Rome is splendid. I really loved the city and all of its beautiful sites. There is so much history in Rome. Walking around the city offers countless opportunities to admire incredible architecture, art and culture.
The Colosseum was definitely our first stop! It was so epic to see the Colosseum (or Coliseum) in person. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like in its heyday, though I’m sure it would have smelled awful. The amphitheater is massive. It is an incredible work of architecture and must have been quite an undertaking. I enjoyed walking around the outside of the Coliseum, but I really loved walking through the inside where all the action took place!
Outside the Colosseum did offer some fun as well, though. We were roped in to some photos with a hilarious group of Italian men dressed like gladiators. They certainly overcharged us (20 euro!) to take pictures with them, but it was a good deal of fun. They had quite a selection of props and took several photos with a a variety of poses. It is something I would normally avoid in order to save some cash, but it was a great experience.
We also briefly admired the Arch of Constantine, which is right next to the Colosseum. After we headed to the nearby Palatine Hill. It is one of the oldest spots in Rome and has a delightful smattering of ruins as well as the Church of San Bonaventura al Palatino. The hill is a great spot for a bit of fresh air and peace. It is gorgeous and lush.
We then visited the Trevi Fountain. It is one of my favorite spots in Rome. The fountain is massive, but affords a sense of peace. It is calming to just sit and enjoy the moving water and admire the crafted sculptures. I thought the fountain is equally beautiful during the day and at night, but perhaps even more tranquil as night. We threw two coins into the fountain; the first to return to Rome, and the second for a wish. And I am happy to say that my wish is still coming true! So it must just be a matter of time until I return to Rome.
Later we headed to the Spanish Steps. They are another great spot in Rome. It is a perfect place to take a seat and people watch. And there is an excellent gelato place right outside of the Metro stop for the steps, so you can relax on the steps while indulging in a tasty treat. Their pistachio gelato was the best pistachio ice cream I have ever had. It tasted like eating cold, creamed pistachios. Seriously delicious.
Of course we also went to Vatican City and saw St. Peter’s Basilica. It is HUGE. I mean gigantic. And so ridiculously adorned with paintings and statues and gold. I could spend every hour of the rest of my life there and never see every detail. It is something that has to be experienced to understand how vast it really is. St. Peter’s Square is also quite large and has an impressive obelisk in the center.
Vatican City is also home to the Sistine Chapel and its famous ceiling adorned with paintings by Michelangelo. Unfortunately, Dad and I both totally spaced, forgetting about the incredibly famous and significant site until we left Vatican City. So close, yet so far. We debated returning for a quick tour of the chapel and to admire the famous artist’s work, but decided it would be too much hassle. Perhaps that was an unfortunate decision, but I’m still hoping that first coin in the Trevi Fountain will bring me back to Rome.
Other important sites we saw include: the Pantheon, which is mildly interesting; Castel Sant’Angelo and the nearby bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo; the Altare della Patria (also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II); the Piazza Navona with the Fountain of Neptune; and the Roman Forum, which has another lovely set of ruins.
I really enjoyed Rome’s nightlife. I went on Rome’s Ultimate Bar Hop and met some great people. Pretty much half of the people there were from California, which was weird, but excellent. The crawl started at the Highlander Pub, where we started the night off with a few games. It was a great way to get people to start interacting. I was crowned the clear winner of the women’s beer chugging contest, scoring a Beer Chugging Champion T-shirt. We then headed out to another bar and finished out night out at a club. It was a fun experience. I was a bit nervous to go alone, afraid that is would be awkward. But I went in with a good attitude and friendly disposition, talking to people rather than waiting for them to talk to me. And it worked well, because everyone was kind and wanted to chat too.
We stayed at the Mamma Mia Bed and Breakfast. It was in a nice apartment complex in a really cute neighborhood near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, but breakfast wasn’t included. Go figure. There was, however, an excellent little pizza joint up the street, Pizzeria Yok, that served up some very tasty slices. The B&B was also only about a 10 minute walk away from the Colosseum and very close to the metro. I would recommend staying at Mamma Mia; it is in a convenient location and beds go for a decent price.
Rome is one of my favorite cities in Italy. It is a treasure trove of history, incredible buildings and culture. We only had about three days in Rome, but it is certainly worth more time. I think a week or more would be ideal. But even if a day or two is all you have time for, make every effort to get to Rome. It is absolutely worth a visit.