Last week my mum and I went to Rome. Europe had never really been a place I had wanted to visit in the past. Apart from Italy. I was always interested in America growing up, though over the past few years I have shown more interest in more European countries and i hope to visit some more soon.
Rome was a place we both had fancied going and we were able to get the same time off work. Granted it was in July, probably the hottest time to go, but it was the only time I could get off.
We had ideas of what we wanted to see beforehand such as, Vatican City, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, the main sites. We booked tours for these before we left which I believe were totally worth it. Without the knowledge of our guide around the Vatican Museums, I would not have had a clue about 98% of what I was seeing.
We went with Jet2, from Monday-Thursday. Our plane was 7am Monday morning and everything went smoothly. We found the Jet2 representative at the airport and they took us to the transport to our hotel. The minibus had no air con, which is not great during midday heat in Rome. We dropped some people off before we got to ours and when we did we basked in the air con, so to speak. I would think air con would be mandatory in hot places but, I guess not.
We stayed at the Marcella Royal hotel and it was lovely. When we were looking I had been looking for some with a roof terrace as I thought it would be nice to relax in the evenings. This is why we chose this one and it didn’t let us down. The whole hotel was exquisite. The staff were friendly, the room was perfect for what we needed and it was easy to get to the places we wanted to go too. We stayed on the first floor which, I had reservations about when I heard that, as I thought it would be noisy at night or in the morning but I did not hear one thing.
For the first evening there we headed to the Trevi Fountain. We had previously printed maps and instructions out beforehand (Because we’re those types of people) but someone (Me) picked up the Trevi Fountain map but the Colosseum instructions, so we ended up going in the wrong direction. I somehow figured this out about half way and ended up having to pay for data on my phone, which i wanted to avoid, so i could use Google maps. Life saver! We went past some gorgeous buildings. Particularly the ‘Victor Emanuel Monument.’ It is a gorgeous building. From here we found a place to eat as there were huge black clouds coming. I ate pasta of course. It did rain but we went out in it after a while because it was just nice to cool down after all of the walking. We found the Trevi Fountain. It was packed but worth it. I didn’t expect it to be surrounded by buildings. For some reason I thought it was in an outdoor square. From here we went to the Spanish Steps which were having maintenance done to them. We then continued down gorgeous streets, until we got lost again. I liked it because you get to see so much more when you’re not just near the busiest or most popular parts. We headed back to the hotel and relaxed before an early morning the next day.
On the second day, after having breakfast on the roof terrace, we got a taxi to Vatican City. We met our tour guide and headed in. We were in straight away, there was no waiting around. The artwork we saw in Vatican City was amazing. The work and passion that must have gone into them were unbelievable. I don’t know much about art but that does not mean I don’t appreciate it. We were given headphones so we could hear our tour guide talk as we walked around. I loved this. Our guide was Sonya. She knew what she was talking about. She was interested and passionate in what she talked about. I believe this is how children need to learn about the world around them, I learnt so much! Michelangelo almost went blind when doing the Sistine Chapel ceiling due to the paint. There was a wall of tapestries in one part of the museum and some took between 9-15 years to complete. When you learn the Colosseum took 8 years to be completed, it really makes you think. There was also a gallery of Italian maps which an artist painted. They are said to be 98% accurate. When you think there were no google maps or anything in them days and yet this man travelled all of Italy and was able to paint it, is amazing. Especially when I get lost after a few blocks. I was really interested and it made me want to travel back in time even more. I do wonder what artists or architects would think of our world now. Not to discredit anyone but I much prefer it from the past. We then went to ST. Peter’s Basilica which again, was amazing. I wish the people that made these buildings and the art work knew how important it would come.
We had food after this which was far too expensive for what we had but, we knew the closer you were to the tourist sites the more expensive the food was. We went across angel bridge and saw Castel Sant’ Angelo and ended back at the Trevi Fountain. This time it wasn’t raining.
In the evening we booked a last minute night time tour. We visited Trevi Fountain again. This was the third time in the space of 24 hours. We also went back to ST. Peter’s Basilica and we saw the Colosseum for the first time. It was definitely mesmerising. If you think of Rome, you think about the Colosseum, and there it was. My dad went to Rome a few years ago and he didn’t even come back with one photo of the Colosseum. How is that possible? I finally saw it. I loved that it was dark too, it looked lovely all lit up. We then went to another part of Rome where students hung out on Tuesday nights. It was an amazing atmosphere. There was warmth, music, food and laughter. It was perfect.
