“Rome is a poem pressed into service as a city” – American author
Rome is an explosion for all your senses to savor- maybe even all at once! It has something for everyone – the romantics, the loners, the energized, the dreamers… a little something to love for every willing heart.
This hot blooded beauty is a heady mix of culture, ruins, art, architecture and street life. A place where music, romance, food and wine is a way of everyday life!
If it’s your first time in Rome and you, like me, prefer to discover places on your own, then I suggest don’t dive in blindfolded. Do your research.
Figuring out your stay in Rome can be a little tricky since everything will sound post card perfect. The good thing is that you cant go terribly wrong since most of the places are at a walk able distance from all the main attractions or connected easily by the metro. If being at the center of all the hustle and bustle (Rome can get pretty crowded) is your glass of vino, then look for a place near the Piazza di Spagna (The spanish steps) or the Piazza Navona.
If cobbled streets, art and cafes is what you would like to wake up to then find your Roman retreat in Trastevere.
We found an ideal little apartment for four (a pair of mother – teenage daughter combo that we were) near the Vatican city on the opposite side of the River Tiber. We had a good measure of shopping and quaint little cafes, with smells of fresh pesto in the air, dotted around our apartment.
If you want to do justice to your Roman holiday – stay a minimum of four days.
The ruins of the ancient Roman Empire can take you a day or a whole week to discover depending on your love for history. The Roma Pass is definitely an easy access to the Colosseum and the Vatican (Remember to take a print out). Most other places are free to enter. However there are many willing guides everywhere and if you can strike a good deal (you can bargain and you must!) then its as good or maybe even cheaper than a pass.
To do your time justice, I suggest you start at the Colosseum. They say, the day the Colosseum collapses, so will Rome and with it the world. A bit dramatic I thought, until I was face to face with this magnificent creature! Walking around, in and through this monster, you can imagine gladiators, emperors and the fallen empire in all its glory. While you listen to horrific stories of how animals were slain for entertainment and Rome burning, a part of you will want to hate the Colosseum, but you just cannot!
The Palatine hills is a scenic walk from the Colosseum. If you do a guided tour, which I highly recommend, you can envision the master plan of the town and understand why the saying “Rome was not built in a day” came around. The view from the terraces is breathtaking!
The walk should definitely get your tummy rumbling and so I suggest a quick slip around the corner (past the Piazza Venezia) to the area that is popularly known as the Jewish Ghetto (alleys past Via Teatro Marcello). The little restaurants here are famous for their authentic Italian food, fried artichoke and Gelato.
If you are a student of architecture, then walking around Rome will be like reliving the pages of Banister Fletcher’s “A history of Architecture”. And like most architects you will be dying to see the Pantheon– I was too! Although seemingly unassuming, almost close to dilapidated from the outside, the interior of this magnificent piece of art brought tears to my eyes! I sat there for quite a while staring at that ceiling – while the teens enjoyed the street music outside. Win win!
The best views of the city is from the famous Villa Borghese. I suggest a drive up if you have a car and a stroll through the beautiful gardens – one of the largest in Rome.
The Vatican is a city by itself and best done on a day dedicated entirely to it – if time allows. A fan of art and the great artists Micheal Angelo and Raphael should avoid going to the museum in the mornings- the crowds are so large that you will be carried from one room to another without having the time to soak in any of it. It is however perfect if you are just doing a quick sweep through! The ticket lines can get very long so either time yourself for an early morning or post lunch date with the queue. The St Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are gorgeous and the lines to get in are long- however they move pretty fast and entry is free! I would highly recommend sitting in the gardens and soaking in the city- for some of you it may actually be better than the art!
The Piazza is a good place to hang out if its not too sunny and soak in the sculptures that dot the top of the entrance to the Basilica. Many expensive and not very highly recommended restaurants await customers at the fringe of the Vatican city. If you fancy a good Italian meal from family-run restaurants with some excellent Vino- head to the lanes of Via Borgo Vittorio- Its a ten minute walk from the Vatican but I promise you will be spoilt for choice!
Outfit yourself with some really comfortable walking shoes and a pickpocket proof wallet when you visit Rome- Because she can keep you on your toes!