Roaming in romantic Rome

Experiencing history, art and dining in the Italian capital
/ New Delhi
Roaming in romantic Rome

Rome, the Italian capital, is easily one of the most beautiful cities in not just Europe but in the whole world

A heady mix of haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life, Italy’s capital is one of the world’s most romantic and charismatic cities.
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“No photograph can prepare you for the thrill of seeing the magnificent city of Rome for the first time,” Yashita Rai, a 27-year-old Delhi-based engineer, who visited Rome about a year ago, tells India Outbound.

Rome, the Italian capital, is easily one of the most beautiful cities in not just Europe but in the whole world. It is absolutely stuffed full of sights, with thousands of years of history layered upon itself – you will find everything here from Roman ruins to Renaissance art. It is also home to fantastic food, the Vatican City and sights like the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps.

Exploring Roman history

The result of 3000 years of ad hoc urban development, Rome’s cityscape is an exhilarating sight. Ancient icons such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon recall the city’s golden age as caput mundi (capital of the world), while monumental basilicas tell of its history as the seat of the Catholic Church.

More than any other monument, the Colosseum- the iconic Roman amphitheatre — symbolises the power and drama of ancient Rome, and still remains an electrifying sight.

“After we had checked-in in our hotel, we went for a short walk towards the Colosseum. It is always exciting to see those very famous monuments for the first time in your life. I felt a bit like a child, remembering the time I saw that amazing building for the first time in my school book. And how far and distant it looked to me back then,” Rai adds.

Rai’s next stop was the striking 2000-year-old temple, now a church – the Pantheon, which is the best-preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments and one of the most influential buildings in the Western world. Built by Hadrian over Marcus Agrippa’s earlier 27 BC temple, it has stood since around AD 125. “While its greying, pockmarked exterior might look its age, it is still a unique and exhilarating experience to pass through its vast bronze doors and gaze up at the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built,” says Rai.

Lording it over the skyline, St Peter’s Basilica towers over the Vatican, testifying to the ambition of Rome’s Renaissance Popes and the genius of its game-changing architects. Elsewhere, ornate piazzas and showy fountains add a baroque flourish to the city’s captivating streets.

“The Vatican Museum is without a doubt one of the best museums in Europe, treasuring many masterpieces from the antiquity to the renaissance time. I especially liked mosaics and the gallery with frescoes depicting old maps of Italy. And the stories behind them – stories about artists, popes and aristocratic families of that time,” says Rai.

“In Sistine Chapel, we were amazed by Michelangelo, his persistence and talent and St. Peter’s Basilica is a masterpiece itself. It really is the Cathedral of the World. Every single detail in it is beautiful, from Michelangelo’s Pieta to Bernini’s Baldacchino,” she adds.

Artistic treasures

Tourists get mesmerised with the beauty & wonderment of the local streets in Rome

Few cities can rival Rome’s astonishing artistic heritage. Throughout history, the city has starred in the great upheavals of Western art, drawing top artists and inspiring them to push the boundaries of creative achievement.

The result is a city awash with priceless treasures. Ancient statues adorn world-class museums; Byzantine mosaics and Renaissance frescoes dazzle in art-rich churches; baroque facades flank medieval piazzas.

Rai, who was mesmerised with the beauty and wonderment of the local streets in Rome, says “Stroll through the centre and without even trying you will come across masterpieces by the titans of European art – sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael and fountains by Bernini.”

Living the Roman life

A trip to Rome is as much about lapping up the dolce vita lifestyle as gorging on art and culture. Idling around picturesque streets, whiling away hours at street-side cafes, people-watching on pretty piazzas – these are all central to the Roman experience.

Rai explains that the tempo rises in the evening when fashionable drinkers descend on the city’s bars and cafes for a sociable apéritif (drink with snacks) and trattorias hum with activity. Elsewhere, cheerful hordes mill around popular haunts before heading off to cocktail bars and late-night clubs.

Roman feasting

Combination of romantic alfresco settings & delicious food is a guarantee for good times in Rome

Eating out is one of Rome’s great pleasures and the combination of romantic alfresco settings and delicious food is a guarantee for good times.

“For contemporary fine dining and five-star wine there is any number of refined restaurants, but for a truly Roman meal, head to a boisterous pizzeria or convivial neighbourhood trattoria,” says Rai. That’s where the locals go to indulge their passion for thin, crispy pizzas, humble pasta dishes and cool white wines from the nearby Castelli Romani hills. “To finish off, what can beat a gelato followed by a shot of world-beating coffee,” she adds.

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