Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Roman Holiday

Rome, like Paris, is one of those places that just the mere mention of the word conjures up a beautiful image. It's a city I’d seen hundreds of times in the movies, mostly in black & white a la “Roman Holiday”, and I couldn’t think of a better place for my husband and I to ring in the new year.

Winters in Europe are bone-chilling and snowy; however, in the south of the Alps, it’s cold and rainy, and New Year’s Eve was no exception. My husband and I had trudged all over Rome discovering the spectacular sites in what seemed to be a winter monsoon, and although it would have been doable in a sturdy pair of rain boots, I’d chosen to bring a stylish pair of cowboy boots instead, which, I’m sorry to say, did not survive the trip.

Nevertheless, it was extraordinary being in this monumental city full of culture and history that I’d only read about, and as we sat in a bus aimlessly riding around the city on our first evening, we couldn’t help but to be in awe of Rome.

Castel Sant'Angelo
Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)
The Colosseum
Fontana di Trevi (The Trevi Fountain)
Foro di Traiano (Forum of Trajan)
Palatino (The Palatine Hill)
Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps)
Basilica Papale di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica)
Seeing the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain or standing on the Spanish Steps was truly surreal … like being in a movie, and everywhere we went, I couldn’t help but to replay the scenes from Roman Holiday. However, neither my husband nor I had any inclination to explore the city on a Vespa.  Instead, we were content taking the public transportation, especially the bus, which turned out to be the best way to get around Rome.

We loved the energy and the vibrancy of the city, and even more so how in the evenings, everyone seemed to be out and about just strolling around town. It seemed as if the streets of Rome were never empty, and the best place to be was always outside in public squares, on the bridges by the moonlight, or on the Spanish Steps.

Being there on December 31, my husband and I found out that the best party in Rome wasn’t on New Year’s Eve, but the morning after on New Year’s Day. Every year, while the rest of the world sleeps in and tries to get over their hangover, thousands of Romans and anyone else who happens to be in the city gather in St. Peter's Square, filling the streets with pageantry and music, to celebrate and receive the Pope's New Year's Day blessing. A focal point of Rome's holiday season and the Pope's Worldwide Day of Peace, the Roman New Year's Parade celebrates life, cultural diversity and international good-will.

Then, the parade proceeds along the grand Via della Conciliazione, and in keeping with the Italian tradition, enthusiastic spectators (dressed to nines, mind you) fall into step alongside the bands, showing their appreciation with whistles and waves.

All this came as a wonderful surprise to us while my husband and I were strolling in the morning on New Year's Day. It was as if we'd been unknowingly invited to a fabulous block party!

We’ll definitely return to Rome one day, especially to experience New Year’s Day again. However, next time, I will definitely bring a pair of sturdy rain boots!

Recommended hotel Due Torri


Post a Comment