On an Evening in Roma
We waved a fond farewell to Barcelona and arrived at the airport bright and early. So early, in fact, that we witnessed a Spanish McDonald’s switch its menu from dinner to breakfast at 4 a.m. The food was underwhelming, mostly because they didn’t have ranch.
We landed in Rome a few hours later and took a cab to our hotel. The dreary day and dull ride siphoned what little energy we had, and we trudged into the hotel at 8 a.m., heavily weighed down by our bags. Our room, they informed us, wouldn’t be ready until 2 p.m. We had to rally.
Our hotel was about a half hour from the center of town, so we hopped a bus and started to wander around Rome proper. We stumbled upon an exhibit aiming to answer an ancient question posed most prominently by rap group The Black Eyed Peas. Fergie, Will.I.Am and friends, we found it:
We also found it in Italian:
Rome, as an ancient city, proved very difficult to navigate. It’s a maze-like amalgam of narrow brick roads, shops, restaurants, and timeless monuments. The city itself is a feast for the eyes:
First, we found The Trevi Fountain (most famous for its role in The Lizzie McGuire Movie). It stuns you at first with its sheer size and glory. Ornately carved marble and graceful flowing water make for a breathtaking masterpiece. We each threw a coin in to leave our mark, then worked through the crowd to get a few good photos.
Our aimless wandering led us to Piazza Navona next, where we took advantage of a few photo ops.
The rain started then, but we kept on searching for new things to see and enjoy. The rain turned out to be rather welcome, because as we approached the Pantheon, tourists flooded inside to stay dry. We chose instead to splurge on lunch at a restaurant right in front of the monument, safe and dry under an awning. We enjoyed some amazing pasta and gnocchi with a glass of wine (well, Mike had the “special” beer the waiter recommended in the absence of his favorite, Busch Light).
The inside of the Pantheon was gorgeous. The hole in the dome meant to let light flood in struck us the hardest, because a quick glance up left us hypnotized by the falling rain as it dropped onto the church floor. It made an already wonderful place even more awe-inspiring.
Running on fumes, we decided to find one last sight, take a few pictures, then head back to the hotel for a nap. We walked up the Spanish Steps craving unbeatable views of Rome. They certainly didn’t disappoint.
Right as the cab pulled into our hotel, the rain hit HARD. We gratefully fell into our beds and fell asleep through a violent thunderstorm. A few hours later, we woke up, rejuvenated ourselves with some wine and pizza, and headed to the Olympic Stadium for a soccer game (though we didn’t dare call it “soccer” anywhere near the venue).
The Olympic Stadium in Rome is remarkably gigantic. There were probably a few thousand people attending the AS Roma vs. Bologna game, and the stadium wasn’t even 1/8 full. The low attendance definitely didn’t stop the crowd from displaying their team loyalty and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm manifested itself in two different ways, and many of the fans practiced both:
- Loud, long, song-like cheers that sometimes go on for minutes and slowly draw more and more cheering from fellow audience members.
- Violent, profane gestures and shouting to fans of the opponent, who are required to sit in a separate area barricaded by glass and an abundance of security guards.
One drunk practitioner of the second method stood about 10 rows down from us. The bulbous man kept directing his obscene gestures at one particular Bologna fan. The opposing fan returned the favor with some of his buddies, and it was just as entertaining (if not more entertaining) than the game itself. We cheered Roma on as they won, and we returned to the hotel exhausted once more.