Surprisingly, downtown Rome can be easily navigated. All the major tourist sites, such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain are accessible with a mere map, some stylishly comfortable gladiator sandals, and an insatiable urge to uncover every inch of the city. Even though I had been to Rome before, I still wanted to see the city once more (because, honestly, how many people can say they've made a wish at the Trevi Fountain TWICE in a lifetime?). With less than 48 hours total in Roma, we had only the afternoon. Only 8 hours.
First up: The world-renowned site of ancient sporting events, celebrations and infamous gladiator fights...the breathtaking Colosseum. A bride and groom take wedding shots with the gorgeous monument in the background, the sun is scorching, the city bustling, and the day is just beginning. Tourists and citizens alike roam with their mopes zooming and zipping in and out of city traffic. Artist paint murals on the sidewalks, street performers and musicians passionately play harmonicas, with crowds of onlookers.
Making our way across the city center, with the beautiful edifice of the national statue of Vittorio Emanuele II behind us, we cross onto La Via Del Corso, Rome's most famous shopping district in the Trevi area. Here one can find Zara, Mango, H&M, and most other major European retailers. Chatting, laughing, and detailing the past four years of our lives, we duck into a small side street and following the foot traffic, finally reach the beautiful Trevi fountain, a gem tucked away behind the giant buildings of Via Del Corso. Hundreds and hundreds of people and languages buzz around me, at one of the world's most famous destinations, legends claiming the fountain was built upon discovery of pure water by a young girl leading thirsty Roman soldiers, in 19 BC.
As told to me by a random Italian business man, who struck up a conversation with me while I was writing at a cafe alone on my previous trip to Rome four years ago, "you must throw coins from the right hand and over your left shoulder! One coin means you will come again in Roma, two coins mean you will find love. Three coins mean you will marry. Fours coins, baby. But five...separate!" I remember him gesturing wildly with his arms to indicate divorce. I wrote this exact phrase in my journal, to remember it word for word--because honestly, I need to keep my coins straight here. I count my euros carefully and stop at three, which is more than enough. As Mr. Business man told me, upon four or five coins we reach unchartered territory (baby? divorce? I'm all set, thank you).
4 pm finds us headed to the Pantheon, gelato in hand (please, please, try the Stracciatella and send me a message after you do--you'll thank me for introducing you to the world of crunchy milk chocolate shavings, hidden amongst depths of rich vanilla cream). I make Andreea take a picture of me in a random doorway with the gelato melting down my arm and off my elbow, while a German family of ten stare me down. The Pantheon looms behind us. A beautiful, ancient structure formerly a Roman temple, it dates back 2,000 years to the reign of Hadrian, Rome's 14th emperor. Its massive columns still stand today, and humans are mere ants in comparison to its giant stature.
We fill our water bottles at the fountain. I readjust my leather sandals, and life stands still for just a moment.