Originally posted 27th May 2017
One of my favourite holidays was Rome, Italy. I’ve been there twice, once with my family and once with my friend Chloe. She is currently creating a video of our time there and when it’s done I’ll share a link, from what I’ve seen so far she’s doing a fantastic job!
Let me set the scene. The city is gorgeous, rain or shine (and I’ve been there during both). Everywhere you turn is a piece of art and I’m not just talking about the museums. With every corner there’s another piece of magnificent architecture right in front of you.
The first time I was there with my parents and sister. On the first day we found this little out of the way restaurant and the waiter didn’t speak a word of English, around the corner a lady had set herself up and started to sing Italian Opera.
So there we are, on our first night, eating an authentic Italian dish listening to beautiful Italian music and loving every second.
The second time I went was with my friend Chloe and we had such an incredible time!
On the itinerary for the first day was the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and Roman Forum. We’d pre-booked whist in England.
These are all situated very close to one another. I know a lot of people won’t be interested in the history but I find it so interesting so I’ll try to be brief.
The Colosseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, its construction finished around 80AD under the Roman Emperor Titus. The amphitheatre was mainly used for gladiatorial contests, executions or some other form of ‘entertainment’
and could seat up to 80,000 people. From my understanding Gladiators would often be either volunteers or slaves.
The seating would be separated into different social classes, upper
being in the lower seats and the lower classes higher seats. Certain people, including gravediggers and former gladiators, were banned from the Colosseum altogether.
I know the history is gruesome however, it’s history and the fact the building is still standing today is incredible. I think it also shows how far we have come as a human race, sure we’re by no means perfect however, at least this kind of act is no longer socially acceptable. The past is in someway a shame because it really is a magnificent piece of history.
My second stay was spent at Hotel Cosmopolita. Me and my friend chose this hotel because it looked nice and was a very central location. Steps from our hotel was the Altare Della Patria, also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. It was built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first King of a unified Italy. Construction started in 1885 and was finished in 1925. The monument also holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which was chosen by a woman who’s son was killed during World War 1 and body was never recovered. The monument is considered the largest in Rome.
We also went to the Pantheon which is a former Roman Temple, it was built in 118-128 AD. This is now a church and the interior is incredible. There is so much to see in terms of artwork and architecture. This is also where Victor Emmanuel is buried.
We also went to the Trevi Fountain (i.e. Fontana di Trevi), which has been under construction both times I’ve been however, undeterred I see it as a perfect excuse for me to one day go back (not that I need one to be fair!). It was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Of course when you’re there you want to throw a coin into the fountain, I was unable to do so due to construction (though that didn’t stop some people) however, it is estimated that approximately 3000 euros are thrown in each day. The monies are used to help the less fortunate in Rome, which is pretty incredible.
During our stay we also visited The Spanish Steps located in Piazza di Spagna. It was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. This has a personal achievement attached for me because the first year I went with my family (2014) I was only able to get about half way up before having to stop and catch my breath, it wasn’t a great feeling. As many who follow this blog will know I’m trying to be healthier. The second holiday was just before joining Slimming World however, I had been going to the gym/seeing a personal trainer since June and that year actually managed to get all the way to the top without pause! It was such a great feeling, it was still exhausting – don’t get me wrong! And as soon as you think you’re done there’s another bit to go (having said that my friends breathing didn’t even fluctuate!) but it was a great feeling to know that I had made a positive change. Next time I go I want to be even better. (Queue the Rocky music!) The site itself is lovely though, there are so many people who sit or stand on the steps and just chill out for a bit, or if they’re like me they’re preparing themselves for the trek!
On the same day we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, this is located not far from The Spanish Steps. The interior was fantastic, the food was delicious and I loved it! They also have a shop next to the cafe, I had bought a souvenir the year before but my friend bought something whist we were there. Visiting The Hard Rock Cafe’s around the world is one of my favourite things to do.
The Vatican, I could write a post about it in itself. It’s huge! Vatican City is a small sovereign state within the City of Rome. It’s actually beautiful. I still haven’t been inside St. Peter’s Basilica however, it’s another reason to go back! I have been inside the museums, twice.
If you go I should warn you to pre-book whilst your at home. The queue for entry unreserved is enormous and it has been known for people to queue all day only to be turned away because they’re closing. If you pre-book you will have a time slot in which you are guaranteed entry, it is much easier. There is so much to see outside and in, so much architecture, artwork, sculptures – even the outside spaces are beautiful. The only downside is because you’re being funnelled through with so many people it is very slow and packed. Also, your feet will hurt – this is especially so if you’ve spent the last two days exploring the city as we had. When I say it’s huge I think that may be an understatement.
