When in Rome: eat lots of gelato; look both ways before crossing the street – then RUN; wear sunscreen; stop often to soak in the history; take an evening stroll; promise yourself you’ll return. I loved Rome!! All I had heard about this city before arriving was that it’s dirty, crowded, hot, and full of pickpockets. I was a bit less than enthused about visiting, but what’s a trip to Europe without a visit to the Eternal City? I am so glad I did and would love to return someday! Rome is so alive, with history around every corner. I spent just about every minute of the two full days I was there exploring as much as I could.
My trip to Rome was part of my 2007 summer in Europe with my best friend, Teresa. We both regret not staying longer in this city but since we only had two days, we hit the ground running!
The first place we visited was the Coliseum. This place was crawling with people and we were worried we would have a long wait to purchase tickets. But we were only in line for about 25 minutes and were then making our way inside.
Wow! It’s just amazing to walk through this place that has been around for 2,000 years! It’s hard to believe that something this massive could be built so long ago. We strolled along the various levels, reading up on the history of the place and enjoying the great views of the Arch of Constantine and the Roman Forum. I almost didn’t want to leave so I could keep taking in the awesomeness of this place!
After fighting off lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!), we headed to the Roman Forum. This huge area was the center of ancient Rome and we walked along the same stone path that Julius Caesar once walked on. Amazing!
We saw the huge arches of what remains of the Basilica of Maxentius; the Temple of Julius Caesar which is built on the site where his body was cremated; the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina; the remains of the Basilica Aemilia; the Temple of Vesta which was once Rome’s most sacred spot; the House of the Vestal Virgins; the Arch of Septimius Severus; the remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn which is the oldest temple in the Forum; the Column of Phocas…I kept trying to imagine what this place looked like during Rome’s heyday. It’s incredible now, it must have been indescribable then! Makes me wish I had a time machine! 🙂
The entire forum was only fully excavated in the 20th century. How awesome it would have been to be a part of the excavation of this place (I’m revealing a bit of my inner Indiana Jones here)!
Next we walked our hot, parched, hungry bodies up to Palatine Hill. This massive place is filled with the remains of imperial palaces and gardens, some of which are still being excavated.
On our way to the Pantheon we stopped at Florida Pizzeria (!) to grab a bite to eat. The Pantheon is amazing! We just stared in awe as we walked through the massive doors into the huge, domed room with a skylight in the center of the dome. This dome is the world’s largest unreinforced dome. It’s incredibly impressive!!
Leaving the Pantheon we went to Gelateria della Palma where we each got four flavors of gelato (I chose the unusual combination of lemon, banana split, strudel, and Nutella). Yum! Next it was on to the Bocca Della Verita (“Mouth of Truth”) which is featured in the classic movie Roman Holiday. Legend says if you put your hand into the mouth and you’re not truthful, you’ll lose your hand. I’m happy to report that we both made it out with our hands intact! 🙂
After taking a 45-minute detour (it helps, when traveling, to carry with you a detailed map), we visited the 2,500-year-old Mamertine Prison and descended into the cell where tradition says both Peter and Paul were once imprisoned. After stopping by our hotel to cool down, freshen up, and treat our sunburnt skin, we visited Rome’s Hard Rock Café and enjoyed a yummy dinner.
Accommodations Info & Tips:
Rome was one of the few places we visited that we hadn’t made accommodation arrangements prior to leaving the U.S. And as of a few days before arriving in Rome, we still hadn’t made arrangements! I was just a little bit stressed. Just a little. Or a lot. But it all worked out and we ended up finding a great place called Holiday Rome B&B which was within walking distance of the Termini train station. Actually, it was within walking distance of all the places we visited (disclaimer: we really like to walk). Our room was clean, had A/C (major plus!), and a continental breakfast was delivered to our room each morning. Can’t beat that! I checked the website and current rates start at €65 for double occupancy.
As far as getting around Rome, as mentioned above, we walked. A lot. But, as also mentioned above, we love to walk. We did use the metro once to take us to Vatican City and it was easy breezy. I don’t think I would ever want to attempt to drive in Rome as I really want to live a nice, full, long life and driving in this city would probably end that dream very quickly.
There is so much to see and do in Rome! We really only scratched the surface during our two days there (it was a long scratch, but still…). I would suggest planning on it taking longer than you think it will to tour these sites. 🙂 I really wish we could have spent more time at each place we visited but there were so many other places we wanted to see. Also, it might be wise to pack some snacks with you if you plan on visiting the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine as there aren’t a lot of food options in the immediate area. We were SO hungry while there but didn’t want to leave until we had seen as much as we could.