Bits and bobs from my Roman Escape
Decades’ worth of striking beautiful scenes captured in great film classics such as “Roman Holiday” and “Three Coins in the fountain” set the tone that led to my fascination with the Ancient city. Labelled the epitome of beauty and greatness. An enchanting city richly filled with history, I longed to visit Rome and see all the sights first hand. And with a click of button, Rome was all booked and off I went, along with a dear friend.
We chose to stay at a hotel just outside of Rome’s city centre. This was because hotels located in the city centre were super expensive. So if you do ever decide to venture Rome, I suggest booking a hotel outside the city centre – an ideal location would be Termini, the heart of the city’s transport network that connects you to many of the city’s districts by metro, train or bus.
One of the great things about Rome is that like London, the transport connection system is extensive, so you can get from A to B easily and fairly quickly. The city is also pedestrian friendly, so you can walk on foot or even bike to get from location to location.
Must see sites
Before heading out to explore the city, map out all the sites you want to visit and see if you can book tickets online. This is one of the best ways to avoid having to queue for hours. Alternatively, you can book semi private tours (excursions). This is another way you can jump the long queues. However, beware if you don’t enjoy someone nattering on or if you’re more of a self-explorer, you may not enjoy the tours.
Colosseum & Palatine Hill
A must see monument once the focal point for Rome’s entertainment. For almost close to 500 years, people gathered here to witness the roman games. If you do decide to go with a tour guide, be sure not to spend more than 20-25 euros. If you choose to explore on your own, the entry fee is 18 euros.
Vatican museums & Sistine Chapel tour
This site is opened Monday to Saturday and last entry is at 4pm. There’s an admission fee of 16 euros or 8 euros if you’re a student. Waiting time to get in to the Vatican is 2 hours plus, so make sure you book your tickets online to beat the queue. We made the mistake of not booking tickets, but luckily for us we ran into one of the tour guide we met earlier in the day at the Colosseum and haggled for a reduced tour price, which allowed us to queue jump.
Sistine Chapel tour
Without question, the Vatican is one of the most beautiful sites on earth and is indeed worth a visit. The tour includes a look at The Sistine Chapel, which is a truly breath taking experience that unfortunately could not be captured on camera. That’s because once your inside the chapel, picture taking is forbidden. The walls and ceiling are covered with frescos painted by renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Sandro Botticelli and of course Biagio d’Antonio.
You’ll also get the chance to walk through the multiple galleries of the Vatican, where you’ll come across an array of historical artifacts, ancient statues, stunning frescoed ceiling work and the vast collection of classical renaissance paintings in every room nook and corner.
St Peter’s Basilica
This is the last stop on the tour; frankly words cannot describe the grandeur and the ambiance of this beautiful piece of renaissance history and architecture. You’ll find plenty of fine sculptures and paintings to appreciate and admire too.
Unfortunately, we were unable to see the famous Trevi fountain because it was under renovation. I’m sure once it’s no longer being concealed it will be worth a visit.
I would only recommend visiting the steps if you have time to spare. Considering the history associated with the steps I can understand why crowds of people flock there to view it, but to be honest they just look like ordinary steps, not worth going out of your way for.
Italian delicacies to try
While in Rome you’ll wonder pass a number of “gelaterie” (ice cream parlours) serving what Italian’s call Gelato. Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream; the texture is very different from the traditional form of ice cream. It’s best described as a cross between sorbet, Ice cream and yoghurt. Be sure to scoop yourself up some unique and vibrant flavoured Gelato.
Italians are known for their pasta and pizzas and of course you don’t have to look far to find a pizzeria on every street. The most recommended area for tourists to indulge in a traditional meal is Trastevere. Here, you will discover a number of well-known restaurants.
Rome is a wonderful place to visit if you want to engulf yourself in the history of the Romans, the arts and the churches. I wouldn’t suggest this as a vacation destination, because to be honest, it didn’t feel like a holiday, nor did we feel like we could unwind anywhere. If you are someone looking to explore new things, then you’ll appreciate a short break to Rome.