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Roma you beauty! There is so much that lies in you, unfolded, unwrapped, mystic and magnetic, that I am pulled towards to you. Persistently surprising at every nook and corner, Rome is a city that demands and deserves being a dream of every traveller. The first time you visit, the city shows you only its touristy path that millions of travellers take every time. On your second visit perhaps, you might start living the local vibe. The third time is a charm, they say and the city opens up to you, with its secrets, wide and deep.
But yes, most of us have only one chance to visit the city and explore an array of things to do in Rome. There’s a plethora of information that surrounds this city which is hotspot for history, art, culture and religion. But to really, really understand the city in a true sense, you need to go off the beaten path and explore the unknown.
Here’s a list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about Rome and which, will totally change your experience of the city:
1. Pizza! Yes, for Breakfast; Cappuccino Only for Breakfast!
Italian food needs no introduction. But what very few of us know is about the breakfast in Rome. The bakeries in Rome open as early as 4 am and serve the freshest breads, cornetto (Italian version of croissant) and even pizza! Yes, the love for pizzas is undying and Romans have Pizza Bianca (white pizza) for breakfast. The bakeries smell of this fresh pizza every morning and trust me, with a dash of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt, you don’t really need options! Wash It down with a cup of cappuccino (which, according to the city’s conventional beliefs should be only had for breakfast) and start your day fresh and charged!
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2. St. Peter's Basilica Tricks You With Optical Illusion
Correct me if I am wrong, but the objects should appear bigger as you move closer to them, isn’t it? Visit the ‘via Piccolomini’ and you will have a grand view of the dome of the basilica. What will surprise you is, as you walk or drive towards the dome, it will appear smaller. You have to literally see it to believe it!
Thanks to the mind-blowing geometric calculations of Bernini, the construction of basilica and the square has many such tricking points. In the square, the elliptical design with huge columns is done in four rows. But when you stand at a particular spot, you will only be able to see the first row and the other three will magically disappear.
Connecting the Vatican and the Castel Sant'Angelo is the Passetto di Borgo. It appears to be just another stone pathway. What many of us don’t know is that, it has a secret passage way hidden in its wall which was built for Papal escape in case of emergency. Pope Alexander VI overlooked the construction of the same and also used it against the French invaders couple of years later.
Today, the passage is open for the visitors for a limited period in summer.
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There is no doubt that Italians love their pasta. But if you are looking for a dish like spaghetti meatballs on your trip to Rome, you will get strange glances from the local restaurants. This dish is not roman and was invented by Italian immigrants of USA. The most popular pasta dishes in Rome include Cacio e Pepe, Spaghetti Alla, Carbonara and Da Danilo. A unique addition to pasta dishes is artichokes which has given a protected origin status owing its authenticity!
The love for pasta in Rome is so much that, there is an exclusive Pasta Museum in the city; bet you didn’t know about it!
Yes! Pyramids might have originated in the deserts of Egypt. When Romans ruled over the land of Pharos, they must have been influenced by this exceptional design and may be that is why; there is a Pyramid in Rome as well. Dating back to 18 to 12 BC, the Pyramid of Cestius houses the tomb of Gaius Cestius who was a magistrate and an important council member of the then religious corporation that influenced Rome.
Well preserved, dauntingly tall and strikingly different in the backdrop of Roman Sky, visit this Pyramid which stands near Porta San Paolo on your visit!
6. You Can Drink Water From Nasoni- the Public Taps of Rome
You’ll always save on bottled water costs while travelling in Rome. The city is dotted with cast iron taps that serve perfectly fresh, cold and safe drinking water. Over 2500 Nasoni or taps are scattered around the city that date back to the late 19th century. With a distinctive cylindrical shape that resembles a nose (that’s why the name Nasoni), these taps supply water when you press the small hole at the top which pushed the water out from the tap. A classic piece of engineering to avoid running taps and a great source of fresh water while sightseeing! Read to know where you can get the cleanest tap water in the world!!
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First of all, there is a huge misconception about the death site of the world famous Roman politician Julius Caesar. While the Temple of Caesar in Roman forum is the site of his cremation, he was actually assassinated in Largo di Torre Argentina, a huge square that displays the ruins of the Pompoey’s theatre in Rome.
As you pass by the set of ruins that date back to 4th century BC today is a cat sanctuary that houses several cats that live in harmony and are taken care by volunteering groups! Rome also has a no-kill law for homeless cats and they have special citizen-like rights; good news for Cat lovers!
This wouldn’t really come as surprise, but indeed the fact that Rome has more than 900+ churches is striking. Going back to as old as the 4th century AD, if you plan to take a tour to even the most prominent ones, a week won’t be enough!
There is still a lot of conjecture about whether Rome (or rather Vatican) really had a female Pope or not. But just a walk away from the Colosseum, there stands a shrine of Pope Joan who is believed to the only Pope in the history of Vatican. While most scholars regard it to be a legend, according to the story, she reigned as Pope for few years in the middle ages.
A talented and intelligent woman in her right, her gender was revealed when she gave birth to her only child, shortly after which she died (due to natural death or possibly a murder). After the revelation, the Vatica removed any records or her reign.
Legend or truth, we’ll never know; but you can visit her shrine in Rome
While you are traversing around the beautiful boulevards of Rome, at 12 pm, you will be baffled with a loud shot of Canon being fired! A tradition embedded in the history of Rome by Pope Pius IX since the mid-19th century, the firing of Canon would help the then clock towers in the city to adjust their timing and be in-sync. Although today, one doesn’t need a canon shot to set timings, the tradition continues and the canon fires from the top of the Gianicolo hill.
Experience nothing but the best if you are planning a trip to Rome on the lines of these off the beaten path things. Bon Voyage!