So, this day was really fully packed, so I wrote them in themes from the dayparts of the day.
Poetry in the Rain
Jet lag got the better of us and we absolutely did not get anything done the night we landed. We just slept until the very late hours, and there was nothing else to do when we finally woke up. So, we took another nap in the dawn and set off early on our first full day in Rome. The sky was overcast, like the day we came in, only there were bigger clouds, rain clouds. But we were troopers and did not want to waste a day in Rome, so we went ahead and went walking the streets nearby our hotel. We were located in Via San Eufemia, which was close to everything that mattered. Being close to everything does not mean we won’t get lost, however. My Rome iPhone App was not working as we needed, the GPS won’t locate us and it was hard to find to make it simulate our correct location. So, we just went ahead and tried to follow the signs. And signs in Rome are pretty confusing! They are in English, but still confusing. It was eight in the morning and the roads were practically deserted. I guess the Italians don’t really start a day until much later! We enjoyed strolling around empty streets while being lost. A few wrong and finally right turns later, we get to the Pantheon (now the Basilica of St Mary and the Martyrs). In photos, the Pantheon is very underrated. And it took a drizzle of rain before we learned about its beauty.
Sandra and I were taking photos by the fountain in the piazza in front of the Pantheon, until the rain started to fall. Without an umbrella, we were, thus, left with no other choice but to enter the Pantheon to seek shelter. And that’s when we both realized the beauty before us. The Pantheon’s dome is a hole with no glass on it. The purpose was to make the sunshine enter in with no barrier. When we came in, we thought there was glass as it still hadn’t occurred to us what happens when it is raining instead. The dome was very beautiful, as in the midst of a cloudy day, it still looked as though the sun was shining through it. The rain kept on pouring while we were there. And as a puddle formed in the center of the Basilica a.k.a Pantheon, we saw that the rain was showering inside, in that one fixed spot. We looked up to the dome and saw the rain droplets against the light. The feeling was so spiritual. It was an amazing surprise to find it like that. We spent half hour to an hour after that in the ‘shelter’ of the Pantheon, until we finally bought an umbrella for 5 Euros. Great start to our day!
Il Dolce Far Niente – you have got to see it in action to understand it.
Since the rain didn’t look like it was going to stop for a bit and the forecast was being accurate, we decided to try a Roman Caffeteria experience. We entered a coffee shop a few blocks from the Pantheon. There was an espresso bar in the front, like a normal bar, only it served coffee. People who were in a rush would be standing here, where the barista would give their espresso shot in a small espresso shot glass and they will drink it from there right at the bar. They take their time drinking their coffee there, even if they were rushing. People who were seated, like us, were served coffee in a laidback pace. Sandy and I both ordered a cappucino, and it was the best we both had ever. We were there for a good hour and a few minutes. Our server didn’t even try and make us leave and respected our time and space. It didn’t matter that we probably ordered the cheapest items on the menu, what mattered to them was we were enjoying our time.
And this is how I began to understand “Il Dolce Far Niente”. Loosely translated as per the Eat, Pray, Love book, it means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” It is not a lame saying or an excuse for lazing around. It is a part of an Italian lifestyle, when everyone would take their sweet time enjoying life as they have before them — be it having a cup of coffee with a friend, having lunch, or anything that in an American lifestyle is not work-related. Italians work hard but they also live beautifully. Hence, to them the quality of the time spent matters as much or maybe even much more than the quantity of time. Doing nothing is actually something.
Tu Belleza Es Tu Cabeza
Having learned the concept of doing nothing the Italian way, Sandy and I stopped by and shopped for a couple hours on Via del Corso. We scratched the day’s itinerary and just let our hearts decide what we could do. We stopped by a boutique called Omai. They had a great collection of clothing. We were helped by a Romanian sales staff, Monica. She was adorable! She helped me fit a couple dresses and also even suggested styles for me. This girl could definitely be a fashion coordinator or stylist. She wasn’t salespitchy at all as she did not force me to purchase anything and even was honest when a particular dress or wardrobe didn’t look right. She gave me a few reminders and tips, saying that I should not be afraid to wear color and to show off the right things on my body. What stuck with me was her wise advice — style and beauty is in my mind, apart from the right cut of course. I have to think and believe I can wear something and it will look good.
I really recommend Omai, as a boutique for fashion forward readers. Their unique yet elegant style can have H&M have a run for their money. They’re in the middle of H&M and BCBG in my opinion, but uniquely European or even uniquely Italian.
After a few hours in Omai, we stopped by Benetton which was also having a sale at that time. (Everything in Italy was on sale during this time of year, so if anyone is looking to shop in Italy, early July is the best time to go!) We were each given a tote bag by the saleslady at Benetton, when I paid for my purchase. The tote bag Sandra got had this printed on it — “Tu belleza es tu cabeza”, yep, if loosely translated it means “your beauty is your mind” Now, is that a sign or what?
Pasta in Bibo
After our shopping escapade, we went back to our hotel to rest up a bit and freshen up. Closer to dinner, we went to have our late lunch/dinner at the pasta restaurant across the street. Sandy had the Lasagna and I had the tortellini with mushrooms and ham. Both were good. The waiter at the restaurant also gave us antipasti (appetizers) of mini sandwiches — one was salmon and artichoke and another was tuna. These prosciuttos were also good!
Beauty in Ruins
After our meal, we headed off to the Colosseo which was also about a half hour walk from our hotel. We decided to take time doing so and have fun. We were trying to get to the Colosseo before sunset so the photography lighting would be perfect (and as most of you know, I almost lost those photos!)
Author’s note: This was written while out on a trip to Italy for the first time. I realized I did not get to post this then, so well, it’s never too late to relive memories. I am back-dating this to the real time it was written. They still come to me as if they happened yesterday. (September 1, 2012)