Friday, 27 August 2010

Rome (July 2010)

Got back from Rome yesterday to drizzly UK, grey and cold... really not nice weather given Rome was super hot and sunny! It was over 30 degrees everyday so to come back to rain was not pleasant...

Despite only spending three full days in Italy's capital city, we managed to visit all the major tourist sites with time to spare...

Day 1- Navona Square, Pantheon

After we got off the flight, we got to our hotel by a rather overly competent Italian taxi driver who shoved nine people into his seven seater van and swerved us to our hotel, near the Vatican City. We then made our way on a short walkie to the centre of Rome, where we visited Navona Square.

Navona Square is a beautiful piazza which houses the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of four rivers) and the Pamphilj palace. It was stunning to see the large amount of artists in the square; one's portrait of Angelina Jolie was really beautiful, like spot on. We bought a pineapple flavoured ice cream (which melted too quickly) and made our way to the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was built as a Roman Temple but has since been used as a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to "St Mary and the Martyrs". It is free to enter and you will be WOWed by the Pantheon Dome. It is amazing how much light gets in through the oculus. It was also really cool in here, so if you want to escape the heat and you are nearby, pop into the Partheon!

Day 2- Bus Tour around Rome (Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum)

In order to get to the places further from us, we took a "Hop-on, Hop off" bus tour which allowed us to travel to the major sites without too much walking. It only costed 20 Euros per person and you can access it unlimited times during a 24 hour period, so it was quite good.

We got off at the Piazza Venetio, went up the Palatine Hill and made our way to the Colosseum along the forum. We didn't go into the Colosseum; there were too many people in the queue and it was too hot... I'd been inside before and it was stunning, but the gift shop was overpriced (as usual) and a lot of it was out of bounds which was a shame.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain, which in my opinion is the most beautiful thing in Rome... It is just so imposing, yet soft and gentle. Of course we threw coins into the fountain... and reading some trivia... apparently around 3000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day, they are somehow scooped out and used for a supermarket for the needy. Interesting...

We made our way to the Spanish Steps but tired and slightly moody family members did not want to walk up the steps in the heat so we took a metro train to the Piazza del Popolo, where we walked around and attempted to get to the Villa Borghese gardens, but didn't manage to see what we had intended due to a lack of a map... oh well.

Tired and hungry, we returned to Piazza Navona for an expensive dinner, but we did get "complimentary" music and the nightlife was really buzzing. Artists and musicians were still hanging around the square, but a new kind of energy was around at night. It was completely different than what it was like in the day time.

Day 3- Vatican City

Staying so close to the Vatican City, we spent the morning there to avoid the queues, enjoying the intricate artworks and carvings found inside. It is mouth dropping the level of craftsmanship that is required for the creation of the paintings and the statues- really stunning. You can quite literally spend hours admiring the artwork.

Unfortunately, we missed out on going to the Sistine Chapel- it would've been quite a long walk (and giant queues) but knowing that, I am sure on a future visit, we can plan more accordingly.

I bought a stamp from the Vatican post office :D

For the rest of the day we went souvenir shopping, ate ice cream and just relaxed.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip, and despite it being just three days in length, we managed to visit all (well most) the sites with time to spare. It is definitely worthwhile visiting and I can safely say it is still my favourite city that I've been to.

A word of warning, everything seems quite expensive compared to the UK. Expect food to be around 10 euros per dish with drinks starting at 3 euros a glass. But don't worry, you can always fill yourself up on cheap ice cream.

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