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I visited Rome for four days over a New Year period and found it fairly cold. Like many visitors we headed to the Colosseum which was quite an expensive attraction, but we decided against getting the audio tour to save costs. However there was very little signs inside the Colosseum, so we didn't really know what we were looking at. It was built about 80 AD and and whilst it has obviously seen better days, it is a very famous and popular image of the city. One that many tourists make the effort to see - just get the audio tour or a guide!
For me, I really liked the Roman Forum next to the Colosseum, which is even older. This part of the city would be the heart of ancient Rome, and whilst it doesn't look much now, it is free to walk around and there is quite a bit to be found. Another iconic image of the city is the Trevi fountain. This large baroque fountain seems to crop up in every film ever made in the city, even if it isn't actually near the required location. It is said that if you throw a coin over your shoulder, into it, then you will return to the city. I did this, but as yet I have not gone back.
A definite highlight of a visit to Rome is spending time in the Vatican City, but I think this is worthy of a separate post. Also worth visiting is the Spanish Steps, and some of the squares. I found it a good city to wander around and found some good, reasonably priced shops.
Hotels in Rome are VERY expensive - we ended up staying towards the north of the city, near the station. It was handy for access to the airports and transport, but it wasn't a great hotel, it looked pretty shabby and the breakfast was awful.
There were some lovely restaurants to be found, but also there are some tourist places that serve sub-par food at inflated prices, so be selective and keep your eyes peeled when looking for places to eat. Sundays and public holidays are particularly challenging as a lot of places are closed.
We went on a Mediterranean cruise for our honeymoon, and were fortunate to see some amazing places. I am hoping to slowly work my way through reviewing some of them. We were only in Rome for a day as part of the cruise, so with the limited time we had we opted to go on a tour (through the cruise ship company) that took us to the key places that we wanted to visit.
Firstly, may I apologise for such a long review! I tried to keep things brief but there is just so much to share about this amazing city.
=== Rome in a Day! ===
Where to go if you only have a day in Rome? As many places as possible! As part of our tour we went to:
St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican
We were able to see some other key places, such as the Forum, and the Altar of the Fatherland (nicknamed 'the wedding cake') though only through a coach window!
=== Our Tour ===
We were lucky in that we had a tour guide that clearly knew her stuff. Benefits of being on a tour such as this meant we were able to see as many places as possible and learn about them, in the short space of time we had. We had units with headphones which meant we were able to hear our guide clearly. An extra benefit to us is that the Port of Civitavecchia (closest port to Rome) is a bit of a distance away from the city and as part of the tour we also had train travel included to and from our ship.
I won't go in to detailed history of each place - this is information can easily be found online. However I may include some historical points I found particularly interesting. I'll try to keep it brief!
=== Colosseum ===
One of the iconic structures in Rome, the Colosseum is towards the edge of the city. Once used for gladiator fighting the ruins of this amphitheatre are still impressive. The building stands in the state it is today after being partially destroyed by an earthquake, and by Romans taking some of the building materials for other purposes. We were unable to go inside - doing Rome in a day we were restricted by time! From the outside we could still admire the beauty and the work that went in to creating the building. The arches are incredible. To think this was able to be built in 70AD.
Something that I found interesting is that apparently there were classes of seating for the spectators. The richer and more notable of a person (scratch that... more notable of a man!) you were the better seats you had. Almost like being a season ticket holder in a box by today's standards. Women were able to go to the Colosseum, but were unable to sit with their husbands. As for poorer people, they were able to attend, but they had the stands.
The outside of the Colosseum was extremely busy, and we were warned to be aware of pick-pockets. There are loads of stands trying to sell souvenirs, be wary as we found all the stalls had similar items but a range of prices.
I enjoyed getting to see the enormousness from the outside. Having heard mixed reviews about the inside I wasn't too disappointed that we didn't get to go in considering the rest of our days plans. Had we had more time this would be something I would have done. Maybe next time...
=== Spanish Steps ===
Next were the Spanish Steps. We took a coach from the Colosseum. The Spanish Steps interestingly lead up to a church that is apparently French! There are 135 steps that form the widest staircase in Europe.
The steps were crowded, but still incredible to look at. We had limited time here so we didn't climb to the top! Something that amazes me is the way that this magnificent staircase is between buildings the way it is. The building to the right is an orange coloured building and is where the English poet Keats lived. This building is now a museum. A few buildings along to the left is where you'll find Babington's tea rooms.
At the bottom of the steps is a fountain with drinking water. A good place to fill up your water bottles!
=== Trevi Fountain ===
One of the main things that I wanted to see during my whistle stop tour. We walked to the fountain from the Spanish Steps. A walk that wasn't too far and was easy on the legs took us down a street that our guide likened to 5th Avenue, New-York - full of designer stores. We were then led down a couple of much quieter streets when all of a sudden - there it was.
Our tour allowed for us to spend a bit of time here and the place is so beautiful I have to give it it's own review. In brief summary though this is a place worth visiting. The fountain is beautiful. Designed by Salvi it is at the point where three roads met (tre vie - three roads) although there are now 5 or 6 small roads leading up to this point. It does seem like a random place for such a fountain, and has some interesting history (a little of which is mentioned in my Trevi Fountain review - I don't want to repeat myself).
=== The Pantheon ===
If my memory is correct, the Pantheon originally built BC was a Pagan church. The building that stands today is not the original built before Christ. The Catholic church 'took over' in 7AD and modified it to remove Pagan symbols. Again, this building is full of fascinating history. Most interesting points are that the dome is one solid piece of material with an opening (the oculus) designed to let in light, and the ancient drainage system that allows for any rain coming in. Other than the entrance, the oculus is the only source of natural light, and also acts a little like a sundial. The artist Raphael is also buried here.
The building is amazing to look at from the outside, and even more so from the inside. To get the most from visiting I feel you would need a guide of some description whether that be a person, an audio guide or a book to enlighten you about all of the things there are to see. We were able to spend a little bit of time here, and with our guide in our ears we were able to discover a lot about this place.
=== Navona Square ===
We passed through Navona Square, or Piazza Navona, but we were not able to spend much time here. It looked like a nice place to sit and have a coffee with the selection of coffee shops available (though apparently they're expensive). The square also has a lot of history. It once was an arena - which you can tell by the shape of it. It is definitely not a square! It is long and thin with one end being straight and one being curved.
There are several statues and three fountains in the square - the most notable (in my opinion) being the fountain of the four rivers in the centre. The fountain has four figures representing the four continents known about at the time it was built. This is a Bernini fountain, apparently commissioned by a Pope whose family lived in the palace on the piazza.
I would have liked to have spent a little time in the square just wandering round and enjoying it, but time being of the essence, we were unable to spend more than 15 minutes here. I would like to come back, but I don't imagine it's a place you would want to spend a lot of time unless you were having a coffee break. Very beautiful though.
=== Vatican City ===
The Vatican technically isn't Rome, and there is a lot to say, so I will give it it's own review, but it is worth noting that this is another interesting place to visit if you plan on visiting Rome.
=== Weather ===
Being British I have to mention the weather. We were only there a day, and temperatures were high at about 33-35 degrees centigrade. Weather is important to consider as if you are planning to do some sight seeing you need to plan for the weather. Plenty of sun cream, plenty of water and take opportunities to spend time in the shade if possible.
=== When in Rome... ===
Rome was a fantastic city to visit, but in reality you need longer than a day. At a guess I would say about 4 days, with one of those days dedicated to Vatican City. We were only able to see the highlights, it was definitely a whistle stop tour! I felt we did get to see an awful lot considering what time we did have, and if you are doing Rome in a day I would suggest a similar sort of programme to what we followed to get the most of your time.
