Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another Look at Rome

There's something special that happens when you visit Rome and you're not running around trying to see all of the regular touristy sites -- you walk a little bit slower, take in the sights and sounds of the locals going about their day, and notice just how beautiful this city really is. Around every corner and down every street are magnificent buildings... and in no way are they well known or famous, and people don't go out of their way to see them, but they are striking, majestic, and stunning to admire. Of course, this is always a welcomed sight when visiting:

We took the train from Naples to Rome with Beth and Scott (my sister and brother-in-law) who were visiting us for the week. Having never been to Rome before, they planned to see the ancient city on the day we arrived and Vatican City the next. We met for breakfasts and dinners, but during the two days we were there, Jon and I were on our own to explore a different part of the city.

Since we only had about three hours on the first day, we started off by walking up to Aventine Hill. We had read about looking through a keyhole in order to see St. Peter's Basilica and when we found it we were not disappointed. Through a small keyhole at the headquarters of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta one can see a perfectly framed St. Peter's Basilica. Random fact: there are three sovereignties/territories/nations all within Rome: Italy (obviously), Vatican City, and the Territory of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta.

Through a keyhole

We walked to the piazza and gardens nearby where we could see a wonderful view of the city stretching out beneath us.

The next day we explored the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere regions of Rome. The Jewish Ghetto was built in 1555 and was the mandatory home for the Roman Jewish population for more than 300 years, although the Jewish community in Rome is one of the oldest in the world. Most of the ghetto has been torn down, but you can still discover some reminders of the Jews' notable past and modest present.

The synagogue

Just next to the ghetto is a big ancient ruin called Portico d'Ottavia. These are the remains of an ancient gateway, which used to house a flourishing fish market. It was later turned into a church and was subsequently used by the Christians at that time to force the Jews to pray in, in hopes of converting them. Within the archeological site we walked behind an ancient theater, now with more modern buildings built into it.  The back is the original rounded portico with arches, reminiscent of the Colosseum and other Roman theaters.

We then crossed the bridge over to the Trastevere neighborhood. This is a very charming area of the city where a lot of young locals live, piazzas are lined with restaurants and bars, and small narrow streets dominate the neighborhood. After walking around we had a fantastic lunch in a cute restaurant and had the best ravioli we've had since living in Italy!

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The Roman statue called "La Bocca della Verita'" (The Mouth of Truth) is here and legend has it that if a liar or sinner puts his hand into the mouth of the statue they will lose it. The thrill of putting our hands in the statue's mouth was strong and we couldn't resist! We stuck our hands in and hoped for the best. Alas, the harmless but unnerving stone face did not eat our hands.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin


With some extra time left we strolled through the streets capturing some pictures...

A cool little door!
Another door!

The eternal city of Rome has so much to offer and provides a little something for everyone, whether you've been to Rome ten times or only one. No matter how many times you visit there is always more beauty and culture for you to discover and enjoy. We would love to go back again and uncover some more hidden gems of the city!


  1. You can never see too much of Rome! There is always something different to see! I'm really glad that you guys had the opportunity to visit Rome again and take in all the sights that you haven't seen before. It's also nice that these sights were not the usual places that tourists would go to. I'm sure it made it much easier and a more enjoyable experience without having a lot of people there. I loved the "keyhole" which showed St. Peters Basilica! I'm always fascinated when I hear how old something is, like the Jewish Ghetto being built in 1550! The synagogue is so beautiful! But then again every synagogue and church that I have seen in Europe have been absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking! Now I have to say that you guys are very brave to put your hands in the "Mouth of Truth!" I don't know if I could have done that!! I really liked the pics of the "doors". When I first saw these pics I actually thought of a particular piece of artwork that I saw many years ago which showed about 10 different types of doors in a variety of colors! (I can't remember if the artwork was a painting or a photograph, but I do know that it must have made an impression on me! It was really nice and definitely a "conversation piece". So glad that you guys had a great time again in Rome!

  2. Beautiful post! I am so happy you have been able to go to this amazing city so many different times and truly experience all it has to offer.