A Midnight Stroll In Rome Is A Great Way To Discover This Fabled City Without The Hustle And Bustle Of Daily Life.
What a relief to finally unload our backpacks at the Picasso Hotel in Rome. I’m not sure if it was more of a relief that we made it from the Leonardo da Vinci airport in one piece after an insane ride into the city in the hotel shuttle, or a relief that a long journey halfway across the world had come to an end. My day started much earlier from Nanaimo, British Columbia, on the West Coast of Canada. I flew 9.5 hours to London Heathrow where i met up with Dianne. We killed off a couple hours of layover time before boarding the 2.5 hour flight from Heathrow to Fiumicino / da Vinci International. Now here’s an airport named after the artist and visionary who designed a flying machine and a helicopter, as opposed to a politician or a war hero. How about that.
It was a hot and muggy night, 11pm when we arrived in the city. Although there was air conditioning in our room, i wanted to hear and breathe Rome, so i opened the window. From a cafe below, a musician playing a romantic Italian song on an accordian. It was a perfect welcome. In the next few days this musician would become a pain – he was everywhere playing for tips! But right now, at this moment, he was ideal. Our hotel had given us a bottle of red and we briefly considered drinking it before nodding off. But we were excited about being in Rome. We decided to go for a stroll and see what the via Nazionale – a fairly busy street half a block away – had to offer on a Friday night. Although jet lagged, we knew we couln’t sleep right away. So we hit the sidewalks of Rome for a late night stroll, hand in hand.
We wandered aimlessly, up the via Nazionale, knowing that something would pull us along here or there. A few blocks later we found ourselves at the Repubblica Teatro dell’Opera. Quite a beautiful sight with shimmering lights, built around a beautiful fountain centering a roundabout. It was somehow peaceful to sit along the fountain’s edge, the sound of water drowning out most of the city noises. A nice spot to soak up Rome’s atmosphere.
We were discovering that Rome lives up to its reputation. It is a sight to behold. Historic, artistic gems are everywhere. Unfortunately, a certain American fast food chain seems to have opened shop next door to many landmarks. Which begs the question, why would you eat a Big Mac when you’re in Italy? A huge part of the travel experience is eating local food!
We took a random corner on what turned out to be via delle Quattro Fontane where we eventually found the intersection that gave the street its name. The intersection with via del Quirinale at midnight is dimly lit. But you can see enough to marvel at the sight of this crossroads. Here are four statues dating from 1593 recessed into corners of what were once evidentally palaces.
One of the fountains depicts a cornucopia of fruit and a she-wolf on its side, representing the Tiber River, a symbol of Rome. Another fountain represents Florence, showing the River Arno flanked by a lion, the Florentine coat of arms. The third fountain shows the Goddess Diana, symbolising fidelity or chastity. She is depicted flanked by a dog and leaning against three mountains. The Goddess Juno is on the fourth corner of the intersection, representing strength with a peafowl and a lion’s head. It was random that we stumbled upon this particular street corner. And it was amazing.
Making our way back to the hotel, we sat on a stone bench along via Nazionale. Here we were in Rome. Not Rome Georgia, but the Rome of Romulus and Remus! We celibrated our arrival with probably the best late night snack i ever had. There was a street vendor open late a block away so we bought a few beers and a Coke plus a couple of packets of salty munchies. We sat and snacked on our bench in the middle of the Roman night. In this heat and humidity, our ice cold beverages seemed poured by the gods themselves. With the city probably as quiet as it ever can be, we toasted our arrival. Tomorrow, we would meet the gods.
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Dianne & Mike