Where: Best Western Cinemusic Hotel, Re Di Roma, Roma (****)
When: 6-9th January 2016
How sad is it when you land back in London after a trip away? All you have is the memories of your holiday and a longing to go back. Rome has left a lot to long for, even after just a few days. It is one of the most breathtaking cities I have ever had the opportunity to visit with the blend of the new and ancient architecture. Round every corner you turn there is something new to discover. I have created a list of the top 5 sights I managed to see during my trip.
It is no surprise that the Colosseum is at the top of my list. There is a reason why it is one of the world’s most famous landmarks and considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. It takes your breath away to turn a corner and see it standing tall before you, even in this modern age of sky scrapers and modern architecture this is truly something special. When you enter the Colosseum it is fascinating to consider the people who have walked the same ground as you almost 2000 years before…
TOP TIP: Don’t buy tickets from the touts outside, they overprice massively and don’t have access to the same routes as the official Colosseum guides. We took a guided tour which included viewing the underground site and also the top level… neither of which are accessible without an official guide. This was only 9 Euros more and was definitely worth it!
2. Vatican City
The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world and is so full of history. The museum has over 1000 rooms full of ancient artefacts so there is no shortage of information. You have access to the Sistine Chapel which incorporates Michelangelo’s first paintings (prior to the Pope’s commands, he was a sculptor), which are truly supreme. You are also able to enter St. Peter’s Basilica the spiritual capital of Roman Catholicism, which is again full of beautiful artwork and ancient sculptures (including Michelangelo’s Pieta, which is now behind a glass screen following an attack in 1972)
TOP TIP: I would recommend a guided tour, as there is a hugely vast amount of rooms to choose from it can get a bit confusing to know what is best… a tour guide will plan this all for you and has access straight to St Peter’s Basilica!
3. Trevi Fountain
As featured in the Lizze McGuire movie! I mean how could I not visit it after that cameo! We walked up a little traditional Italian street, turned a corner and discovered this stunning fountain stood before us. The fountain was commissioned by the Pope who taxed wine to fund it! Be sure to throw a penny over your shoulder into the fountain if you wish to return to Roma!
TOP TIP: A lot of the attractions in Rome close quite early (especially in January!) so it is worth fitting in the Trevi fountain in an evening whilst everything else is shut! It looks even more beautiful lit up in the darkness than it does during the day!
4. Foro Romano
I will admit, I hadn’t heard of the Foro Romano before I went to Rome and I think the same can be said for a lot of people. No doubt this is due to it’s very famous next door neighbour the Colosseum! Billy and I actually came across the remains accidentally; I was moaning that we had to wait around for a few hours for a tour at the Colosseum when we found the entrance, and I’m so glad we did! It holds so much history, and has a huge amount of remains which enable you to get to grips with how Rome would have looked in the Roman times!
TOP TIP: Your ticket for the Colosseum also allows you access to the Foro Romano and is valid for 48 hours after (or before!) your Colosseum entry!
WOW! It is so hard to believe that the Pantheon was built in the same era as the Colosseum and the Foro Romano as it is in impeccable condition! To be truthful, I wasn’t blown away by the exterior architecture, however, as soon as you enter you are exposed the gradure you expect from the Roman’s. The most unique feature is probably the domed roof, which has a circle cut out at the top. This changes the mood of the Pantheon depending on what time of day you visit and also what the weather is like. The cut out allows the sun to fills the Pantheon. It had been raining just before Billy and I visited, and the rain had fallen on to the marble floor!
TOP TIP: Apparently the Pantheon can get very crowded. We visited just before closing and found it reasonably quiet, so I would suggest visiting early in the morning or late in the evening. It is also open a bit later than many attractions!
Whilst we were on our guided tour of the Colosseum we were told about flooding that had occurred due to a natural spring from a local church San Clemente, and our guide recommended that we go and have a look at it. I am so glad we did! The present church was built between 1108 and 1184 and is beautiful, however, the most fascinating part of the church is the grounds on which it is built. You are able to walk down to a lower church, which has remains from the 8th-11th century church. You can the walk down a 1st century staircase which leads you to a very well preserved temple. You are able to visit a school room and also a Roman house. I will warn you there are no staff underground, so if you go when it is empty (as we did!) it is extremely eerie! However, it really gives you an idea of how the Roman’s lived, and also just how much of the city is still underground.
Unfortunately you were not permitted to take pictures in San Clemente (although we did see a few Nuns who were breaking this rule !!!!), so I have only got a picture of the current outside grounds!
TOP TIP: This is just a short walk from the Colosseum, and if you have a student card you get discounted entry at a rate of 5 euros!
I really enjoyed our trip to Rome, and although I have talked a lot about the historical attractions, there is much more to the city! The restaurants are so quaint and the food is delicious, the metro often had on board buskers and entertainers, and the range of shops available is amazing (especially around the area of the Spanish Steps!) I really would recommend it! Have you been to Rome? What were your favourite sights and did you find any ‘hidden gems’?