It is worth noting that Rome is quite an expensive city. Though I am certain with a bit of research and know-how it could be done on a budget. It is also worth noting that if you go a little off of the beaten track you can find bars and restaurants with much lower prices. For example, we had lunch at a quiet restaurant as part of the tour (included in the price). On the menu we could see you could order a three course meal from the set menu from 20 Euro. On the main streets in the main parts of Rome you could expect to pay at least double of not quadruple that! There are also water fountains all over the city to re-fill your water bottles. This helps with both budget and with keeping you hydrated.
As with any city that attracts tourists you do need to be aware of pick-pockets and beggars, and there are a lot of people trying to convince you to buy souvenirs at ridiculous prices. As long as you keep your wits about you and don't give in to the sometimes really persistent sales people you will be fine.
There was a lot of traffic about. We got a little stuck when on the coach, but then that is to be expected in a city. Seeing as we were on our tour we didn't use any of the local transport systems. We did see buses and taxis, and there is an underground system. My partner has been on the subway system before and says that it is easy to use, but overcrowded and hot - apparently worse than London underground in rush hour. Most of the main attractions are in walking distance of each other and Rome is a relatively easy city to walk around. If you haven't got someone to follow though I'd recommend taking a map!
Something that may be of interest is that there are a lot of Egyptian obelisks scattered over the city, as well as loads of amazing looking buildings and fountains that aren't considered the 'main attractions'.
=== A few final words ===
Rome is a beautiful city, is full of history, and definitely worth a visit. I do plan to go back to be able to spend a little more time at the attractions and see the places we missed out on. I do enjoy history and find it fascinating and really enjoyed seeing all of the historical sites. I would recommend having some sort of guide with you to make the most of the city.
Rome was never a place I was dying to go to. However, when looking at holidays for this year, Rome was cheap for when my boyfriend and I wanted to go and was easy to get to from East Midlands Airport as I live in Nottingham. My boyfriend really wanted to go there so I was more than happy to go, everywhere new is an adventure to me.
== Getting there and first impressions ==
From East Midlands Airport, flying with Ryanair cost us roughly £50 each for return tickets. Although Ryanair don't have the best reputation, they have been fine each time I have flown with them and their airfares are extremely cheap. Being a budget airline, Ryanair fly to the smaller Ciampino airport in Rome. From here, it takes roughly 40 minutes to get into the city center and buses cost about Euro4 each way. Getting to and from Rome, both from the UK and the airport is extremely easy and stress free.
The bus drops you off at Termini Station where you get your first real experience of Rome. The area isn't very nice, there are people everywhere trying to force you to buy things and generally, is not the nicest thing to have to deal with. Termini Station is massive and has three different sides to it. The streets aren't named very well in this area so if you are walking anywhere from here, just figuring out which way to go can be difficult. As we began to walk around, there was a strong smell of wee in a lot of streets and we realised just how rough this area was. My first impression of Rome was not a good one. The city wasn't the beautiful and historic place I was expecting.
== Where to stay ==
We stayed in a B&B not too far away from Termini Station - about a 10 minute walk away. Due to not being right in the city center and near all of the tourist attractions, the B&B was very reasonably priced and cheaper than anywhere else I had looked at. Hotels in the city center can cost you a fortune and some didn't look very nice at all. I would highly recommend looking for somewhere near a metro station as we did, as you will need to pay to use it anyway and if you stay near one of the further out stops, it will make your accommodation much cheaper. I would have liked to have stayed somewhere with maybe a better view but our B&B was lovely and well worth what we paid.
== Transport ==
Rome's metro system is extremely easy to use. There are only two lines to follow, red and blue, so it would be really hard to get lost. If you need to switch lines, you can do so at the main station, Termini Station and I found that getting anywhere by metro took 15 minutes maximum. Tickets for the metro can be bought at all stations or from tobacconists around the city. We bought a 3 day ticket which also covered bus use and this cost us Euro16 each. However, we didn't use the buses at all as they seemed far too confusing. There are lots of bus stops all over the city but as we didn't understand where they all went etc., we figured it would be easier just to stick to the metro.
It seems as though so many locals drive in Rome. I wouldn't recommend this as a tourist. Drivers in Rome don't appear to pay any attention to proper crossings and seem to go wherever they want really. There were so many times when we began to cross a road and a car would come zooming around the corner even though the lights told us we could cross. I didn't imagine crossing a road could be so dangerous.
== Eating out ==
As we were only in Rome for 3 full days, we didn't get the chance to eat at too many restaurants. Some helpful advice though is to look for places that aren't close to tourist attractions. Walk a couple of streets further away and you will find places that are much better priced. Restaurants near tourist attractions are extremely overpriced and not worth the money. One restaurant we found which was exceptional in both price and service was Caffe Leonardo. This restaurant is around the corner from the Spanish Steps and you can read about it in full in another of my reviews. The restaurant served amazing, authentic Italian food for very reasonable prices. If you want to play it safe though, the city does have big chains like McDonalds and Burger King. We did go to Hard Rock Café while in Rome as I had never been to one before and we were starving when we walked past it. Hard Rock Café wasn't any more expensive than other places we had eaten at and the service and food, again, was fantastic.
Strangely, we saw so many Chinese restaurants in Rome but that was generally in the area which our B&B was in. There are also many smaller shops which sell a lot of baguettes and sandwiches which are great value for money and easier if you want to eat something on the go. We did this one day and managed to sit somewhere with a great view and take in some of the sun.
== Attractions ==
Obviously, one of the biggest and most famous attractions in Rome is the Colosseum. We paid to have a guided tour of this amazing building and it was well worth the extra money. I would highly recommend doing this and getting the most out of your trip. Guides from tickitaly.com cost around £30 but include entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This will save you paying again for the two latter areas. The guide lasts 3 hours but you gain access into the lower and top levels of the Colosseum which you do not get with a normal ticket. At the end of our tour, our guide also gave a 30 minute tour of the Roman Forum which is also better than just walking around on your own as the different building are explained. The Colosseum was the most amazing place I visited while in Rome and should be on the top of your list of things to do.
The Trevi Fountain was one of my favourite places to visit in Rome. The fountain is close to the Barberini metro stop although about a 10 minute walk from here. The fountain is constantly surrounded by a lot of people, filling the steps in front of it. The fountain has a story where if you throw in a coin, it will guarantee your return to Rome so if you visit here, you will see many people doing this. During the day, the fountain is pretty but I would advise you to also go back at night. The fountain is fully functional and at night the flowing water is lit up, making it such a stunning view.
The Vatican is a usual must on lists of things to do in Rome. If you want to see St. Peter's Basilica, you need to get there extremely early. We headed into St. Peter's Square at about 9am and there was already the longest queue I had ever seen. The line does move quite quickly but expect a wait of a minimum of about an hour. The view from St. Peter's Square is stunning in itself so if you don't want to head inside or visit the Vatican Museums, this is worth doing just on its own. The Vatican Museums are large and take a long time to get around but if you want to see the Sistine Chapel, it has to be done. The Vatican and surrounding attractions will take a full day out of your trip and it means getting there extremely early to make it worthwhile. Be warned, girls have to have their shoulders covered (no spaghetti vests) or you will be refused entry to all areas.
Somewhere not as popular is the Borghese gardens. There is also a big villa and some small museums in the area so the gardens are not the only thing to see. To get here, head to the metro stop for the Spanish Steps and it is signposted from inside the station. The gardens are vast and extremely beautiful. You can rent small golf carts to ride around the grounds which is nice because you will be shaded. In the middle of the gardens sits a fountain with a large pond like area surrounding it. We sat here for a long time, taking in the view and sitting with our feet in the water. The Borghese gardens seem to be a place for sunbathing and relaxing and it was really nice to get out of the city center for a while. The gardens are lovely and peaceful and although there isn't too much to do, it made a change from doing all of the other tourist attractions.
