This time last week I was getting ready for my girls night out in London (bachelorette number 1 🙂 ), now I’m siting at my desk wishing I could be walking the streets of Europe once again.
I’ve been contemplating for a while how do I best summarize Rome, from a tourists point of view, in one blog. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH to write about.
The best way may be just to summarize the top 5, or rather, my top 5 things to see/do:
DESPITE the distance, it’s only actually about a 10 minute walk from Campo dei Fiori. A beautiful area FILLED with beautiful café’s/ bars washed in yellows and covered in ivy. Here you can get lost in the many alleyways filled with bars, café’s, restaurants and of course, gelateria’s. Around the main piazza (Piazza Santa Maria, surprise surprise) there is always a vibey atmosphere with the obligatory grand fountain and exquisite church. This area is absolutely beautiful and popular with both locals and tourists alike. Sit and people watch for hours on end and soak in the electric atmosphere
2) Pantheon/ Campo Marzio/ Spagna
No matter how short your stay you need a day to do this area! By far one of the poshest areas, but certainly per square meterage this area is RICH in history. Must see in this 2 block area include the Pantheon, the majestic Trevi Fountain, The Spanish steps, Piazza Navona and numerous piazza’s filled with well-heeled Italians. Its home to some of the coolest nightclubs and bars too. After surrendering to one of the many coffee bars in the area you can head to Bar Della Pace or Bar del Fico (just off Piazza Navona) two of the most popular area’s filled with gorgeous Italians, drinking, flirting and filling the entire piazza. Closest Metro stop is Spagna. In this cobblestoned area you will also come across Via dei Condotti (for designer labels) and Via dei Corso (more high-street). GOOD LUCK NAVIGATING YOUR STILETTOS ON THESE COBBLES. Suggestion? Low Wedges!
3) St. Peter’s/ The Vatican
How could I write about Rome and not include this powerhouse? A MUST see for believers and non-believers alike. If you can I would certainly suggest a tour guide for the visit; allows you to jump most of the queues and the knowledge they have is unsurpassable. The vatican is absolutely jaw – dropping, there are no words to describe the magnificence of the halls and the Sistene Chapel. Did you know the main reason for photographs being banned in the Sistene chapel is NOT due to the flash of the camera’s damaging the artwork? It IS infact, due to the fact that a certain Japanese Camera Company bought the RIGHTS to the images of the Sistene years ago? For something like 500 Billion Euros or something insane like that. Did you also know those rights just expired? Hence i ignored the “NO-PHOTOS” guard 🙂 But shhh you didnt hear it from me!
St Peter’s whether by day or night, is simply spectacular. When it comes to shopping or eating though AVOID – products in this area are generally catered to tourists and prices are testimony to that. Highlight of the day, an over friendly waiter, while serving us a Café Latte slight spilled it and exclaimed “ahh you see, you are so beautiful, my body shakes for you !”
4) Campo dei Fiori
Ahhhh where do I start with this eclectic little Piazza? Funnily enough it was one of those places that we literally kept on accidently “stumbling across” (while trying to get to Trastevere or Navona) Its actually very close to Piazza Navona, if you don’t get lost in the alleyways. This Piazza is a MUST SEE. No matter what time of night you arrive 2/ 3/ 4 am the surrounding streets are always buzzing and are hugely popular with tourists and locals alike.
The Big draw card (in the day) is a very famous open air market offering flowers, vegetables, cheap clothes and touristy knickknacks. By night it transforms into a hive of activity with bars/ café’s and teenagers hanging out on the square. Really worth the trip. JUST around the corner is Piazza Farnese, a more tranquil piazza which is home to the jaw-dropping French Embassy “Palazzo Farnese”. The palace was first designed in 1517 for the Farnese Family. Just outside you’ll also see the exquisite bathtub fountains made of granite believed to be from the Baths of Caracalla. If you are a woman, DO NOT walk these ally’s alone , you will get mobbed. There were there of us and we still got mobbed (in a nice way) by about 10 young italian men trying to get us back to the party….
5) Colleseum and the Roman Forum
Often ranked number 1 in the top things to do in Rome.
Every time I visit Rome I have been lucky enough to stay in the Grand Hotel Palatino, which is literally a stone’s throw away. You will also need a full day to visit both of these heritage sites.
The Colosseum was actually originally built as the largest man-made lake under the rule of the Emperor Vespasain around 70–72 AD. The site chosen was a flat area on the floor of a low valley, through which a stream ran. It was devastated by the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, following which Nero seized much of the area to add to his personal domain. Although the Colossus was preserved, much of the Domus Aurea was torn down. The lake was filled in and the land reused as the location for the new Flavian Amphitheatre Again for the Colosseum I would recommend paying an extra 5 Euros for the official tour which takes you to the “dungeons” where the animals were kept and right to the top. DON’T be fooled by all the “tour guides” outside who will try and charge you double.
The Colosseum is the most extraordinary of all Rome’s monuments. It’s not just the amazing completeness of the place, or its size, but the sense of its gory history that resonates: it was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned prisoners fought off hungry lions and elephants. Two thousand or so years on, it’s still hauling in the crowds. Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for contests and public spectacles such as, animal hunts, executions, few people also realize that they actually staged “mock” sea-battles here and the arena would be filled with water! Incredible.
The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The Roman Forum is situated in the area between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Starting from the Arch of Septimius Severus, the pathway winds through the most unique place in the world and passes beside the imposing Basilica di Massenzio, one of the most magnificent buildings of Imperial Rome, and ends near the Arch of Titus, where you will get a glimpse of the unmistakable Colloseum.
There’s my top 5 things to do ! Ill post more tips on how to get around, places to eat and all the rest. For now, I have to start planning my next Italian trip! Don’t forget another non-negotiable is to eat your body weight in Gelato every single day 🙂 arrivederci xx