Every road leads to Rome
Or so I've heard… But before actually telling you why should you go and visit Rome at least once in your life its better to have a little context. I am born and raised in Romania, a Central-East European country with latin roots and the last brink before the eastern russian speaking countries. We are taught from an early age that the Roman Empire is the cradle of civilization and we inherited from them a lot of history, the language and such. When I finally got the chance to see it I was mesmerized about all the great venues they managed to create eons ago. A year later I went again. I am passionate about mythology and history so you might understand my enthusiam. The Eternal City, the fantastic Rome – center of an ancient empire, hits you once you step in. The sequence of winding alleys, squares and palaces surrounding the city center and all around the city spreads a relaxed, medieval vibe. Strolling along water in the twilight hours can be magical as Rome has some romantic bridges as well.
Logistic details:I don't know where you are you coming from, so I will not tell you which airline to pick, but my recommendation is to make it a DIY trip rather than through an agency because you can fīnd better deals. My first time was like that and I ended up paying way more than expected and the hotel was at the periphery. The second time I rented some accommodation through the www.airbnb.com website in the city centre and at a lower cost. The currency used is euro, but you can find many exchange offices or ATMs throughout the city so its ok which ever method you choose. Depending on how many days you are staying you should buy some cards for transportation. I had a 3 day pass for the subway and buses (its a package deal) and also a 2-day pass at the Hop on Hop off buss. It was easier to reach some of the places on my list. But, you should do the city centre on foot – its the best experience and you might find beautiful buildings and piazzeta’s, right around the corner. It happened for me with Piazza Navona. For more information about Rome visit this site – http://www.rome.info/transportation/tickets/. If you want some good coffee you might want to ask for an Americano otherwise you risk getting a very little cup with one finger of coffee in it, and quite strong as well. Regarding the food, the italian cuisine is renown – especially if you've seen Julia's Roberts Eat, Pray, Love but I recommend the pasta (I've found a liitle place with sea food pasta to die for) or the gelateria's – best icecream ever ;). Unfortunately the pizza is not great – so you might want to try some in some other italian city.
The top 7 must see places and sights:
- Vatican City and Museum along with Saint Peter's Cathedral and Square (prepare at least 3 hours for this trip)
Go online and pay for the tickets, I also recommend to use the Skip the line option – you pay a few more bucks but you save several hours waiting in line with all the people and get right in.
Start with the Vatican Museum – maybe use an audio guide, see the painting and the scluptures, go in the interior garden, take a break and admire the gloden globe in the middle. You will finish the tour with Michelangelo's Sixtine Chapel – a beauty hard to describe.
After that step into Saint Peter's Square but beware of the schedule otherwise you might not be able to visit the cathedral due to service program and people praying. If you happen to be there around sunset you will find it quiet and serene as no other place.
The cathedral is huge and has no comparision and if you pay a little extra you can climb to the top and see the dome inside and out. it's a great panorama.
- Coliseum, Rome’s great gladiatorial arena is the most thrilling of the city's ancient sights and the one that impressed me the most. Here you should use the skip the line option as well because there are tons of people waiting to get in even early in the morning. Walking around there are lots of ancient ruins and parks: The Roman Forum, the central area around which the ancient Rome was developed; The Circus Maximus which was the largest stadium in ancient Rome and,also, I’ve looked for the Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) which is a bit historical for us, Romanians, as it shows the history between our founder – Decebal and Trajan, the roman conqueror in those times, or something like that. Interesting nonetheless.
- The Vittorio Emanuele Monument (Italian: Altare della Patriaor Il Vittoriano) is a huge monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy and if you take a touristic bus you will not miss it.
- Piazza di Spagnia and the Spanish Steps (Italian: Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti) are a set of steps climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna and its fountain at the base and the imposing Trinità dei Monti church at the top. Around here you can take beautiful pictures of the narrow streets full of motor scooters. Also, if art is what you like you can walk about 500 meters and reach Villa Medici with its art exhibits all year round and interesting garden “all'Italienne” which is unique for Rome.
- The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome, or their wishes will get fulfilled – whatever you choose to believe. I’ve already been there twice so it must be true.
- The Pantheon with its thick brick walls and large marble columns makes an immediate impression on visitors. But the most remarkable part of the building is the more than forty-three meter high dome with a hole in it that allows the sun to breach inside. It was the largest dome in the world until 1436 when the Florence Cathedral was constructed.
- Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and arguably the most beautiful of Rome's many squares. The large and lively square features no less than three magnificent fountains and a colorful crowd. Its the perfect place to grab something to eat or at least drink some coffee at one of the many caffes with tables outside.