It is half way through April already and it never fails to take me back to the quiet gullies of nostalgia.
Our exams used to be over , the holidays would have begun, homes would be filled with cousins and relatives. The only thing I had to worry about was getting up late and getting to play cricket on the road.
It would begin at 6.00 in the morning, friends calling on you to wake up and join them for a long walk. I used to miss that most times , majorly because I hated to walk and jog and all that stuff. But when mom knew that I was feigning being asleep , she pushed me out of bed and into the welcoming smiles of my friends.
One, two , three, four ; upto ten twelve of us walked along the road, like we owned the damn thing.
Zigzagging around with nothing to do, asking each other the same riddles and talking about dinosaurs, cartoons and our cycles. Someone always brought with them Pokemon cards and tazos. I used to look at them with awe. I had three and that was that, nothing less and nothing more. I would invariably ask for a Cheetos packet and be met with this standard dialogue, “next time.
So we would begin our walk , there were no vehicles about, the only thing we had to ever be wary of was the mongrels or the road dogs. They were huge and ferocious looking and I had a mortal fear of them. I used to scared stiff of them and walk like I was a thief and they the police.
Coming to this legendary game of Kalla Police or Chor Police , we had amazing fun. It was always me or one more kid, who got to chase everyone around and not catch them.
We would come back by eight thirty, no one had a watch , but still we knew it was time and our stomachs were growling anyways. We had a small breakfast that always used to be lovely and go to play.
We played and played and played. We stopped when it rained or when we lost the ball in the bushes.
Back then there were still green places left around, there were snakes that could eat you and kill you and not the other way around. And on occasions when someone did get a little adventurous , they would hit the ball high in the air, only to land up in one of the houses that never allowed us to play. We used to stand in front of them, sorry faced and pretending to listen to them go and on about being good kids, sitting at home and not playing around in the hot sun. we listened only until we got the ball back and then it was back to live action.
Here everyone was a cricket player, everyone was a cricket pundit and everyone wanted to have a bat first and especially if someone got out first ball , we were sure to see tantrums on the field. Our wicket usually was a tree and a brick, we were excited beyond measure when we hit a boundary and sometimes we only had to fetch it back when that happened.
All of them almost always played near my home, our home was the mecca of our road cricket diaries , the lords pavilion where our names are still etched in the broken window panes.
Now that April has arrived, the smell of mangoes is ever present, I look back and see if at all I need to eat one. But then it was all different, each one consumed on an average four or five big ones and still be hungry. We were always hungry and always thirsty and there used to be a huge jug of water kept outside our house for all of us.
Lunch was never skipped , lunch was an interim just after which play resumed . on too sunny days we chose to sit and just talk with each other, chat was a term that was exclusively reserved for Pani Puri and masala puri. None of us had phones but we had one notable addiction. Video games were the rage and not everyone had them , so we set about to one or more of these posh houses that had the luxury of video games and spent the afternoon , saying yes to everything our host told us to do. If the host was impressed with us , he would give us the nod to play with him. Whenever he felt bored that was the end of the video games session for the day.
Then we would roam around the road with our cycles, vary of the little traffic that still ran those days. We had competitions from one end to another, cycling, racing and almost losing our heads while braking. We fell too many times to notice, just got up , cried for a while and got consoled and we were up again like clockwork.
Nobody got sick in the summer, but the ones who got sick also wanted to play with us, and this was always a topic of contention with our mom’s. Some way or another we made time to play. No one had phones or whatsapp groups then , we just visited every home at 2.30 or 4.00 in the afternoon and rang the bell , most oftened answered by sleepy parents or grumpy grandparents. We got shooed away saying that they had relatives at home, their kid is still sleeping even though we knew that nothing of that sort had happened.
Some of us would go to swimming classes, Veena classes , speaking clubs and summer camps , meeting more people in the process but never really getting to know them. There was this craze of going to cricket coaching but this came in very very long into our childhood experiences.
Girls, boys , young and old; there was no distinction when we played. Evenings mostly was reserved for playing together. Hide and seek was the best of all, running around, hiding in new places, jumping between houses, getting scolded by many of them in the process. But it was fun.
