Italy Road Trip Finale - Roma!

13:27 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

After a couple days in the car around Italy, our final pit stop was in Roma! I think this was the city I was most excited about. To me, it was the epitome of why I love Europe. So much history around you, mixed in with the European lifestyle of cafes and lounging around public fountains and parks.

With all our other stops along the way, we really only had one full day and the night preceding it. I was worried we wouldn't fit in everything we wanted to see. Then, when I thought about it, I didn't even know where to start with sightseeing! What were the must sees? The Vatican (and therefore the Sistine Chapel). The Colosseum. And? With some of the pressure off, we got a map and highlighted the must sees.

And then we got to our walking. When you read that you can walk pretty much everywhere in the city, I laughed and thought, ya right. But really, you can walk almost anywhere in the city! Other than the Vatican which is a bit farther away than we cared to walk, we walked almost everywhere around the city.

Our first stop was the Vatican - and it is a city within itself (literally!). After some online research, we went in long pants and with a cardigan for me to cover my shoulders, as you are required to have 'respectful' dress within the Basilica and Sistine Chapel. My advice to others going - yes, they do make you cover your knees if you are in shorts (as a female), but I did see several women in dresses just above the knees with shoulders covered. Perhaps they were lenient because of the summer, but we did see people turned away. My motto on the whole thing - better safe than sorry!

We got their first thing in the morning and NO LINES!

First off was the St. Stephen's Basilica. It is huge, vaulted ceiling, with little rooms or worship areas along the whole length of it. We also went down to visit the tombs of the popes below the chapel itself and above to see the view from the top of the cupola. 335 steps didn't sound like so many before going up, but man, was it hot and the stairs were narrow and winding. It was worth it though for the great views from the top.

Inside the St. Stephen's Basilica

View from the top of the St. Stephen's cupola -
you can see the Vatican courtyard in front of us

Next up was the Vatican Museum. You could probably spend a whole day here if you knew what you were doing. But, as I've said before, museums aren't really my thing and this is like a museum on steroids. I don't know how many thousands of pieces are there, but there is something old and historical in every square inch of the place. After following the signs to various exhibits, we decided to finally give up and let ourselves be corralled towards the Sistine Chapel. Needless to say, along the way, you can still enjoy the art, paintings, tapestries and unique architecture, we just did it on a fast track kind of pace.

Inside the Vatican Museum - I was
more interested in the architecture
than all the art

After gazing a few minutes at the giant portraits in the Sistine Chapel, we were off again, this time headed to the Colosseum (of course after a change into shorts and some lunch). We bought the Roma Pass before seeing the sites, and it was worth it. After using our pass to skip the lines of tourists waiting for tickets, we wandered around the Colosseum. It was certainly multipurpose over the years. From what everything thinks of with Gladiator and fighting, to aquatic shows & circuses to stalls for animals and street vendors, it certainly has a unique history.

Once we had explored enough of the Colosseum, we wandered next door to the Roman forum. This is an area with tons of Roman ruins it, from the Temple of Saturn, to the Arc of Septimus Severus. Like the Vatican, it was a bit overwhelming and there is not much information on the site itself. So, we were content to force our tired legs to carry us through, admiring the ruins and take lots and lots of breaks to admire the views.
Colosseum - no animal fighting for us though

Colosseum from the outside - avoiding men selling
umbrellas, light-up objects and other knick knacks

We made a quick stop at the Parthenon to sit down, stare up at the ceiling and wonder what things were like back then, then ended our evening on the Spanish steps with, what else, wine and Italian food!

Not the Spanish steps, but the even MORE famous Trevi fountain

Quick History
- Is there such a thing as a quick history of Rome?
- Ancient Rome was thought to have more than 1M people at the height of its power.
- Founded in the 8th Century BC, Ancient Rome first first ruled by kings, then the senate as the Roman Republic and finally (and most famously), the Roman Emperors
- When Julius Cesar took Rome and appointed himself dictator, he helped Rome to become an empire. After he was murdered, Augustus became the first emperor

What to See
- Vatican - get there early and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy if you do like art. Be prepared to be herded like cattle along with the hundreds (or thousands?) of other visitors. There are two separate entrances to St. Stephen's basilica and the Vatican Museum.
- Colosseum - there is lots of information here for those who want to do self-guided tours. If not, purchase an additional ticket package and you are given more parts of the Colosseum to see on a guided tour.
- Roman Forum - this is definitely worth seeing, but don't do this and the Vatican & Colosseum in one day. I would also recommend getting a guided tour for this. There are poor signs and information, so often times you do not know what you are looking at.
- Piazzas - there are many many piazza (or plazas in English) around Rome. The most famous ones are Piazza Navona (with lots of street artists here), Piazza della Rotunda (in front of the Parthenon), Piazza di Spagna (or the Spanish Steps) and Piazza Fontana di Trevi (difficult translation to Trevi Fountain). While these were all great, I don't think you can go wrong at any piazza. There's usually restaurants, street vendors and lots and lots of people
Tip: if you plan on seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, get the Roma pass. It pays for itself with those two attractions, you can skip all the lines and ride public transit for free. 

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1 comment:

  1. I have had great experiences. The food is great in all the countries you have mentioned. I live in Paris,France. If you need any help on choosing places to visit, don't hesitate.

    honeymoon in rome