AROUND EUROPE: ROME
It’s the end of September and summer still dwells in Rome. Hoards of tourist from all over the world are rushing downtown as if the Colloseum or Fontana di Trevi were on the brink of extinction. Many of them stop in front of the city’s landmarks, to take selfies or pictures for their social media accounts and family albums. Nevertheless, love floats in the air.
Right here, at the Colosseum, where I start my tour. In ancient times, a gladiator provoked a prince to go down into the arena and duel. He was in love with a beautiful slave and wanted to save her life.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton must had have escaped for a romantic moon light walk on Via de Fiori Imperiale, to Piazza Campidolglio, up to the monument dedicated to Victor Emanuelle II. They came to Rome in 1962 to film the renown “Cleopatra”, one of the most expensive movies in film industry. The violet -eyes woman definitely knew how to get millions from producers and make men fall in love.
In the neighbouring Piazza di Venezia flourished a less famous yet intense love story. As hard as it may seem, even dictators can’t resist a woman’s charms. Legend says that Mussolini’s mistress lived in a villa next to his palace. Everytime he gave one of his speeches from the palace’s main balcony, she would discreetly watch him from her window. On Via del Corso, a shopper’s paradise, Sophia Loren must have looked for a dress some 64 years ago. She was just about to take part into “Miss Eleganzza” beauty contest and meet Carlo Ponti, her Pygmalion and significant one. Despite a 22 years age difference, they were a couple for 50 years, until his death (in 2007).
At a few blocks distance lies Fontana di Trevi. The place is packed with tourists and is currently undergoing restauration. The fountain is empty and surrounded with plastic, translucent walls. A different sight than in the 50s when Audrey Hepburn came to Rome to embody a princess. Going further and reaching Piazza di Spagna I catch a glimpse of her and Gregory Peck, kissing during a memorable “Roman Holiday”. This movie, shot in 1953, is still considered one of the best romantic comedies ever.
Not far away, lies the Ponte Umberto that leads to Piazza di Tribunali. The building tells another love story, this time, between a man and his craft. When the construction – today, the Palace of Justice, was ready, the arhitect killed himself beacause he thought it was ugly. There is some truth in it. People admire its outside beauty and loathe its inside darkness. If Saint Angelo castle walls spoke, they woud tell the story of the beautiful Giusseppina who tried to save her lover from the dungeon. Disguised as a man, she climbed the wall but was shot dead by an archer. Her body was snatched to the Sixteen Chapel by a monk who was secretly in love with her and gave her the final absolution. The Vatican looks glorious in the afternoon sunlight. It is also the time when tourists withdraw, leaving the place to prayers and pigeons.
Rome will cover you in love if love is what you’re looking for.
-look for fresh water fountains, cheap and tasty icecream on the small streets around Via de Corso
– ask locals to recommend you a good trattoria, not a touristic one (they serve bad and expensive food)
– try the tasty food and special setting from “Pizza Cowboy” in Piazza Trilussa. You’ll reach Rome’s outskirts but it’s worth it.