Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thoughts on Rome

We've been back from our wonderful vacation in Italy a week now.  The paucity of posts is due primarily to the fact that within two days of our return I had to prepare for and then work a tradeshow this past week, representing my company,  This required substantial time and concentration above and beyond my normal work catch-up.  It was time-consuming, hard work and largely unblogworthy, although I may come back to it at some point.

However, the break has given me the opportunity to distill some of my impressions and observations about our trip.  I am no longer interested in blogging it chronologically, but I do intend to approach it topically, discussing the aspects that I found most enjoyable and interesting.

First, for an outstanding collection of excellent photos, check out Nancy's Flickr page.  Her camera is much better than mine, her artistic eye is impeccable, and her pictures are all great.  I will likely borrow some of her pictures as needed.  She continues to edit and add to her pages there.  Feel free to comment on the photos or ask her a question. Flickr is her Blogger.


There is so much to see, so much to love about Rome.  One of Anthony Bourdain's aphorisms is "Be a traveler, not a tourist," and that is what we always try to do.  We certainly participated in a number of tourist activities and saw many of the most notable sites, but we planned our trip on our own, eschewing the many pre-packaged tours that are available.  Instead, we read as much as we could, talked to people we know who had been there, and plumbed the depths of the internet for information, making our own decisions on where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do.  One of our goals was to immerse ourselves, as much as possible in one short week, into the culture and life of the people of Rome, and I feel like we achieved that.  We figured out how to ride the buses, how to read the street signs, how to buy a train ticket and, generally, how to move around like the Italians do, and that really increases the quality of the adventure.  

We were blessed with beautiful weather.  Some days were overcast, but the temperature was in the 60's and 70's during the day, and just perfect for walking the streets of Rome.  And walk is
what we did.  We easily did at least 5-7 miles a day, and it is a town that requires footwork in order to see it properly.  The streets are narrow and serpentine, the sidewalks undulate, expanding and sometimes contracting down to nothing.  It is a maze and it is amazing,  Often I would consult our little street map and find that we had wandered off our intended path.  Many of the streets are what we would call alleys here in America, and some are literally only about 20 yards long.  And yet each one has a name and is a destination in its own right.  Each has a history much older than our country.

I really enjoyed observing the people.  A lot of my pictures depict street scenes of people walking around against the beautiful background of stucco and marble buildings.  Rome attracts people from all of the world, obviously, but one of the things that we observed is that no one enjoys this city more than the Romans themselves.  Day or night, there are hordes of people walking, talking, eating, roaming, working, playing, smoking, shopping, and generally imparting an uptempo, vibrant energy to the streets.

In the piazza at the base of the Spanish Steps

Some of the sights really defy adequate description, too.  It is remarkable to find these gigantic, ancient structures, architectural masterpieces, really, of ages long since gone in the middle of this busy city.  Check out this breathtaking view, taken at sunset, the first day we were there, near the Colosseum:


Heidi said...

Wonderful to hear the first story from your trip! Can't wait to read more!

jeff said...

Welcome back Barry. I missed you so. I'm interested in your thoughts on the Vatican, hope you have a Vatican post coming.

IzzyBeth said...

I can't wait to look at Nancy's pictures and hear more of your updates.

I enjoyed Italy as well - but the drivers SCARED me. There were SO MANY PEOPLE. LOL

NP said...

Let's go back!