I was told ‘when in Rome do as the tourists do’. I was in Rome and I had a camera. Why not walk around the city, marvelling at all the historic sites of cultural significance, taking the occasional photo.
Why be bothered if I am subsequently called a Japanese tourist?
Why let other people’s opinions get the better of you?
Just take some time and look at the impressive list of tourist sites in Rome:
It makes you want to head straight over there to start your camera clicking doesn’t it?
Well I was already there and the first tourist site on my list was the coliseum. Standing near the centre of the city, much of the structure of its outside walls was somehow still preserved. Inside its oval shape encased what would have been a stadium of huge intensity, especially if you were the sport.
Adjacent to the coliseum was the Roman Forum, which was the centre of ancient Rome. Huge pillars and other stonework including temples stood scattered about. With the coliseum in the background the Roman Forum spoke of an age before its time; power and sport intertwined.
I then made my way to another centre of power; one that had not crumbled, the Vatican City. I walked along streets which had been widened in the 1930s to enable the staging of mass rallies and military parades in the honour of the then Italian fascist dictator Mussolini. It brought back thoughts of when I was travelling through the United States. Thoughts of when I wanted to be a moneyed business dictator and have the workers staging mass strikes and protests in my honour.
It now seemed so far away.
Along the widened streets I followed the Tiber River. It wound its way through Rome passing close to the Vatican City. Impressive buildings stood along its bank.
Upon reaching the Vatican City I entered what is apparently the world’s smallest country. There were no passport checks or requirements for a visa; upon entering the land of the holy one must only repent for their sins.
“But I have not finished” I replied.
“Well just say you are sorry and quickly move on” said the voice from above.
I was subsequently allowed to walk onwards towards the central attraction of the Vatican City, St Peter’s Square. It was a large circular space capable of holding many thousands of worshipers within its confines.
Nearby was the famous site that is a must see tourist attraction in Rome; the Sistine Chapel featuring Michelangelo’s frescoes on the roof. There was a monetary fee to walk inside.
“But what if I just repent for my sins?” I asked.
“Money is the currency that buys entry to this chapel” I was told.
I changed direction back towards the centre of Rome.
It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon. People were relaxing on the Spanish Steps before the oncoming working week. Apparently it was a place beautiful Italians gathered to be seen as artists or models. I was a bum and quite content with that appearance. But I had a camera. I openly placed it upon my lap just in case some model should want her photo taken.
Nearby was the Trevi Fountain, a huge square building with statues and a fountain at its forefront. I was told of a custom of throwing a coin into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome.
I casually threw a coin, of the smallest denomination, into the fountain and hoped I would meet a model if I returned to the Spanish Steps.
Back sitting on the steps an attractive woman with a stereotypical Roman straight nose walked up beside me to whisper in my ear.
“All roads lead to Rome” she said.
“But what if I arrived by train?” I asked.
“Then that is another story, a tale for the dreamer and not the realist” she replied.