A Modest Proposal

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Friday, May 20, 2011

With one full day left in the city, we didn't want to waste a single moment, so forced ourselves out of bed early and took to the streets of Roma. We were headed back towards the Colosseum, but were walking this time, which meant we passed a number of churches on our way... which were irresistible, so it took us quite a while to get to our destination. In addition to the many churches we stopped at along the way, we also paused at the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II for a bit, where we saw the changing of the guard, then popped across the street to some of the ruins in the city center and the impressive Trajan's Column. 

From there, we crossed over to the Roman Forum, which today is mainly ruins of the ancient government buildings of the Roman Empire. This spot was the center of Roman life for centuries: it was where the elections were held, where the gladiator matches occurred, and where many processions took place. Our WikiTravel guide for the day called it "the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all of history." We spent a few hours rambling round the expansive grounds that were part of the Forum, then decided to get some food before we fainted from hunger and the heat. 

After aimlessly wandering around the streets near the Forum and Colosseum, hoping to find a decent restaurant that was reasonably priced, we finally settled on a nice-looking outdoor restaurant in a cute piazza where musicians were playing some fine midday tunes. The food was ho-hum, but the music was lovely and the weather was perfect -- and to be fair, we were in Rome, so who could complain? We decided to head north and try to find a basilica that housed works by Caravaggio and Raphael. We're always averse to pulling out a map while walking down the street and looking like tourists, so decided to try and muddle our way to the basilica using our fine senses of direction.

While trying to navigate our way there, we passed a very fine looking art gallery called the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, so we decided to stop and check it out. This wasn't one of the national museums, but was equally impressive. Up to that point, the art we'd seen had all been done by Italian artists; our visit to Palazzo delle Esposizioni overlapped with the One Hundred Masterpieces from the Stadel Museum of Frankfurt Exhibition, which gave us an opportunity to expand to the rest of Europe. The collection was amazing -- there were paintings and sculptures by some of the masters like Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rodin, Munch, Ernst, Klee, and Picasso (and lots of other dudes the likes of my non-art historian self was familiar with).

After ducking into a few more churches, we finally made it to our intended destination: Santa Maria del Popolo. A chapel used to sit on the same location, which dated back to the 11th century; the current church was built on the site in the late 1400s. It is considered a prime example of Italian Renaissance architecture, as well as Renaissance art -- it contains works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Pinturicchio, and other celebrated artists. Unfortunately, some of the paintings were under renovation, but there will still loads of other pieces to ooh and ahh at. 

The hours were ticking by quickly, and we were pretty tired after four full days of exploring on foot, so after checking out a few more churches and traversing the Tiber a couple of times, we decided to pack it in and head back towards the apartment. We made a brief stop at the world's cutest Carrefour, where we rounded up some delicious olive oil, a few bottles of wine, and some gorgeous cheese, then walked back home.

We went to dinner a bit earlier than we had the other nights, opting to return to the restaurant we'd dined at the first night. It was a wise choice; no freebies this time, but the food was divine, the wine tasted wonderful, and we didn't have the harried feeling at so many other restaurants where there's a line of people waiting to snag your table. After sharing a couple of liters of wine and chatting for a few hours, I said we should make the most of our last night in Rome and walk to Piazza Navona to maybe have another drink and see if anything exciting was happening.

Indeed, it was: there was a very cool band playing on a stage that had been set up overnight. We swayed to the tunes for a bit, then I said I was tired and wanted to sit on a bench under the fountain. Little did I realize it, but the suggestions I'd been making all night fit in perfectly with Konrad's master plan. He'd wanted us to end up in the exact spot we were sitting, and I'd led us there all on my own. The band was playing, the moon was high in the sky, the fountain created the perfect ambiance (and we were sitting under the river representing the Asian river, which meant a lot to us since we'd spent a good chunk of our time there), and we were in Rome -- what better time or place to propose to someone? And that's exactly what Konrad did: he asked me to marry him. 

I know it may come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who haven't heard the news yet -- it did to me as well when he asked! But apparently he'd been thinking about it for a few months and had decided Rome would be the perfect place to ask -- and he was right. After staring at him with wide eyes and asking him if he was serious, I said yes -- so here's the announcement: we're getting married! It'll be a long engagement, and we have no idea when or where yet, but we'll let you know. It was the perfect ending to an ideal trip, and Rome will remain special to us forever (as you can well imagine!).
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