Eleea’s Journal: Rome

Eleea Navarro

By Eleea Navarro
17 Dec 2018

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Rome, sweet Rome – what a place! It’s almost hard to process and encapsulate this city, with such deep layers of history and culture that essentially helped form the modern western world and the infrastructure on which we live our daily lives. It hurt my brain to think of how many generations before me had walked on the streets that I was lucky enough to be standing on. Although it is now one of the most regularly visited and densely crowded destinations in Europe, if you hold the importance of where you are in the back of your mind, you won’t be able to help feeling the magic of the city that has enchanted visitors for centuries.

All Roads Lead To Rome

The squad were lucky enough to spend five nights in Rome, so we could spend some of our time having guilt-free relaxation time by the Camping Roma pool, and still feel like we could see a lot of the city. After a day of recharging and enjoying the glorious heat of the Italian summer, Faith and I got up at 4am on our second morning to capture sunrise at the most popular tourist destinations, hoping that we could get some photos without anyone in the background. Our first point of call was the Trevi Fountain, which is usually so packed with tourists that you can barely move, let alone get a picture. We had a laugh when we arrived at this incredible monument built to celebrate the rebuilding of the aqueducts, allowing water to flow freely through the city again. At this time of morning, we found a handful of people that ranged from those sitting on the stairs, who clearly hadn’t been home from the night before; and others in their stylish outfits, chasing the same insta-worthy pictures as us.

After working all the angles, we moved on to The Pantheon, one of the best preserved Roman buildings. The architecture of this former Roman temple, now church, has inspired and baffled architects since it was built in 125 AD, as it is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. With the backdrop of those iconic pillars ticked off our list, we headed for the Spanish Steps so that I could have my Audrey Hepburn moment. These stairs descend from a church to a square below, and became quite famous due to Hepburn cascading down them in 1953, before being known in the 1960s for the many famous artists that would use them as their perch to paint the beautiful women who sat there.

From there, we walked one of the long straight roads that lead to the central point of the Piazza Del Popolo, and up to the broad garden balcony that overlooks the square and the city. This is one of the most beautiful spots for sunset, and standing there again reminded me of my visit to Rome the year before, when I had busked as the sun started to sink, then stood at the railing by myself, lulled by the soundtrack of accents and languages as the lights started to shine below the navy blue sky. As someone who usually tries to find friends in every destination, that was one moment that I was completely at peace, alone in the crowd.

A Little Bit Of History

Rome has a history longer than I can put in these short paragraphs, but I think it is a very interesting mix of myth, religion and fact. Legend has it that Rome was built by two brothers, Remus and Romulus. These twins were the sons of the god Mars and a virgin princess, who abandoned them, leaving them to be fed by a she-wolf, then raised by a shepherd. Later, they both became natural leaders, great warriors and eventually realised their true identity as nobility. They both decided to build a new city, but couldn’t agree on whether to build it on Palatine or Aventine Hill. This led to conflict, resulting in Remus being killed by Romulus, who created Rome and established its military, religious traditions, government, infrastructure and institutions.

As you travel around on Busabout, you will be amazed at how far the Roman influence spread, having conquered almost all of Europe at their peak in the second century. A more modern example of this can be seen in Bernini’s famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), which was built in the Piazza Navona in the 17th Century. This shows four men, representing the four major rivers in the continents that had been discovered at the time: Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Unfortunately, the man who represents America looks like a monkey, as the tribal mentality of the South Americans was seen as being almost non-human at the time. The square itself used to be an open space stadium, used for athletic contests and gladiator shows. Faith and I were happy we did the Rome At Twilight walking tour with the Rogue Historians, as we learnt so much about Rome and can now fully appreciate the highlights of the city.

This Is What Dreams Are Made Of

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre ever built. This stone structure is partially ruined from earthquakes and theft of its materials, but considering it was built in 72 AD, it still stands as the greatest symbol of Imperial Rome. Faith and I had a few public transportation fails on our way there, ranging from misreading the train timetable, to buses not showing up, to trains going in the wrong direction. Without any exaggeration, it ended up taking us almost 5 hours to get there, and we couldn’t have been happier to finally arrive. After we took our pictures on the upper ledge, we headed to the keyhole at Palatine Hill to see one of the most beautiful sunsets on our trip. 

Once darkness had enveloped the city, we said “when in Rome” and had another incredible Italian meal at a nearby restaurant. As part of my very important cultural research (at least that’s what I told myself), I had enjoyed all of the local delicacies in excess, including gelato, tiramisu, pizza, pasta and lasagne while I’d been in Rome, and I’d not yet been disappointed. Rome had lived up to all of my wildest Lizzie McGuire dreams on this trip, and after throwing my coin in the Trevi Fountain I’m positive that I will, in fact, return to this awesome city.

The Recommended Hostel: Camping Roma

In the scorching summer months when you’re likely to be visiting Rome, you will never be happier to have the beautiful pool at Camping Roma to cool off in, and an air-conditioned room to relax in afterwards. Although the location is out of the city centre, it has a supermarket nearby and an insane bar there for you to enjoy, offering the perfect ingredients for some relaxation and refreshment during the craziness of peak-season travel.