Back to Rome

Rome’s grandeur hits you in the face. You wonder how you could have admired anything else, especially the lowly Puglia, when there is Rome: the haughty, contemptuous, eclectic, extravagant, obnoxious Rome.
Having seen all the major sites on our previous trips, we just walked randomly for two straight days. There is so much beauty here, it’s overwhelming The crumbling, dilapidated, buildings covered with peeling paint aged so gracefully, I think, they are more stunning now than when they were young.
Just about any minor church in Rome is more dazzling than almost any major church anywhere else.
While yesterday, we walked around the very center of Rome, today we concentrated on the Ghetto and Trastevere. Both neighborhoods changed a lot since we were there last, many years ago. There is more Jewish life in the ghetto, but it still looks terribly run down, even though scores of tourists roam its streets and eat in the area’s glatt kosher restaurants. The synagogue stands resplendent in its churchlike glory and the exhibits at the adjacent museum do a great job telling the story of the Roman Jewish community and the Jewish people as a whole. But the surrounding ghetto area is somewhat dispiriting; this land is probably still exudes the sadness sorrow of the people who lost their country, their land, saw their brethren exiled, who were brought here as slaves, and when freed from slavery, were locked in this open-air prison for almost 400 hundred years.
Trastevere is a whole different story. The people who lived here were foreigners who came here on their own free will. As they were not Roman citizens, they weren’t allowed to live in Rome proper. They came here for different reasons, probably, not unlike those that brought immigrants to the New World two millennia later. They came here on their own accord to pursue various opportunities, which this capital of the world made available. Trastevere is a happy, exuberant place, eclectic even more than Rome proper owing to the mixture of people who populated it throughout its history. Not a sleepy impoverished and insignificant younger brother of Rome any longer. This is the Montmartre, the Greenwich Village of Rome now. Gentrified Italian style (as much as Rome would allow) it bursts with energy and good spirit. Restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and shops fill narrow cobblestone streets and piazzas flanked by terracotta-colored buildings. Totally different vibe here – younger and hipper.
At night, we went to Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma to see Le Parc, which was a mistake. Ballet is not Italian forte. They should leave it to the Russians and to the French.


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