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Saturday, July 13, 2024
Hometown Traveller: Police car museum one of Rome’s hidden treasures

I have not one, but three favourite cities in the world, and have visited them all many times. The one that comes out on top is either the one I’ve just visited, or the one I’m about to.

Since I was in Rome in October, it will be number one for a while. Visitors to Rome must visit the traditional sites — the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon and St. Peter’s just to name a few. There will be lots of people at all of these places, but it must be done. It’s particularly important to visit the Trevi Fountain. Make sure you throw a coin into it to ensure a return to the city.

Rome, however, is more than these tourist sites.

In ancient Rome the business district was known as the Forum. It’s impossible to miss the largest, near the Colosseum. There are, however, two more business areas close by, although you have to look for them. Their entrances look like office buildings or banks. Behind these facades, though, are streets and building complexes. They are much quieter than their better-known neighbour, but well worth a visit.

After a busy day at these attractions, visit Rinascente Tritone, an upmarket department store. Recently renovated, it’s a pleasure to see where Romans shop. The rooftop restaurant offers splendid views of the city. Go for a glass of prosecco. It’s a great place to spend time admiring the impeccably-dressed Italians.

While the roof top is a lot of fun, it is only half the reason to visit Rinascente. Go to the basement and make your way through the stylish kitchen wares you didn’t know you needed.

You will eventually come across an aqueduct that has been serving Rome for more than 2,000 years. The arches and brick work are behind glass. While I was there, shoppers were ignoring it, but I was fascinated. Today the aqueduct feeds the nearby Trevi Fountain.

Rome has hundreds of fountains and many tourists are surprised to learn that the water flowing through them is drinkable. Fill up your bottle with this astonishingly cool refreshment. It’s free.

There also is a plethora of small museums located in residential neighbourhoods around Rome. An absolutely fabulous one is the Museo delle Auto della Polizia di Stato, the police car museum.

A short bus ride will take get you there. The Roman bus system is easy to navigate. Download the free app to get your route. Tickets can be purchased at most hotels and they are good for an hour and half once activated. Any tickets not used can be returned to your hotel for a refund.

The police car museum displays vehicles that were used by the state police over the past 60 years. These include bicycles, tank-like vehicles for working in the mountains as well as a variety of cars such as an Alfa Romeo Pantera and the Giulia, a selection of Fiats, including the off-road vehicle the Campagnola, and — wait for it — a Ferrari 250 GTE. All have been lovingly restored. At times visitors feel as if they are looking at three-dimensional art.

We toured the museum with a group of school kids. Police in full uniform led them through the exhibits. The highlight for one young boy was being placed on an absolutely splendid Ducati motorbike. I had never seen a look of such sheer joy before. His schoolmates were envious. So was I.

After visiting the museum, go for a coffee at one of the neighbourhood bars. An espresso is much cheaper in this part of the city.

These are just a few of Rome’s lesser known treasures. If you have taken my advice, and have thrown your coin into the Trevi Fountain, you will be returning to visit many more times.

Queenston resident Linda Fritz is a frequent contributor to The Lake Report’s History Unveiled column and is an avid traveller.

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