So Mia and I just got back from a whirlwind 10 days in Paris/Rome. When I tell you this trip was PHENOMENAL! With only 3 days in Rome, we really had to make good use of our time to see everything on our "must see" list but surprisingly we also discovered a couple neat little gems along the way (which of course, I'm going to share with you guys!). So here is my list of the top five things to do/see in Rome.
1) The Colosseum. Dating back to 70AD, this ancient structure is the home of bloody battles and torturous executions. Go ahead and pay the extra 6 euros to get a guided audio tour which provides interesting information on the structures architecture, the gladiators themselves, the fights, and other interesting tidbits of information. We got there about 30 minutes before opening time, 9AM, which I strongly recommend so you don't have to wait in long security and ticket buying lines. I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the structure and that fact that it was almost 2000 years old. To think of everything it has seen and withstood over time is really mind boggling.
2) St. Peters Basilica- Built in the 1500's, this basilica was constructed in the rumored place where St. Peter was tortured and ultimately crucified by Roman Emperor Nero in 64AD. The sheer size and attention to detail is simply breathtaking, not hard to believe you take into consideration that it was largely designed by the esteemed artist, Michelangelo. St. Peters Basilica is also is also the burial place of the much adored Pope John Paul II (now officially a Saint). You definitely don't need to be Catholic, or even a religious person, to admire the beauty and intricacy of this structure. If you are able, I strongly recommend you pay the few euros is costs to walk to the top of of the top of the dome and take in the panoramic view of Rome. I'm not gonna lie, it was difficult, and for someone who is deathly afraid of heights and super close quarters, it was a nail biting climb. The staircase spirals very tightly in places and is super hot (we traveled in June) but once you climb those 551 steps, the view is simply breathtaking. Take your time and walk around (enjoy the breeze and fresh air!) and snap a few pics before making your way back down again. The halfway point back down has the Vatican gift shop where you can stop in to purchase any number of items blessed by the Pope himself, rosaries, figurines, post cards, metals, prayer cards, anything you can imagine really.
3) The Trevi Fountain. Rome is famous for their numerous piazzas (plazas) with amazing fountains and quaint streets but the Trevi Fountain is a must see when in Rome. Day or night, this fountain is awesome either way (trust me on this- we went one day and the next night to compare). Make sure and take a coin to throw over your left shoulder, backwards which according to legend, means you will come back to visit one day. Located in the Pizaaas di Trevi (imagine that), this place is always packed, and at night the lights illuminating the fountain are so romantic. Street vendors come out at night to sell all sorts of wears from jewelry to Italian souvenirs. (Keep your purse/wallet/phone close- the area is ripe with pickpoketers!).
4)Palatine Hill: Just a short walk from the Colosseum, Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient places in the city dating back to 10BC. Be ready for a long walk, we ambled around these ruins for several hours, taking in the breathtaking beauty. Palatine Hill was once the home of various Emperors and nobility and have remained surprisingly intact over the past couple of thousand years! It was like walking through a movie set for a post apocalyptic movie, the flowers and green grass provided such a contrast to the obviously old and crumbling city around. Please don't skip out on seeing Palatine Hill while in Rome!
5) The Vatican/Vatican Museum: You can't go to Rome and not hop on over to the residence of the Pope! Home of the famous Sistine Chapel, The Vatican is the richest country in the world. Yes, I said country. I didn't know this either but the Vatican is actually it's own country, residents being those born in the Vatican or with proven family lineage of residence. Inside the Vatican you can walk St. Peters Square, visit the Sistine Chapel which houses the famous painting by Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam (sorry no photos of this masterpiece- camera are strictly forbidden inside the chapel), and priceless works of art held within the Vatican museum by world renowned artists including Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Bellini. We opted for the guided tour by City Lights Tours which was worth every penny. A knowledgeable and energetic tour guide, Enza, lead a small group (14 people) around the Vatican, Vatican museum, and St. Peters Basilica, sharing with us fascinating history and facts. (We were also able to skip the lines- score!)
Now I know I said this was my top 5, but I'm sneaking in this last spot because after all this running around Rome you are going to want a good spot to sit back, relax, and enjoy a good drink. The area of Rome known was Trastevere is loaded with good food and plenty of places to grab a drink. We enjoyed wandering the little streets and alleyways taking in the scenery and liveliness of the area. Known as a vibrant collage hangout, Trastevere is located in the 13th rione (district) of Rome. We picked a spot at a local bar and sipped Nagronis after a long day sightseeing, it was the perfect spot to unwind and take in the local atmosphere!
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What are some of your favorite spots in Rome?!
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