Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sarah Santos - Rome, Italy. April 3-5 - Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza di Popolo.

Although Rome was not built in a day, a day was all we had to explore the city. While in the eternal city, there are certain places you just have to visit. First for us was the extremely well known Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). During the day the fountain is very easy to find - just follow the crowds of people and souvenir shops marking the way there. Once we got to the fountain, I was slightly overwhelmed by the crowds in front of it. This had been the most people I had seen in a single, concentrated area since Paris. I preferred seeing the fountain the night before. It had been relatively empty and just amazing. At night, the Trevi Fountain is subtly lit and has a perfect romantic atmosphere. As is custom, we all threw coins in the fountain and made our wishes. Some wished for a swift return to Rome, others for love, and the rest only they themselves knew. Another stop on our whirlwind Roman holiday was the Scalinata di Spagna, more easily recognized as the Spanish Steps. The Steps are a great place to sit and recover, chat with friends, or meet with a loved one. For me, the Steps were a prime location to just sit and watch the hustle and bustle of the streets below in Rome. For a good amount of the time we were there, it wasn’t crowded or packed with tourists, which helped make the experience more authentic. The Spanish Steps had been designed by an Italian, paid for by the French, named for the Spanish, and formerly occupied by the British. It is also the current home of that omnipresent American fast-food chain: McDonald’s. On the Steps themselves, vendors are constantly wandering around selling roses. Then there was the closer of our day, the Piazza di Popolo, or the “people’s square.” At the center of the square, it is impossible to miss the 3200-year-old Obelisk of the Pharaoh Ramses that Augustus brought back with him from Egypt in 10AD. The obelisk is highly impressive and at its base there are steps and surrounding it there are four fountains with lions squirting out water. The square itself was massive and I couldn’t even imagine how it must be packed with rallies. While we sat there, a group of people passed that were dressed as zombies. One of them came up and handed me a flyer with the date of the next rally when we would no longer be in Rome. This square used to get heavily crowded as well when it was used as the location for the burning of the heretics. This square has quite a colorful history to it. The whole day was quite an adventure. I hope that I too will be granted a swift return to Rome as there is still so much left to experience.

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