Heading to Rome in June was both a good and bad move. Good in the sense that its great weather to explore this fascinating City, but bad in that the place is swarming with tourists and crowds of people.
We are talking disturbed bee-hive level of swarming.
I came across a piece of analysis at work that shows more people are searching for trips to Rome than ever have before and its easy to see why (FYI – Iceland has seen the biggest increase in searches in the last 12 months #BucketList).
Normally I tend to veer off from doing the ‘touristy’ things on trips but as a someone who is keen on history, I wanted to experience some of the sights and architecture that are synonymous with Rome – and of course, try some good food.
I mentioned the weather being great – I should clarify it was very hot, with high levels of humidity too – the latter is the unspoken killer when it comes to City breaks.
Even with my reluctance to wear shorts when exploring cities (don’t know why – I’m just a jeans guy), I found I had to rock a pair to prevent my legs spontaneously combusting in my usual black denim attire.
Staying at the Rome Life Hotel – a boutiquey vibe which has that great combo of being both close enough to things to walk about, yet tucked away enough to make you feel like you have some sort of level of privacy, you realise Rome is an easy place to explore.
About 15 minutes South-East from our hotel, we first walked past the Piazza Venezia – on route to see the Colosseum. In the centre of the Piazza is the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II.
As impressive to look at, as it is to say the name of it.
If Rome was the disturbed bee hive, the Colosseum is the honey pot (i’m not sure that analogy works but I think it makes sense). Perhaps one of the most famous historical landmarks in the world, is hugely impressive up close. We opted against booking tickets to go inside, due to the queues and general craziness that seemed to go with it.
I was also growing increasing frustrated at being propositioned to buy a selfie stick, glowstick or laser pen.
Just south of the Colosseum was another cool spot which was recommended to me, which was Basilica of San Clemente. An ancient church which is renowned for its basement levels beneath the church itself. The church itself had a beautifully decorated ceiling, and walking in the basement below was a cool experience (quite literally!).
I didn’t get too many pictures here due to bad lighting and restrictions around taking pictures in certain areas.
Heading up from the Colosseum, I wanted to check out another landmark. The Trevi Fountain.
Given the weather and time of year I found that the fountains in Rome (and there are many) were insanely popular and acted as rest stops for the hords of tourists to rest and refresh around like some sort of herd of water buffalo. The fountain itself is very impressive, but was not the experience I was hoping for given the number of said water buffalo!
N.B. another location that is popular in Rome are the Spanish Steps. I did venture here, but found that renovation work was ongoing so didn’t really have a lot to take it once finding them.
About 10 minutes walk from Trevi Fountain is the Pantheon. Arguably one of the most famous temples in Rome. More majestic at night, but during the day is open to walk around and view its impressive dome. I would end up doing both.
One of the longest walks we ended doing originated at the Piazza del Popolo. A popular square (previously used for Public executions I’ll have you know) but now a pedestrianised area which leads to the Pincian Hill.
A spot that offers great views over the whole of Rome. I would recommend this spot highly, but pre-warned you will be hassled if travelling with a partner by one of the many flower vendors in the area. It was here where I found there are certain words that translate across multiple languages.
From the Pincian Hill, the next stop was to head over to Vatican City to see the famous St. Peter’s Basilica. This is an extremely busy location given its religious heritage (regarded as THE greatest church in christendom) and its proximity to the Sistine Chapel.
You can venture into both but even it I was a devout Christian – I think the queues would have deterred me. I would have perhaps to liked to see the Sistine Chapel, but have heard this can be like hell on earth so opted to skip and keep my sanity in tact.
For food in Rome, you are obviously spoilt for choices. I think its a given that the local Pizza has to be tried, and finding any authentic wood oven cooked Pizza is a winner. We had a delicious Pizza at Il Brigantino.
One top lunch recommendation if you are in the area is at the very non-Italian named Bread-in which is located near Piazza Navona. Great selection of sandwiches but easily the best Panini I’ve ever had.