It was located quite far from our hotel so we decided to purchase a hop-on and off city tour bus. This enabled us to jump on at a location near our hotel, see the sites on the way to our destination, we hopped off upon reaching The Vatican. Then once our day in The Vatican had finished we went back to that location and saw the sites on the way back – and there were so many! You were definitely able to see a lot more than you would walking around.
Whist we were there we really wanted to go to Amalfi and I really wanted to visit Pompeii, through Viator we booked a tour where we were able to visit both. The driver was very informative and you could tell he really loved his job and the city itself. Amalfi was beautiful. On the way we stopped off in Positano for lunch at a place called Chez Black, the food was gorgeous and the town itself was lovely. Amalfi was everything you would imagine it to be, I think I would definitely like to go back and spend more time there exploring.
Pompeii, now that was history. Just walking around the town, we had a guide and he was with us the whole way through sharing what it was like when the town was inhabited by people. The ancient town-city was mostly destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Walking through you were able
to see how people lived – what they did, how they shopped,their work, their entertainment, everything! I would love to go back again just to take more of it in because it was fascinating. I had one issue with Pompeii which was (and I’m writing this from memory so stay with me): When the volcano erupted there were people still inside the town who lost their lives, their bodies shapes were preserved and when archeologists came across this they didn’t know what it was so they began work to find out (totally understandable!) however, once it became clear they have displayed these pieces within the grounds (I believe it was a mother, child and dog) where the toilets used to be, now I’m sure there are many people who won’t take issue with this however, I found it to be somewhat disrespectful. Other than that I loved learning about the history and would definitely recommend.
My friend also wanted to visit some gardens, she will me if I’m wrong but I believe it was Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’este and to be fair, they were gorgeous! The villa was constructed as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian. It has many different architectural styles and influences including Greek and Egyptian.
As I say we also visited the gardens which were stunning, the fountains were a long way from the top – so many stairs going down and then suddenly you realise you have to go all the way back up. It’s enough to make you pause but not nearly enough to makeyou stop altogether because you always wanted to see more, and not just a photograph. You wanted the experience of seeing it with your own eyes. So yes, though it’s all around the same area it was a long trek but the scenery along the way was worth it.
One of my favourite places was Piazza Navona, whenever I’ve been there it’s buzzing
with people. The centre has three fountains and the place is filled with people selling artwork of some kind or playing music, it really is a fantastic sight. It is also surrounded by restaurants, one of my favourites in Rome is actually situated in this Piazza called Bernini Ristorante. Piazza Navona for me just has so much life and energy, if you’re going to Rome please go and experience it for yourselves.
Remember I said that just walking around Rome is incredible because every corner you turn there’s another piece of artwork? From the stunning architecture
to the incredibly talented artists who create their work in front of you..
there so many sights to see. Some you expect and others are just beyond what you imagine.
As with any city there are people who will try and make you buy items they try to sell, be it postcards, jewellery, tickets, flowers – the friend I was with got cornered by someone who takes a picture of you on your phone with her parrot and charges about 20 euros each. After this we didn’t find it very hard to say no. It may go against your nature but remember that if you were to buy something from every single person trying to sell you something you would have no money left to enjoy your trip. I’m not saying buy nothing, I’m saying choose wisely. Around the Colosseum there are also people dressed as Gladiators which is a great novelty picture however, on the occasion we were spied by one we were in a rush and this man put his arms around my friend – don’t get sucked in!
The food is delicious! One thing we decided after a first night blip was that we wouldn’t go into a restaurant where they were asking for customers. I know this seems rude and unfair however, it became clear that if it was any good the reputation and the food and staff would speak for itself. Could we have missed out on a great meal? Maybe. But honestly for the rest of the holiday I cannot complain, the method worked.
My favourite restaurants include:
Cesar which was located opposite our hotel. I think we were very tired after exploring and wanted to try it anyway and it became a favourite, we went back a few times after that so we tried a few things from their menu, all of which were fantastic and the lady who cooked and served was so lovely and genuine.
The place called Chez Black in Positano is definitely on the list, I had the Capri Style Ravioli and the flavours – it was delicious! The only drawback was the toilets were unisex. That was a surprise to say the least!
We also went to Giolitti which is apparently considered to be one of the oldest ice cream parlours in Rome.
Last but not least my favourite restaurant in Rome was Bernini in Piazza Navona, we were able to look at their menu with no hassle from the staff, the food and service was amazing. I went in both 2014 and 2015, both times were brilliant!
All in all I really enjoyed my time in Rome and I am very much looking forward to going back and gaining even more experiences, learning more about the history & culture and just having a fantastic time.
The pictures above are all my own & as promised I will link my friend Chloe’s video, which she’s creating, of our time out there once complete.