Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Eternal City

I have to say that I don’t think that much of Rome...but there’s one place that always fascinates me & that I’m always drawn to: the Roman Forum.

So much history, so much political intrigue & political back-stabbing (literally) has taken place in this small area, that it’s hard to imagine. There is where Caesar was stabbed & his body cremated; here is where the Vestal Virgins tended the flames of the Temple; over there is where some of the great political speeches by Cato were given; just to the right is the prison cell (Carcere Mamertino) where St. Peter & Paul were held. As I much history.

Eating my lunch at work, looking out over the air-conditioning units & across to the square just isn’t the same as munching on some salami & mortadella sandwiches amongst the ruins of the Vestal Virgins Temple.

Another reason to come to Rome was to see Trajan’s Column: a column erected by the emperor & detailing his conquest of the Dacians (present-day Romania). I have walked past this column so many times in my visits but not realised the significance of it.

Nearby the Column & overlooking the Forum are the Museums of the Capitoline Hill: museums dedicated to ancient sculptures. What a collection they had !! Some of the most famous works that you see in all the history books: the she-wolf suckling Romulus & Remus (the founders of Rome); the Dying Gaul; the face & finger of the giant statue of Constantine (the finger is the one that graces the cover of the current Lonely Planet Italy guide); the Bronze Statue (AD200) of Marcus Aurelius. There were some truly magnificent pieces of art in that collection & I’m so glad to have taken the time to visit it.

When in can’t help but visit churches. I avoided the Vatican (I’ve been there, done that !!) but I popped in to the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli. It’s famous for two reasons: it contains the chains that St. Peter was imprisoned in & it contains a famous artwork by Michelangelo. The artwork is his statue of Moses (complete with horns), that was to grace the tomb of Pope Julius II. It never happened & the pope was buried in St. Peters while the tomb stayed in San Pietro in Vincoli.

Food Experiences

Can’t say that there were many memorable food experiences here in Rome. It was nice to wander into a deli & order a couple of slices of salami, some Prosciutto, some slices of Provolone, some bread, fruit & a bottle of water for a ready-made lunch under about 6 euros.

I did, finally, get to visit the markets at Campo di Fiori (the food markets for Rome). I have to say I expected the Campo to be a bit bigger but it was still nice to wander amongst all the food stallholders to pick up fresh produce.

Observations of Rome

One things that I have noticed is the number of Indians/Pakistanis or Bangladeshis around the place. Once upon a time, you’d be buying your fake D&G handbag from an African, who had his wares on display on a blanket, that he could easily pack away once he saw the cops. Well...those Africans are still there; still selling their dodgy gear, but I noticed that there are more folks from the Indian sub-continent doing that now. They’re the ones who do the runner once they see the cops.

Well....that it from me for the moment.

The next post will be a detailed account of the EuroChocolate Festival. Can I give you a hint ???

It was so great !! I ate so much chocolate !!!!

Until then...take care.



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