Ah Rome, the eternal city. I always knew I would love Rome, especially given my love of Roman history, and this was another place I had been waiting to visit my whole life. It did not disappoint at all!
We managed to fit lots in to our 3.5 days/4 nights in Rome despite the absolute heatwave we sweltered through and I loved every minute of it!
(By the way, this is part 17 in my series on my recent trip to Europe. You can catch up on the previous posts in this series here)
One thing I didn’t realise about Rome before we got there was that there are only two train lines due to the possibility of disturbing ancient ruins, so the public transport is good but scant. Luckily we were sating walking distance to a train station (the one we caught the train from was 6 stories underground to avoid ruins and the river!) and we could catch the train to the station at the Colosseum and just walk everywhere from there.
So aside from driving into our accommodation just outside the main part of the city, the first thing I saw of Rome as I emerged from the underground train station was the Colosseum, probably the most recognisable ‘Roman’ structure. And of course, part of it was covered in scaffolding. Because what would Europe be without scaffolding on all the major structures?
We spent our first afternoon wandering around Rome, just taking it all in. We had a quick visit to the Trevi Fountain. My photos are not great of Trevi as there was fencing all the way around it so it made it very difficult to get a photo. I did manage to still throw a coin in the fountain though! It just made it. It’s very lucky we went when we did as we came back two nights later and the fountain had been completely drained for repair work!!
The first thing we did early the next morning was visit the Colosseum. I am so glad we did this! It was amazing to see it in person and actually stand inside it! It was also fifty million degrees and the Colosseum is scant in shaded areas so we were exhausted from the heat by the end of our time there. They had a really interesting exhibition on in the side parts of the Colosseum that was really good and I think it added a lot to the experience. Stu had been to the Colosseum about 5 years ago but that wasn’t there that time and I think he enjoyed it a lot more this time.
The wooden platform you can see mimics where the actual floor of the Colosseum would have been. The structures underneath the floor were cells for the animals and gladiators. The design of the Colosseum is amazing when you think about it. It was designed to be flooded so they could recreate naval battles, they had a retractable roof made sails and operated by a special Navy base, and the fact that it is still standing after 2000 years is pretty incredible.
We visited Piazza Navona which has cafes and restaurants all around the edges. Pretty much all of the restaurants had water misters in their outdoor dining areas so we stood on the edges to get some mist and cool down! It is such a good idea, why more places don’t do it in Australia I don’t know.
The Pantheon (which Stu kept calling the Parthenon!) was incredible. Another incredibly old building standing the test of time. It’s almost 2000 years old and it the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. It was originally a temple to Roman gods before it became a Christian church. Raphael (the Renaissance painter) is buried here.
I loved seeing the Roman ruins everywhere. It is a city with so much history. It would be so bizarre just living in a place with the remains of past civilisations everywhere. It’s such a foreign concept living in Australia where everything ‘old’ is still ‘new’ compared to Europe. Of course we have one of the oldest inhabited lands but the indigenous people were nomadic and didn’t build permanent structures like you can see in Europe.
There is a little island in the middle of the Tiber (the river running through Rome) and we wandered over to explore and ended up having probably the most amazing meal of our trip! It was this amazing homemade pasta at this incredible little Michelin starred restaurant!! Amazing. It’s called Sora Lella and it’s on the island called Tiberina if you want to visit.
One of my favourite museums in Rome (and perhaps the whole trip!) was the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum). It’s a multi-campus museum, but we just went to the main building at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. It has amazing ancient Roman sculptures and artefacts, including the largest numismatics (coin) collection in Italy. It also has frescoes and mosaics from the villa of Livia (wife of Augustus), and they are amazing to look at.
We had to visit the Vatican Museum while we were there (because we’re museum geeks). We booked our tickets online – best decision ever. It was about 40 degrees outside and the line was so so long. Those poor people would have been suffering from heat exhaustion after a while! It was a really interesting museum, but it was more like a collection of treasures, rather than an interpretive experience. It does feel a little like ‘look at all the stuff we’ve taken’.
The Map Room was the best part of the museum by far. It was so amazing and so beautiful. And almost impossible to get a decent photo in here because of all the people, especially people who have no situational awareness and walk in front of you while you’re taking a photo. Or worse, stand in front while taking a photo, and spend forever with their face 2cm from the map looking at the minute details oblivious to the fact there are other people who want to look without their big head in the way. (Not still angry about it… not at all).
We spent some time in the Sistine Chapel, which was incredible, and I was a good girl and didn’t snap a sneaky picture. It really is beautiful, and worth seeing.
St Peters Basilica was interesting. It is huge and ornate and opulent and made me feel a bit dirty to be honest. That all that money and opulence has been poured into a church that is supposed to be about helping the poor… just doesn’t sit right with me. It definitely wasn’t my favourite church we visited.
All in all I loved Rome and I would go back in a heartbeat. I ate sooo much gelato there and the shopping was also pretty great (much better than Paris I found). It was amazing to be in Rome after so many years of studying Roman history and to see places in person that I had studied and imagined.
Have you been to Rome? Did you like it?
I’ve broken my Europe trip up into easy to manage pieces, otherwise I’ll be drowning you in hundreds of images at once! So you know what’s coming, I’ve prepared a list of the 24 parts of this series:
Part 1: London
Part 2: Cambridge
Part 3: Paris
Part 4: Amiens
Part 5: Battlefields
Part 6: Ieper (Ypres)
Part 7: Amsterdam
Part 8: Berlin
Part 9: Prague
Part 10: Cesky Krumlov
Part 11: Vienna
Part 12: Salzburg
Part 13: Venice
Part 14: Pesaro
Part 15: Amalfi Coast
Part 16: Pompeii
Part 17: Rome
Part 18: Florence
Part 19: Tuscany
Part 20: La Spezia
Part 21: Lyon
Part 22: Loire Valley
Part 23: Normandy
Part 24: Mont St Michel
Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to know about any of these places and I’ll try to include it in my post!
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