While there is much more to do in Rome, these were some of the best things I did while there. There are plenty of shopping areas, cute piazzas and all kinds of weird and wonderful shops and streets to explore here.
== Overall ==
We visited Rome for 3 days and this was enough time for me. The heat at the end of June made it difficult to be out all day and it was really tiring. I would advise going during a slightly cooler time of the year so that you can really make the most of the city. While I liked Rome, I did not fall in love with it. Some of the areas, even near tourist attractions are run down and rough and kind of ruined my experience. Overall, Rome was quite disappointing for me but my boyfriend absolutely loved it there.
"Saying or writing that Rome is an open-air-museum is too easy. It should be demonstrated even in the little details."
This message is scrawled on a piece of cardboard at the end of an outdoor art "gallery", perhaps one of the most unusual art exhibitions in Rome, if not the world.
The gallery, the work of one Fausto delle Chiaie, consists of about 20 exhibits, all made up of an assortment of strange junk placed at intervals on a wall.
One, an old glove with a couple of coins, bears the inscription (scribbled on a piece of cardboard by felt tip pen in English and Italian) "Better than nothing". Another, a collection of old ties and broken sunglasses: "Armani Emporium". A space where you would expect another object to be: "work stolen". As you walk further down, you notice a strange bearded man, arms crossed staring at you from across the road. The next exhibit is a photo. It's called "double take". It is a picture of a strange, bearded man, arms crossed...
That message is absolutely right. The beauty in Rome is in the little details. Whether it is this quirky, whimsical yet strangely melancholy exhibition, an exquisite 16th century building that you stumble across whilst wandering the cobbled backstreets, or a magician in one of the city's many beautiful piazzas, beauty and art is all around you. There is something to see everywhere you look.
Ancient history has been amalgamated into the way of life of these proud, friendly people who are so used to living in the shadows of history that they don't even seem to notice any more. This has led in some cases to neglect, with many monuments now reduced to rubble but in other cases history is just incorporated into modern life; the Pantheon, one of the most ancient and best-preserved temples in the world, is now used as a Christian church and surrounded by a number of pleasant restaurants.
In a review, it is difficult to get across the sense of history, of importance, that is in the very air that you breathe; air once breathed by Julius Caesar, the mad Emporer Nero, Gladiators who fought and died for the pleasure of the people, and thousands of warriors who marched to the far corners of the Earth for the glory of this city.
Every trip to Rome will be different, simply because there is so much to see. This review is my experience, some of my own highlights and findings and maybe a couple of things that it might be useful for potential visitors to know.
Capital of Italy, and home to 2.8 million residents, Rome is the 4th most populous city in the EU.
Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City and, during its two and a half thousand year history grew from a collection of huts to become one of the most important centres of western civilization before becoming what it is today; one of the most historically important and widely visited cities in the world.
The Coliseum, Palatine Hill and Forum:
Palatine Hill is where it all began. According to Roman legend, this is the location of the cave where the abandoned brothers Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf and where Romulus, after killing his brother, returned to found what would become one of the greatest cites and civilizations in history.
Like the nearby Forum, you need your imagination (and a good tour-guide) to get the most out of a trip here as it is mainly ruins, with just glimpses here and there of the former incredible grandeur of the time. The sense of history, however, is palpable. This place spawned some of the most remarkable events and people in history and it's incredible to think that a place with such small beginnings left a legacy that still reverberates around the world today. Rome gave us the calender, central heating, straight roads and many of the laws and traditions that we know today. And it was born here.
Perhaps the most famous of Rome's treasures, the Coliseum, is the remains of a 55000 capacity amphitheatre built around 80AD to host gladiatorial games.
Anyone who has seen "Gladiator" will be familiar with the design, although unfortunately much of the original structure has been dismantled and the materials used elsewhere. Although based on the Roman Coliseum, footage from a similar structure in Tunisia was actually used for Ridley Scott's film as the original is sadly in such a state of ill-repair.
This is due to the neglect of many of Rome's monuments; for years the Coliseum was essentially used as a quarry for other buildings. Rome is very much a "recycled" city in this way; many ancient treasures are now to be found in places where there were not originally designed to be kept. Our guide joked that an earthquake many years ago shook the coliseum so much that all the original statues fell out, bounced, and landed in the Vatican!
That said, the coliseum is still an awe-inspiring site and, despite damage and discolouring, has lost little of it's grandeur. You can get a great view of it from the outside (and watch the Police play a hilarious game of hide-and-seek with the inevitable souvenir/crap salesmen plying their trade outside). It is well worth paying to get inside for a look round though.
The cost is approx £12.50 for adults, and only £3.50 for concessions. Like many attractions, if you're between 18-25 (and can prove it), you also get a reduction.
The downside of this is queuing. However, this can be avoided by going with one of the many guides you'll get approached by near the Coliseum. I'd thoroughly recommend this. Costing between £25-£35, not only will you avoid the queues, but you'll get a full tour of the Coliseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill (including all admission charges). The quality of the tour you get will vary admittedly but, if you're lucky (as we were) it'll really bring your trip to Rome to life. A guide is particularly useful when visiting the Forum as there isn't much in the way of signs and frankly, often it's difficult to know what you're looking at.
Not part of Rome, or indeed Italy, the Vatican is a city-state which is only a short trip away from central Rome and well worth a visit to see the Vatican museums, St Peter's Basilica and St Peter's square. Again, a guided tour (costing a similar amount to the previously mentioned tour) will include all three of these things, prevent long queuing and give you an invaluable insight into where to go and what to see. The Vatican is home to the Pope, centre of the Catholic Church and the site of St Peter's tomb.
The negatives first; it's here where you'll find most of the beggars. Although, in truth, there aren't many, it's a sad sight to see, particularly in this place with its frankly obscene level of wealth. There is one room in the Vatican museums (baring in mind this is a huge place) where the marble alone is worth half a billion Euros. That could feed a lot of beggars.
Also, although I'm far from religious, it's faintly depressing and disrespectful to see the naff novelty items for sale within touching distance of this centre of religion. Recorded blessings from the Pope for all occasions, tiny bottles of holy-water, pope bookmarks, it's all a bit surreal and takes away some of the mystique.
Despite this, there is no denying that the museums themselves are nothing short of incredible. You can find some of the most amazing works of art from some of greatest artistic geniuses of all time all under one roof. The Sistine Chapel, with Michaelangelo's "Last Judgement" and the Raphael Rooms are amongst the highlights but this is a collection of art and beauty like no other on earth.
St Peter's Basilica is simply the most beautiful building inside and out that I've ever seen. A colossal building that can accommodate 20000 people and is a work of art in itself, this is a place not to be missed on any trip to Rome.
These two trips are, in my opinion, the two essentials when visiting Rome. There are many other famous sights, many of which are in walking distance and all worth seeking out.
Rome wasn't built in a day and can't be seen in a day either. There are people who were born in Rome who die with the same feeling a visitor can get on the aeroplane on the way home; that they haven't quite had the time to see it all.
I would recommend four days minimum to see the major attractions, but this is not a City to be hurrying around, especially given the Mediterranean climate. Everything is in walking distance and you can often see tourists huddled round one of the City's many maps trying to find their way to the next thing to see.
That will give you time to get a feel for the City, meet the people, try the famous ice cream (the best places are near the Trevi fountain), the pizzas and the Prosecco and see some of the must-see sites. It will also probably be long enough to fall in love with the City and to want to come back!
I would suggest picking one or maybe two major things that you want to see per day, and spend the rest of the time strolling round, taking plenty of breaks for drinks and just to watch the world go by. You'll find that just by wandering the streets you'll happen upon many of the beautiful and interesting tourist hotspots - The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, The Pantheon. Many of these are just a place to look at, grab a drink and a photo, then make your way. Others like the spectacular Villa Borghese and the beautiful parks around it, could easily cost you a day. It's time well spent.