On the third day we had our tour of the Colosseum. We were asked to be there at 8.15 as the tour started at 8.30. Hardly anyone was there but then we had to wait for the group tickets which took 20 minutes. It was almost 9am and it was already hot. There is nothing worse than being stood in the heat. I don’t mind moving in it, but I hate standing in it. It was worth the wait. I think it looks quite small inside when you think of how many people used to go there. We were told at least 6000 animals were killed. How heartbreaking is that. All of this for human entertainment. Though we did see 2 cats roaming around, I doubt they would have done that back then. While we were walking around the Vatican our guide would show us different sculptures or parts of buildings which were made using the stone/bricks from the Colosseum. These were huge things and so I cannot imagine how the Colosseum is still standing.
From here we went to the House of Augustus who was the founder of the Roman Empire. This is within the Roman Forum and it has only recently opened. It was interesting to see at it was quite small. I could probably just fit through the doorway and I’m quite a small person. We also saw his wife’s house and it was huge compared to his. As the Colosseum and Roman Forum are outside, and by this time it was about 10am, we welcomed the shade and we were the only ones in there as there are only a few tours allowed. We continued to Palatine Hill and the rest of the Roman Forum. To see all of the buildings or in many cases, the remains of some buildings, was incredible. All of that history. I remember on the night tour, the guide said to look out for the stone at the bottom of the buildings as it would indicate that there was more underneath but they had built on top. I’m actually surprised Rome could have a metro if that was the case.
After this we went back to the Victor Emanuelle Monument as last time we just went past but we really wanted to go up it. It turns out that it is literally down the street from the Colosseum. On that first day that we got lost and came out to the monument, if we just looked left we would have seen the Colosseum, how stupid did we feel.
In the evening we walked to the river and looked at some stalls and restaurants along it which we saw previously on the night tour. We had a nice pizza and went by the Colosseum one more time (after getting lost) and some different Piazzas.
We got back to the hotel and packed ready for an early morning to the airport.
We had a transfer mini bus back to the airport and we didn’t leave for 20 minutes as there was another couple in our building who ended up still being in bed! Though they said they were told a different time. We picked others up on the way. This bus had air con which we were all happy about. We made it to the airport about an hour and half before the plane was due to leave. The airport was mayhem. One question I have. Why are we told to check in online but then we still have to line up in the biggest queue ever to check bags? Other airlines/airports have bag drop offs, but noooo. We then had to find security which was not well signed until you were near to it. This ended up being an even longer queue though at first we thought we could be in another check in line as it was right next to other check in desks. By the time we got through everything we only had time for the toilet as our plane was boarding. Our plane which ended up being on the tarmac for an hour due to a mix up with the tower. However, it was a smooth journey home so I cannot complain. I just wish I could sleep on planes.
Some information about Rome
I loved Rome. It was hot, which I expected it to be, and I have been to Florida and Las Vegas and it wasn’t much different to that. However, we walked every where apart from the two mornings we got taxi’s to get to the tours. We got lost a couple of times which made the heat annoying. There was a breeze which surprised me. From what others had said I thought it would be unbearable but it wasn’t. The free water from the water fountains was a bonus.
Sorry to offend if you’re from Rome but, you drive like maniacs! There is no point in having pedestrian crossings. You have to make a run for it on Zebra crossings for them to even think about slowing down, which in most cases they don’t. Then for those with a green man, it’s exactly the same. You can die if it’s red or green, it doesn’t seem to matter.
People have said finding a toilet is hard. I did not see one public toilet but I was not looking for one. When we went for something to eat they all had them and this was enough for us. We were originally worried about that but we did fine.
Book a tour for some of the places you visit. They are 100% worth the money and I was sceptical at first. I wouldn’t change it now.
Take a map, find a map, use google maps. There are hardly any signs anywhere for what you want to see. There are plenty of signs for MacDonald’s but I only saw one for the Trevi Fountain and that was on the last day.
Everything is quite close to one another once you know where you’re going.
The Italians are really nice. I was worried with the language differences before I went. I believe one reason I didn’t want go to other places in Europe in the past is because other than English I can only say a few words in French, I am rubbish at other languages. I didn’t need to have worried. Everyone I spoke to knew at least the basics, though many knew it quite well. I didn’t really need to speak any Italian which I felt bad for, because if other people came to the UK I doubt many of us would speak in their language as fluently as they do ours.
Rome is a beautiful city. I am not sure if I would go back just because I feel I saw quite a lot of it in the few days I was there but, you never know 🙂