- Due to lavish fountains that adorn every second piazza, dramatic statues that overlook city centre streets and imposing monuments which abound all corners of the city, Rome is a city like no other. It is also a city that keeps you on your toes. Blink and you might miss one of the never ending attractions. Walk down the same street twice and chances are you will spot something you missed the first time you walked down it.
A long journey suddenly becomes a short one
My hostel was right beside the train station meaning I was just beside the metro station. This proved really convenient as many of the cities main attractions are also on metro lines. The Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain are no longer than a four minutes walk of any metro stop.
If you think you will utilise public transport for just one day, invest in a one-day pass which will deduct no more than €4 from your precious bank account. If you think you might devote three days to ticking off attractions from your trusty guidebook, a three-day pass is the way forward. They cost €11. Both enable you to use both the metro and bus networks.
Once you set off on a day’s sightseeing, you will find that the minute hand on your watch will hardly complete a full rotation before your breath is taken away for the first time. Rome is heaving with sights you won’t see anywhere else in the world, and as much of the Italian capital can be covered on foot, you need to prepare yourself for gasp after gasp after gasp in quick succession.
The Trevi Fountain (Barberini metro stop) is a good place to begin a day that you won’t forget for years to come. While it is a tourist magnet, it is still one of the most beautiful fountains you will ever come across and after you are mesmerised with its statues and the water cascading over them, you will soon forget the crowds you share the pavement with. The Pantheon (open 9am-7.30), which dates back to 27BC, will capture your attention just as much as the Trevi Fountain, if not more. Just make sure you visit it early enough in the day to witness the ray of light which beams through the keyhole in the roof.
2,000 years of history
Built nearly 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum (open 9am-7.30pm Apr-Oct and 9am-2 hours before sunset Nov-Mar; admission €8 which also allows you entrance to the Palatine) is undoubtedly Rome’s centrepiece. Just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or Big Ben in London, it is one of those sights that you simply must visit. Queues to enter the ancient stadium will test your patience, but the wait is worth it. While it is only a shadow of its former self, it is easy to envisage what it would have been like to have been one of 50,000 revellers who flocked to the stadium to witness hundreds succumb to their untimely deaths.
The cobbled pavement outside the Colosseum leads to the Roman Forum. This site of ancient temples, tribunals and other public buildings was the political, economic and religious centre of ancient Rome for thousands of years. On the same grounds is the Palantine the former residence of the emperors.
Regardless of who your God is, a visit to the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica and Square, both in the Vatican City, will blow you away. Along with Michelangelo’s ‘Creation’ which looms over you in the Sistine Chapel, there are many other rooms and paintings which are equally as enthralling. Keep your eyes peeled for the Gallery of Maps. Trying to decipher whether you should stare at the ceiling or the walls will leave you muddled for a minute or two upon entering.
If you’re not careful, eating out in Rome can turn out to be a pretty disappointing experience. We all know the Mediterranean nation has spawned such universally loved culinary delights as lasagne and pizza, but sampling them in their motherland is sometimes not exactly what you expect. What’s even worse, some restaurants not only impose a €1 service charge, but also a €1 cover charge. Read the menu carefully before ordering.
Thankfully there are still some restaurants which will leave you crying for more food once you shovel that last fork full of pasta into your mouth. In Al Picchio (40, Via del Lavatore) you can get yourself a starter (bruschetta), main course (risotto) and drink (small water) all for under €10. And that’s in a restaurant just half a minute from the Trevi Fountain. Across the road from there is Bar Gelateria (Piazza di Trevi 90) where you can sit down and munch on a Margarita for €6. Plus, it’s so close to Rome’s most famous fountain you can hear the water spilling.
Sometimes you don’t need to go out to enjoy yourself
Rome becomes more beautiful as the day progresses. Alcohol doesn’t have to play a part in an evening away from your hostel. Some of the Roman capital’s flagship attractions exude after dark. They are also great places to hang out and watch life go by. Sit your behind down on one of the famous Spanish Steps and it will be hard to peel it away. These steps are filled with tourists and locals alike, step after step.
In saying that, it’s always nice to try and create some stories for your friends back home, and you won’t do that sitting around a bunch of steps every night you are there. Campo di Fiori, not far from the Pantheon, is a pedestrianised square hugged by bars. If it is nightclubs you are after, hop in a cab bound for the Testaccio district, Rome’s most vibrant.
Rome epitomises everything about Italy. Locals shoot through the streets on their scooters, donned in designer outfits just so you don’t forget what a stylish nation it is. The buildings all over the city ensure you don’t forget its well-documented past. Consequently, both these aspects of the city mean you won’t forget your visit here for years to come.
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