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Fade up on Rudy in front of the Colosseum.

Hi, I'm Rudy Maxa.  Welcome to the Eternal City, the Capitol of Empires, the place where all roads lead.  Coming up, ROMA, on Smart Travels.

NARR
Join Rudy for a Grand Tour of the Old World - the people, the places, the sights and the distinctly European flavors.  Our host is syndicated columnist Rudy Maxa - widely known as public radio's Savvy Traveler.   Stay tuned for some trips, tips and secret places for the traveler on the go.

A montage of some of the Roman ruins.
Rome.  To see it is to tumble back in time, and find yourself standing where Caesar stood, where chariots raced and gladiators battled, where Western Civilization was formed.

A peaceful scene - the Temple Vesta in its overgrown lot of weeds.  Traffic noise slowly fades up and the camera pans to reveal a busy Roman intersection - orange buses crammed with passengers, speedy Vespas, and cars crowding, honking, filling up every inch of space.  Rudy enters frame.

But Rome is no museum Ė in fact, it's alive and well and going strong.  Modern Rome swarms around  ancient Rome.   In fact, I can't imagine one without the other.

Shots of the modern and the ancient - kids on cell phones in front of monuments, a jumble of ancient columns in weeds, passers by in Largo Argentina walking around the excavated ruins, the Colosseum surrounded by traffic, someone sitting on a column. etc.
In Rome, the ancient and modern live side by side.  You can dine in the shadow of a temple to Jupiter, get your bearings on a Roman column, or glance across a busy square to see archeologists unearthing ancient frescoes.  Itís all in a day in the life of Rome.

Montage of Roman traffic - cars parked on curbs, honking veering automobiles, crammed buses.
Romans are always on the move.  The same creativity and ingenuity that built empires still energizes the streets of modern Rome.  Parking is a creative affair.  And driving is controlled chaos.  There are no lanes to speak of and every inch of space is fair game.

Rudy on camera.
They could only put down two subway lines in Rome because they kept digging up ancient ruins.  So, I'm walking to the first destination - that is if I can get past the modern day charioteers.  (he gestures to the wild, weaving traffic)  You have to be decisive when crossing the street here - don't hesitate, take the plunge . . . but  . . .

(starts w/ bravado, then falters)  When in Rome, I always do as the Romans do. .  eh, I donít know.

Shot of traffic from Rudy's POV.  Then, Rudy sees a Roman about to make the plunge into traffic -  preferably one of the ubiqui0tous older women in black.

RUDY (to woman)
Scusi,  can you help me get across?

 

WOMAN
Ah si, si, venga.

 

RUDY
Grazie, grazie.

She takes Rudy's arm and they cross the intersection, cars neatly avoiding them at the last minute.

Map
Having survived the modern streets, Iím headed for Romeís important ancient ruins: the Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla.

The Via Sacra as Rudy walks forward.
This was ancient Rome's busy street - the Via Sacra.  Victorious generals rode through the crowds here, standing upright in their gilded chariots, their cheeks painted red.  Carts hauled the booty from the war and displayed pictures of the battles.  A long procession of soldiers and prisoners followed.

Details from Trajan's column and the Arch of Titus.
For hundreds of years, Roman legions swept across the Mediterranean, amassing an empire that stretched from Britain to North Africa to Babylon.

A wide shot of the forum.
The Via Sacra leads into the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Rome.  Every morning prominent citizens came here to discuss business and politics. 

The senate house and area in front of it.
Romans assembled in front of the Curia, or Senate building to debate the issues of the day.  Speakers climbed to the rostrum to voice their opinions.  From this platform Mark Antony may well have called out to "friends, Romans, and countrymen" to avenge the murder of Julius Caesar.

The temple of Saturn.
The forum is ringed with temples.  In exchange for good fortune, the Romans honored their gods with rituals and sacrifice.

The Temple Vesta.

POP UP:  Great reading on ancient Rome:  The Romans by Kathryn Welch

The Temple of Vesta housed the sacred fire of Rome and it was the job of the vestal virgins to keep it lit.  Chosen when they were children, the vestal virgins vowed thirty years of chastity.  If they strayed, they were buried alive.

Shots of the streets around the forum and Colosseum.
The worst fate to befall the average tourist in the forum is theft.  Pickpockets frequent the area around the Forum and Colosseum, as well as other areas of Rome.  Beware, pickpockets can spot a tourist a mile away.

Rudy with a fake cell phone.
I hate looking like a tourist, so I bought one of these - a fake cell phone.  I mean, everyone's got one.  It's Roman chic.

Rudy climbing up to the Palantine.  Views from there.
If you were chic in ancient Rome, you lived here on the Palatine Hill above the forum.   Then, as now, the Palatine offered a peaceful escape from the crowds below and splendid views of Rome. 

