January 27, 2018
I WAS fortunate enough to receive a trip to Rome for my birthday this year. My husband and I got back yesterday. We spent six days in the city, visiting the sights of this spectacular metropolis where the ghosts of the past accompany you everywhere. January is a great time to go to Rome. Everything is less crowded and it’s not that cold, although this year because of especially warm weather (60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day), the streets in the main historic areas were mobbed for part of the time we were there. In addition, January is cheaper than the summer and fall months. Our plane fare on Norwegian Airlines was $350 each roundtrip from Newark, New Jersey. We stayed in a small, 24-room hotel which occupies the third floor of a building on Via Firenze near Piazza della Repubblica and the ancient Baths of Diocletian. Our room in this central location in a 19th-century building with an elegant facade and a courtyard with a rickety elevator cost about $80 per night.
Here is the exterior of the building which houses, among other things, the Hotel Oceania:
My favorite feature of the hotel was its interior courtyard, seen here from the third floor:
Last Sunday, to mention just one of the things we did during our stay (I hope to have more posts), we walked along the Via Giulia, a street close to the Tiber in the historic center, a thoroughfare that truly transports the pedestrian to a different time. A good description of it from The New York Times:
Commissioned by Pope Julius II (for whom the street is named), Via Giulia was built in the early 16th century, part of a plan to build a square of roads near the Vatican. The project was never completed. But to this day, Via Giulia is lined with an array of extraordinary churches and cultural buildings, as well as some of the fanciest homes in Rome.
Via Giulia offers a walk unusual in Rome for several reasons. It is wide enough that you are not dodging cars and scooters or inhaling their fumes; arrow straight, so you will not get lost; intimate and quiet enough to appreciate what you are seeing.
Via Giulia starts with an ivy-covered arch, designed by Michelangelo; it was part of another unrealized plan, this one to connect the Palazzo Farnese (now the French Embassy) with the Villa Farnese, on the other side of the Tiber. The connection was never made, so the arch instead functions as a sort of majestic entryway.
Despite the crowds on nearby streets, we were almost the only pedestrians along the way, as if we were walking in a village not a big city. Below are some photos of doorways I took along the way. I’m not a talented photographer and I have not annotated these photos, but they give you, I hope, a sense of what we encountered along our path. The grandeur of these doorways and their useless ornamentation are deeply attractive to those who find so much of the modern world visually cold, austere and brutally ugly. One cannot help but feel gratitude toward those who have the wealth to maintain them: Read More »