What was more fun, was this social event called birthdays , where we got drunk on rasna and high on samosa. Gifts were always about ten or twenty rupees , nothing more but the excitement of opening a gift box was legendary. Plus you could get to show off to all your friends your latest plastic watch, goggles and the best part was the group photograph ,not to mention the food that followed. I loved the part where we sung the Happy birthday song in twenty different voices , each one trying to outdo the other.There was always competition, never a day did not go by that we were not competing against each other. But it was all healthy in terms of everyone knew everyones’s strength and weaknesses , mainly in terms of batting and bowling and sometimes in running around. We knew where these guys hid during Hide and Seek and whose mom cooked the best chappatis.
We always had time for television and mainly cartoon network and national geographic, most of the times we had no clue what was going on but we watched anyways. We also watched television with parents, the 8.30 to 9.00 news was the bell gong for the entire family to sit together, watch the news that came only for half an hour and then to start eating. Once done that was the end of the day. No more television, no more games. Lights out and good night.
And then another day would begin. April and May would roll over the blink of an eye and those were the best days of my life.
Welcome to the ancient city and Italy's capital – Rome. It is one of the world’s most romantic cities. The beauty of the amazing city will melt your heart and will make you fall in love with the country. Though it can be hot during the peak summer and overcrowded there is so much incredible, ancient history and heritage to be explored.
The Eternal Land of History
It is a city with nearly 3,000 years of history with globally influential art, architecture, awe-inspiring ruins and culture on display. It is a magical place for photography – when you think about the ancient streets, the world famous Colloseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Roman Forum, Trevi fountain, Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and many more.
The country has a long history, as Rome was founded in 753BC. After the Roman Empire broke down in 395AD, there were many separate kingdoms and cities evolved. It has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine including fashion Capital Milan and other major cities Florence, Venice, Naples and Pisa.
The city of seven hills
The city of Rome was built on seven hills (Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline (where city hall is), Esquiline, Palatine (where the big archaeological digs are), Quirinal and Viminal). There are lots of must-sees and several activities to do here giving you a solid senses of its past. No matter how you choose to spend your time here, you will be treated with sensational views, world-class attractions, a history lesson and scrumptious food. It’s always been a synonym for "mouth-melting food," offering an unmistakable explosion of flavors and aromas. Enjoy the amazing Roman pastas and Fettuccine ai Funghi which is our favourite.
Now, Let's dig into 10 phenomenal must visit sights in Rome (aka Caput Mundi - Capital of the world) -
Piazza Venezia & Altare Della Patria
St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums
Piazza di Spagna & Spanish Steps
Bocca della Verità & The Mouth of Truth
It is the world's 39th most popular tourist attraction with roughly 4 million tourists a year. The construction began in the first century under the rule of the Roman Emperors: Vespasian (69-79 CE), Titus (79-81 CE) and Domitian (81-96 AD). These three Emperors are known as Flavian Dynasty and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius). It is the largest amphitheatre and was capable of holding up to 80,000 spectators who came to see a whole range of games:
1] Animal hunts- This was an event of shooting animals with bow and arrows.
2] The Bestiarii – The gladiators fought with wild beasts such as tigers and leopards here. They were trained animal-handlers and killers.
3] Criminal fights - Criminals were also sentenced to fight wild beasts but without any skills, weapons or armour.
4] Velites - Spear Fighters fought each others.
The Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus
From the Colosseum you can walk to the Roman Forum, which is a very short walk. The ticket to the Roman Forum is free if you have the Colloseum ticket but the other way round… Well it’s not exactly true; you cannot visit the Colloseum if you have bought the ticket for the Roman Forum.
The Roman Forum is an impressive sprawl of ruins. In the Middle Ages it was known as the Campo Vaccino ('Cow Field'). At the end of the path, you'll come to Via Sacra and the Tempio di Giulio Cesare. The Roman Forum Mark’s where Julius Caesar was cremated.
You can extend your walk to Circus Maximus which is in very close approximately. This place is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium which was built in the Roman times; it was a huge engaging stadium. Lots of people visit the chariot stadium every year. The Circus Maximus is an amazing place to visit and an open air area where you can sit down and have a break.
