The Easter Holidays are finally over, S is back at nursery and life goes back to routine. We were trying to plan a trip to the States over the holidays but left it too late. Instead we decided we’d each pick a European destination and book a last minute trip there instead.
My choice was Rome. I absolutely love sightseeing and learning about new cities and the history behind them. One thing I couldn’t help but notice about Rome which added character (but also ruined the architecture) was graffiti. It was absolutely everywhere..on buildings, trains, trams…anywhere they can find a spot basically.
Without further ado, here’s my guide to the city…
Where should you stay?
We booked our flights and hotel as a package and chose to stay near Termini Station which is pretty central and makes getting around easy. Our hotel was called Hotel Una Roma and was a stones throw from the station. Check in was effortless, the rooms were clean, the pillows were fabulous and breakfast was very European. Lots of juices, cereals, pastries, cold cuts and cheese.
What should you do?
1. The Colosseo
This architectural masterpiece looks even more amazing in real life! We booked tickets online before we got there to try and avoid the queues. And although we were there by 11am, so was everyone else. We stood in the queue for a security check and 5 minutes later, S wanted to use the loo. The one thing you’ll learn quickly in Rome is the lack of public toilets. According to a local tour guide, most of the public toilets were shut down because of the misuse of drugs in toilets across the city. This tour guide also convinced us to pay a little extra to “get inside in 5 minutes” through the group entrance (so S could use the toilets inside). We agreed but it was almost 40 minutes before we got inside. Never the less, I recommend going with a group tour because the guides are a wealth of information and after the Colosseo, they take you across to Palantine Hill as well.
We booked tickets for the Vatican Museum in advance but you can just show up and queue for St. Peter’s.
Did you know that the Colosseo didn’t lose parts of it’s walls in the war (as I thought) but in an Earthquake. And the fallen marble was then taken to build St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the world’s largest church (apparently). It goes without saying, the architecture is absolutely breath taking!
I imagined the Vatican quite differently. I’m not sure what I expected…a mini city perhaps…but as we walked in, it just felt like a very, very big building, housing the most amazing museums.
THE Sistine Chapel
With all our modern technology, we still don’t build and paint like we used to. While the world is awestruck by the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo was quoted saying “I’d rather be skinned alive than have to paint that ceiling again.”
You have to walk through every room before you finally arrive at The Sistine Chapel. The thing is, all the rooms are so extraordinary that I thought I’d arrived at The Chapel atleast 3 times before we actually got there!!
3. The Spanish Steps
To be honest I didn’t see the big deal. Plus it was undergoing renovation so it was closed off. I’m sure there’s alot of history behind it but if there’s something you need to skip, this can be it. They do have horse drawn carriages near the steps which S really wanted to go on but unfortunately we didn’t have the time.
4. The Trevi fountain
An old friend who grew up in Rome said we must eat the Gelato at the Trevi fountain and that’s just what we did 🙂 These pictures don’t do it justice, it really is spectacular!
If you’re a fan of designer shopping then The Mall in Florence is a must. We didn’t have the time to go there unfortunately but I hear it’s well worth it. You can catch a train from Termini station which takes about 40 minutes.
Where should you eat?
Practically anywhere. The Pizza in Rome is amazing. I’m convinced it’s all about the juicy tomatoes and the sauce. The Ginger Café near Spagna was quite good. We went there tired and hungry after visiting the Colosseo and started our meal with an amazing fruit bowl.
How do you get around?
The three T’s…Taxi, Train, Tram. They’re all very easily available. Unlike London, public transport is very cheap. You can buy single journeys for 1.50 euro or a day pass for approximately 7 euro.
5 tips for Rome:
1. Take comfortable shoes. If you’re sightseeing it involves alot of walking and you want to be comfortable.
2. Stick with what Italy does best…Pizza and Pasta…when dining at small local restaurants. Their fried food was always greasy and badly fried.
3. Take a cross body bag when walking around the city. Rome is notorious for pick pockets. While we were there it wasn’t uncommon to see police or even army officers patrolling the streets and train stations.
4. Book all your sightseeing in advance through the official websites. Expedia kept sending me emails to book the sites as we’d booked our package with them and their prices were much higher than what we paid locally.
5. Don’t forget to look up from your map every once in a while, there’s a lot of eye candy around the city! 😉