza del Campidoglio

We were planning to meet Manja in the evening, and she would drive us outside of Rome to Fiumicino, to our final hotel right next to the airport. Our bags were already packed and stowed with the hotel front desk. We had spent our morning at the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill, and now we were free to kill time for a few hours.

Rome is a fabulous place to have to kill time in. Everything we saw was amazing. And anytime it started to seem like an ordinary city, we thought to ourselves, “We’re in Rome!” and got all excited again. Climbing the hill on the west side of the Forum, we walked with no idea where we were going. We had no agenda other than finding a place for a cold drink soon, where we could sit down. It was a hot and humid day and we had been on our feet for about 4 1/2 hours.

Capidoglio on a hill above the Forum.

We crested the hill and were happy to see that we had stumbled accidentally into a very cool place, with beautiful buildings surrounding a plaza. It turned out to be the Piazza del Campidoglio, and was designed by Michelangelo. We sat on some steps in the shade and pulled out a map that showed us the route of the Hop On-Hop Off bus included in our Omnia Pass, thinking that an extended period of sitting down sounded nice. One of the stops was near us, at the bottom of the hill, so we got up and headed that way.

Leaving the Capidoglio and heading down the hill to the bus station.

Again, we accidentally stumbled into a scene that was SO BEAUTIFUL. The statues that I had been spotting all day long on the horizon are on top of the Altar of the Fatherland, or The Vittoriano, Rome’s largest monument. It was built from 1885-1935. We didn’t know it was a monument, and thought it was probably a fancy government building of some kind. We saw a long line of tourists waiting to get in, and chose to admire it from the outside.

We approached from behind, and came walking around the side, growing more and more impressed with this place.
A fountain at the base of The Vittoriano.

This is a controversial monument because it’s huge and gaudy, some ancient ruins were destroyed/covered in order to place it here, and Romans were displaced from their homes as well. But it’s important to know that this monument commemorates Italy itself. Italy was declared a united kingdom in 1861 and the monument celebrates unification of the country and it’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II.

Moving around to the front of the monument, we kept getting new astonishing views. Imagine not knowing this was here, and then coming around a corner and finding it.
Holy cow this monument is incredible.

I have no say in the matter, so of course my opinion that this monument is excellent should hold no weight at all. But I love it. What I most love about this thing is that it brings to life what I imagine the Roman ruins used to be. All morning we had gazed at crumbling stone and worn and cracked carvings that only suggest magnificence, but here was the magnificence with no imagination needed.

Near the Altar of the Fatherland is a large bus station, with tourist busses from many companies as well as Rome public transit busses. We could make no sense of the jumble, and couldn’t get help. So we decided to walk to the next hop on-hop off stop, which would be smaller and easier to negotiate. On our way to the next stop we found a restaurant with umbrellas that made shade, and we forgot about everything else. We were so hot and sweaty and tired that when the waiter asked if we wanted a small or a large beer, we both answered “LARGE!” And that’s what we got.

Though my eyes are closed, I like this photo and it makes me laugh. The mugs of beer were so huge I almost needed two hands to hold mine up to my lips.
Tourists admiring the Altar of the Fatherland from a carriage.

We only ordered the two gigantic beers, but the waiter kept bringing us food. All kinds of snacks that were filling, like pizza and supplì, until we were stuffed. We paid up, and perfectly satisfied, we stood to cross the street to the bus stop. Just at that moment, the bus arrived! We sprinted across the street and jumped on. It was perfect.

Viewing Rome’s astonishing architecture from comfortable seats on top of a bus.
Ancient Roman wall with convenient arches for modern cars to drive through. Nothing to see here, folks, move along. Just two worlds overlapping.
Thousands of years old ruins, in the center of the city.
This scene delighted me to no end. Look at the two worlds here! Stone columns and rent-a-scooters. At some point in history, nice apartments were built, jutting up against a less valuable building, which was removed. When the excavation began, the apartments were kept but had to be buttressed. Look at where the bottom of the steps emerge and residents go through the gate to enter the street. AMAZING!
We passed the wonderful Castel Sant’Angelo again, viewed down Hadrian’s exceptional bridge.
And we spotted Vatican City at the end of this street, with St. Peter’s Basilica dominating the skyline.
The castle again, over the beautiful Tiber River and Ponte Vittorio Emmanuel II.

At one point our bus stopped for a full ten minutes at the train station. It could have been a boring stop, but we had entertainment. This man danced and hollered and seemed happy, though he definitely had a message. Too bad we couldn’t hear him.

Entertainment at the Rome train station.
One more look at the captivating intersection we found on our first evening here, Quattro Fontane (four fountains).

We rode the bus for an hour and a half which was long enough to see the entire bus route. We had found on our map the stop that would be closest to our hotel, and calculated the time we would need to walk there and pick up our bags. It was going to work out perfectly if we just stayed on the bus till we got there. By the time we had to climb off, we were completely rested and had seen a good deal more of Rome. We hopped off the bus at the right place and made the quick walk down Via Cavour. As soon as we stepped into the hotel we received a message from Manja saying she was in the city and ready to come get us. Soon we were reunited and on our way to Fiumicino on the coast.

Our lovely Hotel Tiber at the mouth of the Tiber River.
The view out our window.

