Let’s face it, we all need to get away for a while from the stresses and pressures of working life. unLTD’s Lucy Bloor has been on her travels to Rome.
This year I was lucky enough to go to Rome, and there really is no place quite like it!
Steeped in history, this incredible city will leave you smiling from ear to ear at just how much there is to see and explore. Everywhere in Rome is just picture perfect.
Before I get into the sights I recommend, I’ll tell you how we got there. My boyfriend and I booked our holiday through the Travel Republic which I recommend. The site also made it really clear the different options that were available, including hotels and flights, and the amount that it would cost. We flew from East Midlands Airport and there was no stress as everything was sorted by them. We were picked up at Rome Ciampino Aiport and dropped at our hotel, receiving the same treatment when we were heading back to the UK.
While in Rome we stayed at the Domus Sessoriana Hotel which I would also highly recommend. The hotel itself was photogenic as it is housed in a 10th century monastery – the Basilica of Santa Croce. Also helped by the fact that the view outside of our bedroom window was of a Roman Wall. The staff there are very friendly and speak great English. The hotel is located on the right side of the city, a 10-minute walk from the San Giovanni Metro stop, helping to bring the sights closer to you – including an amazing stop that brings you up right on the doorstep of the Colosseum.
The Colosseum then, there really are no words to describe just how staggering this historic sight is. I have seen a few other famous landmarks including the Sydney Opera House and closer to home, Stonehenge, but when you see them, you can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment that they are smaller than they looked on pictures. But the same doesn’t apply to the Colosseum. As soon as I saw it my eyes lit up. The amphitheatre, famous for the gladiatorial battles that took place here, is much grander than I could ever have imagined – it is mind-blowing to think that it was built in 70-80 AD!
What also amazes me about the Colosseum is that, located opposite, is The Forum and Palatine Hill. There really is so much to see in Rome and each sight is amazing too. My top tip for these sights is, if you have not already pre-booked your tickets, to queue at Palatine Hill and get the ticket that allows you access into this sight, along with The Forum and The Colosseum for a bargain price and a smaller queue!
The Forum and Palatine Hill is also well worth a walk around, especially Palatine Hill which is where Augustus Imperial palaces were built. On one side of the Hill there are brilliant views down to Circus Maximus from Augustus’ balcony, which really allows your imagination to run wild with the thought of the chariot racing that took place there. On the other side of the hill is a balcony area looking down onto the Forum, and with views of the Colosseum, this spot provides a perfect photo opportunity.
Taking a short walk from the Colosseum brings you to the Altare della Patria. The biggest monument in Rome, it was built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. This spectacular sight is one to be seen, and is located near to the shops and restaurants, perfect for a bite to eat and some window shopping.
Continuing up from the Altare della Partria is another must-see, the Trevi Fountain. Finished in 1762, it really is stunning and hard to miss, and not just sheer volume of people surrounding it! Once you’ve got your bearings and managed to get through the busy crowds and near to the front, it is definitely one to get your cameras out for. I could have happily stayed staring in awe at the fountain all day – coupled with the entertainment value of (but little bit of sympathy for) the security who are continually having to blow their whistles at the crowds for not abiding by the rules.
It gets better too. Located around the corner is the Antica Gelateria Trevi, a gelato ice cream shop which, I’m not ashamed to say, we enjoyed on all three days that we were in Rome – it really is that good!
Back to the sights, and there are just so many of them. Another walk up from the Trevi Fountain is the Spanish Steps. The striking stairs climb a steep stope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, which is dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The view, once at the top is also worth the climb as you get to relax and admire Rome.
Heading back to the centre of the city, along the cobbles, the street suddenly opens, and you are greeted with the Pantheon. Built between 113-125 AD, it is one of the best-preserved of all the Ancient Roman buildings and really is stunning from the outside. Although there isn’t too much inside to see, with the interior that of a more modern feel, it is well worth a look, especially as it is free. The Pantheon Dome is also a great feat of architecture and still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
If the hustle and bustle of the city is too much, then there is the Villa Borghese. This vast area of park and gardens has its own sights to see including the picturesque Temple of Asclepius which was built in 1786 and is surrounded by a scenic lake, providing a great location to relax and reflect on all that you have seen. There are also museums, coffee shops and fountains to keep you entertained.
Finally, there is the Vatican. Although we didn’t go and see it, it is high on many people’s ‘to-do list’. Inside the Sistine Chapel is the famous Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’ and ‘The Creation of Adam’ paintings. Apparently once inside, it is ‘choc-a-block’ with people getting a glimpse at the sights but despite the overcrowding, it is worth it.
Top tip time: It is important to remember that the Sistine Chapel, along with the Pantheon, is part of the Catholic Church and so shoulders and knees are to be covered. There are also many churches dotted around with the same rules applying, so it is important to remember this when packing.
My favourite thing, food, is also incredible here. I have not been able to look at pizzas the same way after indulging in ‘proper’ Italian pizzas. Near our hotel, we also had an amazing evening meal at De Santis, located on Via di S. Croce in Gerusalemme. The staff were really friendly, spoke good English and the food was so tasty with us both having another Italian classic – Spaghetti Carbonara teamed with a glass of red wine. I have to admit, I have never been a red wine drinker, but I thought I’d follow the saying: ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ and it was a great choice. I thoroughly enjoyed red wine for the first time in my life and I have to say, my biggest regret is only having hand luggage as the one Euro red from the supermarket was also a highlight.
So, there it is, my whistle stop recommendations for Rome. It must be said, there really is no place like it, a truly unique and astonishing city that made me fall in love with Italy and left me dreaming about the next chance I get to go.