Well our trip to Rome is over and all I can say is, when can I go back?! For those of you who read my posts while I was away, you’ll know that I instantly fell in love with the eternal city and enjoyed every second of our time there.
From the moment we arrived, I was sucked in completely. Everything was just so fantastic, the atmosphere, the culture, the history, the food, the energy, the passion, the friendliness of the Italian people, the whole experience.
We were staying in a cute little boutique hotel just off Piazza Navona called the Palazzo Navona hotel. It was a simple, basic but clean hotel, the staff were very friendly and helpful, and the location could not have been better. Everything was so close to us, we could walk everywhere from there, and we did.
We did and saw so much that I’m not going to go into every detail, but here are some of the highlights of our trip:
Whether or not you’re religious, its hard not to be impressed by the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square. The buildings are so beautiful and the architecture is both intricate and grand at the same time.
We started our tour of the Vatican by walking through the various Vatican museums, taking in all the beautiful art and sculpture that it has to offer. But if I’m honest, I don’t think we fully appreciated all the incredible art there because we were just so excited to get to the Sistine Chapel, something that has been on my bucket list for many years now.
When you enter the Sistine Chapel, the artwork literally takes your breath away. I stood for ten, maybe fifteen minutes just staring up at the ceiling like so many others, amazed at the detail, the beauty and the colour. It took Michelangelo four years to paint what he did, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much dedication and concentration went into each day of that four years.
Unfortunately you are not allowed take photographs in the Sistine Chapel, but actually, I think it’s just one of those places that you have to see in real life to really understand just how incredible it is. No matter how many pictures you see, it’s just not the same as standing there and experiencing it in person.
The Pantheon unbeknownst to me, is a temple. I don’t know how I didn’t know this before as I’m usually good with history and famous buildings, but this one took me by surprise. Like many of the wonderful sights in Italy, the Pantheon is located in a beautiful square, surrounded by restaurants, gelateri and bars, not to mention the many tourists.
From the front of the building you’d be forgiven for thinking it was square in shape, but once inside, you are greeted by a massive circular space. A concrete dome towers over the top with a centre opening looking up into the sky.
The structure of the dome is beautifully made up of a series of stone arches, and is still the worlds largest unreinforced concrete dome. Now used as a Catholic Church, the building is still very much in use and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Rome.
As mentioned above, we were staying right off Piazza Navona which is such a beautiful area. Apart from the Piazza itself, the streets are small and narrow, with cobble stone roads and flower boxes hanging from apartment windows, exactly what you imagine when you think of Italy.
As you walk up the tiny streets, vespas passing by you, you can’t help but smile. There is so much character and charm in these streets, you just want to sit and watch the world go by as you sip on a nice Chianti. And that is exactly what we did on so many occasions. A midday aperitif, a long lunch, an after dinner drink on our walk home… We just couldn’t help but revisit it every day of our trip.
As much as I was in awe of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square, the Colosseum was the place that had the most impact on me. I was literally starstruck as I stood and gazed at this wondrous structure. As you walk up the street towards the Colosseum, you feel as though you are entering a different world with ancient ruins surrounding you on either side. Everywhere you look there is a little piece of history there beside you.
I knew Rome had ruins, I knew it had history, but nothing can quite prepare you for the grandeur and scale of what has been left behind. The pillars, the stone, the structures – it is really quite incredible.
When entering the Colosseum I almost became emotional, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands of other tourists there, yet when standing within its walls overlooking the old cells and ground below us, there was a quiet stillness all around us. I can’t explain it. The atmosphere was almost peaceful, and profound in its silence. People just looking, and I imagine doing exactly what I was doing, wondering what on earth it must have been like to have stood in that very place thousands of years ago.
We spent several hours wandering around the different levels in the midday sun, taking it all in, because it’s just the kind of place where you have to do that. A quick visit won’t work for you here, you need to breath it, smell it, experience it, look at it. You have to give yourself time to take it all in because it is just that breathtaking.
Of course we saw so much more too, the Spanish Steps were unfortunately undergoing some restoration works while we were there so we had to admire from a distance, and the Trevi Fountain, although stunning, was swarmed by so many tourists we could hardly take it all in. But nevertheless, it was still a sight to behold. I think next time I’ll go back at night to get a different experience, and maybe sit for a while in admiration.
We went sightseeing, we drank prosecco, we ate antipasti, we walked, we laughed, we admired, we people-watched, we drank wine, we ate pizza, we adventured, we devoured ice cream, we ate pasta, we drank beer, we took many photographs, we travelled, we experienced, we loved.
We loved every single second of our trip, I’ve been to many places all over the world, and only once before has a place exceeded my expectations in such a massive, massive way.
For now, Rome, it’s Arrivederci, but I know I’ll see you again soon…