Diaries from an Italian Summer – The Roman Ruins

The August of 2016, the husband, me and a little brown leather bound journal carefully tucked away in my bag , traveled to Italy and checked off plenty from our bucket list. We devoured pasta like locals, indulged in wine like there was no tomorrow, learnt a handful of Italian words and drank in immense art & history. I’m glad I could make a note of our precious encounters during this ten day vacation because the many glasses of wine sure didn’t help with the memory! At this point, I’m not sure how many parts this post/journey is going to be sliced into and since I’m heavily ridden with a bad habit of “straying”,  I cross my fingers and hope that I can keep you entertained and not subject you to boredom. I hope this journey makes you as happy as it did us…..

August 12th, 2016
I’m miserable & counting infinite sheep owing to the curse of the dreaded jet lag and find myself profusely thanking Maurizio for equipping the room with an espresso maker. At 5am,  a quick youtube tutorial later, I gulp the bitter concoction in two gulps and bide my time, experiencing jitter & thrill as the espresso accomplishes it’s tasks. Outside, the night time lull is gently being replaced by the whirr of motor vehicles and a boundless bright sun awakening a sleepy sky.
We head out to the Illy Cafe, minutes from our apartment, walking past a glorious Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The air is quiet, still as it can be, waiting to be drenched in sunshine, before the cacophony of the day begins. Locals in the cafe are sipping coffee whilst engaging in laidback conversations with the barista.  The barista is a skilled multi tasker,serving coffee on the dot, yet cheerfully indulging in a camaraderie with his customers. The Italians are wonderfully expressive and although the language is foreign to me, I can’t help but pause and smile because instantly, I’m overcome by a surge of memories from home. Locals casually chatting with chai walas (tea vendors) & coffee vendors in Darshinis (South Indian fast food chains) is a scene almost every Bangalorean is accustomed to on weekend mornings. Research had made me aware of the very subtle similarities in culture and lifestyle…..
Breakfast introduces us to the Cornetto. The French croissant’s Italian cousin. Sweet, flaky, perfectly layered, dusted in icing sugar & profusely bursting with gooey, marmalade as orange as the sunshine. I realise my predilection for Italian cuisine will only intensify. Warm, foamy cappuccinos wait patiently to be sipped as we watch the Roman world go by. Not for long though…the Colosseum awaits…

We meander along the Roman pathways despite being forewarned of the lengthy ticket lines. Although, in my view of things, the walk is a treasured experience by itself. A water color artist displays his creative ware and his papers flaunt the many tourist spots scattered across Rome. I’m partial to local artists and we splurge on a masterpiece of the Piazza Navona.
Tardily, we  arrive at the destination (The Colosseum) and spend a few quiet moments marveling at the magnanimity of the colossal architecture but spirits are crushed as we spot the long lines braving under the harsh summer sun. We succumb to expensive tour guides.
The Colosseum is bathed in a sandy grey, it’s facade punctuated with hundreds of windows that are struggling to enclose countless secrets, that are privy to the suffering of many pained souls. Constructed by the emperors from the Flavian Dynasty in 70AD, it is in fact an amphitheater (originally called, Flavian Amphitheater) where roughtly 65000 spectators watched as gladiators, prisoners and beasts were enforced to fight for the sole cause of entertainment. The guide pointed to dungeons indoors that locked away wild animals and humans together in a miniscule space. The swell of silence is disquieting and remains unbeaten by the gaggle of tourists and with good reason. In 217AD , a major fire destroyed major parts of the Colosseum followed by numerous earthquakes. The architecture however still stands tall as one of the icons of Rome, surrendering to constant restoration and lending tourists a tiny glimpse of a poignant Roman history many centuries later…

“While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.”
—AD 7th century Anglo-Saxon pilgrims’ proverb, quoted by the Venerable Bede

We then snake along pathways bordered by bushy trees, led by a friendly guide to visit the Ancient Downtown Rome: The Roman Forum and the Palantine Hill.
From atop, I attempt to imagine the bustle of activity that engulfed the area 2000 years ago. What used to be studded with a plethora of temples, Roman courts, Government offices,  marketplaces & homes is now a picture with hints of a laborious excavation.  Ruins lie rummaged and ravaged, eaten by the severity of elements. Fluted columns stand alone and worn flagstones drape the earth providing significant clues to a lost past. A history lesson I find myself deeply immersed in….

