Walking through the narrow streets of Rome

Even though I was in Rome for a team meetup, we had a free day on the Friday. I took a train to the central station in Rome with one of my colleagues, with the intention to go visit some of the attractions we’d read about on foot.

We were happy to see the various sites from the outside. We didn’t want to spend our day waiting in lines. Our first stop was the Colosseum.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular tourist destination. One of our colleagues mentioned that it isn’t really worthwhile waiting in lines to see the inside so I took some photos of the outside instead.

From there we walked towards the Altare della Patria, via a series of ruins. There was some work being undertaken along the route so the pedestrian walkways were pretty busy. The ruins are pretty spectacular in themselves. I just kept thinking that they’re almost scaled up versions of the smaller ruins we’ve seen here in Israel (yup, the Romans left their mark here too).

The Altare della Patria is a pretty spectacular structure. It’s pretty over-the-top, and apparently locals refer to it as the “Typewriter”.

It’s a little difficult to get a sense of the scale of the building from the photos, but it’s really big.

At that point in the day, it was time for lunch. We walked for a little bit to move out of the overpriced tourist zone, and settled for a small cafe in an alley somewhere nearby. I definitely achieved my goal of eating pizza in Rome, and the pizza I had was pretty good.

As much as I enjoyed the ancient remnants of the Roman Empire, I think the blended modern-ancient architecture of modern Rome appeals to me more. We walked in the rough direction of the Pantheon through narrow streets. I loved walking through those streets, peering down narrower alleys. This stroll was a real highlight of the trip for me.

I was surprised when we arrived at the Piazza Navona. After walking through these narrow roads, this huge square suddenly opened before us.

It’s pretty much what you expect when you think about some European public square, complete with ornate fountains, and cafes along the edges. I really like the space, although I don’t feel like my photos quite do the space justice.

From there, we made our way to our hotel, but not before stopping off at popular Gelato spot called Frigidarium. We were told that this is the place to get Gelato. We weren’t the only ones who heard this.

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The famous Frigidarium Gelato spot

The Gelato was good, sure, and it was worth the visit. I think I agree with my colleague that the Gelato spot near our hotel was just as good, if not better. Still, if you’re in the area, I can recommend it.

From there we continued back to our hotel, passing Castel Sant’Angelo, and making our way through Piazza San Pietro, in the Vatican City.

It was a great way to spend the day, and get to know Rome a little better. It’s certainly my favourite way to explore a new city.

You can find more, higher resolution photos from the day here.

Spectacular views of Rome from Gianicolo Hill

On one of the days I was in Rome, we hiked up Gianicolo Hill (I’m just calling it that, it may have a better name). It was a nice hike up from the area we were staying in to what seems like a popular vantage point where you can see much of Rome.

The views of Rome from Gianicolo Hill are pretty spectacular. You can get a sense of the history of the city when you look out at the buildings ahead of you. It’s pretty remarkable.

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You can literally see much of Rome from there. The view actually reminds me of the view from the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town.

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We arrived there late in the afternoon. We were due to meet up with the rest of our team at Pappa Rex Ristorante, near our hotel, for dinner so we didn’t hang around very long.

Still, it was a good hike up there, and back down again. It was certainly a great way to work up an appetite for dinner at what became our go-to restaurant for most of our meals.

You can find higher resolution versions of my photos here.

A stroll through the Vatican City

I went for a relatively quick stroll through the Vatican City with a colleague this afternoon. It’s spectacular, and busy. I snapped a couple photographs along the way.

I’m planning to return there tomorrow morning to spend some more time taking better photos.

St Peter’s Basilica at night

We have a great view of St Peter’s Basilica from our hotel. I went up to the hotel’s rooftop deck before heading to my hotel room for the night to take a couple photos, including this one:

St Peter's Basilica lit up at night
St Peter’s Basilica lit up at night

We’ll probably get to see more of the Vatican, and other sights in Rome on Friday. For now, we have a pretty good view of this structure.

When in Rome …

One of the perks of working for Automattic is having the opportunity to travel for team and company meetups. I arrived in Rome earlier today for a week-long team meetup.

Because we’re a distributed company, we don’t often have a chance to meet our teams in person. Meetups are fantastic opportunities to get to know the people we work with so much better.

I started capturing my experiences when I arrived at the train station in Modiin on my way to the airport, partly so I could share my journey with my family through a shared Google Photos album.

Here are a couple of photos that I took of the area around our hotel, about a stone’s throw from the Vatican City: