For the last 3000 years Rome has been a city of great importance and power. From being the almighty Caput Mundi (Capital of the world) at the centre of the Roman Empire to later becoming the holy capital of the Catholic world. Filled with the richest most vibrant architecture and culture. Rome is truly a phenomenal city built on the foundations of a remarkable history. Overwhelming to say the least the time had come to embark on one of the greatest journeys of all, going Roman.
To get the most out of our time we opted to buy a Roma Pass which you can find in almost any corner store and of course tourist information office. For €30 it gives you three days of unlimited travel on all public transportation networks, two free express entries into any of the listed sites and museums which includes the colosseum and it gives you discounted entry to a list of other great museums and galleries. Which was absolutely perfected for what we needed.
To walk into a city and have ancient ruins dating back to AD 80 nestled in between a modern city demographic was so surreal to wrap my head around. To so blatantly be standing right in front of epic history was unreal. As we explored the Palatine Hill, The Roman Forum and of course the famous Colosseum I couldn't believe the architecture behind these monuments. I felt so tiny and so insignificant in comparison to these great structures. The deeper I looked into each piece it became vastly evident that we have lost so much powerful knowledge from the Romans throughout the medieval times. One of the most impressive Ancient Roman buildings for me was the Pantheon a monument that is considered to be the Romans most important architectural achievement. After years of study there is still no formula as to how it is structurally possible to have a free standing dome roof of that size. With a perfect circumference built with such precision it is beyond impressive. Dating back to AD 120 it is clear proof once again to me that there are things that the Romans had discovered that still remain lost to this day.
An important quest for both James and I was to visit The Vatican City. Our Roma pass did not include entry into the Vatican however there are many tour companies who will offer you deals. We found it much more efficient to do this on our own. We arrived into St Peters Square at 7am to find it completely empty. It was surreal to be there in absolute serenity and to be able to wander around freely. The Basilica was only just opening which meant that other then a handful of people, most of which were priests and nuns, we were the only ones in there. St Peters Basilica is hands down the grandest church I have ever been into. I was so glad that we took the time to get there early to be able to witness it in all its glory without thousands of other tourists there to spoil the moment. The Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel, does not open till 9am thus being there so early we didn't find it necessary to pre order tickets which gives you express entry as we were amongst the first in line it did not matter to us. The museum is full of fantastic art pieces that generations of Popes have acquired for their personal collections over the centuries. Each room was a show case of its own with painted ceilings and perfectly crafted wood furnishings. Ending in the Sistine Chapel it was going to take a lot to impress me after being blown away by St Peters Basilica. Although the room was designed by Michael Angelo himself and his painting was an absolute master piece my heart still lied with favouring the Basilica. After having been influenced far to much by my illegal enthusiast skipper back in Capri I couldn't help but take some sneaky illegal GoPro footage just for the thrill of it all, as only God can judge me. Completing the museum we went back for one last glimpse of St Peters Square. Where we were faced with mass crowds and two hour line ups into the Basilica. I felt as if I was in a completely different place to earlier that day. I advise any one to make the effort and go that bit earlier. It is well worth the intimate experience you receive.
Not everything in Rome has to cost you a small fortune. There are plenty of great activities and sites to see that won't cost you a cent. All churches and basilicas are free to visit, just keep in mind that you can only enter if dressed appropriately so always remember to keep a scarf or shall handy. Climbing the Spanish steps just as the sun set was a perfect way to end a busy day although no matter what time you are there you will never avoid the influx of tourists. One place we seemed to keep finding ourself was the Trevi Fountain. Although like everything else in Rome it was swimming with tourists it was still one of my favourite places to explore and make a Trevi Fountain wish. Another favourite is Piazza Navona. Surrounded by exquisite apartments and delightful restaurants and cafes. The Piazza is full of some of the most talented artists painting and selling their pieces. It was peaceful enough just to sit by the fountain and people watch. A great place to soak up true Roma.
The food in Rome was beyond amazing with Gelati stores housing over 150 different homemade flavours it was impossible not to indulge at any given chance. Staying in the Termini area just out of the busy city centre worked perfect for us and was where we ate most of our meals to avoid the tourist trap. Our favourite spot was Angelina's, a family run La Trattoria where we stuffed ourselves with starters, second course, mains, the most amazing wine and had to leave every time before desert in fear of exploding. Every night would end the same, I would vow that I was to never in my life time eat another meal of pizza and pasta. Yet every day would start the exact same as any other, indulging in everything pizza and pasta that I could get my hands on until I was basically comatose. It was a very vicious cycle but like they say 'When In Rome'.
If you're not lost, overwhelmed, awe inspired and bursting at the seams all at the same time then you have not experienced Roma at its full potential. Its one of those cities you could visit 1000 times and still find something new which is actually really old that you have never come across before. There was no better way to end our time in this remarkable city then watch the sun set and the full moon rise over the beautifully lit Colosseum. A moment in time I will never forget.
When In Rome checklist:
Find your inner Gladiator at the Colessum ✔
Eat gelati ✔
Make a wish in the Trevi Fountain ✔
Death by pizza ✔
See the Pantheon ✔
Tell the truth in the Bocca della Verita ✔
Visit the Vatican City ✔
See a Michael Angelo original ✔
Hang with Pope Francis ✘
Avoid the tourist trap ✔
Rome complete ✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔
The Wanderer's Daughter xx