Rome is about two and a half hours from Gatwick. The Leonardo De Vinci airport is about an hour away from central Rome by car, though you can also get a train for about £6. Leave plenty of time to find your departure gate on your return because, although the airport is extremely efficient and well run, it is massive!
Buses are cheap but are also hot and crowded. You can buy a ticket from newsagents or other shops which give you unlimited use for the day for 24 hours for about £6. Bear in mind that they're often late, however.
Taxis are in abundance at all the major attractions but you aren't supposed to hail them on the streets. They are quite expensive (especially as they also charge for the time taken to get to you) and often take the "scenic route"! The level of English depends on the taxi driver, and seems to get less if you try to question the price!
There is also a metro-system which we didn't use but is supposed to be straight-forward and reliable and apparently "impossible" to go wrong-on. I didn't have time to put that to the test.
Driving is not to be recommended unless you're extremely confident judging from the amount of near misses. There don't seem to be too many rules to speak of and driving seems to be less a pleasure, more a test in terms of reaction times/nerve/bladder capacity.
The hop on hop off buses (of which there are plenty) are a great way to see the City and to get your bearings when you first arrive. Costing about £15, you get headphones for an audio guide and get use of the service for 24 hours (regardless what time you start). The audio guide is reasonably informative and the service itself fairly reliable if not particularly regular.
Despite what we were told prior to our visit, the people were probably amongst the friendliest I've ever met. One night we got unbelievably lost (it actually took us longer to get back to our hotel than the flight from London to Rome took) and I can honestly say that the locals couldn't have been any more helpful. Whether they spoke fluent English, or just the odd word, they went out of their way for us. One man called the hotel for us, another searched for it on his WiFi, another even offered us a lift (admittedly he was obviously desperate for us to say no, but the offer was there)!
I can also honestly say that I've never felt so safe walking the streets at night, and that includes in England. I didn't witness any drunkenness, violence or crime of any kind. Whilst visitors should take the normal precautions, and most guidebooks warn of pickpockets etc, walking at night is a pleasant experience.
Visiting big cities in Europe is rarely cheap, but there are some deals to be found. We stayed in a four star hotel just outside Rome which cost less than £500 between us for 4 nights including flights and transfers through Easyjet.
The hotel we stayed in was the Excel, Monte Mario. In hindsight, we may have tried to find one more central, as it was a £15 each way taxi ride into central Rome, but we couldn't have any complaints about the price (it should have been £300 a night for the room alone).
The price of food varies greatly. You can easily spend £80+ for two on a good quality meal, but if you just move away from the beaten track, you could pay a quarter of that for something of similar quality (if not the same views). My advice would be to make sure you know beforehand what roughly what the prices are, as the most expensive places keep this hidden from you until it's too late!
The water in Rome is perfectly drinkable and there are fountains all over the place. I would recommend taking a few empty water bottles with you and filling them up every time to pass one - you'd be surprised how much you can save that way.
Averages in the 20s throughout the year, and well into the 30s in July and August when we visited. We both loved this, although it maybe too warm for some people. April to June and September to October are a bit cooler, although still warm, and apparently not as busy.
Rome is not perfect; it suffers from many problems afflicting modern cities, particularly those of historical interest.
It's overcrowded, a little run-down in areas (although not as much as I was led to believe, and definitely a lot better than most capital cities) and plagued by a billion souvenier sellers trying to get tourists to part with their cash for a load of junk. A trip to the Trevi Fountain, in particular, was almost ruined by these people. It's hard to feel the romance when you're trying to force a half-dead rose back into the hands of a jabbering and possibly insane Italian salesman. Graffiti is prevalent as, apparently, are pick pockets.
The biggest shame though, is the neglect of the monuments. The Coliseum, surrounded by traffic is stained and damaged beyond repair. Familiarity seems to have bred contempt for many of the Romans who take the history that surrounds them for granted. The Forum, long since reduced mainly to rubble is a testament to modern progress and neglect of history.
That said, if you just use a little imagination, you can still see glimpses of the wonder of this magnificent place. It is a city that seeps with a vibrant and colourful history unlike any other place on the earth and despite everything, it's impossible not to feel it.
Rome may not be for everyone. A pile of rubble, even when it's 2000 years old, is just a pile of rubble. Anyone with just a small amount of interest in history though couldn't fail to be impressed. The Vatican Museums are a monument to the Church's vanity and over excesses. They are also a collection of the most beautiful artefacts that it's possible to find in one place.
I always wanted to go to Rome and I can honestly say that there wasn't one thing I saw that was an anti-climax or a disappointment. I got the trip as a surprise present from my other half and it was easily the best present I've ever received. I fell in love with the City, with the romance, the history and the people. I can't wait to go back and according to legend, a coin thrown into the Trevi Fountain will ensure I will.
Two thousand years ago, Rome was the greatest City in the world. In my eyes at least, the Eternal City still is.
We visited Rome in April last year for a weekend. We were lucky and found a lovely apartment B&B 5 mins stroll away from the Colloseum, the location, we found, was perfect. Whilst the weather during the day was fine, not too hot, not too chilly, at night it rained. It was very funny to see the people who sold sunglasses during the day selling umbrellas at night! If you need either I suggest you haggle as they take £20 off at first time of asking when they'll settle for £5 (sunglasses that is).
We were disappointed with the quality of food; Rome and Italy has this great reputation of making delicious pasta dishes such as lasagne and spaghetti however on our trip we found little evidence to back this up. I'm not dissing the nation as a whole of course but from our experience of around 6 pizzerias and restaurants we found that we only received decent food at a high price - around £30 per person. Obviously like it is in many countries, the more you pay the better the quality, but our experience suggested that £20 of food didnt bring alot of quality!
Additionally stay clear of the stalls near Colloseum and other keys sites - their 'pizza' is simply bread and barely melted cheese on top!
There are plenty of free sites to visit such as the Trevi Fountain, you can also appreciate to a certain extent the Colloseum and the Roman Forum. We had a lovely day trip to the Vatican - I recommend reserving a day for it as it was a little walk from us but easily managable if you like walking, we got a bus on the way home as we pretty tired!
At the Vatican it was breath-taking however I couldnt help but feel sick inside at the hypocrisy of religion flaunting all these marvellous paintings, gold statues and other rare pieces of art, but thats just me. It was amazing to see the popes shrines and of course the Museo de Vaticano is not to be missed. It did cost around £15 each but that includes the Sistine chapel. Apparently you can't take photos there but I'm guessing the fifty odd people we saw didnt see or hear that little rule!
I definately recommend the Colloseum but pay attention to the ear phone tour guide because we didnt and got a little lost, it was a little confusing! Plenty to be learnt there, we got there around 10am but get there earlier if you can - very big queues! Also it's worth paying the five euros extra to include the roman forum which is truely beautiful and a place where you can take plenty of great photos.
Another thing we did which we'll continue to do so I think in future will be to purchase a small guide book on the area such as Lonely Planet guides - for only around £5 in some shops it adds another dimension to the trip plus it makes it much more enjoyable learning history and random facts along the way - plus cities such as Rome have so many hidden features asides from the obvious sites.
There is alot of walking to be done in Rome so I suggest you stop off on the way to where ever you're going to the many coffee stops they have every now and again - walking shoes is a must and travel light!
Rome has always had a high reputation and is often always mentioned in History classes. It was once known as caput mundi (capital of the world) but a lot of people know it as the capital city of Italy. It's been a favourite city for honey-moons, weekend getaways and food. It's one of the most visited cities in the world. Some of signature locations include The Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, Spanish Steps, Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza della Repubblica,Trevi Fountain, Castel Sant'Angelo and The Vatican.
