Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

If you know that a bellicose North African chap by the name of Hannibal has the distinction of being the only person in recorded history to have entered Rome on the back of an elephant, you probably also know that there are many more comfortable, though less grand, ways of entering the eternal city. Why then, we hear you cry, does this blog does not have any posts about Rome, Milan, Florence, or really any of the major Italian cities? Do its authors not think wedding guests will be interested in visiting these cities? Indeed, does this big-headed wedding blog think itself so superior as to willfully ignore such monumental and famous places? The very cheek of it!

The truth is, of course, quite the opposite. In acknowledging their limitations both in time and ability, the blog authors deliberately decided not to write anything about Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Florence or Venice for fear that such posts would be nothing but a gloss — barely scratching the surface of these complex and storied cities. After all, hefty books have been written about them, and it is not our intention to try to compete. But do not let yourselves be discouraged by the weight of literature in the same way as your weak-minded authors! We encourage you to check out as many of these places as you have the time and energy for.

We know that many of you are arriving in Rome as your first port of call in Italy, and while, like every guidebook, we highly recommend you visit the pantheon, the forum, the colosseum, campo di fiori, the Vatican City, etc, we also suggest you take a couple of hours to check out the monumental ruins of the Baths of Caracalla.

In their heyday, they were able to accommodate several thousand bathers at once and the sheer scale of the complex is staggering even today. Perhaps more amazing is that these leisure facilities were just one of several in the environs of ancient Rome, offering an insight into the size of the population of the center of the Roman Empire. For more information about the baths and the fascinating (seriously) engineering that allowed hot and cold running water in the second century AD, click here.

For a more general guide to Rome that offers advice on what to do and see in Rome in 48 or 96 hour stays, visit the official Rome tourist board website.

A Recurring Theme
A post on this website would hardly be complete without a reference to locally-available comestibles, so it is fortunate that Rome is a superb city for eating — one of our favorites, in fact. Trastevere is an excellent quarter of the city for authentic Roman restaurants, as is the Jewish Ghetto on the opposite bank of the River Tiber. Indeed, good food can be found in almost every neighborhood but, as in all cities that are on the tourist map, you can get very over-priced bad meals too, so you ought to show discretion about what you eat and where, especially if you find yourself with a hunger in the immediate vicinity of any of the major sights. However, Rome is a surprisingly small and compact city with a maze of intertwining streets, so within two minutes walk you can be completely off the beaten-track and seated at a neighborhood trattoria, paying locals prices.

For more details about Roman restaurants click here and for tips on typical Roman dishes to look out for, click here. Buongustaio!


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