We took the train from Venice to Rome and enjoyed watching the Italian countryside whiz past our window. We saw a lot of olive groves and vineyards along the way. Once we arrived at Roma Termini, we transferred on to the metro and unbeknownst to us the stop nearest to our B&B was closed. There was nothing indicating that it was closed and we kept wondering why the train wasn’t stopping at that station. We started thinking that maybe we took the wrong line. After getting off and getting back on two times we decided to ask a local woman if this was the right line, she politely informed us that it was indeed the right line but our designated station was closed. This led to a slightly longer walk to our B&B and we did eventually get there. We think this is fairly common in Italy – things aren’t always well stated and locations aren’t always well signed!
We were excited to be in Rome and couldn’t wait to get out exploring. Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain, our B&B was a 2 minute walk from there. The fountain is stunning and also very crowded. It’s one of the oldest water sources in Rome and dates back to 19 B.C. I wanted to eat a gelato while enjoying the Trevi Fountain and I did (mostly) but it wasn’t quite the relaxing experience I had hoped for – it was super crowded, my gelato was melting fast making a mess, and a lady got too close to me and I think her hair slid over and possibly touched my dessert…eew! That’s how it goes sometimes.
We only had 4 full days to explore Rome, naturally the Colosseum was high on our list of sites and it didn’t disappoint! It was larger then I had imagined it would be. The construction of the colosseum began in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80. It was the greatest Roman Amphitheater ever built and held around 50,000 people. The shows were comprised of organized fights between gladiators and wild animals. They also performed re-enactments of battles. Beneath the arena are numerous corridors and rooms that used to house gladiators and wild animals. It’s amazing to me that it remained active for 500 years! To avoid the long queues at the Colosseum we recommend getting your entry tickets at the entrance to the Roman Forum, we only waited 10 minutes there. When we arrived at the Colosseum, the ticket line was massive.
After visiting the Colosseum, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Roman Forum. In ancient times the Forum was the heart of Rome, it was filled with marketplaces, political buildings, and temples. It is said that people started meeting there as early as 500 B.C. This was the only day we had a bit of rain and thankfully it didn’t last long!
The Temple of Romulus (Roman Forum) with some beautiful frescos inside. The bronze doors at the entrance are massive!
The Temple of Vesta (Roman Forum) – it was the duty of the Vestal Virgins to keep the sacred fire burning in the temple, if it went out they were severely punished. The fire was believed to be linked to the fortunes of ancient Rome.
The Circus Maximus, located just outside the Roman Forum, was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome built for chariot races.
Another site that can’t be missed while in Rome is the Pantheon (a greek word meaning – honour all Gods). It’s one of the best preserved ancient Roman monuments. I read that the exact composition of the building material is still unknown and appears to be similar to concrete. It’s also interesting that the exact age of the Pantheon remains unknown, although most historians claim that it was first built in 27 BC. It burned in the great fire of 80 AD and was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian. It was struck by lightning and burned again in 110 AD. The Pantheon as we currently know it was built in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian. As soon as you approach the doors, your eyes immediately fixate on the giant dome with a hole in the top. The dome was the largest in the world for 1300 years and remains the largest unsupported dome in the world. It’s quite the building!
We enjoyed meandering down the narrow streets, most of them have at least one beautiful cathedral to see and several gelato places – it was hard to walk by the gelato places without stopping for one.
While wandering around, we almost always ended up at a Piazza (square), there’s so many piazza’s in Rome! We saw most of the renowned ones and they were all beautiful. We enjoyed Piazza Navona and the fountains in this square are quite unique and interesting. It’s built on the site where the Stadium of Domitian (Circus Agonalis founded in 86 AD) once stood. It held around 20,00 people that would come to watch athletic competitions.
We made our way to Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. The spanish steps ‘police’ were out in full force asking people to refrain from sitting on the steps.
Some of the best views of Rome are a short walk from the top of the steps to an area called Pincian Hill. It’s a pretty park with several paths and a nice viewpoint where you can see the city and the Vatican.
Right below Pincian Hill is the Piazza del Popolo – The People’s Square. This was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire. In the center of the Piazza is an egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramses II. There were also two beautiful fountains on each side of the square.
In the center of Rome is the Piazza Venezia. The Vittoriano definitely dominates the view and provides the setting for The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The views from the balconies are really nice.
It’s a nice walk to Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress on the bank of the Tiber river. You can see the Vatican City from here.
We had a fantastic time in Rome, the sights are incredible, the gelato was splendid, and the food was really tasty!
Where we stayed: Domus Trevi 👍