Roma: Larger than Life––Travelogue (October 17, 18, 20, 2012)
11 November, 2012
They say that all roads lead to Rome. And so I found myself following the road into that city one fine autumn morning. And like many who have travelled there before me, I left it believing that I would return again someday.
Rome can easily be overwhelming. There is a lot to see, most of it unthinkable to pass up, especially if you are a first-time visitor to the city: places like the Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum and Forum, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon; places like the piazzas––Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza San Pietro. With all of these un-missables to pay respects to during your trip, you almost start to feel like a student, duly going and learning and taking the photo; and then crossing the visit off your assignment list.
Rome is one big, sprawling city with two different personalities. It is not entirely walkable, and you need public transportation to travel between some monuments. But the very juxtaposition of modern technology like subway systems and vehicular traffic next to ancient relics and Roman ruins is a phenomenon that only begins to describe the bewilderment you might feel at being in such a “modern ancient” city. Depending on where you are in the city, you might be disappointed at the normalcy of banal city life or awed by the significance of standing in the footsteps of the Roman forefathers of life as we know it. One neighbourhood can be very different from the next, and so, depending on what your expectation are, your Rome can be very different from someone else’s Rome.
But no matter which side of the neighbourhood line you stand on, one thing is certain: Rome is everyone’s city. There is hardly a town or country anywhere on Earth that wasn’t touched in some way, shape, or form by the effects of Roman rule, law, culture, or warfare. And so in some way, almost everyone can trace their country’s history and culture to some form of interaction with the Roman Empire, and to the ruins that remain of it, in a bustling, pre-post-modern city called Rome.