….as promised here is my account of Trastevere, the Roman Forum and the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. At the height of the Roman Empire the forum served as the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches and the centre of commercial affairs.
After the fall of the Roman Empire the forum fell into disrepair and in the Middle Ages it was used as a cow pasture. During that time the buildings were plundered for their marble and stone. Excavation of the area began in the 18th and 19th centuries and continues today. It seems as though every time the city undergoes a new construction project it comes across a new archeological find and construction is halted while a new dig takes place. Today the ruins attract 4.5 million tourists a year.
National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II.
This national monument was one of the first impressive buildings that we saw as we were driving to our apartment in the outskirts of Rome. Our taxi driver described it as a war memorial but it was much more than that. Il Vittoriano was built in 1925 to honor Italy’s first king, who is credited with creating a single Italian kingdom in 1861. It has come under much criticism for being too showy with its thick, gleaming white marble that stands 230 feet (70 meters) tall and is visible from several points across the city. Again we only saw this building from the outside but its immense size and opulent sculptures are a feast for the eyes.
The Trastevere is a neighbourhood that literally translates to “across the Tiber,” and was once considered the outskirts of Rome. In the three days that we were in Rome we spent two evenings in this Bohemian gem. On our first night we enjoyed authentic Italian pizza in a popular, crowded restaurant close to the Piazza Santa Maria. The cobblestone streets are narrow and windy and one can easily get lost in this quaint medieval neighbourhood. I was glad that my girls had their GPS devises with them. On our way back to the apartment that evening we happened to come across a parade of local residents celebrating one of their Catholic saints.
On our last day in Rome, my son and I ended our whirlwind tour of Vatican city back in Trastevere. After walking over 23 000 steps I needed to take a break and we stopped at a small outdoor bistro where I enjoyed a glass of Proseco while my son walked to the tram to pick up his sister, her daughter and his father. There was no way that they would have found the location on their own. B’s wife joined us as well and we had a lovely final evening together on our last day in Italy.
There are many other wonderful sites to see in Rome. I have mentioned only a handful of interesting places to visit that I experienced first hand. Many of these places I would go back to and spend more time exploring the interiors. Do you have any favourite places to visit in Rome? I’d love to hear about them for my next adventure to to this great historic city.