Cachando Chile does Italy: Rome by the Book

Accordian in Trastevere, Rome

Classic Rome: Accordion player in Trastevere

Amazing. If I had to describe Italy in one word, Amazing would be pretty high on my list of adjectives. So would intense, beautiful, hunger-producing (see that great trick? one little hyphen lets me sneak an extra word in there!). All of this is a round-about way of getting to my point, which is… it’s not easy to figure out where to start sharing the experience. So how about the by the book version?Way too late in my minimal pre-trip planning, I came across the (make that THE) site for real info on Italy: Go Italy, where Jessica Spiegel does an ace job of laying it all on the line. I managed to scribble a few notes before I left, but basically we had to wing it. Upon returning, I checked her out again, and sure enough, she has a great article called Top 10 Things to do in Rome, which, by a combination of intent and accident, we pretty much managed to cover (except for the Cappuchin Crypt, which so sadly escaped us!)

Trastevere, Rome

Saturday morning in Trastevere

So, inspired by Jessica, I’ll start this first (well, technically kind of second) article on Italy with the straight skinny on Rome (stay tuned for off the beaten path, weird, and fun to come, along with Florence and Venice).

Trastevere: The best way to discover Rome is on foot, and we set out early the first morning, strolling across the Tiber River and found ourselves in Trastevere, a hot spot for food & bars, night life, and fun. Worth a couple wander-throughs by day and night. Trivia: in Italy, the river is known as the Tevere, and Trastevere literally means “across the Tevere River.”

Vatican: Whatever your religious beliefs, when in Rome… you know the rest. Gotta do St Peter’s and the Vatican. So we did. And I got in trouble. This will give you a hint why:

I'm not confessing anything!

Roman Forum: I found my way to anthropology via archaeology, my first love, so when we hit the ruins–and there are plenty–I fell in love. How many people had gone before me? How many stories had been told while walking down those same pathways? What was life like when all those buildings were intact? You can certainly expect more on ruins in upcoming posts!

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Roman Forum

Colosseum: You can save money by doing the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Colosseum on the same day because one ticket will get you into all three places. We started at the Capitolio, walked through the Forum and Palatine Hill, and got to the Colosseum at 3:30 only to discover that it was about to close, so we put it off for another day. More to come on that too.
There’s a subway stop right across the street and there’s just something amazing about the modern life just speeding along beside this tremendous ancient structure.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Juxtaposition of everyday modern life beside the tremendous Colosseum

Pantheon: Jessica Spiegel loves the park life (make that plaza life) that surrounds the Pantheon. While I agree that the Pantheon itself is amazing (why can’t I come up with another adjective??), and we did stop for a cappuccino, the street life around it was way too touristy (and expensive) for our taste.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy / Panteon, Roma, Italia

Capuccino at one of the many little cafes on the "Piazza Panteon"

Campo di Fiori: Markets are among my favorite places anywhere in the world, and although Campo di Fiori is supposed to be a flower market, there are far more food stalls. Full of color, smells, vendors shouting “la pasta! la pasta!” and all the others responding with a chant repeated every day. Make sure this is high on your list of places to visit, and if you’re not convinced yet, give me time… there’s an entire post coming on this sensory-stimulating place.

Campo di Fiore, Rome, Italy

All your senses will kick into overdrive at the Campo di Fiori, Rome

Food: Italy and food are pretty much synonymous, and it would be insane to stick to the basics. I tried (and failed) to taste everything possible, so we’ll just have to go back (again and again and again).

Focaccia & meatballs

A midday bite: Focaccia and some mighty meatballs

Jessica also includes the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Cappuchin Crypt on her list. We passed by the Trevi Fountain many times, but it is one of the most tourist-filled places in the city, so my camera stayed in my bag. The Spanish Steps were also a bit of a let-down. Go anyway, climb them, keep on going and head up to the Villa Borghese, an amazing (there I go again!) park overlooking the city.

12 responses to “Cachando Chile does Italy: Rome by the Book

  1. As one could expect, you clearly had a marvellous time in Italy, and who wouldn’t? I (we) have never been there though we would love to go one of these days. My very best friend in Chile is now a semi-retired simply “brilliant” lawyer, the honest and caring type by the way. After divorcing his wife he was recently visiting Italy with his new found love. In a very few words he told me, Italy is simply amazing, no, no, that’s your term Margaret.

    He really couldn’t tell me enough about its culture, scenery, food, etc. Look forward to more pics and travel stories. Personally, I would love to read your impressions of three very different cultures; USA, Chile and Italy. Not a good and bad, just how these 3 countries have evolved into their own unique culture and idiosyncrasies? Just a thought.

  2. Villa Borghese is great; especially the Museum and the Pincio terrace.

  3. Hi John- I’ll need to come up w/ a new adjective before the next post, but maybe your friend said MARAVILLOSO!! Your intercultual comparison request is interesting and tempting–but dangerous! Let’s see what I can come up with without getting into too much hot water for generalizations!

  4. Hi Raul- yes, Villa Borghese was incredible. We entered the huge park above the Spanish Steps and walked through the Medici part (they were neighbors to the Borghesi’s). Wonderful walk and the museum is truly impressive. Discounts for teachers and journalists, so bring your IDs!

  5. Am I reading this right? You have reservations about a bit of controversy? Did they put something in your wine while you were traveling thorough Italy?

  6. Hahaha! There’s controversy and controversy! But as an anthro, there are certain areas I try to be very respectful of!

  7. You have always being respectful in all your subjects as evidenced by your large readership. I am not going to try twisting your arm; I just think it would make for a very interesting topic. One that I have never read by anybody, anthro or otherwise.

  8. It’s a good idea… Let’s see what develops!

  9. You found bikers, cool. I’m glad the Italians are warming up to the idea of tourists on wheels. Were there any in Florence… or were they still talking about the four Americans who got away after they tried to run them down on the round-about? That would be me, et al! 😉 — I know, I KNOW, dissertation committee, there are plenty of Italian bikers — Italy looks amazing, I’m dying to get back, but the plane ride? yuk… they have do something about the whole cattle-call thing. More photos PLEASE.

  10. OH yes! There were tons of bikes, ESPECIALLY in Florence and Pisa! We were surprised that there did not seem to be any concern about having a nice new bike–there were tons of funky old beat up bikes ridden by people of all ages. Maybe you guys started something!

  11. I’m so glad you liked my Rome tips, and that WhyGo Italy was helpful to you in planning your Italy trip! 🙂 I will say that it’s not the square outside the Pantheon I love, however – it’s the Pantheon itself. I like noticing the slope of the ground from the Pantheon upward, seeing how much the city has risen over the centuries, but I don’t hang out in the piazza… I love the inside the Pantheon best.

  12. Hi Jessica- Yes, WhyGo Italy is a wonderful source of information! Just wish I had discovered it before we left! I especially enjoyed the tips for stuff off the beaten path, like the article that led us to the Purgatory Museum!
    Thanks for straightening out the Pantheon bit! And yes, the Pantheon itself IS pretty amazing! (jeeze, even NOW I can’t seem to find a different adjective!).
    We’re planning on seeing southern Italy next time around, so I’ll be sure to be back for more info!

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