Roaming the Streets of Rome

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By Judy Berman

Narrow crooked cobblestone alleyways in Rome beckon you to venture around the next corner, where there could be a street festival, musicians or shops.

The enticing smells of basil, tomato sauce, cheese and freshly baked bread float out onto the streets from the restaurants. Or a gelati shop pops up right in your path, and is calling you to pause for a refreshing Italian sherbet.

The slow pace along this corridor contrasts sharply with the Vespas zipping in and out of the traffic. It’s best to walk with one eye over your shoulder to avoid a too-close-for-comfort encounter.

In early June, we stayed in Trastevere, a Rome neighborhood that’s frozen in time, or so it seems. During the day, it’s peaceful and has the right touches of the Old World. At night, it comes alive. Party-goers and others flock to its many excellent restaurants.

Ristoranti I Vascellari, for example, near our hotel is warm, welcoming and serves a wide variety of excellent food: spaghetti alla carbonara, Tagliolini al tartufo, mussels, pasta, lasagna, breaded lamb cutlets and much more.

Thankfully, we didn’t hear any of that clamor in our hotel. Casa di Santa Francesca Romana is a former monastery, a perfect retreat.

After a complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we head out to visit the open-air museum near us. That would be Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

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From a distance, the Colosseum might be mistaken for a multi-story garage. Completed in 80 A.D., this is the largest amphitheater ever built.  It can hold about 50,000 spectators in its giant arena. Here, gladiators fought for the right to live another day. (Some believe, however, that Christians met their fate in nearby Circus Maximus.)

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (20) - Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill was the birthplace of Rome, established about 753 B.C. by Romulus after he killed his twin, Remus, in a fit of rage. Later, it became the lavish residence for several emperors, including Augustus. It is near the Roman Forum.

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (26) - St. Cecilia's

The church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is down the road from our hotel. It was built above the Roman house of this martyr.

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (27) - St. Cecilia - statue

Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of music. When her sarcophagus was found in 1599, her body was intact. Sculptor Stefano Maderno sketched her body, and made a haunting sculpture of her out of white marble.

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. For us, the search is on for food.  (But this photo makes those of us in front look H-U-G-E.)

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (161) - Casa di Santa Francesca Romana - our hotel's patio

Back at the hotel, we relax in the hotel’s ochre-colored courtyard lined with orange trees. The staff at Casa di Santa Francesca Romana speaks several languages. Thankfully, their English is far superior to my meager Italian.

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (284) - Dave standing in shower in our hotel room

In our rooms, Dave steps into the shower fully clothed to demonstrate what a slim compartment it is. On the plus side, the hot and cold running shower is very refreshing after a long day of hiking around the Eternal City.

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Hollywood has captured several icons in Rome. One is the Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verita, found in one of Rome’s oldest churches, Santa Maria in Cosmodin, Trestevere. It is in the movie “Roman Holiday,” with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Legend has it that people suspected of telling lies are forced to put their hand in the mouth of this massive stone – once a common ancient street drain cover. It’s said that, if you’re lying, the teeth will clamp down on the hand and you risk losing your hand.

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Trevi Fountain was built in 1732. This fountain was immortalized in the movies “Three Coins in a Fountain” and in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” Sad to say, it’s under repair. So there will be no splashing about in the fountain. When it was open, it was under guard for such foolishness. While you can still toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, it’s just not the same with Plexiglas between you and the fountain. Legend has it that by throwing the coin in, you are assured of a return trip to Rome.

Buon viaggio! (Happy travels!) What place would you like to travel to or to revisit? 

Part 2 of our Rome trip will be posted July 4, 2015.

Roman Holiday – Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s characters test the Mouth of Truth

All photos – except the one in the restaurant and at Boca della Verita (the Mouth of Truth) – were taken by me: Photographer – Judy Berman

If you wish to use any part of this post or any of the photos, please ask. Copyright.

  1. Your trip looks like so much fun, Judy! And what a fun post, too.
    I think I told you I went to Italy twice on trips with each daughter. We got lots of ancient history, since the trip was arranged by their high school Latin teacher (now a friend). On the trip with my older daughter, we stayed at an old monastery, and the night before we left, a whole bunch of kids got into the one elevator–and broke it!
    I love Roman Holiday!

  2. Rome is amazing. I’ve been there twice but only for a day each time. I’d love to visit longer. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and details of the places you saw.

    1. Carrie … If you plan to go back, I hope you get to stay there longer. We spent about 5 days in Rome – not counting time spent traveling to and from Venice. We only spent a day in Venice and I really wish I’d had more time there.

