OMG! Rome is one of the most awesome cities I have had the privilege to explore. It’s up there with Jerusalem, as one of those historic cities, one really needs to get to. I had to think hard why I had always put off a visit to Rome. I think the reason was that; a trip to Palermo, years earlier, had put me off Italy. Not that Palermo isn’t a great city to visit, just that we found it dirty and disorganised.
Rome is a destination city where you ideally need at least five days. The historical sites are just amazing, from the Vatican to the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain, you will be amazed.
The traffic can be an issue like most large cities. The advantage of the summer holidays is that the locals are out of town, many offices are closed and the traffic is somewhat less. The downside is that it can be very hot.
The metro works well and enables you to traverse the city quickly. The centre of Rome and the major attractions are easily walkable, but if it is very hot, it can be tiring.
Private taxis are a good option especially if you can find a friendly driver with a good knowledge of the city but be warned negotiate the fare upfront and pay the driver at the end of the hire.
Must see Sights
There are many sights to visit and behold in Rome and in fairness the entire city is a collection of fascinating architecture, intriguing streets, romantic restaurants, and impressive hotels. Where does one start, well the Vatican is as good as any.
It is worth considering purchasing tickets which will allow you to fast track the queues. They may cost more but they will save you a load of time. There are also private tour tickets available which offer earlier access so you avoid the main crowds, if your budget allows it, it will be money well spent.
Larger than I expected and so imposing and impressive. Absolutely amazing and you will need time to explore and appreciate this incredible collection of iconic art and architecture. Vatican City is home to the Pope, where magnificent Vatican Museums house ancient Roman sculptures. Some highlights include the famed “Laocoön and His Sons” and various Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.
Wow, The Colosseum had my mind racing. To think that just 1,900 years ago, people were locked in a death battle to save their own lives. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, Titus.
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built. You are staring at history, the detail, the grandeur, and scale of this magnificent structure is just amazing. Standing in front of the Colosseum is a sobering feeling, quite a remarkable place, it feels surreal.
We stumbled upon The Pantheon by mistake. We were ambling down a street, an interesting lane that led us into a piazza or square and then to the right, there it was. Just unmistakably, unbelievable. Dominating the space is a structure that feels alive.
I cannot aptly describe the feeling that overcame me when I set eyes on The Pantheon for the first time. I was speechless and that does not happen often. Inside it is equally as amazing.
Trying to navigate a map, were ‘old school’, google maps was not needed, well not yet. We followed a series of narrow streets towards what sounded like a fast-paced football match being refereed by an extremely irritated official, frequently blasting his whistle. We figured it was the police and wondered what was going on.
It is hard to explain the sight that did come into view as we turned the corner. The square was packed with people. It was a really hot day, 44 degrees and we were sweating profusely. The Trevi Fountain projects a calm, a feeling of cooling, the blue, clear water looks irresistible.
The police protect the sparkling waters from people reaching out to touch the water, as if to protect its purity. That was what all the whistle blowing was about. As soon as a tourist’s hand reaches out for the clear blue, inviting waters of the fountain, a series of sharp blasts on the whistle explode, ensuring that the culprit snap their hands back. It is quite hilarious to watch, but I must say it seems to work, it keeps the waters sparklingly clean. The Trevi Fountain in Rome is yet another awesome historic site.
What impressed me the most with Rome was just how close a lot of the main historical sites are. Between the Vatican and The Colosseum, you will be walking amongst some of the most impressive historical sites left on the planet.
Castel Saint Angelo
From the Vatican walk east to the Castel Saint Angelo. The impressive Mausoleum of Hadrian, was built between 134 and 139 AD.
Palazzo di Giustizia
The Palazzo Di Giustizia is the architecturally ornate home to the highest Italian court of appeals, located on the River Tiber. A glorious piece of architecture and unquestionably worth a visit. It is en-route from the Vatican towards the other main attractions, just keep following the river past the Castel Saint Angelo.
The Piazza Venezia is breath-taking, the hub of Rome and the location of the Altare della Patria. It marks the start of a remarkable walk down to The Colosseum, along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali. This for us, was one of the highlights of our Rome visit.
The Altare della Patria (“Altar of the Fatherland”), is also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (“National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II”) or Il Vittoriano. The monument was built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.
This entire area is just remarkable. I just imagined being here over 2,00 years ago. The sounds, the smells, the whole scene. Amazingly, so much remains that you do not need too much imagination, well I didn’t.
Walking down Via Dei Fori Imperiali, I was mesmerised by The Colosseum. The impressive, imposing structure, attracts you like, well ‘a moth to a light’, it’s just so amazing.
Along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali are a host of impressive buildings and statues lining the street. The Foro Romano is a large excavated area of Roman temples, squares and government buildings, some dating back 2,000 years. Rome is certainly a city that impresses, astounds, and excites.
This walk dow’n Via Dei Fori Imperiali will remain in my mind for a long time. In fact, one day, I will return, I still pinch myself at what I saw that day. Rome is Awesome.