ancient ruins

A Few of My Rome Rituals

I was planning on doing a review of The Borgias today, since it premiered on tv yesterday. I’ve been excited about it for over a year, so last night I hunkered down in my bed and prepared for 15th century decadence, lasciviousness, crime, and fashion. Just as my tv automatically switched over, something strange happened to my satellite and I couldn’t get the channel. Strangely, I could get Keeping up with the Kardashians and just about every other show I didn’t want to watch. Ah, such is life.

So, tonight instead of The Borgias, I decided to do a little list.

You’ve probably heard someone say that the definition of insanity is doing “the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Well, you can throw most of that out the window when you travel.

One of the best parts of traveling is not just going to the same location over and over but sometimes visiting the same sites over and over.

Since I had the Borgias on my brian, I was thinking about Rome today. I suddenly realized I have a few must see/do things that are starting to become like rituals. I’ll keep going back to do the same thing again and again because every single visit offers something new, different, special, and, now, a little nostalgic.

Here are 5 of my (non-history related) rituals in Rome

1.  Stop for gas in the taxi from the airport to Rome

This one is beyond my control, but it has happened twice now with two different drivers. Both of them stopped at the same gas station and both left the meter running (naturally!). I think I would almost feel a little sad if my next taxi driver actually drove me straight to Rome.

It also says something about how magical Rome is to me because I know I would be enraged if someone did this to me on the way to any other city. Sure, I was mad the first time, but the second time was just comical. I think the third time would be. . .wait for it. . .charming.

That being said, the taxi ride into Rome is always a favorite of mine. The drivers I’ve had so far have been so proud of their city and seemed to genuinely enjoy pointing things out. There’s nothing like that first glimpse of an ancient ruin amidst all the chaotic traffic to make you realize that you’re somewhere very special.

2.  Take this picture:

It’s through the Arch of Septimus Severus at the Forum. The scene never fails to make my heart flutter.

I can't put my finger on exactly why it does that to me or why I feel compelled to take this picture. Something about it makes me feel like I'm peeking through a really big keyhole onto something undiscovered.

It's the way the light is always a little different, making the ruins glow. It's knowing how many stories and secrets those ancient ruins have seen and now hold deep within them.

I know the view probably won't change much in my lifetime, but I'll keep taking the picture as long as it makes my heart flutter.

3.  Eat at Vineria Il Chianti

The second and third time I went to Rome, my family and I stayed near the Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. I really like this area and will continue to stay there if I can.

It’s a short walk from the piazza where the palazzo is to the Trevi. On our first night, we were tired and we had nowhere to eat.  We stumbled down to the Trevi and then, luckily, onto Vineria Il Chianti.

We sat on the patio, packed into tables under umbrellas, nearly bumping elbows with fellow tourists and locals alike. We had great wine and delicious pizzas as we watched tours march down the side street toward the Trevi, following silly, brightly colored flags or wearing matching bandanas. We were in Rome and life was good.

Since then, we've ended up there at some point on our trip, either intentionally  or unintentionally, and it has always been a really pleasant experience.

4.  Eat gelato at the Trevi

What do you do after dinner at all hours of the day while vacationing in Italy? Eat gelato, of course.

I know most people would say you have to go try San Crispino gelato if you’re near the Trevi. And you should. I’ve seen it on a lot of lists for the best gelato in Rome. There’s a reason it is on those lists, it is actually very, very good.

But my favorite gelato spot is right next to the Trevi. If you’re looking at the fountain, it’s to your right, on the corner. That should be all the direction you need, it’s pretty hard to miss.

The shop is small and full of tourists. The gelato probably isn’t made on premises using organic/local/rare ingredients, but I don’t really care.

Almost every night, my dad and I got coconut gelato to help give us the strength to walk up the hill toward the Palazzo Quirinale. You know what? It worked.

Why coconut gelato? Because theirs just plain rocks. I've done lots of research on this and it's the best I've had so far. It's very creamy, full of coconut, and makes me oh so very, very happy.

Yeah, I'm definitely biased.

They also might be trying to win me over, though. I once got a huge piece of dark chocolate in my stracciatella. It is really easy to win me over with hunks of dark chocolate.

And then there was that time one of the guys working there started hitting on me in front of my dad. He switched to French when he learned that I studied it in school and that my dad didn’t know any French. Too bad mine was so rusty because I have no idea what that guy said to me. Looking back, it had to have been pretty saucy if he couldn’t say it in front of my dad in English. It's a shame, really. Think of all the free coconut gelato I might have had access to. . .

5. Throw a coin in the Trevi

What can I say? I’m superstitious. I don't care if it's touristy or cheesy. If there’s any chance it will keep me coming back to Rome, then I’m doing it.

Honorable Mention goes to Antica Enoteca, near the Spanish Steps.

We have a way of stumbling onto it in the afternoon, after lots of window shopping, just when we need it the most. I've never eaten a meal there, but it's perfect for taking a little time to relax and have a glass of wine. They have a good selection of wines and the atmosphere is great. It's dimly lit with wide arches and a long, wooden bar.

So there are a few of my Rome rituals. I have some history-related ones and will post them later.

I'm curious, do you have any rituals in any of your favorite cities? What are they? Any for Rome?