Whilst we certainly had tourist attractions and a slice of culture on our agenda, also featuring on our wish-list was delicious food, great wine and lots of fun - all of which scored highly.
We managed to pack quite a lot into our five days - especially given two of the days saw each of us with a hangover and I’ve pulled out some of our favourite experiences and places to pop onto your must-do/see list if you find yourself in Rome.
The Vatican Museum
Whilst I'm not personally religious, I doubt anybody could fail to be moved by such unfaltering beauty, sculpture, beautiful floor-to-ceiling tapestries and the astonishing attention-to-detail that were created way back before the likes of motorised engines and exist throughout the Vatican. The ceiling paintings are simply stunning and I found each area incredibly moving but nothing more-so than the Sistine Chapel - just astoundingly beautiful.
|Inside the Vatican|
|Beautiful icon inside the Vatican|
|Vatican selfie with Stephanie, Jemma and Jade|
Obviously we went at an extremely busy time, but it’s apparently always like this – be prepared for huge crowds, and some areas, particularly the Sistine Chapel, you’ll feel slightly like cattle being moved along by the masses. Ensure you’re well covered as this is a religious venue, and prepare to be silent in some of the spaces for the same reason.
Aside from the beautiful Vatican, Rome has an abundance of churches, each beautiful in its’ own way. The architecture and composition of each is certainly something to behold. My Mum's side of the family are Catholic and so going into a local church in different cities to light a candle is somewhat of a tradition and I did so at the impressive Basillica Santa Maria Maggiore which was only a few minutes’ walk from our hotel.
|Basillica Santa Maria Maggiore|
The Colosseum, is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world – a huge oval, amphitheatre, built back in 72AD and still standing, almost in entirety today. The venue for gladiator fights and synonymous with that Russell Crowe film, the Colosseum is truly a sight to behold and it’s incredible to see the scope of the place – it’s absolutely huge. It apparently had an average audience of 65,000 spectators for gladiator fights so this should give you an indication of the magnitude. It’s a really beautiful building- we sadly didn’t get inside due to the huge crowds and having other activities planned for the evening we visited, but were able to spend some time here and around the ruins which surround the Colosseum. We acted very much like the tourists we were, and hired a Surrey Bicycle – a four-person bike, which was absolutely hilarious and a great way to move around Rome having plenty of giggles. We foolishly went up a huge hill and then, obviously had to come back down it – which is not necessarily to be recommended, but was great fun and we lived to tell the tale.
|Colosseum selfie with my friend Jade|
|On the Surrey bicycle with Jade, Stephanie and Jemma|
We were lucky to visit Rome during a warm weather spell and our experience at the Trevi Fountain was a cramped one - everyone was clamouring to get to the front and throw a coin in backwards for the mythical luck it brings – a guaranteed return to the city of Rome. Selfies were happening left, right and centre, including us. We grabbed a gelato before heading into this area and joined the masses in just stopping and admiring a beautiful piece of architecture.
Food was one of the biggest highlights for us – from the light and crispy pizzas, a variety of delicious pastas, risottos, and more classical Italian dishes such as tagliata, saltimbocca, osso bucco and the cheese and charcuterie that just made every mouthful delicious. Another more detailed foodie post to come.
There’s plenty to choose from in Rome, whether it’s a quiet drink in a bustling trattoria whilst watching the colourful world go by, a trendy cocktail in the Piazza Navonna area or a light night dance and drink at Testaccio – the clubbers area. We enjoyed all of these plus Trastevere for beautiful wine surrounded by beautiful people and a cheesy night at Campo di Fiori – a square full of bars then onto Shari Vari, a club in the area in a converted cave. A post with some further details is coming soon.
|Drinks by the Basillica Santa Maria Maggiori with Stephanie|
|Shari Vari drinks and dancing with Jemma, Jade and Stephanie|
We actually found the city fairly easy to navigate on foot, and were lucky we had good, dry and fairly warm weather to enable us to do so. We did grab a 3-day Metro pass for around 20 each, but only used it a handful of times as we were so close to most places.
We stayed at the DVE Suites on Piazza de Vittoria Emmanuelle – a basic four bed room on a bed and breakfast basis. Due to enjoying the nightlife a little too much, we didn’t make it up for breakfast at all – but it looked great. We paid around £600 with for the four nights between us which was really reasonable in comparison to some other hotels we checked out. It was a fairly basic hotel but had absolutely everything you could want, was spotlessly clean, and the lovely staff were so accommodating and helpful – we just couldn’t fault them.
Rome is a stunning city - with tons to see and do and I wouldn't hesitate to book a return trip. Prices are on a par with London or any other big city, and you can either go upscale or down, depending on your budget. We paid approximately £130 each for flights with Easyjet outbound and British Airways inbound. One thing is for sure, I doubt anybody would leave Rome feeling disappointed. Enjoy!