Finding quiet in the Eternal City
Sometimes it’s difficult to image what Rome was like in ancient times or even what it might be like today if all of the tourists suddenly were to disappear. But there are moments and images that, if you are in right frame of mind, might take you back . . . or at least create a special memory that is uniquely yours.
For example, you may find yourself on a sidewalk in Trastevere, and realize you understood a conversation in Italian that you overheard.
Or when you catch a glimpse of peace through a window while moving with the crowd through the Vatican Museum on the way to the Sistine Chapel.
Or when you stumble onto a ‘magical doorway’ known as the Porta Alchemica in a public park (Piazza Vittorio) not normally explored by tourists on their way to Santa Maria Maggiore.
Maybe it is when you notice the gate through which the East Roman troops entered the city in 536, reclaiming it for the Byzantine Empire. The Porta Asinaria is close to San Giovanni in Laterano.
My best advice is to be open to the moment without expectations of when or where it will occur.
Borrow or rent the movie Pranzo di ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch) to see footage of modern Rome relatively tourist-free. Filmed in Trastevere, it is a light comedy about a middle-aged man, his elderly mother, and what they do to avoid eviction from their apartment.
(Originally posted in 2011)