I've visited the city twice, first in 2007 and another time in February 2008. The travel from the airport to the city was quite peaceful and the customer service was decent. We went there because my mum's parter had a school friend who moved with a school friend and had set up a sweet shop over there. What I love about Italy is the variety of things it offers in it's culture. It features a lot of things that can appeal to all kinds of audiences such as art lovers, historians, artists and romantic lovers.
One thing I enjoyed about Italy was visiting The Vatican. As a lot of people know it's the residence of the pope and they mentioned it a lot in the Catholic School I attended. The policies were quite strict and some of them reminded me of the School Uniform rules such as no skimpy clothes and short skirts, but I'm not sure why you would want to wear them unless it was a very hot day. On both occasions I visited Italy it was somewhat cold. I always expected the place to be really grand and I was right. I liked the use of gold and the interior designs because it represents how grand Rome is. There are so many paintings, but so little time to view them all carefully.
Another thing I enjoyed was the Trevi Fountain. On the first day we reached Rome in 2008, we managed to see it at night. I thought it was a fabulous site to see because they put on them bright lights to make the fountains stand out and look even more spectacular. In 2007 we got to see it in daylight and one of the things we wanted to see when we returned was to see Trevi Fountain at night.
It's been estimated that around 3000 Euroes (around £2000) a day are thrown into the fountain and there's been regular attempts to steal them. When I was there, nobody tried to steal them but there were some men trying to sell some roses quite aggressively, then legged off when a police man was passing by. It's a common legend that if one throws a coin in the fountain they are to return to Rome again. I believe in that legend because I threw a coin in 2007 and threw another one in 2008. In 2006 it was announced there would be a supermarket that would use the collected coins to support the needy.
There's plenty of tour buses available, I saw a lot of them passing by and they always seemed to be full at the roof and almost empty at the bottom. I've been on them around twice and found them quite useful. The tour buses I was on often lasted about an hour to three hours and really went deep into Rome. We drove past some rural areas and some castles, which I thought was a really nice surprise. Oddly the thing that stood out most for me was a shiny black bin next an orange tree. The bin had a smiley face on it. Each trip to the tour bus, the driver always showed us Piazza della Repubblica. In 2007 we never got to see it by foot, but we did see it on foot on the night we saw Trevi Fountain.
Italy is well regarded for it's food. Mostly known for it's pizza, pasta and high quality ice cream. I can't remember exactly what restaurants we went to, but the food was quite enjoyable. There was one restaurant which I remember the waiter trying to sell us lobster in 2007. We went there again next year and the waiter quickly recognised me and the group I went with. The quality of the meals improved as well, so I would defiantly have a look at that restaurant, if I remember the name of it. We've had some bad times eating out as well. There was one place we went to, we all ordered different dished from the menu but we all had to have water, cold potatoes and chicken because they ran out of the food we wanted. It was one of the weakest customer service I've seen and very poor compared to other places we've been to. Italian restaurants had truly changed the way I thought about food because it was there where I was introduced to prawns and since then it made me go for much more adventurous meals.
One of the disappointments in 2007 is when we walked a long way to get to Sistine Chapel only to find that it was closed. Fortunately in 2008 as we were much more familiar to Rome we managed to get there quicker and the chapel was open. I really enjoyed it and loved the paintings and the ceiling. There were many people quick to take photoes and the staff had to politely tell everyone that photography was not allowed. I was quite glad to actually see it because we wanted to see it the year before.
A lot of the travelling we did was by foot. We also got to see a lot of ruins walking around. I liked how they still remained because it really gives the city a nostalgic Roman touch and makes some parts of Rome look really authentic. One of the best known ruins are the remains of the Colosseum. The queues are very massive and there's some people who con you so that you can skip the long wait. I thought the wait was worth it because I thought it was interesting how everything was and how long it still remains.
There's plenty of magic and lovely things to see in Rome. I think it's a really magnificent city, but there's also some things I saw that were quite sad and things around as well. There were some fantastic views that are well worth the money but I thought it was quite sad to see a lot of homeless people sleeping in unhygienic corners and smelly clothes.
One of the most funniest moments in Rome was when we were sitting on a bench and some Asian chaps were trying to sell us some blankets. We politely said no, but they were quite ruthless and were determined to grab some of our cash, until they saw a police car, they quickly ran up the hill and tripped.
Another thing I liked was walking up the Spanish Steps, the stairs were a bit too much for some people in my group but it was nice to reach the top. It was quite crowded when we went there and there was a lot of artists drawing at the time. We didn't spend much time there, unfortunately.
Some problems you may face as well as a starving purse is crowds. As it's quite a popular place, at some point you may have to wait for a while to get where you want because of queues. Public transport has always been crowded when we went on the buses and trains and there are often crowded and rarely a seat available.
Other than that I really enjoyed Rome and would recommend it to anyone. I would really like to go there again and visit some of the other places in Rome, I would like to explore the Spanish Steps more, and it also encouraged me to visit other places in Italy such as Venice.
Visiting Rome, the Eternal City, is an amazing experience. Around every corner there is a sight to behold, ancient ruins sit side-by-side with more modern structures and the whole atmosphere is one of a bustling cosmopolitan city but the ancient backdrops make it unique.
Probably the best way to explore Rome is by foot as there is so much to see and most of it is in a fairly compact area. We only had one day in which to explore this vibrant city so we knew there would be a lot of walking involved. We visited in the middle of August and the weather was extremely hot and I would suggest you go armed with several bottles of water. Everywhere we went people were selling parasols to protect tourists from the unrelenting sun as there seemed little shade when leaving the narrow streets.
Rome was originally built on seven hills but these are actually quite hard to locate now as some have been flattened out and they have all been built over, we did not find it a particularly hilly city to walk around which we had worried about.
Although it is assumed that Rome was founded about 750BC it was Octavius Augustus (27B.C.), Rome's first Emperor who presided over the construction of some of Rome's most famous buildings. In the 4th Century Rome gradually became Christian and by the 5th Century the glory days of Rome were over. It wasn't until the 15th century that Rome once again became buoyant and after a further turbulent period of history it became the Capital city of Italy in 1871. There also followed 20 years under the Fascist regime of Mussolini and occupation by Germany but now Italy is a Republic.
We started our tour at the enormous and attractiveTrevi fountain which we were amazed to find in a very small square and after throwing a coin in the water to guarantee ourselves another trip to Rome we set off in the direction of the Piazza Venezia. This required walking down some narrow streets which opened out occasionally into surprising squares, one of which was home to part of the Papal University. Gift shops in these streets were a little cheaper than those immediately surrounding the Trevi Fountain.
Piazza Venezia is almost exactly in the centre of Rome. Mussolini gave his speeches from the balcony of his residence in the square. This square is absolutely dominated by the enormous structure that is the Monument to Victorio Emmanuel II, the first king of the united Italy. The structure is 443ft wide and 230ft high. It was started in 1911 and finished about 25 years later. The whole columned design is in gleaming white marble and it is easy to see why the locals call it "The wedding Cake". It is visible from many points in Rome but somehow it does not seem in keeping with the other architecture and although magnificent and impressive it also looks a little tacky and out of place.
From here we took the Vai dei Fori Imperiali. This took us past the Roman Forum which was the centre of the business world of Ancient Rome and it would have been the communal heart of the city too. The entrance to the Forum is not on this rod and unfortunately we did not have time to visit and wander around the ruins but the viewing areas on the main road actually afford excellent views and you can easily see the road layouts. The high position also lets you see the building outlines and it is easy to make out the Temple of Vesta.
