This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

Rome: The Eternal City

Reason for choosing Rome

For a long time, Rome had been on my travel bucket list. I think Rome is every historian, every writer and every wanderer’s dream destination. It helps that I love Italian food and so the push to book my holiday came from the direct orders of my stomach.

City of marble

Romans have used Italian marble for thousands of years, and in the modern day Rome, this tradition continues. Everywhere I turned, I saw something made of marble, whether it was the floor in a restaurant or my hotel staircase. I spent a lot of my time, touching, feeling, and admiring the marble work.

Off-peak season travel

Remnants of summer lingered even during mid-November, with lukewarm temperature and sunny days and only becoming cooler in the evenings. In other words, it was a good time to visit during the off-peak season. To say Rome is popular with the tourists, is a huge understatement. Even during the off-peak season, it still draws a crowd, perhaps not as big as the summertime.

The most popular spot

Out of all the landmarks I visited, Trevi fountain attracts the biggest crowd. It is one of the most popular places in Rome for tourists to hang out with their selfie sticks and gelatos. The place is buzzing; from selfie posers to those sitting on the marble benches staring philosophically at the fountain.

On my first visit, my reaction to the Trevi fountain was disappointment. Trevi fountain is incredibly stunning to look at, but it is only almost ruined by the heaving crowd that gathers unsightly around the basin of the fountain, making it hard to reflect on its beauty and history.

Foodie haven

Rome is definitely a haven for foodies and sweet toothers. In the photo above, I enjoyed a plate of delicious gnocchi one evening. Breakfast in my hotel was my favourite start to the day. Every morning I looked forward to a fresh pastry (filled with either chocolate or jam) and a delicious cup of cappuccino. When I got back home, my usual breakfast consisting of cereal and instant coffee suddenly paled in comparison.

Navigating Rome

In Rome, I enjoyed taking leisurely strolls while eating a gelato. Everywhere I laid my eyes on, I found gorgeous buildings with such ornate detailing on its façade. On some occasions, I resisted the urge to whip out my phone to take photos, insisting that I should enjoy the moment in absolute silence.

Like any major cities around the world, Rome is hectic, busy, and rushed. The drivers don’t like to stop at the zebra crossing but will do so reluctantly. They won’t stop until you step onto the road. But do be careful when crossing the roads.

The metro and bus system is pretty good here, and I used it often, especially to get to the Vatican city. One of the best things about travelling on buses was that it afforded me some minutes to observe the locals. There were tired, vacant looking workers going home; energetic and giggling students who finished school for the day; and Italians from other cities visiting Rome that boarded the bus. And also some tourists like myself, hoping to get off at the right stop.

My favourite moment

There is one place in all of Rome that has my heart, and that place is the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius. I came across it quite by accident. The interior of the church is sumptuously bedecked in baroque fashion. It is eruptively dark, only lit by low lights, allowing some spaces to be shaded. With heavily painted ceiling like that of Sistine chapel, to the opulently decorated alter, to the high marbled columns, every corner and space evoke gothic mood. There is a feeling of serenity floating in this place and I can imagine somebody sitting on a pew, contemplating the wonders of life. To top it off, there was this quiet music playing, like a combination of piano and harps. It was almost choral and ethereal. I wonder if the music is played every evening.

It is near the Pantheon if anyone is interested.

Will there be a next time?

Yes, I’ve only just scratched the surface.

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