While the Mighty Overwhelm. . .
While your eyes dazzle before such monuments as the Arch of Constantine and the ruins of the Coliseum, you might not notice all the excavation sites in Rome. Modern scholars and archaelogists continually uncover or unearth relics of Rome's illustrious past. Sometimes the sites are marked as a 'keep off' area and others are fenced off, so be mindful of such places and watchful as well -- markers don't always advertise the latest finds for public exhibits.
Take the train to Pompeii for a short day trip. It is a 2 hour ride from Rome and a good break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Spend the afternoon exploring this ancient city covered by lava and ash. It provides a glimpse of how it was to live in a small city hundreds of years ago. Don't forget to stock up on amazing italian pastries from the little bakery next to the train station. It can make the ride back much more pleasant. And when in the train station in Naples.......run!
Evening by Sta Maria Maggiore
A small café/bar I went to after late dinners and really enjoyed is right behind the church Sta Maria Maggiore, on or by Piazza dell' Esquilino.
It appears to be owned and managed by a young couple, whose mischievious young daughter dances and sings by the tables outside until Babbo catches her and brings her in.
I loved sitting in the cool air, in the huge night shadow of the church, which looks totally different from that angle and at that hour. On my first stop there, I wasn't feeling ill... but perhaps a bit badly after a very long day in the sun, walking all over Rome and this huge bucatini all' amatriciana I'd just had at the corner...
I told the woman at the bar that I couldn't decide, she said "A Fernet-Branca will set you straight!"
This turned out to be a very good suggestion. Fernet-Branca is supposed to be good to take if something ails you. It's a mix of many aromatic plants such as myrrh, saffron from Iran, aloe from South Africa, gentian from France, Curcuma zedoaria.... oh that last leaves a strong after-taste!
In fact it tastes pretty bad. I enjoyed it, very slowly sipped, because I'm convinced that such medicinal-tasting stuff must cure all ailments. I've always been a fan of Italian herbal liqueurs.
And it doesn't cost much since you really have enough of one shot! Make it last, watching the world go by. Each time I went to that café, I saw a priest in cassock leave the church from the back, lock the door and rush across the street with his attaché-case. A strange image for me, since we never see priests in traditional dress anymore in Montreal. It really fired up my imagination... where is he running to? a business meeting? going home for supper? He may even have wanted a quick Fernet-Branca himself!
But one needs to eat first, Fernet-Branca is "particolarmente indicato per il dopo-pasto"... a digestive what!
Eat with the well heeled Romans
The food was outstanding. When you first come in they serve you a little apertif and interesting hors d'ouvres. They don't speak english very well, and when I was there the second time didn't even have a menu in English, but they patiently try to answer all your questions. The menu was so interesting it took quite a while to order. We had early reservations, but about an hour later the place was packed with well-dressed Romans and very few tourists. Huge wine list. Perhaps my favorite restaurant in Rome.
Not expensive for the quality. 90 Euros for three people each having three courses and also one bottle of wine. I had the lamb. I also had all three courses -- hard to resist when you see the menu.
Explore the Roman Forum
To properly appreciate the Roman Forum it requires patience and imagination. Too many tourists just zoom through the ruin and snap a few pictures and then move on. Take your time and make it a point to sit down in different places around the forum and try to envision what it may have looked like in its time. One good tip would be to pick up a guide book that has a map of the forum that shows how it is now and what it would of looked like back in the day. Walking through the Roman Forum is like taking a trip back in time, so, no pun intended, take your time and enjoy the wonder of it all!