An Afternoon in Roma!
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
When my Lufthansa A321 touched down at Rome’s Fiumicino airport today just after 12:20 p.m. local time, I instantly perked up. I’d been drifting in and out of sleep on the 90-minute flight down from Frankfurt; a side-effect of spending my transatlantic flight watching all the great movies on Lufthansa’s video-on-demand program.
I’m here for an overnight stay prior to embarking the sleek – and newly refreshed – Silver Wind, one of ultra-luxury line Silversea’s most treasured ships. Together with her sister, Silver Cloud, the 1995 Silver Wind helped put the line on the map in the mid-1990’s, and her basic design and general arrangement would prove to be so successful that it can still be found in the line’s four-year-old flagship, Silver Spirit.
But it’s not my first time aboard the 296-guest Silver Wind. I last saw her in the port of Cape Town, at the tail end of a life-altering 10-day cruise along the coast of South Africa.
My home for tonight is the Hotel Bernini Bristol, one of Silversea’s Silver Shore Simply hotels in Rome. It’s an elegant little hotel with a classic, boutique feel to it.
In the lobby, overheight ceilings reflect the kind of grandeur Rome is known for. Floors are a combination of marble and hardwoods; and tapestries adorn the walls. Even with guests milling about the lobby, there’s no mistaking it: this is one soothing property, and it’s situated right at the heart of the action.
Located in Piazza Barberini, the Bernini Bristol is a five-minute walk from the famous Spanish Steps. It’s roughly the same distance to the iconic Trevi Fountain, and only 15 minutes on foot to Piazza Navona, and well within walking distance of some important sights I missed on my last trip.
After arriving from Fiumicino, I got myself “settled in” to my room here at the Bernini Bristol – but I didn’t linger long. Nowhere is the phrase “When in Rome” more appropriate than right here in Roma.
To start with, my plans weren’t all that different from my previous visit here back in August. I hit the Spanish Steps, which will be recognizable to even those who haven’t been here, thanks to the fact they feature prominently in nearly every movie made about or shot in Rome.
From there, I swung around past the Trevi Fountain and discovered that, at 4 p.m. on a Monday in November, it’s only moderately mobbed with tourists. I dashed down long enough to flip a coin over my shoulder into the basin; legend has it that doing so ensures your return to Roma. It seems to have worked for me so far, so I see little point in messing with a good thing,
After, I walked three blocks down Via del Corso to Piazza Venezia and the striking Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, among other things. While I love it and think it is one of Roma’s most impressive monuments, it was controversial when constructed, with many Italians dubbing it “The Wedding Cake” because of its cascading tiers.
There’s also a secondary observation deck that can be accessed free of charge – and that’s how I discovered I was within walking distance of the Coliseum. I could actually see it, along with the Roman Forum and the ruins lining the length of Via del Fori Imperiali.
Off to the right-hand side as you approach the monument is a building that looks rather nondescript in comparison, but it was here on the lone protruding balcony that Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini gave some of his patented morale-boosting speeches to the good citizens of Rome. But the honeymoon wouldn’t last for Il Duce, who arguably faced a more horrific downfall and death at the hands of the Italian people than his friend and sometimes confidant, Adolf Hitler, did.
But Rome is filled with dozens if not hundreds of stories like that of Mussolini: breathtaking ascents to power that verge on God-like before turning sour, done in by the government, the people, or both.
Seeing the Coliseum so close inspired me to walk another 10 minutes to it as the last rays of light were fading. It appeared to be closed – I never did figure out how to get in if that wasn’t the case – but this remnant of Ancient Rome is inspirational enough on the outside. Restoration work is taking place on part of the outer walls, along with the Arco di Constantino – but that in no way detracts from the power of this spot.
I could go on and on about what an inspiring city Roma is, but words can hardly do a place like this justice. You could live here all your life and never fully discover its treasures, and it seems somewhat fatalistic to expect to even do a fraction of what Roma has to offer in the mere 24 hours I will spend here before embarking the Silver Wind tomorrow in Civitavecchia. Instead, here’s a look at some of the sights I saw today:
Rome is a city without equal; miraculously preserved throughout history for us to enjoy today – and hopefully, for generations to come. There’s nothing else like it.
Silver Wind, Rome to Malaga
|November 18, 2013||Rome, Italy||Arrival in Rome||Overnight hotel stay|
|November 19||Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy||Embark Silver Wind||6:00 PM|
|November 20||Sorrento, Italy||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 21||Trapani, Italy||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 22||Valetta, Malta||8:00 AM||4:00 PM|
|November 23||La Goulette, Tunisia||8:30 AM||6:00 PM|
|November 24||At Sea|
|November 25||Cartagena, Spain||8:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|November 26||Malaga, Spain||8:00 AM||Disembark Silver Wind; onward journey|
Our Live Voyage Report through the Mediterranean aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind will continue tomorrow as we travel to Civitavecchia to embark this ultra-luxury ship. Be sure to follow along on twitter by following the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.