The saying goes “All roads lead to Rome” based on the fact that at some stage all roads did lead to Rome. In our case, this saying was extremely close to home and in fact Rome has been our home for the last three weeks. So, this post is written with an extreme fondness for this ancient city, it’s people, it’s food and amazing culture. We knew little about Rome (apart from the Roman sayings) before arriving there, but everyone had told us Rome was amazing and it certainly did not disappoint.
We arrived in Rome (Termini station) after a three hour train ride from Florence. Rome was hot, but unlike Florence it lacked humidity – this and the many fountains around the city made the heat bearable. We chose to stay at a B&B in Rome along via Volturno called A&A Bed and Breakfast, a quick five minute walk to the train station.
As you can imagine, the amount of things to see and do in Rome is massive, so we got started quick smart. The first thing we did was go to the Metro – a 75 minute ticket to use the metro, will set you back one euro. We used this as our main source of transportation, over the six days here, with the exception of the first two days where we got the hop on and off bus. This we thought would be a good option if you only have a short time to spare in Rome and drops you off at a wide range of sights. But we were able to do the same tour taking the metro, for a lot cheaper. We’d probably skip the hop on and off bus next time.
The sights: If you look at a map of Rome, it’s insane how many sights there are to see. Almost every street has an ancient ruin or sight you must see. We started with the grandest ruin of them all – the Colosseum. The Colosseum is ancient, majestic and to some is what defines Rome. We got to the Colosseum, surrounded by street vendors, beggers, tourists and Romans dressed in their costumes ready to take pictures. When in Rome…I thought we should get a photo with these guys. Initially, I saw a girl ask for a photo with them and she was charged 10 Euro. I asked them and they said 10 Euro also. They separated me from Gus and said I should get solo photos with them first and then they bought Gus into the photos. They ended up charging 20 Euro for the both of us…10 Euro each they said. So, just a word of warning if you do decide to get your photo taken with them, negotiate up front first and be clear.
We knew nothing about the Colosseum, so decided to take a guided tour of the arena and the Forum for 25 Euro each (also included entry into the Colosseum and the Forum). It was worth doing a tour, as we had no knowledge or understanding of the events that took place here or what it all meant. Without a tour guide it really would look like just a bunch of old rocks and we definitely didn’t want that to happen. We were lucky in that we scored a superb guide! His name was Silvio and he was the most animated and energetic guide we’ve had to date. He explained every detail in such a way that he made history entertaining and really kept the tour up beat. He was so good that we decided to do the Vatican City tour with him the next day.
Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and home to St. Peters Cathedral and it’s famous Sistine Chapel. There are all sorts of security that will weed you out of the line if you are not dressed appropriately. You are not allowed to expose your shoulders or wear a dresses / shorts above your knees here – so don’t even think you will beat the system. The nuns will get you in the end. Again the tour was fascinating, we got to walk through the Sistine Chapel and understand the art – the detail behind each of the major pieces and then we walked into the room that holds Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Silence filled the room. A few whispers that would immediately be silenced by one of the 50 security guards walking around ensuring that no one took photos. The roof is covered in art and the Creation of Adam is one of the seven main pieces of that cover it’s ceiling. It was amazing to finally see this and the Cathedral.
We asked Silvio where a good place to go for lunch was – as a local we thought he’d have some pretty awesome ideas and he did. We ended up having lunch with him and apart from his brutal “picking up” of the waitresses – the restaurant and meal were both divine. A real gem and our favourite Roman meal!
The next day we headed out to see the remaining sights, the Pantheon, The Spanish steps and of course the Fountain of Trevi. Legend has it that if you throw one coin over your shoulder into the fountain you are certain of a return to Rome. Two coins means you will get married or divorced. While three coins mean you will marry a Roman. Any guesses on how many coins we threw?
Rome was unbelievable. So much history and we only managed to see the tip of the iceberg , of a city so immersed in culture and it’s history. It has become our home while travelling as we’ve now used it as a port to travel to the Amalfi, Greece and London and are always delighted to go back to it. We’d be happy to come back here anytime – all Roads lead to Rome they say – we definitely hope they do.