Rome: Day 1
A-Levels were finally over and the prospect of an end of school holiday seemed inevitable, however the lure of Magaluf or Zante with a group of girls that are guaranteed to fall out before we even landed wasn’t overly appealing to me. On the other hand a trip to Rome with two likeminded friends seemed a much more attractive prospect. Having never visited Italy the thought of Pasta on Italian terrace’s with Italian men surrounded by breath-taking architecture was the perfect way to celebrate the end of school and the start of my gap year.
We landed on Wednesday morning and instantly got over excited by the 28degree heat or the stereotypical larger than life way in which Italians passionately spoke despite only understanding ciao. We caught a bus to our Hostel, The Yellow which far surpassed any of our expectations of a hostel. Arriving into a reception full of young staff with music blaring was defiantly a good sign of what was to come during our stay. Having got our room key we were excited to see who we would be sharing with only to find that there was one guy asleep despite it being about 1pm. Being our first experience of a hostel we may have found this slightly too amusing meaning we tried to get changed and get out as quick as possible before bursting into uncontrollable fits of stomach wrenching laughter and waking up our new roommate.
While studying A-Level Theology I discovered the artist often described as the personification of the Baroque period, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini is responsible for a vast proportion of the Rome we marvel at today. It was my fascination for his work that initially inspired me to visit Rome. With this in mind our list of sights to see was littered with Bernini’s work along with the other must see’s such as the Pantheon and of course the Coliseum. Unexpectedly on our first day having woken up at 3am to catch our flight we saw an incredible amount of Rome and walked further than I had ever walked in a single day. It is the infectious nature of Rome that means every corner you turn you are blown away by the statues, piazza’s or fountains that greet you spurring you on to walk until your feet throb, forcing you to call it a day. We decided that we would try to go into almost every church we saw as every one offered something different and inspirational despite having never heard of it. The artistic wonders of Rome are infinite meaning you could never hear about everything, so taking the approach of “let’s just have a look” worked perfectly for us allowing us to find some hidden gems. As well as endless amounts of churches I can no longer name, on our first day we saw Bernini’s elephant, the Pantheon and sadly a fair share of scaffolding as the Trevi fountain was under construction. The worst part was that despite the scaffolding you could still appreciate the skill involved in creating such a large masterpiece meaning I can hardly imagine how impressive it is in all its unscaffoleded glory. The Spanish steps also showcased more scaffolding as Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s father’ s fountain at the foot of the Spanish steps was also under renovation however the steps did provide a needed rest for our feet and an incredible view of the wide bustling streets below once we had mustered the strength to climb them.
My own navigation skills are shockingly poor but thankfully Tash was a capable map reader meaning she was able to direct us to Piazza Navona. Rome is full of beautiful Piazza’s however this was by far my favourite. It is home to the Fontana dei Quatro Fiumi otherwise known as the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini. The fountain depicts four muscular male figures that represent the sources of the four largest rivers in the world at the time. My favourite part of the fountain is in the way in which the figure that represents the River Nile has his face covered as the source of the Nile was unknown at the time. Across from the fountain is of course another magnificent church and the sides of the piazza is lined with beautiful restaurants we decided were far beyond the capabilities of our budgets. So instead we opted for our first ice cream of the trip and a rest allowing us to take in the view and enjoy the busker’s music. Despite being tired after our exhausting day the combination of the beautiful surroundings only made more beautiful by the golden light of the early evening and impeccable ice cream is what made Piazza Navona my favourite piazza and why that moment was one of my favourite. It is that moment sitting on the curb with ice cream and two friends in the comforting warmth of the early evening that I think will be one of the most memorable and treasured moments of my trip.
Once the ice creams had gone we decided it was time to head back to the hostel. By the time we reached our metro stop it was dark and the illusion of gorgeous Italian men was rapidly shattered. It became apparent that we were popular with the older generation of Italian men meaning we spent the walk home avoiding the gaze of men old enough to be our grandfathers something that became reoccurring theme during our stay. After a few drinks and some reasonably priced nachos in the hostel bar we decided on an early night in anticipation of our early start in the morning.