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The Roman Empire was one of the strongest forces in the olden days, ruling most parts of the world, leaving the city of Rome to be rich in history and culture. UNESCO and the government have both placed tons of effort in preserving and maintaining the historical sites found in Rome so it’s no surprise that one can spend days in Rome and is still left with much to explore. All I can say is if you’re not going to join a walking tour, be sure to read up on your Roman history as the sites become that much more interesting when put into context.
Start off your first day with a few of the most famous sites. The Arch of Constantine is located near the Colosseum. The arch was to commemorate Constantine on a victorious defeat over Maxentius and the details on it tells the story of the war which you can read about in the Iconography section here.
The Colosseum is an amphitheatre where gladiators used to fight in. The queue for this is often long but you can choose to buy online tickets to help save time. Unfortunately, unlike in the olden days, there is now an entrance fee to enter the Colosseum. Ticket prices range from €7.50-€12 which you can purchase here. I didn’t go inside as I really couldn’t be bothered with the queue but here’s what others think of it and how It looks like on the inside.
Behind the Colosseum is Palatine Hill which is one of the most ancient part of the city. From here, you will be able to see a land of ruins which also includes the Roman Forum. If you have purchased the entrance ticket to the Colosseum, then you’ll be able to enter this gated area. Otherwise, looking at it from outside is pretty decent as well! From Palatine Hill, you’d make your way up till the Roman Forum, be it if you went in to the gated area or not. Afterwards, Capitoline Hill / Campidoglio is just a short walk away.
Pic source via Turin Italy Guide
Right next door is Vittorio Emanuele Monument, a cake-like shaped building in white. You can walk up these stairs and go into the building as the views from here are pretty neat! You’ll be able to see Piazza Venezia and Palazzo Venezia from here.
If you’re one who loves flea markets as much as I do, I definitely recommend going to the Porta Portese Market on a Sunday morning for a wide range of first and second-hand items. A lot of my wardrobe staples came from here and you can always bargain for a lower price. However, please be aware of gypsies and thieves as the rate of it is pretty high here simple cause of the amount of people. Just like any markets you go to, try not to bring any valuables and be sure to split your cash into a few pockets. LADIES BEWARE! Someone actually cut open the bottom of my mom’s bag and all the items fell into their well-positioned bag underneath. It was so quick that she didn’t even realise this had happened until a much later time.
Pic source via Italy Guides
Head to Piazza Navona during the day, it gives you a really nice vibe of Rome as there are street artists here and cafes for people watching. The Fountain of the Four Rivers / Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is located here, they represent the 4 major rivers from different continents in which the Roman empire had spread; the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and Rio de la Plata.
You can either sit and chill at one of the cafes while indulging yourself with a cone of gelato or fine coffee, or just walk around the square and enjoy the atmosphere of it. Perhaps even get a caricature version of yourself! If you’re here during December then you’re in luck as the Christmas market is located at Piazza Navona. I’ve been here many times and the best time to go is at night when Christmas lights have lit up and Christmas Carols are playing. It really gets you into the festive spirit!
Within a short walk away, you would find yourself at the Pantheon which was dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome. The architecture of it is mostly built with the arch shape and the central window opening from the top of the dome allows for a direct spotlight into the building.
No trip to Rome is complete without a trip to Trevi Fountain. Be sure to make a wish and throw the coin into the fountain with your back facing the fountain. It is said that the nearer the coin falls to you, the sooner you will return to Rome. There are many small restaurants around the area but they’re really expensive and I would say that the taste of it is no where near to authentic Italian pizzas. Hold your hunger in and head to somewhere less touristy for better pricing and amazing food!
Pic source via Ruebarue
Head to the main church- St.Peter’s Basilica, where the pope would hold masses for the public on special occasions. It is also one of the four major basilica’s in Rome and is part of the Vatican City, not Rome. The sculptures and details are amongst the best I have ever seen in Europe and is by far still my favourite church.
I would also recommend you to visit the Vatican Museums as the art and sculptures inside are amazing! You would need to set a lot of time aside though as it is huge and it would take you hours to get to the Sistine Chapel even if swift through the museum. There is always a huge queue to visit the museums so you can either opt for a queue-jump ticket with tours offered there, get them online here or just be there early to allow for sufficient museum time.
