I am just back from the most amazing holiday in the beautiful city of Rome, Italy. What a magical place. Having been to Florence, Rome was always on the bucket list and boy it did not disappoint.
I went with my boyfriend for 3 nights 4 days. We got what we wanted to get done in that amount of time. In saying that, I most certainly could have stayed for longer. Both in wanting to see more but just because of the pure beauty of the place…and the pizza.
This post is part 1 of a little series on my Roman adventure. This post I will share with you the top things we’ve done and what impressed me most.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
- The Trevi Fountain
Starting with the obvious, and yes it really is what dreams are made of ( if you didn’t get the reference there we can’t be friends). Of all the sights in Rome this was what I was looking forward to most. As you get closer to the fountain you can hear the water, then as you turn the corner you’re greeted with the stunning monument. It’s so gorgeous. Any time you go the area will be absolutely jammers, so just be aware of that. If you edge your way closer to the front of the fountain you will eventually get a spot to sit. When this happens you of course have to throw a coin in to make a wish, right hand over left shoulder is the tradition. The water is so blue and clean, and with the marble and sun streaming down, ah just stunning. You definitely have to go back in the night when it’s lit up. Such a sight. The night we went there was a proposal, I literally had to hold back the tears as the whole place erupted in cheers. How romantic.
This was very cool. I haven’t seen the movie Gladiator ( I know don’t kill me) so I didn’t really get the buzz Johnny was feeling about seeing this. Then when I saw it and we were there I really enjoyed it. We got a guided tour which was handy. The day we went the weather was insanely hot, so I was running in and out of the shade and thought I was going to die. Melodramatic? me? No seriously though the heat that day was intense. Besides that, The Colosseum was very good, and genuinely learned as well like. Fun and educational, how cultured of us.
Alongside this there is a field, which might look like nothing but it is where there were chariot races, mad! Also we went back in the night as we knew the Colosseum lit up, but it was slightly disappointing. There were lights, but nothing like what we expected at all. All in all it’s still pretty in the dark. While we were there we spotted a limo pulling up to a cake set up right outside the Colosseum. Loads of teenagers got out and they were popping champagne bottles, turned out to be one of the chaps birthdays, Italian kids like to do things in style my God.
3. Vatican City
I am not a religious person but The Vatican it just one of those things you have to do when you go to Rome.
As you head towards The Vatican you first get to St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s huge. When we were there, there were huge screens around the area playing the Pope reading mass. Ok like I said, I’m no Mother Theresa but you have to admit that that was pretty cool, and kind of funny. You will only get so far into the square as its barriered off, though I think you can get tickets to tour the Basilica.
We got tickets for the Vatican, these tickets had someone bring us to the Vatican (which is a short walk away from St. Peter’s) and let us skip the queue, but once we got there we toured the place ourselves. Personally we didn’t want a guided tour.
I always thought the Vatican was just a church. It’s actually kind of just one big museum. It’s absolutely massive inside, as well as having big garden area too. Inside it’s so lavish and gorgeous. Walking through room upon room of gorgeous tapestries and paintings.
The Sistine Chapel I was so eager to see. I studied History of Art in college and really love it so getting to see something so significant in the timeline of art history I was buzzing. The chapel itself is smaller than I imagined. Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling wowed. Of course The Creation of Adam being the star of the show. I totally get that it might not interest you if you’re not an art nerd like me, but even the thought of being in the same room where Michelangelo once was is very cool to me.
4. Altare della Patria
This was just something we noticed while going around so one day decided to take a browse. It’s called a monument for a reason, it is monumentally massive. It is a free monument you can walk around, dedicated to the first King of unified Italy. It wouldn’t take you a long to walk around but it’s definitely a must see. It gives great views of the Piazza Venezia which is the kind of hub of Italy.
Right behind this, there is a church. You can’t miss it as before you get to the monument you will see a great big row of steps leading up to it. Don’t let the amount of steps put you off like it nearly did me. This church was gorgeous. I’ve never seen anything like it, so decadent and beautifully decorated. You’ll be seriously impressed.
5. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is one of Rome’s oldest buildings, and is one of the best preserved. It is most known for its dome ceiling, which is huge. I think you know by now that Romans liked to do things on a grand scale. What I love about these kind of buildings in Rome is that they are placed in the middle of the street. Everything so normal then BAM. This is a free sight so another you shouldn’t miss. While inside you can sit and take in all its beauty.
