Ahhh bella Roma. This city of eternity has so many stories to tell. There are levels and layers of religion, architecture, emperors, sculpture, temples and more. What century do you want to discover? It’s all here, although perhaps parts of it hidden which is what makes this place so intriguing.
Temple bones in the Forum.
My traveling partner decided precipitously to take the next flight home almost as soon as we arrived. It’s a strange feeling to suddenly be deserted in a large, foreign city. A little frightening, a little challenging, a lot pushing my courage and self-confidence. I took a deep breath and regrouped.
Getting out of the taxi and heading toward the hotel, at first I thought, “So what, just another big city.” Am I really going to enjoy this as much as the country life I had just relished? A little hesitant and leaning in favor of the countryside, I decided then and there to let my expectations dissipate. Alone in this vastness of ancient ghosts and relics, the city slowly revealed its charisma to me.
Andrea, the historian and guide extraordinaire takes me back in time.
The first day there, my expert tour guide Andrea Valentini spent hours educating me on ancient Rome. As we strolled from temple to museum to Forum and Coliseum, I strangely felt a déjà vu, like I was back in time, walking the same pathways, viewing the builders grow the city, and experiencing the elaborate and majestic art in its glory days. It is quite overwhelming and humbling.
The Temple of Vesta. Vestal Virgins were priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, chosen at a young age to guard and maintain the “fire of Rome” and to carry out sacred rites.They were sworn to celibacy for 30 years. In return, they lived lavishly, were free to own property and to vote.
The Coliseum: home to many fighters, exotic animals, public executions and at one time a lake for water battles.
Stage fright! My private tour allowed me access to parts of the Coliseum unavailable to most.
Where the wild things go. Dark and mossy. The animals were kept below and emerged into the middle of the arena via large underground lifts. The spectators oftentimes did not know which animal was featured so they loved this element of surprise.
The Capitoline Museum sits on one of Rome’s Seven Hills and houses Rome’s oldest works of art. I could have spent two days there alone. I loved this dimensional sculpture, the tiny angel, the gladiator-decorated vessel, the sun-like god. Such beautiful detail.
The sublime and sensuous Goddess Venus in her splendor sculpted in the 4th century B.C.
The Golden Boy Hercules in gilded bronze circa second century B.C. The stone background seems to emphasize his masculinity and strength.
The emblem of Rome. Romulus and Remus nursed by the She-Wolf of Rome.
She was so different. A stark seriousness casts her face, almost in contrast to her beautiful, elegantly draped dress.
The Red Faun, a satyr and follower of Dionysus, the god of wine made of striking red marble.
This olive oil urn measured out the oil for decanting into a Roman’s personal vase. Another large stone container measured wine.
The oil container seems much meeker and milder than this roaring lion urn. Is this what happens to you when you imbibe too much?
Lion Attacking a Horse, one of the earliest recorded works of art on the Capitoline Hill, created around 4th century B.C. This was a thrill for me as I visited this same sculpture at the Getty Villa last year.
To walk in his footsteps. One of my favorite photographs. Such strong feet adorned with beautiful sandals. Does anyone know what the figures at his ankles represent?
The magic and mystery and ancientness seeped inside of me and hooked me for good. Being a history lover doesn’t hurt. I think you could live a lifetime here and still not see all the secrets this city harbors. Just for one day, I would love to travel back in time to walk in a Roman’s footsteps, maybe in the second century A.D. and experience Rome in its heyday, a brief time of peace and stability. To be surrounded by the sound of the chisel, the cithara’s sweet and lyrical music, philosophers debating the latest news, and yes, even the strategy of a gladiator show, would feed my soul for a very long time.
As Marcus Aurelius so appropriately stated, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”
If you are planning a trip to Rome and would like to experience the immersion in culture and history I did, contact expert guide Andrea Valentini at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciao and love for now,