  3. Oh, how your pics refresh my memory of our 1999 Roman holiday – including a coin toss into the Trevi fountain. My favorite city though was Florence, a bit smaller in scale and containing many of the art works I had recently studied in my humanities course. Enjoy the food – especially the gelato: I have not been able to duplicate that taste here in the States.

    Incidentally, in Rome we stayed in a convent, very fitting for a former Mennonite girl. However, the nuns seemed to question whether Cliff and I were married or not, though we wore semi-tarnished wedding rings and certainly look as wedded you and Dave. We had made reservations far in advance from here in the States: They should have done a background check and saved us the strange stares – ha!

    I remember it was so hot at our B & B in Venice, we bought an oscillating fan and then sold it to our host in Positano.

    Enjoy every minute, what a fabulous adventure for both of you.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Marian. There is so much of Italy that I would love to see. Now, your wonderful descriptions have added Florence to that list.

      While it was hot in Venice, I don’t recall that our hotel room was. Thank heavens for that because after every excursion in Rome, I felt the need for a refreshing shower. 😉

  4. Thank you for taking me along on this adventure, Judy. It’s bee many years since we traveled in Europe, and all of Italy captured my imagination and heart. Your pictures of Rome–I smiled as you reminded me of the tiny shower stall!–and other pictures connected the dot of memories. I especially appreciated the Santa Cecilia white marble sculpture, as I hadn’t see it. Amazing.
    Enjoy your glorious Roman Holiday!

    1. Marylin … All vacations end too soon – unless you’re part of Chevy Chase’s family in “European Vacation.” 😉

      We returned home the week before Father’s Day, but we had a wonderful time while we were there. The Santa Cecilia sculpture is haunting and the story of her life and death is powerful.

      1. With all your pictures and the many memories that will creep out here and there–ah, you will enjoy this glorious Roman Holiday again and again… 😉

  5. Thank you for sharing the highlights of your trip to Rome. It felt like I was there. I love the clarity of your descriptions and your photos are perfect. I was in Rome in the 1980’s but in charge of groups of printers, so I was more intent on making things go smoothly for the group than in truly enjoying the experience.

  6. Oh, how I loved reading your blog and viewing your photos! Looks like such a wonderful time. I’m missing Europe so much and hope to make it over very soon. Thanks for sharing your memories! 🙂

  7. Since I’ve never visited Rome, I so appreciate the tour, Judy. Your pictures are wonderful. Everyone looks so happy at the dining table. I LOVED the courtyard photo…beautiful. I’d love to visit Italy one day.

  8. I’ve never been to Italy and I’d love to visit one day. Thanks a lot for the tour Judy. Great photos and looks everyone’s having a great time. 🙂

  9. this looks like an amazing trip, judy. the pics are great and you’ve made me very hungry, too. enjoy every second there, i imagine most everywhere you go there is an interesting bit of history or culture waiting for you to discover. i’m half italian so i think it’s my duty to visit at least once! )

    1. You do need to go, Beth. We returned a week before Father’s Day and it already seems like it’s been a lifetime since we were there. So much history, art and food. It’s overwhelming, but wonderful. 😉

  10. Fabulous photos, Judy! I would really love to spend some time in Rome, but there are so many places I would like to see… a lifetime isn’t long enough 🙂

      1. I only have to think back to that to realise how lucky I have been. I haven’t travelled widely… but I have travelled well 🙂

  11. What a wonderful holiday you had. I have never been to Rome but have been to Venice and Sorrento . We instantly fell in love with Italy there is something very special about it . I have seen bits of A Roman Holiday , now after seeing that clip I want to see it all . You often give little reminders about classic films , thank you Judy it gives me a prompt to get watching all these lovely films . Really look forward to part two of your Rome experience.

  12. This was great, and I’m looking forward to part two. I’ve only ever been to Rome once and I flew out of London with the flu starting. I spent that weekend with a temperature in the hotel room feeling rubbish but enjoying the sites second hand through my husband’s descriptions of his day site seeing!!

  13. Ah, the perils of sitting nearest the camera! 🙂 Those are truly beautiful photos. I should be visiting Rome (or another Italian city in a few weeks) and can not wait to see what’s in store for me.

  14. Judy, I showed this to my Mom who was in Italy in 1953. She loved all the sights! Judy, your ruins photo, your church/cathedral and the lovely photo of you and hubby held her interest. I liked you and Dave at the Trevi Fountain. Good to see repair and upkeep being done. . . Thanks for sharing them and would love to sit and see more of these! One of both of our favorite movies is, “Roman Holiday.” It is a true “gem” and beautiful classic film. Judy, Enjoy! Arriverderci, Judy and Dave. 🙂

  15. When I think of Rome, I think of Roman Holiday:) We had been there long back in 1988, hope we get a chance some time. We loved our days there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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