Adventures In Rome: The Big Five

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Narrowing down Rome’s sights to top five presents quite an epic Roman challenge. With dozens of beautiful classical buildings and marble every time you turn a corner there’s more then enough top spots to choose from, but some photogenic spots I chose.

Piazza Navona is one of the the largest and most social squares I ever remember seeing. Blazing heat comes at you from all angles tempting a drink under a nearby canopy shaded restaurant. Bottled water is sold with ice frozen right in the middle. Hundreds browse the piazza, and local artists have laid out watercolours for sale on folding panels in the square. Twenty euros gets you something pretty special.

A couple takes pictures with a grand looking marble Roman god in the background. The fountain is a classic. Everyone around is speaking in various unknown languages but you can tell from their tone, they’re glad to be here, and as impressed as I am.

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After picking up a rosary for a friend in the Vatican gift shop and having a tiny strong coffee, I line up for the Vatican City entry in St Peters Square. The popes of the ages look hopefully down at us. Properly dressed folks are ushered through methodically by guards. Girls with “too short” shorts are turned away, as indicated by a clearly marked sign. Vatican City is technically a separate country and its own rules apply. The columns to the Basilica are massive, bright white and everything seems so big to new eyes.

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Pantheon will continue to draw some of the highest number of tourists of everywhere in the modern, developed world for the reasons of its religious foundation, charm and distinctive experience.

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My Latvian roommate and I sit at our authentic Italian eatery, and decide upon dinner.

“I’ve been eating Gelato all day, I think it’s time for some pizza,” I said noticing the very reasonable seven euro price for fresh mozzarella pizza.

“A gelato will calm your growling stomach in the day but evening, you must have Italian wine. Italian pizza,” he said.

“You must see the Spanish Steps. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hundreds of tourists, click click clicking their camera. Flashes everywhere,” he said.

“I thought before I get there…. hmmm, maybe a few people still,” he said. “It’s nine at night. Then boom boom like strobe light. Hundreds of cameras flashing!!”

I had yet to make it there, but it was on my big five.

Descending the spanish steps from high above with a view down the lengthy street way that leads away into the city is quite the social and people watching experience, like much of Rome. I recommend approaching it for the first time from above.

An area I was pre-warned to be cautious in was Trevi Fountain. Having never been, I imagined hiding my wallet in the impossible regions, and only taking out my blackberry to take a few shots when I was clear of sketchy potential robbers.

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Arriving at Trevi was not nearly as sketchy as it was made out to be before I got there. People flashed and displayed their Iphones, DSLR cameras and devices galore in all of their wild attempts to catch the glorious fountain from every possible angle.

Several dozen tourists constantly filtered into the mass gathered directly in front of the terraced area by the fountain. Chucking a coin into Trevi is said to ensure your return one day back to Rome, and is an essential part of the experience. I complete one “Return Rome Deposit”, and also one for a friend insisting he needs to return one day.

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