Going through my photos of Rome I was struck by how many were NOT the big tourist views of the Eternal City. I like to discover local treasures or just signs of everyday life while I’m traveling. Join me in seeing Rome from a different point of view.
I started my wanderings in Trastervere, a quaint neighborhood across the Tiber River from most of the main sights. Here is a statue at the streetcar stop along the river. It honors Guiseppe Belli, a famous neighborhood writer. I was also struck be the people out strolling along the river, enjoying a daily view that thousands of tourist only dream of.
I spent some time just soaking up the uncommon architecture. Street signs and corners were just as interesting as the buildings. A sleepy dog waiting patiently outside a flower shop for his owner gave me a feel for the normal life of a Roman.
You can’t walk around Rome without bumping into amazing sculptures by Bernini. All of them are beautiful. Some of them a little odd. Have you seem the elephant obelisk? Standing in front of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva church, it’s a strange combination. It’s the kind of thing that makes me find the back story. So… this church sits on the grounds of an ancient temple to Minerva, the goddess of knowledge. The obelisk was discovered there in 1655 and artists were asked to submit ideas for a base. Bernini won the commission with the elephant as a symbol of a strong foundation to knowledge. There is an inscription on the side that reads “a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge”.
Another interesting Bernini is at the foot of the Piazza di Spagna, better known as the Spanish Steps. There’s a unique fountain in the shape of a flat boat. These type of boats used to carry goods across the Tiber. There is a legend that the Christmas flood of 1598 carried one of these boats all the way to this location and left it stranded when the waters receded. This is no ordinary ornamental fountain however. This is one of hundreds of drinking fountains found across the city. There are platforms on either side to drink of fill your water bottle.
Also very near the Spanish Steps I followed my nose and the sweet smell of roasted chestnuts. These vendors were all over the city and the nuts make a great walking snack.
You probably have heard about the scooters and with good reason. They’re everywhere! Drivers navigate the narrow pedestrian filled alleys with ease and a crazy speed. There are all kinds of other more interesting vehicles if you look around. Here is a postal vehicle. I hope the letters are tiny or his route is small. Another “truck” I found really made me smile, and I hope you enjoy it also.
When in Italy you MUST try gelato. Preferably as often as possible. I think I found the best in Rome, very near the Piazza Navona. Gelateria de Teatro makes artisan gelato in strange and wonderful flavor combinations. You can try the old standards of course, but for the adventurous this is the place to go. Your taste buds will thank you. I enjoyed a scoop of sage-raspberry and a scoop of pistachio sitting at this cute table in the alley. If you want to try it also, the address is Via de San Simone 70 near the corner of Via dei Coronari. You can watch fresh batches being made from the store front.
I would also like to share some not so quiet spots, over run with tourists but still worth every minute. There’s a reason the main sights are so popular and I would never advise you to avoid them just due to the crowds. My tip would be to plan ahead and try to avoid the busiest times of the day or prepare yourself for the “mensch menge”.
And finally here is the Pantheon. I just happen to be enjoying a heavenly espresso granita. Much better than Starbucks. If you want to travel local and find some of the nooks and crannies while still enjoying the main attractions, contact me for tips on getting the most from your vacations.