Sunday, 21 October 2018

My Roman Holiday!

I never believed in love at first sight, but as I sat there gazing outside from our airport taxi, I realized I was in love, in love with Rome. I am not sure if it was the constant honking at traffic, very expressive Italian language or the nostalgic weather, something reminded me of India. It had a very "non-European" feel to it and I mean it in a good way.

There are so many reasons why you should visit Rome. I want to get done with the architectural part of it so that I can obsess over Italian food for rest of the blog!

We decided to stay in Rome for five days so that we can absorb the essence of this beautiful city at a much leisure pace. The first haul was Colosseum and I had kind of mixed feeling towards it. My first reaction to be honest was "Oh! I thought it was bigger". I realized later that since it has uneven levels, from one side it looks bigger than the other. We went inside, sat there for couple of hours and as I watched the last of the sun rays receding from this two thousand year ruin I felt a warmth inside me. As if it had a soul, someone who has seen too much and withstood the testimony of time. Colosseum is kind of situated in the centre of the city, so for the rest of our trip we did cross it every single day. We saw it at early mornings, afternoons, a few sunsets and sometimes late nights. With each passing day I started appreciating it more. I remember when I saw it for the last time I thought "It is beautiful".

Colosseum at night
Rome has no shortage of magnificent grand sculptures. They are everywhere. From Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and of course Vatican. You can randomly walk in any direction and would soon find yourself standing in front of a church and undoubtedly it will be beautiful with stunning frescos. But I would highly recommend you to visit the Vatican and see the work of Renaissance artists especially Michelangelo. That said, many a times the works of lesser known artists are as good as those of famous, so do keep your eyes open for those underrated gems.

Trevi Fountain
Fresco on a church we randomly discovered 
Although there are a hundred reasons I love Rome, the first thing which I would always associate with Rome is food. For the lack of better adjective, it was simply "mind-blowing"! No it's not all about pastas and pizzas. Yes, you would find both of them in abundance but it is so much more than that. In fact they have tons of option for vegetarians as well. For the first time I didn't had to worry about getting a large portion and those guilty feeling of wasting. In Rome, you have starters, first course and second course and lot of other speciality courses in between! No one is expected to eat all the courses. You can have them in any permutation and combination. As much or as little as you want. There were times when I ordered first course and after finishing realized that I have a tiny amount of space left and went ahead and ordered a starter! Although technically you can do it anywhere, there are a lot of unsaid formal ways of doing things outside and in Rome I felt somehow free of all those restrictions.

View from St.Peter's Basilica
A week before we left for Rome, I had stopped ordering pastas and pizzas because I thought for next five days we would be eating only that, but reality was far from that. On our very first dinner, I discovered grilled octopus. It wasn't rubbery or chewy, just grilled to perfection! I don't want to ever forget the taste of it from my mouth. I usually don't like fish, basically anything with "fishy" smell. But there are so many options in seafood other than fish and somehow Italians have perfected the art of cooking it! I did try their special fried pumpkin flowers, artichokes, gnocchi and all the amazing raviolis and tagliatelles. But I was drowning myself in clams, squids, mussels, octopus and yes sometimes even fish (which surprising were not so "fishy"). I think ingredients were basic, just lots of olive oil!

Grilled Octopus
As if the excelling in food is not enough, they have the most splendid wines! On our entire trip we didn't come across a single one bad wine, even if it was one of those super cheap house wines! These people really know how to have a good life. Another classic example is the way they will never rush you even after you have finished eating and there is a long queue of people waiting outside at street!

I have visited many destinations in recent years and very few places have touched me so much. There is something comforting about this mildly chaotic city where old and new has intertwined so beautifully. I think their language represent them very well, outwardly it may sound very loud with  hand gestures all over the place, may even seem like they are shouting at you but what's beneath is utmost passion and emotion. What makes Rome so great is not just it's spectacular art and sculpture, it's not just about tempting food or passionate people. It's the simplicity underneath this grandeur exterior. Life suddenly feels less complicated. La Dolce Vita "the sweet life"..yes, it surely feels that way in Rome.

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