The romance of Rome is a blog that can go two ways.
One that discusses the legend that is the city and another that focuses on how romantic the city is. Rome is probably one of the fewest cities in the world that carries in its streets austere history and the tenderness of love at the same time. Old Rome has myths older than many contemporary cities and it still blends seamlessly in with even the most modern ideas of love. That is probably why Rome has such an aura of romance about it. The city breathes every emotion loudly with angry statues, statues depicting all emotions, and none to subtly. But everywhere there is an almost palpable sense of love, of the architects for their beautiful buildings both new and ancient, of the artists for their creations that adorn every street corner of Rome, of the city dwellers for this beautiful city.
The legend of Rome
The history of this ancient city is well known, and luckily for tourists, not bound in books alone. It lives and breathes in the city as its oldest dweller. Just across the street from Roma Termini (Rome’s main train station) is the Baths of Diocletian, the largest, most extravagant of all ancient baths. So large was the bath that it could, simultaneously, fit three thousand bathers. Though much of the ancient structure is lost, it incorporates within it today the National Museum of Rome (in the main hall), the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (in the tepidarium), and the church of San Bernardo alle Terme (in one of the two rotundas at the corner of the garden). The Baths of Diocletian was ordered to be built by Emperor Diocletian who wanted them to be grander than the, almost a century older, Baths of Caracalla. The ruins that stand today give only a glimpse into the grandeur that existed during its time.
Covering almost thirteen hectares the Baths of Caracalla is a popular tourist site. Even today, as you walk up the street from the Bath you can almost hear the chariots that, legends say, the roman soldiers rode on their way to the Bath after watching a duel in the Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum, built to seat fifty thousand spectators, is the oldest (inaugurated by Titus around 80 AD) amphitheater of its kind in antiquity. Not just because of its sheer size, but also because of its intricate planning that allowed the staging of magnificent spectacles, the Colosseum is a marvel of Roman engineering along with being an example of the extraordinary Roman architecture.
Michelangelo’s Moses that sits in San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) is just a small part of the original plan of forty statues, but its brilliance is still visible to every visitor. So lifelike had the artist felt his own work to be that he was supposed to have struck the knee of the statue and said ‘Now speak!’ The mark is still there! Then there is the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Michelangelo’s Pieta that sits in the church is the artist’s only work that was signed by him. Other than being the command center of Christianity and the official residence of the Pope, the Vatican is also home to one of the most visited museums in the world. Within the walls of the Vatican Museum is the Sistine Chapel. With some of the most famous religious frescoes of the Christian world, the Sistine chapel, today, is the site of the papal conclave. Twelve thousand square feet of ceiling space with the ‘Creation of Adam’ as its centerpiece and the Last Judgment on the final wall were all painted by Michelangelo.
The Romantic City
It was more than half a century ago that Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck wandered through the streets of Rome on a scooter and sealed the city, in every movie goers’ mind, as the most romantic place on earth. Rome did not, however, need the movie. The romance of Rome touches all tourists, those who come to celebrate their own personal romance and those who come hoping to find it soon. You cannot get a more romantic spot than the Roseto, Rome’s public rose garden. Here you can enjoy a dinner, a drink and a stroll through the park, heavy with the fragrance of the roses. The irregular Spanish Steps was where models lined up in the hope of being selected by an artist. Even today it attracts huge crowds.
From above the Spanish steps you can catch a breathtaking view of the city. The old baroque buildings and the small trattorias around Piazza Navona have been the setting of many a romantic scene in films from the world over. Fontana di Trevi is another famous landmark of Rome. It is the largest of all baroque fountains in Rome. It is believed that throwing one coin into the fountain over one’s shoulder ensures a return to the city, two ensures new love and three guarantees a marriage or a divorce. Such is the romance of the city that, reports say, tourist throw in thousands of Euros daily into the fountain. Rome is one of the few cities in the world that is better explored without a guide book. Just a little stroll down a half medieval, half modern street allows everyone to create a memory of their own.
Photo of lovers strolling in Rome originally posted by .Paolo.