Walking alone in the quiet among the orange trees and cypress groves, the past has a way of sinking in. 

The Imperial Palace stood here and the ruins of houses, sunken stadiums and courtyards are traces of the great wealth and luxury of the Roman elite.

Rudy on camera in typical street with "Snack Bar" sign behind him.
As ancient Rome became wealthier, people spent a fortune on food and feasting, sometimes bankrupting themselves.  Today, Romans still take their food very seriously.

A quick montage of food in Rome - pizza, pasta, gelato, pastries etc.  Shots of the various eating establishments:  bar and pizzeria rustica.
Lunch opportunities in Rome abound.  If you're short on time, stand up in a bar and grab a panino -  a sandwich often made with ham or prosciutto and cheese.  Join the crowd for a cappuccino, or an espresso.

A tavola calda or rosticceria.
A tavola calda is like a delicatessen with meats and prepared foods - it's another great place for a quick, inexpensive snack or picnic lunch to go.

The pizzeria Rustica.
My favorite, though, is a Pizzeria Rustica where you can choose from  tasty looking squares of mouthwatering pizza.  I canít resist suppli - a fried Roman specialty of rice, tomato sauce and cheese. 

The Colosseum. 
Food and fun - that's what the populace of Rome demanded.  The emperors distributed free grain and threw games at the Colosseum to entertain and pacify the general populace.  A typical day in the Colosseum started with a comic, bloodless battle between women or dwarfs.  Then the games grew deadly.  An early afternoon show might feature stalking and killing hippos.  Then gladiators took to the ring, brandishing swords, pikes or red-hot bars.  When a gladiator fell he could appeal to the crowd for mercy.  A sea of waving cloth and upturned thumbs freed the man, but more often than not the crowd gave a thumbs down. 

Shots of the Colosseum segue to the Baths of Caracalla.
What better after a little slaughter, than a bath? 

Shots of secular buildings - Teatro Marcello, Imperial Forum.
Unemployment in ancient Rome was high and individual dwellings were pretty wretched.  So everyone - rich and poor - whiled away the hours in public places.   

Wide shot of the Baths.
These baths, the Baths of Caracalla, were fed by an engineering marvel, the famous Roman acquaducts.  Here Romans followed an elaborate ritual of hot and cold baths.  Roman bathers socialized, exchanged dinner invitations and sipped wine in these luxurious surroundings which were decorated with more gold, marble and mosaics than any other building in Rome.  At the baths, Romans could exercise at the gym, browse in the art gallery and library or visit the snack bar to feast on treats like dormice, small fat rodents with hairy tails.  Hmm.

POP UP:  Donít expect to find maps or written info at any of Romeís ruins.  Bring your own.

Rudy in a cafe near the Pantheon.  The waiter brings him an espresso.
I've left ancient Rome to join a couple of friends for a more modern snack, a gelato and a caffe. 

By the way, if you order "un caffe" in Rome you'll get an espresso.  And you order your caffe' here - in a bar, which is really a cafe.  It's confusing.  If you sit down for your refreshment, you'll end up paying double for it.  (shot from his pov)  But ah, it's worth it.  I love taking in the sights and listening to the sounds.

A montage of fountains.
No matter where you stop, you're never far from one of Rome's magnificent fountains.

Fountains are the music of Rome.  Some are still fed by ancient Roman aquaducts.  In ancient times, fountains provided the public water supply.  Today they still offer welcome relief from the hot Roman sun.


Rudy back at the cafe - Pantheon behind him.

This piazza, the Piazza della Rotunda, is one of my favorites.  In fact, this is my favorite section of Rome - the historic center or centro storico. 

Exterior of the Pantheon.
The gem of the Centro Storico is the Pantheon.   

Interior of the Pantheon.
The Pantheon was a temple dedicated to the gods of the seven planets.  The interior is much the same as when it was built in the second century by the inventive emperor Hadrian.  The Pantheon was preserved because it was converted to a Christian church in the 7th century.   The opening in the ceiling is a window to the heavens . . . 

A map of Rome - show the Centro Storico.  Line shows walk from Pantheon to Piazza Navona to Campo dei Fiori to Largo Argentina to Turtle Fountain to Teatro Marcello. 
My favorite walk in Rome winds through the back streets from the Pantheon to the Teatro Marcello.

From the Pantheon start wandering toward the river.  Delightful surprises pop up as you wind your way through narrow streets.

 

There's Piazza Navona and its famous fountains by the 17th century artist Bernini who left his lively art in the streets and churches of Rome. 

 

Nearby at Campo dei Fiori, literally the field of flowers, youíll find a fruit and vegetable market every weekday morning. 