Walking further along brought us within sight of probably one of the most famous buildings in the world; the Colosseum. Built in around 72A.D this is the largest one of its kind ever built. It could set 50000 spectators to watch the games and the gladiators in the arena. The outside had 80 arched entrances to allow easy access for so many people, it was also thought to have had some sort of fabric roof that would have protected the spectators from the sun. The Romans had a great bloodlust for the massacres that occurred here in the name of entertainment but the advent of Christianity in the city put an end much of the sport. Visits cost about 15 euro but we did not arrive until quite late and the queues were huge so we decided we would have to save an internal visit for another day. We walked around the outside and by peering into all the shut off arches we were still able to see the cross which marks where the Emperor sat will his power of life or death for the combatants. The area is absolutely teeming with hawkers and pick-pockets are rife too so be careful, a lot of police seem to be on duty. There are many men dressed as roman gladiators who will pose with you for a photograph for a fee.
Next to the Colosseum is the Triumphal Arch of Constantine, built in 315A.D many of the stones were re-used from other sites.
We then took a turn towards the river and walked along the banks of the River Tiber. In the distance we could see the fortress which is Castel Sant'Angelo (as mentioned in Angels and Demons), a museum housing historical relics.
After a lovely lunch at a local restaurant and avoiding the wine due to the excessive heat we started on the second part of our day, Vatican City.
Vatican City is a small sovereign state within Rome that contains the residence of the Pope. In the centre of Vatican City stands the amazing St Peters Basilica.
St Peter's Basilica is the largest Catholic Church in the world. It took over 120 years to build and was eventually consecrated in 1626. The statistics for this building are amazing and it is said that it can hold 60000 people for a mass. Entry is free but there are masses on Wednesday and Sunday when the area is very crowded.
We approached St Peters across the enormous St Peter's Piazza. The stunning columns dominate the front and the intricate dome looks like it is actually a little too small for such an impressive structure. Visitors to the Basilica have to have a bag search similar to an airport and are then subjected to a clothing check. Respectful attire must be worn at all times and entry will be refused (we saw several people turned away) if your shoulders are uncovered, your knees are not covered or your clothes are generally too revealing. Men must remove their hats. If you arrive and realise that you have shorts or a strappy top there are plenty of people wondering around just outside the Vatican City gates who sell colourful scarves which will allow you to cover up. The queue moves extremely quickly, we thought we would be in the long queue for ages but we were amazed at the efficiency. Don't be tempted to use your mobile phone inside or take your scarf off or you will be rapidly escorted outside.
Nothing can prepare you for the sight that greets you as you enter the Basilica. I have seen hundreds of churches and cathedrals but the magnificence of the decoration and the pure scale of this one is breath-taking. The marble sculptures, the mosaic pictures, the excessive gilding and the gorgeous floor tiles are everywhere you turn. One of the best sculptures is that of Michelangelo's Pita which is found in a niche on the right as you enter. The dominating feature as you walk down the central nave is the baldachin canopy over the papal alter that was designed by Bernini. This consists of four twisted brass columns supporting the flamboyant canopy and it stands over 26ft high. The tomb of St Peter is here and this is also the burial site for many of the Popes. The light flooding through the dome is a beautiful spectacle and because there are no paintings in here you are welcome to take photographs.
It is very difficult to comprehend any idea of scale once you are inside, there is a frieze down the centre and the lettering is well over 6ft high but it doesn't look anywhere near that big. Down the centre there is a list of the largest churches in the world and their distance and size in relation to St Peters including St Pauls in London. There is not a square inch of this Basilica that is not ornately decorated and a visit to its wonderfully cool interior is a welcome break from the heat and the hustle and bustle that is Rome. Whether you are religious or not this is definitely a place worth visiting.
The only thing that disappointed us was that I hadn't read the guidebooks properly and hadn't realised that you had to go through the Vatican museum to visit the Sistene Chapel and we didn't have enough time left, we should have booked a guided tour instead.
Overall we had a really wonderful day and there was just so much we didn't get to see or didn't get to explore enough that we will definitely be returning one day in the future, so glad that I threw my coins in the fountain!
Got back from Rome yesterday to drizzly UK, grey and cold... really not nice weather given Rome was super hot and sunny! It was over 30 degrees everyday so to come back to rain was not pleasant...
Despite only spending three full days in Italy's capital city, we managed to visit all the major tourist sites with time to spare...
Day 1- Navona Square, Pantheon
After we got off the flight, we got to our hotel by a rather overly competent Italian taxi driver who shoved nine people into his seven seater van and swerved us to our hotel, near the Vatican City. We then made our way on a short walkie to the centre of Rome, where we visited Navona Square.
Navona Square is a beautiful piazza which houses the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of four rivers) and the Pamphilj palace. It was stunning to see the large amount of artists in the square; one's portrait of Angelina Jolie was really beautiful, like spot on. We bought a pineapple flavoured ice cream (which melted too quickly) and made our way to the Pantheon.
The Pantheon was built as a Roman Temple but has since been used as a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to "St Mary and the Martyrs". It is free to enter and you will be WOWed by the Pantheon Dome. It is amazing how much light gets in through the oculus. It was also really cool in here, so if you want to escape the heat and you are nearby, pop into the Pantheon!
Day 2- Bus Tour around Rome (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum)
In order to get to the places further from us, we took a "Hop-on, Hop off" bus tour which allowed us to travel to the major sites without too much walking. It only costed 20 Euros per person and you can access it unlimited times during a 24 hour period, so it was quite good.
We got off at the Piazza Venetio, went up the Palatine Hill and made our way to the Colosseum along the forum. We didn't go into the Colosseum; there were too many people in the queue and it was too hot... I'd been inside before and it was stunning, but the gift shop was overpriced (as usual) and a lot of it was out of bounds which was a shame.
Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain, which in my opinion is the most beautiful thing in Rome... It is just so imposing, yet soft and gentle. Of course we threw coins into the fountain... and reading some trivia... apparently around 3000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day, they are somehow scooped out and used for a supermarket for the needy. Interesting...
We made our way to the Spanish Steps but tired and slightly moody family members did not want to walk up the steps in the heat so we took a metro train to the Piazza del Popolo, where we walked around and attempted to get to the Villa Borghese gardens, but didn't manage to see what we had intended due to a lack of a map... oh well.
Tired and hungry, we returned to Piazza Navona for an expensive dinner, but we did get "complimentary" music and the nightlife was really buzzing. Artists and musicians were still hanging around the square, but a new kind of energy was around at night. It was completely different than what it was like in the day time.
Day 3- Vatican City
Staying so close to the Vatican City, we spent the morning there to avoid the queues, enjoying the intricate artworks and carvings found inside. It is mouth dropping the level of craftsmanship that is required for the creation of the paintings and the statues- really stunning. You can quite literally spend hours admiring the artwork.
Unfortunately, we missed out on going to the Sistine Chapel- it would've been quite a long walk (and giant queues) but knowing that, I am sure on a future visit, we can plan more accordingly.
I bought a stamp from the Vatican post office :D
For the rest of the day we went souvenir shopping, ate ice cream and just relaxed.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip, and despite it being just three days in length, we managed to visit all (well most) the sites with time to spare. It is definitely worthwhile visiting and I can safely say it is still my favourite city that I've been to.
A word of warning, everything seems quite expensive compared to the UK. Expect food to be around 10 euros per dish with drinks starting at 3 Euros a glass.
Rome...what can I say. This really is the City to visit if you like culture, history, good food and long walks. Have you ever been somewhere and you feel as though you have travelled back in time? Well you will when you visit Rome.
We visited in Rome in February and while it was cold and sometimes a little showery, it was a great time to visit without having to endure the hordes of tourists.
Our visit to Vatican City was amazing, with no crowds or queues. It is easily accessible from the metro station and can be reached in a few minutes down a lovely shopping street. Although In peak season I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at how busy this street would be.
We paid extra for the guided tour (approx 4o Euros each which included the admission fee to the Vatican Museums) and felt it was well worth it. The tour guide was excellent and could answer any questions thrown at her. We were in the Vatican for around 4 hours, which seems a long time, but this included the museums, St Peters Square and St Peters Basillica. It was simply outstanding.
