Tales of Travel: Roman holiday

As you may have guessed, dear readers, Fabula Nox has recently taken itself on a trip to Rome. Mind the irony that this is the second centre of culture and religion we visit after Istanbul and some comparisons did arise. But more on that later.

Impressions are mostly positive. Rome is not uniform. It is a vintage cake, layered over and over in perpetual change and yet remained forever standing as a capital of something or other. It is mesmerising to look at the panorama of the city and see structures from before Christ all the way to modernity in one turn of the eye. However, the most captivating feeling that Rome oozed was in the narrow streets of the central part. The tall buildings with miniature piazzas on the inside offered shade and coziness in this bustling metropolis. The piazzas large and small were stages for historic monuments and current singers, dancers, clowns and painters alike, all awash with odours of coffee roasted tomatoes. For me, it all came together in cocophonic impersonation of the city in Piazza Navona – such an idilic haven for street artists, I couldn’t help but feel at home. And of course the omnipresent gelateries put a very tasty cherry on this multilayered, historic and artistic cake.

All these bohemic impressions were written down filtering out the endless stream of tourists, which are worse only if they travel in large groups. And they do, very often. Tourists are everywhere, omnipresent, overcrowding the most iconic places of the city, like a swarm of wasps overcrowd one small field before moving to the next one. Only to be substituted by the next swarm. The etiquette in this situations is as follows: come in, selfie, 3 tops, and leave. I would attribute my liking of narrow, winding streets of Rome partly to this swarming of historically significant location. It’s always loud and crowded, not to mention the enjoyment and “taking in” of places is questionably shallow in times like these. The streets offer a refuge of silence and give time to adore the sleek structure of buildings, the history that lies on every corner, intricate details that this city possesses.

Yet, dear reader, I bet you heard all of this before: the tourist issue, the overcrowding, et cetera, et cetera. I almost gave myself the impression I didn’t enjoy it. Oh, but I did and I’m already looking forward to coming back, especially to Piazza Navona. A room overlooking it would be just idilic for the next trip.

I also mentioned the comparative vibe Rome had to Istanbul. Both cities were imagined and built to be grand, the capitals, centres of the world in their time. Yet Istanbul offered more space to breathe and to take it in, while Rome offered a wild dash of culture and itself right in your face…all you needed was to keep up. Trick question would be which one you liked more. I will not fall into this trap and say I like both for different reasons. But don’t let anyone tell you the cities are incomparable. Remember, they used to belong to the same empire and were no accidents, but built with intention and purpose.

In conclusion, Rome was an adventure, a travel through time so fast, you can miss it if you don’t pay attention. I came back richer from it, I’ve found some more inspiration, as travel should provide. And I came back with hopes of return. That, dear reader, is a pretty good sign of a great destination.

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