I should note that I found all the maps quite deceiving, and in retrospect I can sort of understand why people come too Los Angeles and are so shocked to find how big it really is. Rome looks like a great big sprawling metropolis that is unmanageable without a Taxi or a car. Not so. In fact it is so easy to get around on foot that you have to be careful that you don’t overshoot your destination.

The street signs are plaques on the corner/side of buildings and that can take some hunting and translating if you loose your bearings, but walking carries with it so much more of an experience than riding. The one exception being the Metro. I don’t often have trouble acclimating, but as I walked the streets of Rome from the Capitoline Museum. I became drunk with everything up to this point, the sights and sounds of the street. My legs became a numb automatic robotic trudge of forward movement and suddenly I was lost.

I had been hunting for the Trevi Fountain and ended up grossly over shooting it. Before me was an open expanse and a bridge over the Tiber River. In the distance was a large structure I guessed was St. Angelino’s Castillle. I finally acclimated myself and found the Pantheon nearby. Now one of the things about Rome is the bigness, not the streets but the structures. Some things were built on a scale that was truly awesome. I wish we could still see some of the ancient colossal statues that were erected.

Inside the Pantheon I found myself choked up for the first time. I felt as if I had just stepped into my art history book. There was so much to all of this, to see and to experience. The Pantheon has signs reminding people that it is a sacred place and to keep your voices low.

My art history book cannot convey how humbling and awe-inspiring it is to enter some of these monuments. Perhaps one of the reasons I made this journey was the teacher that told me the story of the Gaul. He used what I believe were mostly his own slides for many of the lectures and spoke so passionately about some of the things he’d seen. It started me up and I wanted to know, see and experience some of these things. I never doubted his sincerity, but now I truly understand the way he spoke. That being said, I have friends and relatives who have also made these journeys and no one spoke on any level about it the way I see it.  

Upon leaving the Pantheon I wanted to rest some and the Trevi Fountain was nearby. By the looks of it this is apparently where all the tourists go. It was packed with people of all types, shapes, colors, and persuasions, tossing coins and taking pictures, sitting and watching the waters splashing away, loosing themselves while trying to ignore the venders with, I must say, an interesting assortment of toys and trinkets.

The Trevi is magnificent and again just fucking enormous. I sat and watched as people threw coins the right way and the wrong way, all in the tradition that: if you throw one coin it means you will return to Rome some day, two coins means you will fall in love with an Italian and three coins means you will marry an Italian. A man leaning a tour group said all of this, then pleaded with them all, “Stick to one coin!” I also heard that once you throw the coin you are not supposed to look at the fountain again.

Like Los Angeles there are many cultures in Rome. It is a beautiful city and the women, well… later for that.

It is my opinion and quite a humble one as I have only been to one city, but friends that have been to Rome and others confirm this: Rome is like the Los Angeles of Italy. It is the place to go, the tourist spot, the weekend getaway whether you are from Italy, Germany, or anywhere in Europe, Rome is one of the main places people go.

To give a Los Angeles reference, the city proper is about the size if downtown Los Angeles, but loaded with sights and levels of history that dwarf most others. Just walking the streets is an illuminating mind-blowing adventure as the city itself is a museum. During my stay I met people from all over Europe and heard at least a dozen languages including Hindi, Swahili and Arabic. I could live in Rome tomorrow and one day I will.      

Now on to important business… There is so much I could say about the women of Rome, but I will keep it simple. I fell in love at least a dozen times a day, with women of all shapes and sizes. Almost everyone walks so almost everyone I saw is in decent shape. My type, from birth, has been thicker athletic women with dark hair and Rome is like a smorgasbord of those particular attributes.

Speaking of flavor and women, I must now enter into the “Oh my God” realm of Gelato. I do in hindsight regret only throwing one coin into the Trevi Fountain rather than a handful.

So do you like ice cream? I mean not take it or leave it, but really like ice cream. The reason I ask is if you have never had Gelato in Italy you do not know what ice cream is. I can slightly compare it to a specialty combination flavor at Cold Stones, put in a blender and whipped in to a soft yummy confection that might make you slap your parents for buying Neapolitan and chocolate chip all those years, but even that is not Gelato.

Gelato is light and perfect and there are stands selling it on literally every street in the main city. Not only that, but everyone eats it, cups and cones, children and adults, bedraggled homeless to Armani business suits at all hours of the day and into the night, not kidding. The same goes for Pizza, located in twice as many places as the Gelato. Delicious thin crust, a little cheese and it’s fantastic. How to locate the best pizza places in the city.

When I was in my early twenties I got a new job and moved to another part of the city. There was a restaurant nearby that served Mexican food and I wanted a burrito. Right next door was another place that served tacos and burritos as well, but it was loaded with a lot of thug looking guys and it was always busy. I decided to stay where it was safe, order my burrito and go home.  At my new job I met a guy that told me about a place to go for good tacos and burritos. I realized that it was the place next door to the one I went to.

“It’s always packed with people.” I said.

“Yeah, and why do you think it’s always packed with people?” he asked.

It occurred to me from them on, the hole in the wall places that the locals went to usually had the best food. On the road, the restaurants and diners where the truckers stopped and ate also had the best food. This philosophy was a great help in Rome. I watched where the ruffians hung out and ate. Locals don’t eat bad food in their own city.

Published by James Gabriel