The Colosseum was also fantastic, despite the weather being a grey and wet in the morning. Again we opted to pay extra for the guided tour since we had never been before, however if you want to save some cash, don't be sucked in by the reps outside trying you to get a tour. Buy a guide book and do it yourself. The guided tours are good however and they go at a leisurely pace so you don't feel as though you're being rushed. The Tour did include however a walk up Palatine Hill. This is where the original City of Rome was built and commands unbelievable views over the City and worth the trek.
One of the many free highlights of the City is the Trevi fountain. It looks beautiful and is a romantic little place to stop. The ice-cream shops directly next to it are lovely and not too expensive considering they are right next to one of the main sights of the City.
In typical fashion the food is amazing. You can eat reasonably cheaply if you stay far enough away from the main thoroughfares, however if you would like to treat yourself, there are some beautiful restaurants near Barberini metro station that are slightly more upmarket and have an excellent selection of wines. Our meal cost around 130 euros for two which is quite expensive, but it was out last night and a great treat if you can afford it. If not, don't worry, even the local cafes and snack bars are great. Its well worth a stop for a slice of pizza which only costs around 4 or 5 euros.
Top travel tip: Get a BTI metro pass for 4 euros and this will take you on both the red and blue lines all day. Well worth it. Also, don't trust the taxi drivers. One charged us 30 euros for a 2 mile trip when we just arrived. Our lack of local knowledge showed!
Rome is a very european city that inspires great enthusiasm, its breathtaking beauty is steeped in history with a surprise around every corner. The city's glorious and often decadent past has shaped modern day Rome with it's magnificent architecture, outstanding cuisine and dolce vita.
The hard part of a trip to Rome is fitting it all in with so many sights to see and restaurants to dine in!
Some fo the top sightseeing opportunities include:
Vatican City & Sistine Chapel - A city within a city the vatican is residence to the Pope and the heart of the catholic church. Its many historic buildings and sites include the impressive St Peter's Square, the Basilica of St Peter, the Sistine Chapel where the world famous Michelangelo's fresco is painted on the ceiling and the many Vatican museums. You also have the chance to post a letter from the Vatican Post office and see the Swiss Guards on security detail. Irrespective of your religion this is an impressive and interesting place to visit.
Pantheon - a domed temple built by Hadrian it is one of the best preserved remains of ancient Rome. well worth a visit - also make the time to sit in one of the cafe's outside to soak up the atmosphere and if you like Roman ice cream and who doesn't one of the best ice cream gelateria's in Rome is at the side of the Pantheon called Cremeria Monforte the chocolate orange is particularly tasty.
Trevi Fountain - made famous in the the film La Dolce Vita when Anita Ekberg cooled off in the fountain. It is very impressive but also very busy never a quite moment to be had there.
Colosseum - one of the most famous sites in Rome and built in AD 72 it hosted gory battles between gladiators and slaves, prisoners and animals. Large areas are open to the public and it is an impressive if not slightly disturbing site to think what went in there.
Spanish Steps - this is the most Italian of sites the Spanish steps main function seems to be a viewing gallery for some of the best people watching as well as being a great seat and one of the most photographed sites.
Villa Borghese & Gardens - if you want to escape the city buz and buzz take a walk though the Villa Borghese Gardens you will find it hard to believe you are in the middle of a city and will walk past many roman ruins along the way. Take a walk to the balcony overlooking the Piazza del Popolo for some magnificent views of the city.
Romans are serious about their food and we found eating out to be a fabulous experience with everything from inexpensive pizza made in a woodfired brick oven to some pretty spectacular restaurants with the best Italian food ever. Try the cacio e pepe pasta a roman speciality of cheese and black pepper pasta - yum.
Second to food for Rome is the shopping with all the best designers having stores in the cities as well as a host of unique boutiques. One shop near the Spanish steps and famous is Sermoneta Gloves - all they sell is gloves but boy do they sell fabulous gloves, this is where all the celebs come for their gloves and it is worth buying a pair of beautiful leather gloves in all colours and styles!
Rome is a wonderful city that impacts on you at first sight you almost expect to see Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Romand Holiday round each corner. Definitely worth a long weekend visit and if you have the time make it a week i guarantee you will not be bored although you may gain a few pounds in weight thannks to the great food. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading.
Piazza Navona - this is possibly on of the nicest piazza's in rome with several fountains decorating it and cafes surrounding it, a great people watching place. Take the time to explore the backstreets surrounding the Piazza Navona and find the real Rome.
This will probably be a long review but there is just so much to say about the lovely Rome. I went there for five days at the end of last June & I fell in love with the place. There is so much to see and do whilst you are there day & night, it is a great place. This really is a great European city to visit.
I stayed in a hotel which was a 10 - 15 minute walk from the Termini (Rome's biggest rail station). I cannot remember for the life of me the name of my hotel but it was not that grand and I wouldn't stay there again.
--- The Termini ---
This is a really huge building it is really long and quite wide. The train station has trains going to other cities in Italy as well as local places & other countries. Out the back of the train station is a huge bus station/depot which has loads of buses that go all around Rome.
The top level is sort of like a mini high street fused with a train station. It has places to eat such as Chef Express and a McDonalds. There is also a shoe shop, clothes shops, etc. I ate a few times in the Termini but it wasn't really enjoyable.
Also as with any large train stations watch your handbags and pockets as pick-pocketing in this area is rife. Oh and also watch your bottom as I had some old man grab mine & to add insult to injury he followed me and my friends around the Termini for around 10 minutes. This isn't a usual occurrence and only happened once in the Termini but still thought I should throw the warning out.
There is a lower level to the train station which has shops like a pharmacy, souvenir shops, clothes shops & Sephora (I was dragged out by my friends after spending a fortune on cosmetics in there, I could not help myself!).
As I mentioned earlier this is a restaurant located in the Termini we were meant to have our dinner there every night it came in the hotel package we only ate there twice. It isn't that nice for meals but it is rather cheap I think if you were paying and it wasn't included in your package it was Euro8 for two courses. For starters they do pasta which is quite nice I had tagliatelle with mixed vegetables for my starter the pasta was actually really nice. The main course was roast chicken and chips, the chicken was extremely dry kind of like chewing card board and my chips were cold. It is good value for money but I do advise you to spend your euro elsewhere.
This is right next door to Chef Express and I do admit we had our lunch in there on the last day because we were in a rush. I usually avoid fast food chains when I am on holiday but sometimes you just cannot resist. The service in this McDonalds is grand, the staff try their best to assist you if you do not speak Italian. They got my order right the first time and understood immediately what I wanted (I only speak English & basic French). I usually feel guilty when I go to a country and I don't speak their language but they are lovely here.
---- Catacombs of St. Callixtus ----
There are different catacombs you can visit in Rome such as Catacombs of St. Sebastian & Catacombs of St. Domitilla. We visited the Catacombs of St. Callixtus it was included in our holiday package so we arrived on a coach. It didn't take too long to get to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and I am sure you can get there by bus.
I would advise you to take a cardigan to the Catacombs as once you get deeper and deeper underground it gets absolutely freezing cold. I would also advise that you wear some sort of flat shoe as the ground in the Catacombs is really uneven and it is quite dark.
You will be guided by a tour guide who will explain all the different crypts and tombs that you visit. You will probably be in a group of eight or nine people including the tour guide.
In the Catacombs of St. Callixtus there is the Crypt of The Popes it is the most sacred and holy place in the Catacombs. There were nine popes buried here and their names inscribed around the tombs, the crypt itself is like a little room and you can see the stone tombs where the bodies lay. The bodies are not there of course and have been moved to other grounds but it is still a good experience to visit the crypt and see it first hand. There is also the Crypt of St. Cecillia the saint of music before you get to the Crypt Of The Popes.
