Travelling to Rome was one of the most amazing experiences. This third and final feature speaks to the excursions, sites and details of our travels.
TRAVEL TIP ALERT: Travel during low season. We made it to Italy in mid-March which was the end of Winter and start of Spring. The crowds were large at major sites but definitely nowhere near the amount as they are during high season which is typically in the Summer.
So in working hard on the site and blog- I asked my niece- who by the way is a formidable opponent in the way of wordsmithing herself, what she thought and she in true fashion was honest by saying less words- more visuals and how I should start a Youtube Channel with my winning personality and dazzling smile. Ok ok maybe she only said the YouTube part.
Anyhow, here’s to less words (maybe or maybe not) and more imagery so enjoy:
I flew Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi while my mom and sister flew KLM Airlines from Texas. Upon arrival to the airport we picked up a Roma Pass– which to me is your best friend and then proceeded to travel to our bed and breakfast- Relais Romantica which was only 25 minutes from Fiucimino Airport, 10 minutes from the Vatican and 5 minutes walking from the Cipro Station. We loved its location,as we were able to travel to everywhere in the city by subway.
The staff of Relais Romantica-a father and son duo of Antonio and Danielle were incredibly kind and helpful down to the last minute.
As for the Roma Pass, I totally suggest purchasing the 3 day Roma Pass. For only 38.50 Euros approximately $42, it gives you 72 hours of rides via subway/metro, tram or trolley after first validation/swipe meaning your first ride AND free entry into 2 major sites (Vatican not include) along with a detailed map of the city’s hot spots and sites. So we were able to see the Colesseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill all for free and any other listed destination had we had the time which reminds me…
TRAVEL TIP ALERT: Sites in Rome are MASSIVE. So if seeing every inch of a site is a must for you, then I suggest spending a minimum of TWO days at each and every site. It is impossible to THOROUGHLY visit any site in its entirety, in addition to other sites in just one day. Spread it out over 5-6 days if you have the time.
Now into our itinerary. Our first day out, we took the subway/metro on a day trip to the Pantheon, which by the way is free and you can add on an audio guide for only 6 Euros which I suggest, as it breaks down each and every statue/artifact and its meaning or historical background.
While en route to Pantheon, I suggest walking and not Ubering so that you can take in all the sites you can find along the way like beautiful fountains placed all across the city. And take in how settled the city is with street signs made of stone.Or even stop at the small clever cafes and catch glimpses of tiny little tourists dressed as gladiators, also caught up in all of the excitement.
You can also travel the side streets in North Historical Centre like Via Dei Pastini and Via Dei Seminario for shopping or catch street performers with clever acts or creating art.While at the Pantheon, we learned about the intricate draining system installed in the floor for when it rains, being that there is a huge opening in the rotunda. During the Summer, they release roses from the roof in honor of those they have loved and lost. But. it’s also important to note that it serves as a Basilica aka church/holy place.
TRAVEL TIP ALERT: They expect you to respect basilicas as you would museums and libraries, so inside voices PLEASE. Many tourists clearly didn’t get that memo and were just in a hurry for the best selfie or coolest photo amongst the crowds of tours and definitely didn’t learn how to play the quiet game as kids. NOT COOL.
On Wednesday, we caught the opportunity of a lifetime to witness a papal mass service aka Pope service in Rome.
Every Wednesday, they open the atrium outside of St. Peter’s Basilica to the public for FREE to attend a service with the Pope and people come out in masses. This was by far one of the best experiences ever.
To witness grown men weep at his sight and watch babies light up as he charioted around the crowd giving out kisses was quite remarkable and to see a single man have so much global influence over people and their lives was incredible.
To hear choirs from all over the world singing in the audience and to meet so many people from all walks of life- from California to Norway, was more than amazing. It was unforgettable.
After the Papal Audience, we had the chance to also catch a visit to one of the most beautiful churches and possibly places I have ever seen- St. Peter’s Basilica- also for free.
TRAVEL TIP ALERT: Alot of the cool sites are offered on package deals along with tour guides and features like with skip the line. But with the Roma Pass, you can do the same and pay a fraction of the cost. As far as booking tours, I suggest going on your own and showing up early enough to purchase a personal audio guides when available at all the sites. It’s much more of a go at your own pace experience and you’re not tied to strict deadlines and call times while trying to enjoy your vacation and being attached to massive tour groups of people.