Pedro and I had found a seafood restaurant very close to the hotel that we wanted to try, and we had made online reservations for a seating at 7pm that evening. I knew it was earlier than Italians typically eat dinner, but I was worried about Manja having to drive all the way home in the night. It was not yet 7, so we unloaded our luggage quickly and found Manja and walked the jetty out to the sea.

Setting sun casts a glow on nets and ropes.
Fishermen and strolling people and dogs enjoyed the evening warmth.
The mouth of the Tiber River, as it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The end of the jetty.

We returned and Manja was concerned about being too early, but I had selected from the available times online, and 7 pm was an option, so I felt confident at 6:55 pm of walking right through the open doors. Well, we walked right in on the whole family dining and definitely unprepared for random people walking in! There apparently had been a lack of communication and the owner was trying out a new online reservation service, and either didn’t realize 7 pm was an option, or didn’t think someone would actually select it. In any case, no one at the restaurant knew we were coming. Everyone was astonished to see us and they called the owner who checked the online service and sure enough, my name was there! So they scrambled to get us drinks, and apologized and said not to worry. Technology transitions are always challenging, and I think they will probably remove that 7 pm option after this, ha ha!

The drinks and service were lovely. Once we sat, other hungry tourists spotted us and asked if they could sit too, and soon the restaurant was open for business.

Pedro and Manja on our last night in Italy.
Me, giving a mock goodbye to the travelling camera, who left Liz, and left me, and finally found its way to Manja. It’s a long story, but basically the camera has a new home. ❤

After dinner we said our farewells and sent Manja back home to the north, and we packed our luggage one last time before we went to sleep. It is so special to have these memories with a friend who was up until this only a member of my bloggosphere, currently blogging at An Embarrassment of Riches. The alarm went off early and we checked out and climbed onto a plane and that was the end of this particular adventure. We are already dreaming about where to go next. Thank you for coming along everyone!

14 thoughts on “Glimpses of Rome and Thoughts of Home

  1. Beautiful photos from your last day in Rome — and the Tiber River as it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

    1. Aw, thank you so much. I loved the photo of the waves in the sunset and I’m glad you did too. How exciting to stand on the banks of the Tiber River, which I learned about in school so many years ago. Oooh, I just got a new travel strategy idea: go visit all the rivers I learned about as a kid: The Nile, Rio Grande and Mississippi I’ve seen, and the Tiber, but now the Yangtze and the Huang Ho, and the Volga, and the Danube, the Amazon, the Niger, Orinoco…there are so many.

      1. I once went down the Danube from Tuttlingen to Vienna in a folding boat (sort of like a kayak) with German friends. But that was 59 years ago.

  2. Thank you, Crystal and Pedro, for your visit, and gifts, and company, and this splendid reportage! I think we did it more than right and I’m really glad that you two had also enough of alone time to chill and enjoy each other and Italy in peace. So lovely, the last photo of you caressing the camera! I have it right here to the right of me, under the big foot sticker, and on the left is the Mt. Hood coaster. And there is still the honey and I kept the salmon package because it’s pretty. 🙂 And by the way, do you know that the Vittoriano is also called the Typewriter? 😉

    1. I heard that! About the nickname Typewriter. Is that because it looks like one? It must have been coined in a mean spirit, but it’s accurate, ha ha! And thank YOU and amore and bestia, Branko and Meta, and Nina, for hosting us. I have never been so cared for during a trip, and I am not exaggerating. Your family is wonderful and I appreciate your kindness and generosity with bringing us into your lives. I am also so grateful that you showed us around Tuscany and Slovenia on your own time with your own ideas and made the trip so memorable for us. I keep telling people that I love our trip especially because we got to see and do things that most tourists never do, because we had a très bon guide! I think that last photo with me and the camera is also wonderful because you have the BEST smile in that photo. Did you send me the pics of us together from that last night? I am sure I saw them but I couldn’t find them. Can you send them again?

      1. Ahh, thank you for all your nice words. ❤ We all loved having you over so much. I re-sent you the photos just earlier. Yes, it is called Typewriter in jest due to its shape. Much love from all of us!

  3. Another packed post, Crystal. I enjoyed it. I’ve started following Manja. Fun. Looks like you and Pedro had a great time. That was a big beer. And who in the world still says “Holy Cow?” Grin. –Curt

    1. I say Holy Cow, ha ha. I noticed I have kept a lot of silly expressions that I said as a kid growing up in Idaho. When I watched Napoleon Dynamite, it cracked me up because it’s set in Idaho in the 80s, which is when I was in Idaho, and Napoleon uses a lot of the same silly expressions I did. I added another one to my vocabulary when I was in Vermont: Jeezums Crow! because it is equally silly and also an expression that people actually use. It was a giant beer!! That’s why I was laughing in the photo.

      1. I wouldn’t be worth much after a beer that size, Crystal! Who knows what I would have been saying. My dad, who was a good Christian man (and always disappointed that his son wasn’t) had a number of ways of swearing without actually “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Gol durn it” and “Gol ding it” being two examples. “Jeezums Crow” is another example. Grin. –Curt

    1. It’s true, Andrew, I always want to go back to the places I saw, so I can re-visit the best spots. Rome needs a re-visit because we missed so much. But my challenge is that, while I’ve only glimpsed Rome, and Italy and Slovenia too, there are places I have never ever seen. I’ve never come close to China, or Kenya, or New Zealand. I’m afraid I’ll want to see new places before I return to the ones I’ve already seen, you know?

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