27 August 2011

Liberty of the Seas : Rome Part 2 - Trevi Fountain

Departing the opulent St Peter's Basilica, we headed for an early lunch before conquering the next leg of our Rome shore excursion. Yes, I used conquer because it was quite a bit of walking and a lot to see but in this post, I'll just be covering our Roman lunch and Trevi Fountain.

The Imperial Rome (item no. CV02) shore tour package from Liberty of the Seas costs S$251.50 per person. Heart pain! Well, Europe is expensive till our currency catches up. When I was here more than 13 years ago, the exchange rate was €1.00 = S$2.70. This trip, it's €1.00 = S$1.80. Almost a dollar difference but prices for things have gone up too.

Other than taking us to various tourist attractions and providing us with mobile headsets to listen in as the guide explains the antiquities, lunch was included as well at a charming restaurant called La Gattabuia.

La Gattabuia is located at the heart of Rome housed within a 400 year-old tavern fashioned from terracotta bricks. Address : Via Del Porto 1, 00153 Roma. The obscure, little entrance is overran with vegetation and hanging vines. Blink and you'll miss it.

Parked at the corner of a side street, the red-bricked building cuts a striking figure while inside, an old-world flavour greets diners. Apparently, the resturant premises used to be a prison in a bygone era. What I don't get is, what are sewing machines doing here?!

Shared the table with an American family who's been on Liberty of the Seas for the second time. East meets West. We had a good time talking about our homes and my parents especially liked scaring them with our chewing gum fines and caning stories. The Americans brought up the subject of Michael Fay's caning in 1994. Such a long time ago and they remembered! The sound of our whip is better than any Singapore Tourism Board campaign. 

A delightful table wine accompanied a 3-course lunch which consisted of an appetiser, pork chop and cream pudding. When I saw the plate of traditional tomate paste pasta, I thought that was the main dish because the portion was huge. Taste-wise, well, hmm, erm, it was tasty, but not extraordinary.

Our main course was a thin cut of pork served with boiled peas and roasted potato. The meat was juicy but the winner on the plate was the potato. The char-burnt crust was crispy and fanned the mouth with an aromatic BBQ flavour that had just the right hint of bitter roast. Yumz!

Trevi Fountain

Charged with potato power, our next destination was Trevi Fountain, another must-see while in Rome. The word 'trevi' is derived from the Latin word 'Trivium' which meant the junction of three streets. The fountain is situated at the meeting point of Via De' Crocicchi, Via Poli and Via Delle Muratte.

When there, don't forget to toss a coin into the fountain, not for good luck, but for romance. Read on to find out more!

Corner of a building with an intricate relief of angels that served as our spot to gather after self-exploration of the fountain. We were given about 30 minutes here. Imagine when the lamp lights up at night. I think it will be so beautiful. 

Beware of pickpockets as the place is packed. Our tour guide emphasized this many times so that crime must be prevalent.

Trevi Fountain is the biggest Baroque fountain in all of Rome and was built up over the centuries (1453 - 22 May 1762) to what it is today. It was constructed to commemorate a virgin who led Roman technicians to a source of fresh water in 19 BC which fed the city's needs for the next 400 years. The statue in the middle is not that of the popular Greek water-god Triton but simply a personification of the ocean.

Ocean is flanked by the goddesses of Abundance (pictured here) and Health while the code of arms atop a building opposite Trevi Fountain drew my interest.

Many men were injured and a few died during the construction of the fountain. The rock work in front of the triumphal arched backdrop represented the Taming of the Waters with Triton blowing a shell horn and subduing hippocamps, a mythical creature that is half horse and half serpent.

Want to take a photo with a Roman soldier? Be prepared to part with €5.00 per picture. Mum was so turned on by the brass and leather when the guy asked her to take a photo only to realise the charge later. Dad took 3 photos and he demanded €15.00 but one of the pic was bad so they paid €10.00 (S$18.00!) for 2 shots with our own camera. Jin hoh tan (easy money)!

Legend has it that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome. Two coins, and you will find new romance. Three coins, a marriage or divorce will be heading your way. When I visited in 1997, I threw one coin and look, here I am again! So this time, see how many coins I'm throwing? Heh heh. It's been more than 4 months since I tossed the coins, still as single as a gerbera.

There is a ritual to tossing the coin/s. It/they must be tossed with the right hand over the left shoulder into the fountain. Mum threw a coin. I would be very worried if she threw three! On hindsight, maybe I should've tossed six coins to guarantee I'll come back to Rome again, find a true love, and get married. Kiasu!
Coin throwing has a long history where fishermen used to toss coins into rivers and seas as a toll to the gods for plentiful catch and a safe journey. The city council later reinvented this tradition as a means to raise funds for the maintenance of Trevi Fountain. Damn. No wonder my offerings for romance didn't work!

One more thing. You can also drink water from the original source at pipes located on the steps but not from the fountain as it uses recycled water.

Enjoy this majestic fountain and have a splash of good times!

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