Rome: Intro & Ara Pacis
Rome is an exciting city and definitely a place I will visit again. I tried to characterize what was unique about Rome versus other places in Italy I have visited. Its really fairly straight forward: a density of Roman artifacts, the Roman propensity to brand food with their own style, it is much more dense, it has a much more pronounced frenetic energy. And then there's the people, which words cannot do justice; they are warm, outspoken, passionate and without conventional boundaries.
A few tips about visiting Rome.
1) Go in late October: Weather is between 50-75, sunny and dry. The tourists are mostly gone.
2) Do not bring dressy clothes: Despite the myths of Italians dressing up for everything, I did not find this to be anywhere close to truth. Jeans, scarves and funky footwear seem to be the status quo.
3) Get a ROMA pass
4) Shop for groceries in Campo Di Fiori
5) Avoid Piazza Di Spagna, Navona and Rotonda on Saturday night: Its a freaking nightmare of congestion; like Times Square on NY Eve, only without any organization whatsoever!
6) Don't expect no smoking sections. They do exist but noone enforces them.
7) See Vatican, Vatican Museum, Colesseo and Forum.
Ara Pacis is an altar to Peace, envisioned as a Roman goddess. It was commissioned by the Roman Senate on 4 July 13 BC to honor the triumphal return from Hispania and Gaul of the Roman emperor Augustus, and was consecrated on 30 January 9 BC by the Senate to celebrate the peace established in the Empire after Augustus's victories.
A large modern museum has been constructed around this monument. Its definitely worth a couple of hours to see the monument. Once inside the museum don't miss the post modern black and white photo exhibits downstairs. Also, while difficult to locate within the museum, there are some interesting residual Ara Pacis artifacts. To access go all the way through the downstairs photo exhibit to the back. There is a small sign about the size of an electron indicating the additional rooms.