It has become a strong ambition of mine to see more of the world and experience what it has to offer. So at the start of this year, I told myself I would visit new places, try out different things and be more adventurous in all areas of life. This led me to talk to my sister about going on a holiday together, and we both decided to go to a place neither of us has been before; Rome, Italy.
Having visited another part of Italy, Naples, when I was in school, I had some expectations of what it was going to be like. However, there was no comparison to what I had seen or experienced before. This trip was going to be something that was totally unexpected and mindblowing in more ways than one. Sure, this is going to sound rather cliche, but it has given me a greater desire to travel than before.
We decided to book through Air BnB, and stayed in a place called Bangi di Tivoli which is around 25/35 minutes train journey away from the capital. I would have personally preferred to stay in the central of Rome, however, with the student budget I have there was not much chance of me affording some of the accommodations! Although traveling into Rome by train every day proved to be a nice little element of our time there, as it allowed us to really immerse ourselves into the true Italian culture.
The Colosseum & The Roman Forum
On our first full day, we opted to go and see the grand Colosseum that sits between the Palatine, Esquiline and Celian hills and is one of the greatest wonders from Roman civilisation that is still standing. This is the amphitheater that hosted some of the bloodiest shows that over 80,000 spectators came to watch. It was the origin of professional gladiator fighting, who trained here and fought to the death, whilst wild beasts roamed freely to add the horror of the shows.
Right by the Colosseum, there is the Roman forum, which includes a vast number of ancient buildings and remains that hold great historical importance in the Roman Empire. It is home to the Temple of Julius Caesar, The Comitium, and one of Rome’s oldest basilicas Santa Maria Antiqua. The best way of seeing these grounds is go up to the top of Palatine Hill and take a look at the spectacular panoramic view of the city.
I highly recommend going for a guided tour that allows you to ‘skip the queues’ as every single day there are queues that can take hours to get through. Plus when you are walking in such an epic place like the Colosseum. Also, try to find a tour that will not only take you around the Colosseum but also around the forum too. It is really useful to have a knowledgeable person to inform you of all that you see because there is so much to take in!
So technically this isn’t actually a part of Rome, as it is actually the world’s smallest country . However, it is a must see when you come to the capital of Italy as it has the most breath-taking architectures that you will see.
One of the most iconic landmarks of Vatican City is St Peters Basilica, located in St Peter’s Square. This is where many religious viduals are conducted including one that my sister and I were lucky enough to be apart of on our visit. It was pot luck that we landed a chance to experience such a precedented event in the Catholic Church and had the privilege of seeing Pope Francis.
After the ceremony, we were taken on a three-hour tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and then St Peter’s Basilica. Although it was a very tiring day, especially in the scorching heat, it was all worth it for seeing such remarkable works of art in one of the holiest places on earth. One of my favourite elements of this tour was the level of detail that some of the paintings have given that they were created in Roman Times A.D. There is even 3D artwork, optical illusions, and inside the Sistine Chapel there is a set of storytelling paintings on the ceiling created by one artist, Michelangelo which took him four years to complete.
This tour was with the same company as the Colosseum tour; ‘Fun Tours’. Both of the experiences were fantastic and at a reasonable price, and definitely worth the money.
Quite honestly, this has to be up there with one of my favourite sights to see in Rome. The Trevi Fountain is a true work of art situated in Via Del Corso. Legends have it that those who drink its water or throw a coin in it will be granted their wish. My sister and I both tossed a coin into the fountain and hope that those wishes come true (obviously I can’t share them with you!).
One thing that I was not prepared for was the amount of tourist that were they constantly all day, every day. No matter what time we visited there were hundreds of people there, crowded around this very small square, all trying to capture the best angles of this beautiful masterpiece. Make sure you watch your bags and stay close to whoever you are with, as it is easy to loose sight of someone amongst the crowds. What is great about this landmark is that it is free to visit, so you have a little extra to spend on your essential gelato whilst admiring the view.
What is great about this landmark is that it is free to visit, so you have a little extra to spend on your essential gelato whilst admiring the view.
I must return to Rome to see the Trevi Fountain at night when it shines through darkness giving the statues a halo of light around them. But even in the day is was unlike anything I have seen before.
Very close by to the Trevi (around 10-15 minutes walk) is the Piazza Di Spagna, also known as the Spanish Steps. These are an impressive flight of steps leading to a gorgeous Church set in at the top overlooking the city. The steps were built to connect the square to the Church. The view from up there is amazing because you can see so many of the incredible buildings rise into the skyline, and you have an even greater view of the array of floral decoration that floods the steps as you look down.
Just like the Trevi, there are hundreds of people flocking here all day long, so there is never a chance of a completely clear shot of the steps. However, if you spy your chances you may get lucky for a good few seconds! Also, it is free to visit too, which is ideal because the steps are located around the shopping area in Rome.
So when you plan your adventure to this historical city, do not forget to tick off all of these places! There are many other fascinating sights to add to your list Rome, but the ones I have mentioned are a definite ‘must-see’ for anyone who wants to have the full experience of one of the most ancient cities in the world.