Arrivederci, Roma! (Summer Sailing 2018)

And before we knew it, it was our last day in Rome. And our last day of this adventure abroad. For us, the ending of a trip abroad has always been bittersweet; we look forward to being back home and falling back into our old routine, but we’re always sad to leave behind whichever beautiful place we are in. We have photos and memories to last a lifetime, but we only wish we could stay longer to make more. Bittersweet.

            We wanted to spend our last morning in Rome taking a nice walk in the Villa Borghese, which is Rome’s 3rd largest park. I read on a blog somewhere before leaving that they recommend doing a nice picnic in the park. There’s plenty of places to sit, and plenty to watch while you’re eating. It’s such a great way to spend a nice quiet morning.

            At one of the lookout points in the park, we got to get a bird’s eye view of the Piazza del Popolo below. The name in Italian literally means “People’s Square.” For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.

We left the park, took the stairs down to the Piazza, and walked around a little, admiring all the activity that was happening in the square.

We wormed our way out of the Piazza and headed towards the edge of the Tiber River for another bit of a slow, peaceful walk. It was a good view of the river bank but still incomparable to the Seine and the other rivers we’ve been lucky enough to see.

We kept walking and walking until we got to the Ponte De Sant’Angelo, which is the Bridge of Hadrian and was completed in 134 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to span the Tiber from the city center to his newly constructed mausoleum, the Castel Sant’Angelo, which we were going to visit.

The bridge was absolutely stunning. There were statues of 12 different angles, and the detail in the statues was amazing. It always blows my mind how intricate these monuments, sculptures, and paintings can be. It was as if somebody had spent their entire life dedicating themselves to just carving this one sculpture, or constructing this one monument, and to them, nothing else mattered except the perfection of their art and the completion of it.

Once we had passed the bridge, we lined up for tickets to go into the Castel Sant’Angelo.

We were caught in a long line that moved incredibly slowly and unfortunately, the sun was right above us. But it was all worth it in the end. The tour of the castle was great, and the way it was set up, there was a very clear direction on where to go. They even provide you with free wifi to download an app on your phone that gives you a guided tour. As you walk to each checkpoint, which is an information sign of what you are seeing, it will automatically start playing and giving you the background and history of it all.

Although the castle was initially commissioned by Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, it was later used by the popes as a fortress and a castle, and is now a museum. The urns containing many ashes of emperors – including those of Hadrian and his family – is in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building.

We followed the signs and the arrows, and near the end of the tour, it led us up to a rooftop where we got a great panoramic view, and a close up of the Vatican.

We had seen what we wanted to see, and taken photos of all that we wanted to remember, so we made our way to the exit and walked back across the river, across the same bridge of Angels.

There wasn’t many other big tourist attractions we had planned on the itinerary so instead, we used the few hours we had left before dinner to walk up and down Via Nazionale to do some shopping! It was the end of one season for Italian fashion so each store was offering deep discounts, because according to one of the store ladies we were talking to, they don’t keep anything from the old season. It all must go. I got to walk away with some great Italian pants, a nice jumpsuit, and some shirts. The prices were such a steal, even when converted back to Canadian dollars, it was cheaper than what most stores would offer for the same type of clothing.

We headed back to the hotel and since we still had lots to pack and didn’t want to be wandering the city looking for a place to eat, we chose to eat on our rooftop terrace instead. We got a nice variety of pasta (carbonara was my selection, of course) and a nice choice of desserts too. No dinner in Italy is complete without gelato.

The next day, Fabrizio from All Around Italy, the same private hire we had used to pick us up from the port, was scheduled to pick us up from our hotel and deliver us to the airport. I cannot say enough nice things about Fabrizio and the way he interacts with his customers. On the road, he asked what time our flight was, and it was still 3 or 4 hours later. So he said to us, “Okay, we’re making a very quick pit stop. I want to show you guys something.” He brought us to this huge door somewhere in the city of Rome, and we were, of course, confused. But he told us to just go and peek in the keyhole that was at the center of the door.

The sight was, again, something you’d see out of a fairy tale book. I looked it up when we got home and it was called the Aventine Keyhole. The doorway leads to the Priory of the Knights of Malta. Since it holds extraterritorial status, it is not technically “Italy” within the walls. The keyhole vista lines up perfectly with the garden, centered on the Vatican in the distance. This is why people say that when you look into it, the view consists of two nation-states and once country, with the dome of St. Peter’s perfectly situated in the center. The photo below is one obtained online.

It was the best way to end off this vacation.

That officially brings us to the end of the Summer Sailing 2018 Adventure, all summarized in photographs and writing to the best of my ability. I hope you guys enjoyed following along with the series, and I hope even more so that there will be another series to write about just around the corner. Who knows what this summer will hold in store for us, after all?

~Julia

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