Following on from my previous post about the highlights of Venice, the next stop on this Italian journey was Rome.
Colusseum and Roman Forum
No visit to Rome would be complete without visiting the Colusseum and while you are there it’s also worth checking out the Roman Forum. As you can probably imagine, the queues to get inside the Colusseum are always long so I recommend you purchase your ticket elsewhere. You can buy a combination ticket at Palatine Hill where the queues will be much shorter, or you can purchase tickets online.
I wasn’t all that excited about visiting Vatican City but as soon as I walked in I was just in awe. The interiors and artwork are simply stunning, I love it so much I even went back again on my second visit to Rome. As with the Colusseum, the queues to get in to the Vatican are very long so the best option is to go first thing in the morning and pre-book a guided tour to avoid having to line up outside for hours.
One of the most famous fountains in the world, there’s a long-standing tradition about throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain. It’s estimated that €3,000 worth of coins are thrown into the fountain each day! The legend says that if you throw a coin into the Trevi with your back to the fountain, using your right hand to throw it over your left shoulder, that will ensure you will return to Rome. Throwing second coin leads to a new romance, and a third coin leads to marriage. On my first visit I threw one coin into the fountain and I did return to Rome five years later so I guess it worked! At the moment the Trevi Fountain is undergoing renovations and is expected to remain closed until October.
The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved Ancient Roman buildings. It is the burial place of several important Italians (including the artist Raphael), and it remains an active church. Look up as you enter to see the oculus, a round opening in the centre of the dome and only source of natural light in the Pantheon. It is 8.2m in diameter and open to the sky (the floor is gently sloped to allow for runoff of rainwater). It’s also free to enter the Pantheon and there are no queues so you can just walk straight in.
The Spanish Steps are a great place to rest your feet and enjoy some gelato! As you will see from the photos below, no matter what time you go day or night the steps are always crowded with people. Just be wary of the the guys trying to give out roses, unless you actually want one don’t let them put anything in your hand or they will expect you to pay.
Altare della Patria
Unfortunately the Italian afternoon heat got the better of me and I only got to see this building from the outside. Altare della Patria or ‘Altar of the Fatherland’ is the largest national monument in Italy. You can climb to the top of the building for for stunning panoramic views over Rome. This will definitely be top of my list if I return to Rome again!
Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth (la Bocca della Verità) is famous for its appearance in the film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn. It was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off.