 

At the large square the Largo Argentina, archeologists continue to uncover ancient temples from the 5th century BC.   

 

The Largo is also known for its clerical outfitter shops and the selection here is divine.  

 

Hidden away in these back streets is one of Romeís most charming fountains.  The turtles werenít part of the original 16th century design.  They were added later by none other than the artist Bernini.   

 

Our route ends at the stately Teatro Marcello, an ancient theatre, which in typical Roman fashion was converted to a palace in the 16th century and now houses luxury apartments.  Wherever you go in Rome, youíll take in one of my favorite sights:  Romans. 

Rudy has on a pair of sunglasses and his cell phone and any other "Roman chic" accessory I can find.
What do you think?  Do I look Roman now?  Whaddya say - a thumbs up?

cut to : Rudy and Enrico in a car driving to the Vatican.
My friend Paulo has agreed to drive me across town and show me the driver's perspective on Roman traffic.

Shots of Roman traffic from inside the car - looking through passenger windshield.
Cursing is an ancient tradition around here and Roman cursing is as creative as Roman driving.  Paulo just said "mortacci tua" which means "a curse on your ugly dead relatives." 

Enrico mutters "imbecile" to a driver.

 

Imbecile (IMBECHILE)   What could that mean?

Street scenes.
Our wild ride takes us across town to one of the most fascinating churches in Rome.

The exterior of San Clemente.  Rudy enters frame.
Layer upon layer of history, that's Rome.  Just scratch the surface and you'll find something totally unexpected.  Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than here in this church, San Clemente.

Sweeping shot looking up at the facade.  Rudy looks at it, then walks inside.
The facade is from the eighteenth century, but step inside and you're in a medieval church . . . .

San Clemente- the upper church and courtyard.  Mosaics in the apse.
with glowing mosaics that are 900 years old.  The mosaics are some of the most unusual in Rome as they depict a living cross that grows from a vine and symbolizes salvation.  Doves symbolize the apostles . . . and the drinking deer represent baptism.

We see Rudy descend the stairway to the lower church.
But there's more - a door in the back of the church takes you down to the 4th century Christian church which was pillaged by Normans and buried under rubble.  On the wall is one of the first examples of written Italian - as it happens, it's an example of early cursing. (refer back)

The mithraeum.
Down again and further back in time.  A narrow circular stairway leads to a 2nd century mithraeum where members of a mysterious cult sacrificed bulls to the Persian god Mithra.

The streets of ancient Rome.
And back here begins an even older labyrinth of Roman streets and buildings.  The ancient tunnels reverberate with the  sound of rushing water Ė an underground network of ancient reservoirs and aquaducts.  A century ago, a child fell into the water here.  He was swept five miles outside the city before he was found - dazed but alive.

Shots of city buses.
Iím taking the bus to the next destination Ė the Vatican.  The bus in Rome is the major form of public transportation - and really quite easy to use.

Insert shot of a Tabacci.
Bus tickets and route maps are available at Tabbacci or tabacco shops. 

POP UP:
You can also buy postal stamps or francoboli at a Tabacci.

The bus stops are called fermata.  On the signs, an arrow shows the direction the bus is headed, and the stop you are standing at in shown in a box. 

Rudy checks the bus route on the kiosk - find the Corso.

Rudy boarding an overcrowded bus.
Enter where it says Entrata, and validate your ticket in the orange machine. 

Scenes of the square bustling with nuns and tourists, etc.
My bus ride takes me to another country - Vatican City.

Scenes from the Vatican.
Occupying 109 independent acres within the city of Rome, Vatican City is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and home of the Pope.

Pilgrim montage.  Nuns too.
The Basilica of Saint Peter's is a magnet for pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.  The church is dedicated to the apostle Peter who was the first Bishop of Rome.  All popes are his spiritual descendants. 

A wide shot of the Basilica of St. Peter.
American writer Henry James wrote that entering the church "seems not so much a  going in somewhere as a going out."   The inside is enormous, ornate, dramatic - the very definition of Baroque.

The dome.
For centuries, architects have been copying the famous dome designed by Michelangelo.  The US capitol dome is an example.

Shot of the Vatican post office.
Next door to the Basilica is the Vatican Post Office.  Vatican City has its own coins, stamps and postal service.  If you have a postcard to mail - mail it here.  The Pope's mail is more reliable than the Roman's.

The Swiss guards.
Nearby, unflappable Swiss Guards having been protecting the Pope since the 16th century.  They still wear Renaissance uniforms designed by Michelangelo.

Exterior of the Vatican museum - lines of people waiting. 
A hefty walk from Saint Peter's Basilica will bring you to the Vatican Museum.  Its most notably artistic treasures are from the ancient world and the artists of the Renaissance.  Pick up a map and plan your visit well to avoid overload. 

