The Ancient City
I would describe Rome as the most beautiful man-made city on Earth. I had the privilege to visit this gorgeous destination during my time in the Navy and what an amazing journey that was. I had a few days of time off that I was granted 4 days to travel and explore the European peninsula and I chose to spend 2 of those days exploring Rome and the Vatican. These are some of the awesome things I was able to see during my time here.
Arriving to the city by plane and a short train trip, I was off to explore the wonders that this ancient city had to offer to me. Just after leaving the train station, I found myself in the Piazza della Repubblica surrounding the Fontana della Naiadi. From here I decided to take some time to explore the Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. Now while I had an awesome time looking around this very ancient church, I will mention one thing I learned from this trip, it can be very easy to become distracted by the different amazing sights from around the town. Everywhere you look is some kind of historic building or site. If you want to hit all of the major attractions I would suggest sticking to a plan and not getting distracted by everything like I did.
That being said, I still had an awesome time visiting the church but had I known, I would have spent less time looking at things along the way and more time trying to get to my final destination which was the heart of the Roman City.
Nevertheless, I had an awesome time seeing and appreciating the beauty of Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and of the Martyrs. It was a pleasant way to start the morning off nice and slow. Leaving the church its hard to not miss the gorgeous fountain in the center of the Piazza della Repubblica. The Fontana delle Naiadi (the Fountain of Naiads) was a stunning sight to see. The fountain itself was created by Alessandro Guerrieri in 1888 although the bronze statues were an addition by Mario Rutelli in 1901 as well as Rutelli’s central sculpture of the god Glaucus in 1912. The 4 statues created by Rutelli depict 4 naiads (nymphs who guard bodies of freshwater such as springs, fountains and rivers). A very difficult monument to avoid when departing the Roma Termini.
Just after leaving the plaza, I stopped for a short breakfast before heading deeper into the city down the street Via Nazionale. Loads of things to see along the way such as the beauty of the architecture, bikers, carious pedestrians and tourists as well as an anime exhibit in one of the museums that I could not resist (not included in this article though).
Somewhere along the way I noticed a massive building towering over the entire city and like a mosquito drawn to a lamp at night, so was I drawn to this. Little did I know that I was heading straight to one of the most gorgeous monuments I have ever seen in my entire life. Entering into the Piazza Venezia directly ahead of me was the Vittoriano, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (Victor Emmanuel II Monument) known as the Altare della Patria (Alter of the Fatherland). The plaza was filled with tourists, and foreigners who are trying to sell you a variety of goods and services. I will talk about these merchants and the scams more later. You will also notice a massive presence of the Carabinieri (Italy’s military police force) as well as the Esercito (the Italian Army). in 2008, Italy passed legislation authorizing “Operazione Strade Sicure” (Operation Safe Streets). This places a contingency of soldier around Italy in places of importance as a deterrence against terrorist threats that could threaten the lives of visitors as well as the destruction of ancient monuments.