Unseen Italy – Behind the Scenes

As travel blogging is new to me, my initial thought was to write down everything that happened on a daily basis. What did we do, where did we go, what we ate etc. It became apparent that when reading through what I wrote, it was boring.

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I’m sure that millions of bloggers and writers have almost written the same thing, been to the same places and eaten the same food.

Based centrally in Campo De’ Fiori, just south of Piazza Navona, we stayed at Casa Banzo, and had easy access to all the main sites that Rome has to offer.

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The Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, The Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Sistine Chapel, The Pantheon, we saw it all.

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The Colosseum was breathtaking, a place of simplicity with only two outcomes, live or die. What a way of life and one that we surely can’t comprehend. A truly amazing city of endless beauty and one that defies time.

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Every city is different, yet similar. We spent time watching, listening, paying attention to the less everyday tourist spots and tried to see Rome in a different light. A short story of the real Rome and what everyday life is.

Many of the piazzas early morning turn into a hive of activity. Market stalls spring out of nowhere turning an empty, quiet square into a thriving mass of small businessmen and women trying to make a living. These markets are busy. Of course the quality of the goods in some cases is less that appealing, however, looking through the “tat” there is fine fruit, veg, oils, flowers and more. Authentic Italy. Surrounding these stalls are the endless Ristorantes, which during the day are quieter. Walk past any of them and you’re offered food, drink, tea, coffee, almost anything you want.

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My favourite part, however, is the demolition of the markets. The bars and restaurants by this time are getting busier with locals and tourists starting their evening’s entertainment. Taba was my bar of choice in Campo De’ Fiori. They had sofas on the edge of the square where we could watch the local market been taken down. The floor was a mess of plastic bags, food and bottles which were swiftly cleaned up by an army of street sweeping machines. As quick as they were there, they were gone and the piazza was clean ready for the evening. A few local men set up next to the  central monument and serenaded us all with great Italian tunes. Drunks were dancing, tourists were laughing and watching, and the mood was set for another fine evening.

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Not all the squares are like this with many others containing more people selling fake goods, toys, clothes, paintings and much more.

One of my frustrations was continually having things thrust in my face. “you want to buy, you want to eat, you want to drink?” Never a quiet moment to just take in the atmosphere, which to be fair would probably not be the same without all these people. Sometimes I wish I had a t-shirt which said “bugga off!”  Or simply “no!” 

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Different parts of the city, like many, show different aspects of Rome. What I loved is the old and new co-existing. Heading up to the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain showed us many examples of how the old Italian masterpieces have been built around with new, but not out of place buildings. The Entrance of Gods was the feeling that came over me when looking at the tall columns fronting these epic ancient buildings. The Pantheon was like this. Standing beneath the giant entrance looking up to what feels like a building made for Zeus, made me feel very, very small.

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Another aspect of Rome that became very obvious was the sheer amount of graffiti. Not only did the side streets contain a mass of “street art,” the main parts of town old and new did also. Most of it was standard spray painting however some of it I loved. It was however a shame that the old parts were surrounded by endless skulls, logo’s and random squiggles. I have never experienced this volume of graffiti in any other city.

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As this was a holiday I couldn’t possibly compare it to our beloved cities as I’m sure working there would have the same feel. It was however, like many European cities, a quieter more relaxed way of life that I would love to see in the UK.

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