Next, we visit the Vatican and parts of Roma contrasting these historic ruins…Ciao

(Do read my previous diary entries When in Rome &
Touchdown, Rome )

77 thoughts on “Diaries from an Italian Summer – The Roman Ruins

  1. Ravishing Rome so nicely brought out in this travel diary of yours DD..and the remarkable Darshinis that are truly non pareil. The pics are fabulous as always and can imagine you gulping down the concoction:)

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I love your writing style, Divya! I am totally in love with the Italian language too. And I do find similarities between the cafe culture of Romans and Hanoians. Like Bangalorean, we love chit chatting over “cà phê đá”, which is Vietnamese ice coffee. I personally do not drink a lot of coffee but love its smell. 🙂 Looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are very kind Vy! You absolutely made my day:) Thank you for taking the time to read:)

      Oh really? Hadn’t heard of this coffee but off late I’m reading o much about Hanoi, I’m very tempted to visit & experience the beautiful culture there:) I love scrolling through your instagram pictures of Rome:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had only 4 days in Rome. I remember, it was so hot on the first two days. We squeezed the Colosseum after a day of back-to-back sight seeing. Haha! So we could see the Colosseum only just before daylight faded. Since we stayed near St. Peter’s Basilica, we saw the dome in different lighting. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Was reading all comments above…not only your posts but comment section is also interesting 🙂
    Keep traveling and take us on journey too with your beautiful expressive words…I actually can feel you doing all this through your words! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This makes me look back to my days in Rome, my father worked there for a few years when I was in high school. I miss that city. The people who always have time to tell a story and make time for you a complete stranger somehow they all tend to be related to some very important person of the Roman history. The roman atmosphere and the possibility to get lost in the antique city with its endless alleys. What I miss most must undoubtingly be that one can knock on the door of almost any bakery in the middle of the night, hand them 1€ and they hand you a piece of fresh baked pizza. Rome must be one of the most extraordinary places on this planet!
    con amore
    Charlie xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Charlie it warms my heart to read your wonderful experiences.You’re fortunate to have been able to drink in the treasure & to live like a Roman. As a tourist it’s hard to completely immerse in the culture. However, it is so distinct & the people so accepting , it’s easy to fall in love. You’re right, Rome is an extraordinary place!
      I learnt so much from Italy, I hope to recount it in my posts.
      Hugs & thank you for taking the time to read. Much appreciated:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You make an amazing job of trying to share the magic of Rome. Unfortunately though Rome can not be shared through words but must be lived, because everything is a bit more magical in SPQR, one can imagine the colosseum, the palatine gardens, and all of the wonderful attractions of Rome but they are to be lived in real life, because living like a roman is the opportunity of a lifetime.
        Charlie xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your photos of the Colosseum are amazing! Wish I had visited the site. At that time, I was travelling on a budget, so the ticket price was kinda expensive for me. Instead, I walked outside of the Colosseum – the ruins on Palatine Hill – walked so much that my feet ached! Looking forward to read your next post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Another wonderful tribute to Rome!! 🙂 Your pictures are just stunning, Diyva! Did you know, I also studies Classical Archeology? 😉 So, as you can imagine, I´m always perfectly thrilled when I see pics from my favourite ruins 🙂 Did the guide also tell you that they used to reenact famous water-battles in the collosseum and flooded it on those occassions? It must have been a horrendously task and although I really don´t want to see what they made all those poor souls do to each other, I´d love a glimpse of the water-filled arena 😉 Already looking forward to the Vatica, dear Divya!! 🙂 Hugs&Kisses! xxxxxxxxxxxxx ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing this interesting piece of history Sarah! I had no idea & this is one of the many reasons I love blogging! We learn so much!!
      Thank you for taking the time to read…I tuly appreciate it:)
      Hugs XO

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A travel to Rome is the only dream I nurture. The biggest to-do. Everything about the city beckons me. I hope I do visit there soon. Did you toss a coin in the Trevi? That’s on my wishlist like since forever. The pictures and the travel stories you’ve captured makes me poignant over something unfamiliar yet relatively homely. I’m sure you had a jolly good time. Divya 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The brief history of the colosseum has added more to the beautiful post. 🙂 (I don’t know how I missed this post of yours!)

    It gives me a mixed feeling whenever I visit any place of historical importance. I try to imagine the extravaganzas of the bygone times…people who had lived there, their lives and activities. History is an extremely interesting subject to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I too wish to see a Colosseum when I get the opportunity. True they hold the pains and cries of hundreds of men and animals souls. It was such a cruel thing about Rome !!
    I watched the movie “Gladiator” and it pained me to see the sorrows there.
    Rome was always Proud and Arrogant !!
    I loved your tips of the Food and Wine. Wine is such Fun !!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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