Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rome Off the Beaten Path

Rome did not crack into my top ten list of favorite metro areas this past month when we got to travel there and check out all the sights. It is probably not Rome’s fault though, it’s me. That being said, there were several things about our trip that we liked that are not on most of the “Must See” lists out there:

5. The Olympic Village
We stayed in the actual Olympic Village where the athletes stayed in the 1960 games. It is now a (low rent) apartment village, but the apartment we rented was a great place for a large number of people to stay for little money and experience the “real life” side of Rome. Also, it is fun to think of the connection to history. Which athletes stayed in the very same apartment we did? We went down to “Bar Pigliacelli” every morning for coffee, and experienced life among the locals. (There is a slide show of the area here.)

4. Area Sacra
As you head from downtown toward Trastavere, you might notice a little block of ruins near the Argentine Theater. (Then again, you might not because ruins—both ancient and recent—are all over the place.) If you stop long enough to try to figure out what you are seeing, (it has something to do with temples) you will notice a cat amongst the rubble. Pretty soon you will begin to notice that there are more cats, dozens in fact. Apparently this area has been designated as a home for the homeless cats of Rome. You can adopt them but one wonders if they wouldn’t just make their way back to this Area Sacra the first chance they got. It looks like cat heaven.

3. Pizza Ciro, Piazza della Maddalena
From all I’ve heard (and now experienced) you travel all the way to downtown Rome, It’ly and order a pizza and you will get a frozen job simply reheated. Order spaghetti and it will likely come from a can. In fact the only difference from what you would have been served had you gone to a college dorm is the price. Rome’s will be about a 500% mark-up. However, there are good places to be found to eat in Rome. I think one is Pizza Ciro. The prices were fine and the food was great. Try the Risotto.

2. Villa Celimontana
This may be the nicest park in the city center. Located on one of the seven hills, it is a tranquil place to sit and relax without a lot of crowds. What they do have are wild parrots and a fountain that is home to dozens of turtles.

1. The Ceiling of… Sant'Ignazio
You can (and probably should) spend a ton of money and stand in a line of hundreds of people to be shuffled past a bunch of old art to finally be packed in like sardines to look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However, you should not miss getting off the overcrowded path to spend no money at all to visit a place that not many seek out to see an even more amazing ceiling at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius. It is quite amazing.

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