As I have Italian background Italy was always in my top 5 list of Countries I wanted to visit. As my boyfriend had a business trip to Rome, we decided to go to Italy a few days earlier to spend the weekend in the Amalfi Coast before driving to Rome. I only had three days in Rome; however as we went there in June it wasn’t getting dark until late so it was enough time to see all the main touristic attractions.
The hotel where we stayed was very close to the metro station so it was convenient to get around. Once I got to the central area I could just walk everywhere.
Rome is a beautiful city, full of history. Like Paris, Rome is a magic place that is really nice during the day and very romantic during the night. We tried to not use our Google maps that much because getting lost in Rome was a actually a nice experience, especially in the evening. We spent a lot of time wandering around the city and we really enjoyed it; it was warm and we saw some pretty streets with cute houses and learned bit more about the locals.
I didn’t have a great experience eating out in Rome, most restaurants are very touristy and as usual, touristy restaurants don’t have great food. It could also be the fact that I didn’t have much time to search for good restaurants, plus as I had great meals when I was in Praiano I didn’t worry that much about where to eat. However I did enjoy the fact that when you sit outside to eat there is always a street artist playing accordion and some of them are really good.
Things to do in Rome
Fontana di Trevi
The first place I visited when I got there was the Fontana di Trevi (The Trevi Fountain) which is the most famous fountain in Italy, if not the world. It was completed in 1735 by the Italian architect Nicola Salvi and is the largest baroque fountain in Rome.
There is a legend that says if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain you will return to Rome one day. I don’t usually believe in these things but I did it just in case ;). I thought it was just my obligation as a tourist. It was very difficult to get a good picture of the fountain as it was absolutely packed, but we managed to get a good one in the end. I went there twice, once during the evening and again during the day in order to get another picture of it.
I heard that sometimes especially during summer time people try to swim in the fountain and they always end up getting caught by the Police. People do that because of the scene in the movie “La Dolce Vita” however swimming in there is forbidden.
The Spanish Steps
The famous Spanish Steps, one of the most romantic spots in Rome. Apparently the Spanish Steps is a very popular place for both proposals and wedding pictures. The staircase was constructed between 1723 and 1725 in the Roman Baroque style and is the longest and widest in Europe. The design is an elegant series of ramps with 138 steps in a fan or butterfly wing shape. May is the best time to visit as the ramps of the staircase are covered in spring flowers.
Architecture aside, what makes the Spanish Steps a favorite spot to hang out is for people watching. It’s a place for tourists and locals to sit and enjoy the spectacle of Rome life.
The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
Located in the heart of Rome, The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, also known as “The Vittoriano”, is a beautiful building designed by Giuseppe Sacconi to commemorate Italian unification. The monument is so different from all the other buildings around that area, it really stands out. The best time to take pictures in my opinion is during sunset.
The statues in this monument are really impressive and full of details. The King statue took 20 years to be sculptured. I really like two chariots at the top of the building as its made of dark bronze it really stands out with the white marble.
One of the most recognised and famous (if not the most famous) tourist attractions in the world, the Colosseum is connected to almost every page of Roman history. It is definitely one of the most impressive and beautiful monuments I have seen. The best time to visit the Colosseum is in the morning when the queue to get in is smaller. The tickets for the Colosseum also provides access to the Roman forum.
Although I already knew that the movies always change things, the interior of the Colosseum is very different from what we see in some movies. I was impressed to find out that the real name of the Monument is “Flavian Amphitheater” and the reason why the its called Colosseum is due to its size and its vicinity to the Colossus of Nero.
The Colosseum was used as an stadium however the types of games the Romans used to enjoy watching were a bit different from what we see today; The games of Circus cultivated a war-like spirit, it was the origin of the professional gladiators which used to fight to the death. That was not enough excitement to the Romans, so they used to also add wild beasts to the show to increase the horror.
The end of the roman empire was marked by two earth quakes which caused major damage to the structure of the Colosseum, which is what we see today.
The Arch of Constantine
Next to the Colosseum we have the Arch of Constantine which was built by the senate and Roman people in memory of the victory over Maxentius at Ponte Milvio in 312. Pieces from arches of Trajan and Marcus Aurelios together with other monuments were used in its construction.
Near the Arch there are remains of the Meta Sudans, a fountain that existed since the Time of Nero which was used by gladiators to wash themselves.
Foro Romano or Roman Forum
The forum maintained an important role in the imperial period. It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 851; however it was the Normans who came to Rome in 1084 who tore the place to pieces by setting the city on fire.
In every tourist attraction there are always a few guys trying to sell fast track tickets near the queue. They are very annoying and even though we ignored them they kept trying to sell me and my friend tickets, from Spanish to Turkish they tried to speak in every language with us as they didn’t know where we were from. I believe that the tickets they sell are fake as when we got inside the Vatican, the fast track ticket prices were much higher than the price they were charging, so I am guessing loads of tourists fall for this.
I visited the Vatican with my Italian friend and to my surprise it was also her first time there. When I asked her why she hadn’t seen it before she said she never had any interest in seeing it and apparently loads of Romans are like that. I always thought they would be very religious taking into account that the Vatican is right there, however it is the other way around. I found during my trip that there a lot more Catholics in Portugal than in Italy.
As almost every other tourist attraction in Rome the best time of the day to visit the Vatican is in the morning as the queue is usually smaller.
The spiral ramp which gives access to the Vatican museums is really beautiful especially when looking from the top down, it was built in 1932 by Giuseppe Momo.
We could have easily spent all day in the Vatican museum, it is very big and there is a lot to see there. I’m not a huge fan of museums as I don’t enjoy spending much time indoors and even though I just went there to see the most famous statues and paintings, I still ended up spending 5 hours there. There are paintings and art in every corner and when we left our neck was hurting as we spent much time looking to the ceiling, it is incredible.
My favourite parts were the Gallery of Maps, the Vatican Library and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous and greatest basilica in Christendom, it is definitely one of the most impressive Basilicas I have even seen. I was a bit annoyed on my way in as they don’t allow people with shorts and sleeve-less shirts to get into the Basilica so my friend had to wait for me outside.
In Roman times the Vatican was the site of the Circus of Nero, where under Nero (64-67 A.D) St. Peter was Crucified. His body was buried nearby; more than 250 years later, Constantine built the magnificent basilica on the spot, which today is one of the marvels of the world. It took around 176 years for the architectural project to be completed. There had been succession of various architects, among them Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo, Bramante and finally Michelangelo who built the Dome.
The interior of the Basilica is very impressive, there are many statues of saints which decorate the basilica.
There is a lot to see and do in Rome. Unfortunately I could only spend 3 days there. To see everything and really enjoy it I think I needed at least 5 days. Even though I didn’t see it all I enjoyed it very much, it was like being inside a movie.
- Rome wasn’t built in a Day But You Can Certainly See A Lot of It in One (travel.prwave.ro)
- Rome on a budget (travelwires.com)
- 24 Hours in Rome (globalgoodgroup.com)