The Soul and Spirit of Rome

Get connected with the soul and spirit of Rome

Visiting a city, especially such a big and vivid city like Rome, may be a very exciting and challenging experience.  Obviously, there are a lot of tourist attractions which should be seen, without any doubt.  I do recommend choosing a tour guide with a local company like “Walks of Italy,” in order to better understand the Eternal City and its historical aspects.  There are also many special areas and places where you can walk by yourself and get connected with the soul of Rome. So, let’s discover a few of them.

Home in Rione Monti

After a tour of the Coliseum and Forum Romanum, you can take a metro to Cavour station, or you can simply walk along the via Cavour to get to the area called Rione Monti. Located between the Roman Forum and the Quirinale Palace, Monti reminds you of ancient times and it’s old name – Suburra, which means “under city” in Latin.  The district resembles a small village in the heart of Rome, separated from the fast and chaotic life.  Nowadays, it is still inhabited by the Roman families who pass down their apartments from generation to generation.

However, at the same time, it has gained an artsy and bohemian feeling which creates a unique mix. In fact, it is just as easy to get your lamp or table repaired by an artisan who lives next door, to buy a handcrafted dress in one of the stylish boutiques, a vintage cloth in the second hand shop or an original painting in a local gallery.  A typical morning scene in the main square, called Piazza della Madonna di Rione Monti, is a local hanging out with a newspaper just bought in a newspaper kiosk and sipping a morning espresso in a famous bar called  La Bottega del Caffe.

The famous FIAT 500

You can also buy an  ice-cream “gelato” at the nearest Sicilian pasticeria (pastry shop) Ciuri, Ciuri, which reminds us that Sicilian sweet products are very famous in Italy and all over the world. There is also a place like the “Libreria Caffe Bohemien Bar,” where you can sit on a comfortable coach, grab one of the books from the shelves and feel like at home ordering a tea or wine. Trust me, it can be a real pleasure to get lost in the narrow, cobblestone streets and simply seize the moments in Monti.

Trastevere by night

While discovering the center of Rome, you can find  places where the older generations still use the dialects and where the famous overhanging laundry lines still decorate the buildings. Trastevere, derived from Latin worlds “Trans Tiberem,” beyond the Tiber River, used to be a working-class neighborhood where one of  the oldest Roman dialects has remained.  It is relatively close by, just walking distance, from Largo Argentina and Campo di Fiori.  In some parts of this district it is still possible to meet the “Signori” who sit in front of the door to their apartment and exchange gossip on a sunny morning.  Or, if you are lucky enough you can meet a charismatic figure who is the “knife sharpener.”  Yes, even if it sounds incredible and almost nostalgic, you can still get your knives repaired by this gentleman.  During the week, you can observe the locals following their daily routine.  But to have a real idea of this neighborhood, you should definitely visit it in the evening, especially on a weekend.

With all the restaurants, bars and small shops, Trastevere becomes a colourful spot for the Romans and tourists. From a centrally located Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, where the street performers entertain the crowd, you can immerse yourself in the labyrinth of narrow alleys.  Considering that Italy is one of the top producers of wine, it is definitely worthy to stop in one of the wine bars, for example “Il Good” located close to the second best known square Piazza Trilussa. Another curious place is the “Rivendita Libri Cioccolata e Vino,” where the original shots of chocolate with provocative and eccentric names, are served at the stand bar. Although the night life is very colorful, it seems that this neighborhood never goes to sleep, but at one point it gets quiet and Trastevere will prepare for a new day.

As the heart of the city beats fast and Rome gets overcrowded, it is just so pleasant to find a peaceful place with an amazing view, located at just walking distance from the Circus Maximus.  This special area, where you can find shade under the orange trees and where you can get one of the greatest pictures, is called Aventine Hill.  This is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, where the legendary Remus wanted to found the city, but was killed by his brother Romulus. Here you forget about the hectic rhythm of this metropolis and simply relax.

Secret wooden door - the Knights of Malta

The most fascinating thing is that the Knights of Malta, who are the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, own the beautiful Villa del Priorato, with its gardens on the hill.  The property is bordered by high walls with a wooden door, which keeps a Roman secret “key hole.”  I used to bring my relatives and friends who were visiting Rome, to make them discover a surprising view waiting for them on the other side of the door.  Everyone remained amazed by discovering that there is a garden path that ends with bushes perfectly framing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.  A good camera for photos is a necessity, to capture this unique image and share it with others after returning home.

Stunning view through the keyhole

But leaving Piazza del Cavalieri di Malta, there is still a chance to see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica on the Aventine Hill. The closest park, Orange Park, gives a different perspective on the dome and also reveals a spectacular landscape on the Tiber River and the roofs of the Trastevere buildings.  The summer nights bring intimate guitar concerts and gorgeous sunset views which are not to be missed.

Rome is a city which gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in its daily life and get a true feeling of its culture. However, it up to us to find how much we want to explore it and get connected with it!  It is also a city of contrasts that can surprise us and raise all sorts of emotions.  One thing is sure; it is definitely worth following the famous saying,  “when in Rome, do as the Romans do!”

Orange Park on the Aventine Hill

Aggie Grzegorczyk, Vacation Specialist for Carefree Vacations | | Toll Free (800) 795-0720 | Direct Line: (858) 592-7540

Stay tuned for more updates, including local recommendations for touring, dining and seeing Rome as the locals do.

“My name is Aggie and I am originally from Poland. I have lived in a several foreign countries such as England (London), South of France and Italy (Rome), all where I have had a chance to share in the local lifestyle, understand different cultures and traditions and gain international tourism work experience. Following my motto “carpe diem,” I seize the moments through traveling, meeting people from all over the world and enjoying my work. I also share a great passion for learning new languages, playing guitar and sports. I look forward to helping you find your ideal/dream destination.”

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