Ok back to the Basilica- inside they held an additional mass service and below in the basement were the tombs that held the remains of the previous Popes who had passed.
After a visit to the Basilica, we paid a visit to Piazza Venezia to take in some cool panoramic views of the city. The hike up the thousand stairs was well worth the scintillating scenery.
Originally, the Piazza wasn’t on our list but while out exploring on our first night, we caught a glimpse of its stunning light and had to double back to have a look.
I absolutely suggest taking a chance to not only see this historical spot during the day but also at night.
The next day we made it to the Colosseum, a monument that made my sister’s trip. This was probably the top spot that she was most interested in and after visiting, I can totally understand why.
The ruins of the Colesseum are so historic and witnessing firsthand where the gladiators fought and died, once you reach the interior was unreal.
This was a place that you only heard about in movies or read about in books and here we were standing in the middle of it all.
Catching the glimmer of this cross in the sky as we reached the exit was exquisite and this photo does not do it justice.
After our visit to the Colloseum, we spent an afternoon touring the very extensive Vatican Museums and you definitely need an entire day to see these.
Unfortunately they closed at 4, but we made it at 1pm. We still managed to see about 85% of the property minus the lush gardens and of course we selected an audio guide for only 6 Euros.
The Vatican Museums consists of 13 different museums all housed in one area. The first exhibit was in honor of Roman emperor, Hadrian and his infatuation with Egyptian culture.
This self-guided tour also included the incredibly sacred Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed).
But along the route to this regale instituition of religion were ridiculously intricate pieces of wall art- like a portrayal of “Jesus”.
And relics of Roman history from marble globes to golden crosses and intricate walls of work by amazing artists. The amount of detail up and down every hall was unheard of.
Amongst the ruins of the Roman Forum, you could see pieces of buildings that used to be and how large they potentially were before they became broken by the storms and battles that ensued.
.And ostentatious archways where churches/basilicas used to be.
Not to mention the weather was absolutely beautiful at 70 degrees, which made the tremendous trek across the landmark not as bad.
From the Forum, we then pressed on to Palatine Hill which like Piazza Venezia offered amazing panaromic views.
But not before taking a walk through its outstandingly lush orange groves and seeing some of the greenest grass I had ever seen and thoroughly missed since moving to the desert.
Atop the hill there were pairs in love- picnicking and lounging.
Our final stop took us on our first international train ride to a tiny little town outside of Rome called Tivoli.
And to say I was excited would be an understatement. Not to mention it only cost us 6 Euros roundtrip to go an hour and a half out the city via TrenItalia. To see all of this with my Mom and sister and how giddy they were was the cherry on the gelato.
While in Tivoli, we made the trip to visit Villa D’Este also known as “The House of A Thousand Fountains”.
A reknowned landmark of regal proportion.
As we walked the acreage, we were able to hear the whispers of the waterfalls all across the wind and take in all the lush greenland and flowers in bloom.
And take in an organ fountain show- that wasn’t that spectacular but cool to see and share a laugh with my sister.
The panoramic views of this place seemed like it went on for miles and miles and made you feel like it was place you could stay at forever.
To imagine it once as the home to kings was kind of surreal considering how incredibly vast it was.
And after our visit to Tivoli- we took one final trip back to the city to see Piazza Del Popolo, where we listened to local street performers sing amazing operas and play the accordion.
Clearly, Italy is the place were interesting people thrive in the arts and music.
And young friends cart around the alleyways and through the crowds, with a stop by the fountain of love- the Trevi Fountain.
This fountain is in the centre of the historical city and where you find so many tourists taking in all of its Roman stylistic scenery. It was on our final day that I caught this view of the fountain and as prepared to depart where I was determined to return to Rome again sometime in this life. Whether its to catch the Borghese Gallery, Spanish Steps or have a longer time to take in the Southern parts of the city, I came to realize that Rome is an entire state not a city all its own and certainly wasn’t built in a day.
I appreciate everyone who took the time to check out my extensive 3-part posting about this piece of global history and hope I didn’t bore you by going on and on about my experience, which was well worth it.
Ciao For Now- until my next adventure,