Monday, 8 August 2016

Vacanze Romane...

I have recently got back from the most incredible week away in Rome.

Rome has always been on my bucket-list for two reasons; history and food. Both of these passions were thoroughly explored during my week long Italian adventure, through eating as much as I could physically consume, to spending my days diving into the historical depths of the city. Rome exceeded my expectations, and I completely recommend a visit during any European travels.

 I thought I'd share with you a selection of pictures from my week in Rome, as well as a few little anecdotes, basically just to brag about how great of a time I had (sorry not sorry), and a few tips for you to plan your own Roman Holiday...

Inside the Basilica of St. Peter, in the Vatican (My mum thinks she was touched by God in the first picture because of the lights on her head...)
Vatican posing and one of the incredible ceilings in the Vatican Museum.
Even more Vatican selfies. I recommend doing a tour around the Vatican, it may be pricey, but it's a great way to avoid the long queues, as well as getting a guide who will show you around. The highlight of the tour was going into the Sistine Chapel. It's so still and the artwork is iconic.
Trevi Fountain! Guess which idiot managed to sit on the edge with her skirt hanging into the fountain? Oh yeah, that was me.
Seriously, could this place be anymore postcard perfect?
Mother and I outside the Colosseum (Photo cred: A very lovely American couple)
Inside the Colosseum, it was so much bigger than I thought it would be. Make sure to get here early if you don't want to queue. Mother and I took part in a three hour tour around the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Although it was very informative, and interesting (particularly in the Colosseum), our tour guide was an incredibly slow walker, which made the tour in 38 degree heat tedious and at times unbearable. I think it is totally manageable doing these things on your own with a guidebook, in your own leisure. It will save money, and be much more enjoyable.
Outside the Pantheon and by the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. These are all free to see, and are great things to plan a walk in the city around seeing.
Two very different dining experiences: On the left, a relaxed lunch in a backstreet cafe. On the right, drinking Limoncello, a palate cleanser they offer after meals, and I absolutely hated it! It was like doing a shot of cough mixture.
The Spanish Steps! I wanted to have a Lizzie McGuire Movie moment, but they were closed for refurbishment.
The view from our hotel rooftop was beautiful, and watching a storm roll in was pretty incredible.
So we decided to climb Mount Vesuvius... It's not as bad as it sounds, you get a coach most of the way to the top, then there is like a half an hour steep climb up to the crater. But the view across the bay of Naples is genuinely breath-taking (and literally breath-taking after you've climbed the volcano...)
We took a trip to Pompeii, (which was why we ended up climbing Vesuvius, it's all making sense now!), and it was one of the highlights of the trip. Our guides were so much fun, we saw so much of the preserved ruins, including a theatre (above), a preserved man (below), went into an old brothel with some *interesting* preserved artwork, and a few preserved fresco's such as the one showing Icarus below.
Any trip towards the Vatican is not complete without a stop at Castel Sant'Angelo. First commissioned by emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family, it became a fortress, and now a museum. If you climb all the way up to the top, the views of the River Tiber, The Vatican City and across Rome are incredible.
Little selfie at the top of Castel Sant'Angelo with the Vatican behind me
Left - My attempt of an arty shot showing one of the many backstreets in Rome
Right - Circo Massimo at sunset, an ancient chariot racing stadium, which could hold up to 300,000 spectators.
What trip to Rome is complete without a stop to see the Trevi Fountain at night? I completely recommend scheduling a trip to see the fountain both at day and at night, because both views are completely stunning.
 
 
A few more tips:
 
If your trip is long enough, I recommend planning a day trip away from Rome, just to see more of Italy. We chose to see Pompeii and Naples, but it is just as easy to venture to Florence and such alike. The tour we went on is here.
 
Food-wise, trying the gelato is a must! The best food you'll find will be down the backstreets away from the tourist attractions. Here, prices will be cheaper, and the food will taste so much better. Restaurants around the tourist attractions tend to have a 'hit it and quit it' ethos, as they try to make money off of tourists, so stay wise!
 
Never buy anything from the illegal street vendors. These guys are everywhere. They will try and force you into buying selfie sticks, umbrellas, and ice cold bottled water. It might seem like a bargain at 1 Euro, but many of these guys refill bottles they dig out of bins from local fountains, so don't even consider buying one!
 
Be wary of local transport. It's a good idea to figure out how you'll be getting around the city, whether it's walking, or if you book a hotel out of the main centre it might be worth getting the metro. The metro is super easy and super cheap (1 euro 50 for a one way journey), but be careful as they often strike without warning. Another way is to buy a ticket for the tourist hop-on-hop-off bus. This will enable you to see all the sights of Rome, and can be great if you plan to do it all in a day, but it is considerably more expensive than public transport.
 
Go out there, eat as much as you can, see everything, shop until you drop, but don't feel awful if the heat beats you and you have to go back to the hotel for a siesta and freshen-up. We totally did, it becomes too much, and it's the nicest way to feel fresh and alive to enjoy the evenings.
 
Until next time!

Much love