5. Capitoline Hill
This is an open square plan designed by Michelangelo. There are great steps leading up to it, at the top there are two huge sculptures on either side. Right ahead is a piazza. Along the sides of this is a museum, we did not do the museum ourselves as we had other plans. Why should you visit Capitoline Hill? Well, once you walk through it you will get great views of The Roman Forum and The Colosseum. That alone is totally worth it. Especially since we didn’t go to The Roman Forums (they are just opposite the Colosseum) as we honestly weren’t interested in walking along it. So the view we got of it was perfect.
Rome is a city full of culture and history so all the sights and things you will be doing will be the likes of the above. Even if you are not interested in architecture or history I think you will still really appreciate the place. There is so much to see and do. These are just the main attractions we saw and enjoyed, there are still others you could do.
DO’S AND DON’T’S OF ROME
- DO use the Hop on Hop off bus. In reality everything is relatively close enough in Rome ( close being 20 minutes or so from each other, to walk) but you are already going to walk the feet off yourself so these buses are great. We used the Big Bus Tour and got a 72 hour ticket for €42. They allow you to see the sights you might not plan on actually going to see, so it’s the best of both worlds.
- DON’T wait to buy attraction tickets until you are there. We bought both our tickets for the Vatican and the Colosseum with the Bus Tour. They too were doing deals on tours of certain attractions. Most of their tickets offer fast track that allow you to skip queues, and trust me when you walk past the length of those queues you will be glad of it. We met a couple who said they queued for 3 HOURS for The Vatican. I would have zero patience for that. When we got to the meeting point for The Colosseum we upgraded our ticket to get a guided tour. This was €20 extra, on top of the maybe €16 we had already paid. Pricey I know, but you honestly would learn from these. There was also another option to upgrade your ticket to get a guided tour of The Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forums all in one.
- DO be aware of pickpockets.I am only saying this as I have heard of people getting robbed, Rome is supposedly really bad for it. Easy to see why as everywhere is always mobbed. We were lucky in that it didn’t happen to us. Just be cautious of your bag, and anything in your pockets.
- DO bring comfy shoes. I can’t stress this enough. It is the one piece of advice I was constantly given by others, and now I pass this on to you. I brought one pair of sandals and my Nike Roshes. I ended up living in my runners as they were like clouds compared to what I would have considered my comfortable sandals. You will walk the most you have ever walked on this trip so comfort is key. Before going I was worried runners wouldn’t go with my outfits, so shallow eh? but honestly when you’re there you really just don’t care. Everyone is so casually dressed, anybody that did look a little dressed up I knew in my heart that they were dying inside from both the heat, and those wedges. Trust.
- DO stay hydrated. Take advantage of the guys on the street selling iced water. I am not a big water drinker, or mineral drinker in general, but I was downing the stuff. So when I saw those boys selling iced water they were like a mirage. I’d say they made big bucks from all the €1’s I gave them.
- DO be aware that, though you might have paid for your hotel, when checking out you will be given a ‘City Fee’, yes, you have to pay extra again just for staying in the city. Crazy. We were charged €24. I’m not sure does that price go up the more nights you stay but it is something to remember. So keep money for that aside.
- DO realise that where you eat will determine cost. For example, we had lunch looking out at The Colosseum and only had a can of Coke and a ham and cheese sambo, this cost €12. The can alone cost €5. Then we had dinner around from where we were staying and had 2 courses each and a bottle of wine and that was only around the €30 mark between us. So it really depends on where you are. You can make it a cheaper holiday if you wanted.
- DO as the Italians do. For example, do dinner later. We headed off for dinner around 5/6 but nope nobody was eating then, they like to wait till after 9 or so. If they eat before then it is just aperitifs with drinks. Also we decided to continue doing things the Roman way where they have their ‘starter’ and main, but their starter size is main course size. We found ourselves having a huge bowl of spaghetti followed by a pizza. I mean, I ain’t complaining. As well as that try new things. I can vouch for Johnny in this. Before leaving he didn’t like wine and wasn’t much of a coffee drinker. While we were there he shared a bottle of wine with me and has an espresso everyday. Well, when in Rome and all.
- DON’T stick to a schedule. We knew where we wanted to go what we wanted to see but also left time to wander and explore. If you see somewhere that interests you that isn’t in your plan, go see it. It was only by chance we went to see The Capitoline Hill and Altare della Patria and I’m so happy we did.
- DO walk Via dei Condotti, the most famous fashion street of Rome. This is where you will find Valentino, Prada, Gucci etc. Even if you don’t have the wallet size to go into one of these it’s certainly worth the window shop if you are a fashaholic like myself. I was too much of a sweaty mess to go into one, honestly I thought the blokes at the door would laugh at the thought of me being in there. Little did they know I had the money to make a purchase…but may have spent it before we got there. If you do want to shop high street Via del Corso is the one for you. The Zara had like 5 floors, I die.
Click here to see my vlog from my holidays.