Unfortunately, there is no direct access to the Sistine Chapel and the only way to enter is through the Vatican Museum. It is such a mind-blowing piece of artwork as the famous painter Michelangelo painted the whole ceiling upside down. It is here that you will find his famous painting "Creation of Adam". The main wall also holds a story behind it about heaven, hell & purgatory, and this is all explained with the audio guide given.
If after all that, you’re still up for a little bit more sightseeing, Castel Sant’Angelo is a 20 minutes walk away. I heard it wasn't worth the price as there is nothing really special about it inside so I have never been inside. However, if you're interested, you can check out their opening times and get tickets online via their website.
Head to Spagna metro station and walk down Via della Croce until you see a chocolate / gelato shop called Venchi. They have really good chocolate and their chocolate gelato is amazing! The chocolate is rich and not too sweet, homemade and pure, I was really addicted to it when I was there and was even happier when I found out they had a branch here in London too.Try out 2-3 flavours to get the best out of it!
A few shops away is Pompii, known for their Tiramisu variation. You can get anything from classic tiramisu to one with strawberry to pistacchio. It comes in different sizes but you can have the smallest box to share among two people or have it all to yourself. It’s the perfect size and the perfect treat to enjoy whilst sitting on the steps of Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna. Don’t forget to head up to the top of the Spanish Steps for a view of the area.
There are often music playing and people going around selling roses to couples here, giving it a very romantic vibe. I have also seen couples who come to these steps for their wedding photoshoot. How cute!
Next, it’s finally time for some shopping. Italy is amongst the top fashion cities in the world and although Rome is probably not that much of a fashion district like it is in Milan, there are still lots of choices and fashionable boutiques to choose from. Just a straight road down the Spanish Steps is Via del Corso where all the luxurious and big names of the industry are. From Valentino to Versace to Fendi, if you have the money then this is where you should be! Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more affordable, in the same area lies Via Condotti where smaller brands and individual boutiques are present to suit every style.
After you’re done with shopping, head to Piazza del Popolo which is also just a few minutes walk away. Also known as the People’s Square, it is a nice open square. You can go up to the park on the side of the square and do some cycling. When we was there, we cycled and wandered around the park and found ourselves coming across beautiful ponds and statues which almost felt like a discovery mission as we were left trying to look for other gems.
This day is optional as the sites are not a must-see’s but they are definitely the less touristy spots that should be in the list. If you’re a Christian or Catholic, head to the Holy Stairs / Scala Santa where the blood of Christ lies. It was brought from Jerusalem to Rome many years ago and now lie in the Chapel of San Lorenzo. On these steps are droplets of His blood and you have to kneel whilst going up the stairs, making a short prayer with each step you take. It is a very spiritual and emotional journey up these steps especially when you’re reaching the top of the stairs as what you feel on your knees is rather painful, yet no where near what He experienced.
Next, head down to Trastevere which is the older side of Rome which is home to many local restaurants. The streets are cobbled and the neighbourhood is so pretty, it really gives you the look and feel of an Italian town. A very picturesque little neighbourhood, I would definitely recommend having a coffee during the day and some pastries for tea. Dinner at any of the pizzeria is also highly recommended as most of them are still traditional wooden ovens!
Progress on to the Mouth of Truth / Bocca della Verita. Legend says that husband would ask their wives to put their hand in the mouth of truth and ask them if they had been faithful during their absence. If the wife lied, her hand would be cut off. This works the other way around too when a wife wishes to question her husband. There is no proof on how true this is but it is still a much appreciated legend that even movies such as the Roman Holiday would feature this in their scene.
Located a little bit further out is another one of the four main basilicas in Rome- Basilica of St.Paul Outside the Walls. By now, you should already know how beautiful the inside and out of the churches here in Rome can be so I don’t have to explain much. Afterwards, spend your remaining time re-visitng any of your favourite places or even in a café for the final feel of this beautiful ancient city! :)
Have you been to Rome? How was your trip and what was your favourite part of it? I would love to know your thoughts!
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