A Weekend in Rome
This previous weekend I had the opportunity to once again set off on another adventure, and this time I chose the city of Rome, a place I had been wishing to visit for a very long time.
Our visit to Rome consisted of around two and a half days, enough time to see what I, and most tourists want to see in Rome, the Colosseum and the Vatican. On arriving at the main ‘Termini’ train station from the airport we were greeted by a number of halal fast food places, something to mention in case the ghetto Muslim reader can’t leave their village/ghetto mentality/appetite at home. While we’re on the subject of Muslims, Rome also has the largest Sunni mosque in Western Europe (the Ahmadiyya one in Morden I believe being the only one bigger). I didn’t manage a chance to go visit it, but I thought it worth mentioning.
On our first full day we went to the Vatican, which is split into two main areas, St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the latter being where the Sistine Chapel is. The museums, as one would expect are highly opulent and well decorated, there are a few interesting pieces, but the majority of the collections are centred around Christian iconography and naked male statues, not exactly my areas of interest. The two main things in the museums to see are the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms. The chapel is dimly lit and the roof was a lot higher than I thought it would be, making it very difficult to look at. Though its images would be considered grossly sacrilegious in the Islamic tradition, one can see why they are considered one of the greatest pieces of western art. When looking at the images first hand they are extremely lifelike and have the effect of emerging from the ceiling. At the other end of the chapel is The Last Judgment, another piece done by Michelangelo after the ceiling, though this piece just left me confused. The highlight of the Raphael rooms for me was The School of Athens, mainly because it’s the only Renaissance piece I know if that doesn’t depict a Muslim in a negative light, look for Ibn Rushd in the bottom left. After the museums we visited the basilica which is free to enter, though to risk sounding pedantic, once you’ve seen a Catholic cathedral or church, you’ve pretty much seen them all. For the rest of the day we spent time in Centro Storico the main city centre of Rome, which consists of a number of piazzas and large churches. It’s also where you’ll find the main shopping areas of the city.
On our second day we visited the Colosseum and the Palatine ruins. These two sites form the main areas of ancient Roman sites, unfortunately apart from the vast scale of the Colosseum you don’t really get a sense of how great and powerful the Roman empire was in its heyday. A lot of the ruins are literally that, the odd monument here and there that has stood the test of time is contrary, but it’s mostly just weathered away bricks. For the remainder of the afternoon we spent our time in an area called Trastevere, west of the Tiber river. A quaint part of town that probably forms the stereotypes of what Rome is like for most people; rustic, mediterranean, bit leafy, a nice area to go for a wander.
And that essentially concluded our trip. On a side note I was a little underwhelmed by the cuisine in Rome, that may be because we didn’t go to the right places. We only went to one venue recommended by the travel guide called Bir & Fud in Trastevere, but as you might deduce from the name it’s a bit of a place for beer guzzlers, (the only other drink they serve is tap water), but the pizza was excellent. I’m beginning to get a sense that I may enjoy visiting a set of places in a country as opposed to a specific city for a couple of days. I think my next trip to Italy may to be a tour of the medieval northern cities, Rome is a decent enough place to go to if you have a spare weekend, but if you really want to experience Italy I think you may have to set your horizons more broadly.