three days in Rome

Posted from Roma, Lazio, Italy.

2016-05-05 12.15.26Three days in Rome? That’s it?

The spring of 2016 was very tumultuous, like off-the-hook upside-down life-changing crazy. If I were any other person I may have spent a lot of that time in bed trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, but I love drastic change. Which is why I found a way to fit a three day visit to Rome into the schemes of that season. What better time to visit Rome, the Eternal City, then spring? Flowers blooming, trees unfurling, and all of life coming out of hibernation, much like my current situation. In my mind’s eye it seemed spring would be the most loveliest of times to experience this ancient city. And I was right.

Three days in Rome might not seem like a lot of time, but I had planned well, and I was prepared to walk my arthritic feet off. I booked a room in Trastevere through Airbnb. The location was so ideal that everything I wanted to see, all the cliche sites, were within walking distance. I pre-arranged tickets to the Borghese Art Gallery (reservations essential,) The Vatican Museums, the third-level and basement of the Colosseum (reservations essential,) and a tour in the crypts/necropolis below St. Peters Bascillica (reservations essential.)

Reservations are not essential for all sites, but the idea of waiting in line for hours to get a ticket to then again wait in line for hours made me despair. So reservations in hand, and a pre-arranged airport transfer, I was ready to conquer Rome – in three days.

My flights from Toronto were on-time, surprisingly. I had booked through CheapoAir on a Portuguese discount carrier called Sata (Azores Airlines) for the magnificent price of $540. Lately I’ve been pleasantly amazed by the affordability of long distance, and trans-oceanic travel. Sata connects through Ponta Delgada, a place that is now on my list.

Some of the streets are quite narrow, but that doesn't stop drivers from trying to get their cars through.

Some of the streets are quite narrow, but that doesn’t stop drivers from trying to get their cars through.

Patrizia, my Airbnb host, had arranged a taxi to meet me at the airport and take me to her apartment. The price was 45€, a bit steep compared to my usual method of doing it like a local, but I felt it was worth every penny. I was worried I’d be very tired after the flight, especially since it was my third time zone change in two weeks. The taxi drivers (one was in training) were standing by the arrival gate holding a sign with my misspelled name on it. I felt like a celebrity.

After my evening arrival in Trastevere, my host invited me to join her and her friends in Piazza Navona for a little celebration. So after I settled in a bit, I walked 10-minutes through the darkened, narrow streets to join my host for what was actually her birthday celebrations. One of my plans was to have a glass of wine at Piazza Navona, but instead, there I was, drinking bubbles at a Roman’s birthday party inside a small bookshop with a bunch of other local Romans.

Patrizia's birthday celebration in the small book shop.

Patrizia’s birthday celebration in the small book shop.

Piazza Navona is an oval shaped square near the Pantheon and not too far from the Trevi Fountain. In the evening it’s packed full of outdoor diners, and people enjoying Rome’s nightlife. In the centre of the oval is a fountain with a Egyptian obelisk – stolen by the Romans in ancient times. Egyptian artefacts, unbeknownst to me, are found all throughout Rome. As I’m learning, there was quite a love-hate relationship in the past.

My first view of Piazza Navona at night.

My first view of Piazza Navona at night.

I got to practice a bit of my Italian at the party until my jet lag crept up on me and I wound my way back to the apartment a little tipsy and stunned that I was walking down the streets of Rome. So much has happened here. There’s so much history. The shadows of the past danced down the streets, and my wild imagination joined in.

Rome has always been a dream. I was finally going to see the colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, The Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I couldn’t believe I had just had bubbles at Piazza Navona. I’m certain I fell asleep with a smile on my face. I had to be up early for my visit to the Vatican. But I was in Rome and I was beginning to see an endless list of possibilities.

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