Visiting the Catacombs was a great experience and I would do it again it is incredible to witness such architectural structures and burial places deep under the city.
---- The Pantheon ----
This is a circular building with the famous dome which has a hole in it so you can see the sky. The Pantheon was originally built as temple to the Gods. It is really nice to go inside on a sunny day as the sunlight shines through the ceiling. The problem with the Pantheon is that it is always packed with tourists and people and it can be a little hard to manoeuvre around the building.
There are nice little shops around the Pantheon selling postcards, ice cream and souvenirs. There is also a McDonalds directly across from it if you are peckish.
The thing I disliked about the Pantheon was the seller men. The people who sell plastic toys, lasers flashing sunglasses and all that sort of stuff they mostly operate around the outskirts of the Pantheon. The just would not leave me and my friends alone even if we politely declined what they were trying to sell us.
---- The Collosseum ----
This is extremely busy and there are hundreds of tour guides touring around the Collosseum. The tour guide stops out side the Collosseum and explains it's history. You then have a chance to go through the stone ruins of the attraction. There are some lovely views from the upper levels of the Collosseum. It looks really stunning at night when it is light up all around the building.
---- The Spanish Steps ---
The steps are a great place to visit during the night or day. I went during the day and night, the atmosphere was great at both times. The Spanish steps are always extremely busy and bustling with people so if crowds aren't for you then I would steer clear.
There are a lot of fashion shops around or near the Spanish Steps such as Moschino, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino & Yves Saint Laurent (another shop I was dragged from before I sold my house, my soul & family to buy the whole store). There also nice little pubs and cafes around The Steps all in all it is a great place to visit as there are so many people. There is a nice restaurant/bar at the very top of the steps to the left although it is expensive and there are just as nice and cheaper places around the steps.
---- The Trevi Fountain ---
I visited the Trevi Fountain at night time when the fountain is all lit up and just looks absolutely stunning. The Fountain was one the most busiest attractions I had visited in Rome. Just trying to get near the Fountain is a task and adventure all in itself.
Apparently if you throw coins into the fountain you are likely to return back to Rome. Thousands of euro are thrown in to the Trevi each day. I heard that there is a hefty fine for anyone who climbs in the fountain and you will be carted of by police not that I wanted to try that.
There are men dressed as Roman warriors who take pictures at the fountain but be careful as some of them try to charge up to Euro30 euro for one photograph.
The Trevi Fountain is worth a visit just because of it's beauty. There are lots of nice little ice cream shops around this area and it really is worth buying ice cream as it is so yummy.
Rome is a great place to visit I advise anyone to visit Rome as it is so pretty and eye catching you may just fall in love. There is so much that I cannot fit it all in one review it almost makes me so sad to cut out parts of the trip.
I went there with my girlfriend October last year and I have to say went along with no expectations and absolutely fell in love with the place. first thing to say is the 'eternal city' must be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. what surprises you is its relatively small size. this is a huge bonus as you can pretty much walk anywhere. this is the best way to explore as Rome's cobbled streets and full of character, with the stunning architecture there's something to discover on every corner. the public transport system is very simple and very easy to use you can buy a ticket on a bus of a shop or the station and then you stamp it at the metro or on the bus itself and then that will let you use any bus for over an hour and includes 1 metro trip, yes there are other tickets you can buy but this particular one only costs 1 Euro! everything is there is also in English (all signs, instructions on buses etc) much to my surprise! we spent 4 nights there and walked everywhere, from the stunning Vatican to the beautiful Fontana di Trevi (which is an unbelievable experience given it is in a small square surrounded by tall buildings). in the evening there's you can go sit and watch the world go by on the Spanish steps or sit by one of the restaurants with tables on the streets. the weather is great in autumn, very warm but not as hot as the overbearing summer temperatures. We're definitely going back and if you are considering a European city break Rome is a must.
TOP TIP: if you go to the Vatican Museum before 12pm on the last Sunday of each only you get in for free, but be warned the queues can be massive!
Rome was much how I expected it to be, a lively mixture of ancient capital and a modern metropolis, with all the related tourist oppertunities. I shant go into massive detail as plenty of other people have! So I shall try to cover things that peple havent.
If youre expecting a fairytale city be warned, Rome IS Italy's biggest metropolis and has all the problems of a big city - crime, graffiti, rubbish and indeed plenty of protests which we witnessed several of. Travelling on the metro-system at night can be daunting, as can venturing into the suburbs.
People wanting to see impressive sites wont be disappointed though, and we got to see all the main ones, Colosieum, Forum, Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument, Spanish Steps and the Vatican easily within 4 days. The Roma Pass is highly recommended, it offers a weekend of travel, plus entrance to two museums / ancient sites for 20 euros, which saves money and is also very useful, especially when it comes to queue jumping at the Colosieum.
I would also beware of anyone dressed as a Roman soldier, especially around the Colosieum. They will charge you for pictures, and charge you high - they attempted to charge us 20 Euros! Feel free to refuse or give a smaller tip, but its probably best just to say no in the first place.
If you want to see St Peters go as early as possible, we queued for about 10 minutes when the queue later can be over an hour long.
A good tip: If you like flea markets and have the sunday free, go to the Porta Portese market in Trastevere. Plenty of bargains to be had, as well as the spetacle of seeing nuns hunting for a bargain! Take a good map though for it can be a bit of a pain to find.
If you like more modernistic architecture I recommend EUR, its slightly further out but worth the visit.
I know that I said that Paris was one of the romantic cities in the world, but for last Valenties Day, I took my wife to Rome, and we absolutely loved it, and she didnt want to leave. In is a historic city, and when you walk through the city, you know you are walking through thousands of years of history, most of which has shaped the way we live today.
When you walk through the likes of London, you will find statues at various places, but when you go through Rome, you will find a statue of someone, most probably a Roman on almost every street corner. This really is the place to go. I had wanted to go for a long time, and it isnt the cheapest place to visit. This is definitely not a city for children, and I think that it is more of a adults holiday, but its up to you. There are so many places to go and see, and when we arrived, we were given a travel guide which listed all of the best places to go and see before you left. One place we did go for the day was Vatican City, home of the Pope, and I am not a religious man, but it was an unbelievable experience.
Like I have previously stated, Rome isnt the cheapest place to go, and we booked up with Thomas Cook, and for a package Holiday which included flights and an all inclusive hotel, it cost around £1800 for 7 days. But when you are there, there are plenty of other things to spend your money on. The streets are filled with shops and restaurnates, and you really get the feel of Italy, especially seen as the people are so nice.
We had the most romantic three days of our lives in Rome and cannot wait to go back! I cannot urge you enough that you must go and visit if you ever get the chance!
You walk through the old Italian cobbled streets and then suddenly to your left or right there stands a magnificant ancient artifact, it is really bizarre, but wonderful at the same time. The Trevi fountain gets really busy, so try to get there early if possible. Try to take some time out of your busy schedule (and it will be busy, there is a lot to pack in) to sit on the Spanish Steps for 30 minutes and watch the world go by.
The ice-cream and pizzas are to die for, but that's to be expected really when in Rome! The food isn't cheap in the main piazzas, but if you look down the side streets, you can find some really great deals. As one Italian said to us, follow the Romans for the nicest places to eat!
Rome (Italian: Roma) is the capital city of Italy and of the Lazio region, as well as the country's largest and most populous comune, with about 2.8 million residents (3.8 million considering the whole urbanised area, as represented by the Province of Rome). It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian peninsula, where the river Aniene joins the Tiber. As one of the largest cities in the European Union, the Comune di Roma has a gross domestic product of 97 billion in the year 2005, equal to 6.7% of Italy's GDP the highest proportion of GDP produced by any single Italian comune.