Mar 31, 2016

Travelogue - Rome

Roma ? Roma ? - Quipped a long faced gentleman who walked into our waiting area for EK095 at Dubai T3 -  to make sure that he's getting into the same flight.. He reminded me of Paolo Maldini, former Italian captain and one of the finest footballers I've ever seen.

This was a much anticipated trip for me. The cradle of modern civilization, legal systems, urban planning - all could be traced to this city.  Like most other European cities, the city & civilization developed around a river (Tiber) and the seven hills surrounding it.

Raphael's "School of Athens"
Huge crowds throng the Vatican city - the center of Christianity , but more importantly, the place that houses the artworks of Raphael and Michaelangelo.  Incredible Frescos dominate the Vatican Palace. Every picture has a story behind it. Not just the Biblical stories, but images that capture various phases of Roman & Greek times. I remember this particular painting by Raphael where he combined the times of Aristotle, Plato to the younger self of Michaelangelo and numerous other philosophers & scientists. Just after Raphael's Rooms, you get to Sistine Chapel where you can see the full glory of Michaelangelo's skills. No photographs permitted in Sistine Chapel unfortunately though.

Just like Cairo, Vatican City is a place that you should explore by a guide. As you would be lost in this place without someone who can explain the significant places & exhibits with the stories behind it.   The smallest city state or country has only about 400 odd citizens including the cardinals & Swiss guards.
Colosseum - From the top

Colosseum - The scale & enormity of this structure is really imposing. Multiple restoration attempts are going on to repair parts of that which have been damaged. The grandeur of this structure has been truly captured in Ridley Scott's Gladiator. If you visit this place, highly recommended that you take the ticket to see underground chambers or dungeons as they call it .

Roman Forum - Site of Marc Antony's Speech

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears ..."  - The legendary speech by Marc Antony after Caeser's murder happened right in the midst of these historical ruins,
collectively called as Roman Forum.  The ruins are again best explored with a guide. It has numerous monuments touching practically every Roman historical figure that you would have heard of from the time of Romulus & Remus to Constantine & even beyond.

Pantheon - One of the ancient pagan temples

Indeed the influence of Roman culture & systems were so profound that all the following empires adapted many things from them. The word Kaizer & Czar often tagged to the emperors in Germany & Russia comes from the word Caesar.  The Aqueduct systems used by Romans to bring water from distant places to the city is still used in a few places.

Rome will make us think about the humble beginnings of many things that are the bedrock of modern society.. An empire that was more controlled by a Senate ( sort of a Quasi - Parliament ) , the birth place of  Republicanism and much more.

And Italian food that you get in Italy is very different from the servings in most Italian restaurants in India or Middle East.  Pasta, Pizza , Wine, Gelato - Without these, the Italian experience is incomplete !!!

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