Ay yo… Technology
It's interesting how dependent we are on technology and machines. I know I am because I use many technological instruments to get through each day. In particular, I think I have become very reliant and dependent on the internet. Email, instant messenger, google, etc all play an active role in my life. However I don't think I ever noticed to just what extent until I went without these amenities.
In Rome, I have often found myself frustrated that I do not have accessible internet at the tip of my fingers. When we have gotten lost, my first instinct was to use the internet to find directions. When we were looking for places to go and places to eat, I also found myself looking to use the internet to find restaurants and reviews. Now don't get me wrong, Rome is certainly no backwards place and I'm sure if we were current modern day native Romans, we'd have wireless and access to the internet in our homes. However since we are just mere tourists, it took a bit more work to find the internet.
There is an internet cafÈ near our hotel on one of Rome's main roads, called La Torre Argentina. It's a nice place where you can also exchange money. However, like many things in Europe, it is very expensive. It costs $5 for just 30 minutes of internet use! I thought about how many hours… yes hours not minutes… a day I use internet, and I shuddered at how much money it would cost at this rate. Nevertheless, Luqman and I both forked over the money and then took the next hour or so to use the internet to post blogs, pictures, and correspond to the 5000 (okay that's an exaggeration, more like 4500) emails we had gotten.
Afterwards, we caught the bus, another great technological instrument and great transportational innovation, to the Colosseum to try our luck at visiting Ancient Rome as well as looking for the rest of the obelisks in Rome. We arrived at the Colosseum to hoards of tourists. It was packed! It is a debate whether or not I heard more camera shutter sounds or different languages being spoken. As tourists, we are very fortunate to have another technological instrument, high quality cameras, that can capture these moments and utilize these photos to record our memories. However, the ancient Romans did not and took measures such as carving details into the sides of their many monuments in order for works and arts to be carried on to their posterity. We stopped by a food stand to grab some pizza and paninis (Italian sandwiches) and made our way towards the Palatine. However when we arrived there, we discovered that both the Palatine and Colosseum were closed for the day. A bit defeated, we took some photos from the outside parameters of these sites and then continued on to find the rest of the obelisks.
While we were looking for them, we found many interesting historical sites and buildings. But then again, these beautiful buildings are a dime a dozen in Rome. Anyways, we walked and walked but could not find these obelisks. It was almost as though they had disappeared like the Roman Empire.
However, we knew of two places that there were definitely some obelisks, so we left for Piazza Spagna and Piazza del Popolo.
We arrived at Piazza Spagna, which is the home of not just another obelisk, but also the location of the Spanish Steps. This plaza was originally called the English ghetto and it is where English immigrants lived. It was built in 1725 with French money by an Italian designer and named after the nearby Spanish embassy. Whew! Talk about diversity and international flavor. Piazza Spagna soon become the spot for beautiful men and women to be seen and today it is still a very popular hang out spot for young people. At the top of the Steps is Chiesa Trinita dei Monti which is on top of Pincio Hill, named after the Pinci family who owned it in the 4th century. There is also an obelisk on top of the Steps. Unfortunately, we could not see it because it was under renovation and construction. We made our way down the bottom of the Steps to find an unusual fountain. This art piece called Baracaccia ('the old tub') dates back to 1627 and was the last known work of Pietro Bernini. As we walked along the bottom street called Via del Condotti, Luqman and I were both taken aback by the exclusive and designer shops. It was somewhat similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. We continued on this shnazzy street to Piazza Popolo. Piazza del Popolo dates back to 1538 and was made to converge the three roads of Via di Ripetta, del Corso, and del Babuino. This was to form the northern entrance to Rome. Today, this place is known as Tridente in honor of the three roads. This square also is the location of another obelisk, which was brought from Heliopolis, Egypt by the Roman emperor Augustus. It was originally placed in the Circo Massimo square but was brought to Piazza del Popolo in the mid-16th century. Like the other piazzas in Rome, there are many beautiful monuments, one in particular of the she-wolf nurse nursing Romulus and Remus, in this plaza. All throughout the trip, I had mentioned to Luqman the many similarities to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but one of the things that I did notice in Rome that was very prevalent in Buenos Aires were couples making out and the intense level of PDA. However that difference ended when I saw the numerous amorous couples doing what they do best, all throughout the piazza.After taking some photos, we walked back towards the bus stop. We waited and waited for the bus, but it never came. Consequently, we made it back to our hotel the old fashioned Roman way- by foot.As I laid down to go to sleep that night, I thought to myself about how although technology helps and enhance our lives, people did live and survive before the internet. There's a saying goes that says "Rome wasn't built in a day." I don't know if it could have built in a day, but the construction would have gone exponentially faster with the technology we have today. However, I don't think it would be the same city though. It is the human touches, not mechanical and technological machines, that gave Rome the character and long preserved culture that still remains today.