The Sistine Chapel Ė slide from Art Resources.
The Sistine Chapel is the jewel of the museum.  The ceiling is Michelangeloís vision of the creation, original sin and the Flood.  Flanking the Biblical scenes are portraits of prophets.  At the center, God gives life to Adam in a scene that mirrors the artistic process.

Shots of the Via Concilazione - the Pope souvenirs:  pope magnets, plates, Popesicles, etc.
Wandering the streets around the Vatican, you can find just about every religious souvenir imaginable.

Rudy approaching the Enoteca al Parlamento - Via dei Predetti 15.
My
shopping mission this trip to Rome is to bring home a bottle of fine Italian wine.

Interior of Enoteca with Rudy.
At the Enoteca Parlamento, the only problem is there are too many great wines to choose from.  Fortunately thereís help.  Describe the type of wine you like and ask for a recommendation and a sample.

POP UP:   U.S. residents can import two bottles of wine duty-free.

Map of Corso, Via Condotti, Spanish steps.
The wine shop is not far from Rome's shopping hub - the area around the Via del  Corso.

Short montage of shopping.  Show map of P. di Spagna area.  Shots of the Corso and Via Condotti - store windows with displays. 
The long straight street that served as a racetrack in the 18th century is now lined with boutiques.  The Via Condotti, which runs from the Corso to the Piazza di Spagna is a shopping mecca with top of the line boutiques and designer shops.

Piazza di Spagna
When youíre all shopped out, the Spanish steps are a great place to have a seat and do some tourist watching. The area has attracted foreigners ever since the 19th century.  The poet Keats lived in the Piazza, right next to the steps.

Section on Trastevere.  Map shows its location.
For more peaceful shopping and wandering, visit Trastevere, Rome's left bank.

Trastevere street scenes.
In ancient times, emperors built suburban villas in cool, shady Trastevere.  Today itís a warren of narrow streets dotted with antique and specialty shops.

Polvere di tempo.
One unique little place is Polvere di Tempo, a shop that sells, among other things, time.  Owners Adrian Rodriguez and Mariana Nye handcraft almost all the items in this magical little shop.

POP UP :  Store address

Byzantine mosaics in S. Cosmo e Damiano, Santa Prassede and Santa Maria in Trastevere. 
As you wander the streets of Rome, you can take refuge from the heat in the cool, dark churches.  Santa Maria in Trastevere is a 12th century church built over a fourth century basilica and one of the oldest churches in Rome.  It may well have been the first place Christians could worship in public. Bring some change for the coin operated lights in churches - it's well worth it. 

Restaurants in Rome Ė signs and street shots.
When itís time for dinner in Rome, itís a good idea to get away from major tourist areas.  Ask a local for advice.  Ristorante usually offer a more formal setting,  trattoria are more casual and less expensive; and the hostaria is traditionally a locals hangout with no menu. 

Rudy in a pizzeria forno a legno.
There are plenty of great restaurants in Rome, but I'm in the mood for one of those scrumptious thin crust Roman pizzas.  This is a Pizzeria Forno a Legno which means wood oven pizzeria.

Shots of the pizzas - get cutaways.
The most popular Roman pizzas are the margherita, plain cheese, the funghi - with mushrooms, and the capriciosa  - artichokes, prosciutto, olives and egg.  Hmmm hmm.

Giolitti's ice cream.
After dinner, thereís no better tradition than a gelato and no better place to indulge than Giolittiís, Romeís pre-imminent gelato establishment.

Roman sunset dissolve to Piazza Navona at night - Rudy with an ice cream cone.  Shots of artists painting portraits, people at the cafes, etc.
A warm Mediterrean night, Italian gelato and  fabulous fountains.  Piazza Navona is lively at night.

Trastvere.
It's an Italian tradition to stroll around the piazza after dinner and enjoy the sights. 

At night the monuments begin to glow and Rome turns up the magic.

Monatge of monuments and night life.

Concluding montage of Rome - the old and the new.

Rome leaves you with so many impressions - the energy and life of the modern world and the splendor and ingenuity of the ancient one.    There's a sense of timelessness here - but then of course it is the Eternal City.

Rudy standing at the side of the street in Piazza Venezia - he is leaning up against a scooter.  He has his cell phone, shades, and other Roman accessories.
As they say - "When in Rome . . ."   Nothing makes you fit in more than your own Vespa.  What do you think Ė is it me?

Rudy mounts the bike and gives the thumbs up sign.  

RUDY (on cam con't)
All right, I need a thumbs up here.  This could be suicide!

He takes off in a sea of trafficÖ

Imbecile, oooh - Mama mia!