A week in Rome, or Roma as it is locally known, unfolded a lot of beautiful surprises. Yes, I always knew Rome had a lot of history to it, but seeing every bend, every lane, every structure steeped in history was another experience all together.
Each building, whether housing apartments, a showroom or public offices, seems to be a relic from the past. The architecture across the city ranges from 2000 year old temples and monuments to structures built in the middle ages and churches from the more recent 18th and 19th centuries. History can be breathed, felt and experienced in layers.
The ruins of ancient times leave one mareveling at how they have survived over thousands of years. The abundance of churches testify to the power and importance Christianity has wielded in the city for hundreds of years. As one strolls from lane to lane, on cobbled pathways that have been laid out for centuries, one wonders which of these Caesar himself may have walked upon. Each piazza, each square, each alley, has stood witness to aeons of events that have defined this city’s evolution.
But despite being rooted in its ancient origins, the city also feels fresh and new. Maybe, because it is teeming with tourists from across the world. There is something decidedly romantic in the air. I learnt, while walking from the violence of the Colosseum to the ruins of the Roman Forum that the statues of the Goddess of Roma and the Goddess of Love (Amor) sat back to back in that area at one time. It is no coincidence that R-O-M-A and A-M-O-R are palindromes, words that reflect each other when read backwards.
Ancient monuments lend a romantic aura to the place. The Pantheon has stood for over two milleniums, remaining true to its name as a temple to various Gods, ‘pan’ meaning ‘all’ and ‘theos’ meaning ‘Gods’. The only reason this monument survived the devastation that wreaked on other structures of its time is because it was adapted into a church when pagan Gods began to be looked down upon.
The Colosseum too, has a history, that lends itself to one’s imagination. Standing on the ramparts of this monumental structure, one can reconstruct the bloody flights that ensued between man and animal and man and man, while a voyeuristic public looked on in pleasure. Walking along the path that Julius Caesar took for the last time before his own friends and colleagues stabbed him to death, one is transported to a different time and place. You can almost see the Roman Senate come to life, and watch toga-clad men roam the same lanes you stand on.
One is thrown back and forth in time as one moves between bustling piazzas filled with modern day artists and elaborate bridges with carved figurines from another era. Couples hug, kiss and hold hands. A newly married duo poses for a photoshoot in all their wedding finery in front of the exotic Trevi fountain.
Love mingles with history, the past radiates a romantic charm- and you are enveloped in the dreamy world of a time gone by.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.