Altare Della Patria
Italy became one nation only in 1861 and since then includes the islands of Sicily (a must-see beauty) and Sardegna (a jaw-dropping sight). Victor Emmanuel was the first king of Italy. In honour of his name, this wow-inducing monument was built in Piazza Venezia. It is 135 metres wide and is 70 metres high.
There is a little walkway on the road in front of The Emmanuel palace where the view is amazing. Sometimes the soldiers march around in the palace. This palace also holds the tomb of a soldier. It is right near the Roman Forum and the colosseum.
Vatican City is a separate and the smallest country and also has St Peter’s Basilica - the home of the Pope. This major Papal basilica is one of the world's most famous church in the whole, wide world and in Vatican City. It marks where Peter was crucified by Roman Emperor - Augustus Caesar. It is located in Piazza San Pietro.
Castel Sant’Angelo - also known as Mausoleum of Hadrian - is a castle in the Vatican City. It is commissioned by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for him and his family. A secret corridor (Passetto di Borgo) connects Castel Sant'Angelo with the Vatican. It is located near the River Tiber and the castle is currently a museum with turbulent history. The drum was covered with an earthen tumulus topped with a statue of Hadrian driving a quadriga.
Vatican Museums is a well-liked visitor destination with more than 4.2 million tourists per year, making it the world's 37th most visited destination.
The Trevi is the most spectacular fountain in Rome. In the centre of the fountain is a statue of Oceanus, the Greek Sea God, standing under a triumphal arch. His chariot is being pulled by two sea horses, one wild and one docile, representing the opposing moods of the sea. Two Tritons are leading the horses, the older Triton holding a twisted shell to announce their passage.
If you’ve been to Rome you would have probably been to Trevi Fountain and tossed a coin over your shoulder and into the water. The legend of the Trevi fountain says that if you throw a coin into it, you will return to Rome or Italy one day. Trevi fountain is free to visit. Approximately 3,000 Euros are tossed into the fountain every day and an estimated €1.4 million was thrown into the fountain in 2016. However, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain though it is illegal.
A walk from the Spanish Steps to the Pantheon
The Spanish Steps, a great place to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and views of the Eternal City, consists of 138 steps. At the bottom of the steps you can find a fountain called Fontana Della Barcaccia, or “Fountain of the Old Boat”. The best time to visit is at the evening. On the 20th March, 1986 the very first McDonalds was opened in Italy near the Spanish Steps. Starting at the Spanish Steps you can also visit the Trevi fountain and this walk can be extended to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
As we know that everyone likes football Stadio Olimpico will be a good place to visit as lots of matches take place there. Stadio Olimpico is the largest sports attraction of Rome and is the home stadium of two major football teams which play for serie A – SS Lazio & AS Roma. The stadium boasts roughly 80,000 spectators. It is one of the five European stadiums to host the FIFA World Cup.
The Mouth Of Truth
The Mouth of Truth is a marble mask which stands against the left wall of the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. The Bocca Della Varita “The mouth of truth” is simply one of the best sculptures in Rome. It is the face of a man with its mouth, nostrils and eyes wide open. If you put your hand in the Mouth of Truth that is said to bite the hands off of liars.
Other legend was told in the Roman times, it said that the rich wife of a Roman man was accused of committing adultery. The woman didn’t accept that she did it but her husband wanted to put her to the test by making her hand go inside the stone mouth Bocca Della Varita. It is so famous that even Hollywood gave it a place in a film about the city called Roman Holiday. Even now lots of people line up to see this amazing monument.
Well, you need to visit the City of Love and other cities in Italy at least once in your life. And stay there to explore the blissful landscape – from the snow-capped mountains of the Alps to the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. After the first trip, am pretty sure you would love to visit again as it’s the best travel choice and there are plenty of places to see and things to do. And most importantly famous for its beautiful cars. Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini are known to everyone. And, also it’s a great place to travel by Europe’s fastest train. Italian High Speed FRECCIAROSSA trains travel the length and breadth of Italy, reaching speeds of 400 km/hr, entering into the heart of the major cities and shortening distances.
Enjoy your holidays in Rome and return home with the best souvenir and a memory of your incredible adventure.