Our march through Rome began with a tour of the largest amphitheater in the world, best known for hosting gladiators’ contests, animal exhibitions and executions. Unfortunately, said tour was led by led by a less-than-stellar guide and we decided to ditch the Frenchman after the first half hour of unintelligible English. (American Tip: When seeking a guide, request a native English speaker.)
The second half of our tour was hosted by Snarky Stan from Toronto. (I’ll take it.) The Canadian took us through parts of the Roman Forum, pointing out the Arch of Titus (constructed in 82 AD), the Temple of Saturn, the Basilica Aemilia, the Temple of Caesar and many others. Or what’s left of them. Pretty amazing stuff.
We left the forum in search of dinner in Trastevere, a district on the West Bank of the Tiber River where vibrant red poppies lined the streets.
Along the way, we passed the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II and the “wedding cake building.” The monument is made of white marble, built to honor the first king of a unified Italy.
We walked across the bridge over the Tiber River, pausing to admire the artisan jewelry and leather bags on display along the way.
Legend has it that Romulus and Remus (Rome’s founding brothers) were abandoned on the Tiber before they were rescued by a she-wolf who kept them alive.
This is evidenced by the Lupa Capitolina, a bronze sculpture of a she-wolf, or lupa, suckling twin infant boys. You gotta love those Italian legends.
Across the bridge, we explored Trastevere, stopping at a lovely hidden bakery for some pre-dinner pastries. Our search for an “off the beaten path” kind of meal landed us at what the girls called The Olive Garden of Rome. Fail. More wine, please.
After dinner, we scored some gelato before hopping on a crowded bus to make our way home. As we stood sandwiched between dozens of chatty commuters rocking back and forth with each stop, multiple languages flew among them. And in that moment, I couldn’t help but revel in the beauty of such diversity.