As the gloomy British winter looms outside, I can’t help but dream about one of the best cities I’ve ever visited: Rome.
I went to Rome in Summer 2015 with my favourite human in the would: my mummy! Neither of us had ever been to Italy before but always wanted to and as I found really cheap flights, it would be rude not to! We were there for 4 days, including 1 day in the Vatican City and we managed to do everything we wanted to. Despite the stormy weather for a couple of hours each afternoon, the time we spent there was perfect. We ate every type of Italian food on offer, learnt a lot about the history of Rome and the Roman Empire, relaxed and also drank a lot of prosecco! Here is a summary of my highlights of Rome’s history, famous landmarks and food.
One of the most prominent things in Rome is its history. Rome definitely wasn’t built in a day – it actually took over 3000 years to build the Rome that we see today. On our first day, we decided to do a walking tour with Viator. Our local guide was so friendly and informative and showed us the whole city in just 3 hours. It wasn’t cheap but I would very highly recommend it! One of the things she showed us was the oldest obelisk in Rome that was 3000 years old and the bronze ball acts as a sundial.
I found it so hard to get my head around how old these buildings and landmarks are but it made me happy to see that if current builders and architects find anything new, they leave it be and protect it from further damage. One of the most recent things to be discovered in 2012 was the death place of the famous Julius Caesar. As you can see from this picture below, Ancient Rome is about 6ft lower than modern Rome so whenever a new building is being built, the ground must be excavated to check that there is nothing below.
The Roman Empire is the biggest empire in history and at its peak, its inhabitants made up around 20% of the world’s population! Because of this, any remains from this period have been protected and they are spread out all over the city between modern buildings. I would have loved to see what all these places looked like at the time. The Romans loved to show off their wealth and many of these buildings used to be covered with decorations and bronze. However, many of these decorations were stolen by the Barberini family to decorate their own palace and what’s left is big holes in the walls. One of the buildings that shows this is the stock exchange building that used to be a palace built by Emperor Adriano 2000 years ago.
There are so many landmarks around Rome that deserve credit on this blog but here are my 3 favourites:
3. Trevi Fountain. This beautiful fountain, designed by Nicolo Salvi was built in 1762 and it connected to Rome’s first aqueduct. Many people throw money and make a nice wish although, at the time of building, one barber had a wish to not see the fountain and built a massive vase outside his shop! Sadly it was still being refurbished when we visited so this is the best picture.
2. Pantheon. Built in 29ad, this church is absolutely beautiful. It was partially destroyed by a fire and now the entrance is on the other side of the building, although still has its original bronze doors. One thing I found particularly interesting was the massive hole in the roof – but if it does rain, the floor is concave and there are drains in the middle.
1 Colosseum. Rome’s most famous landmark of all. I’m pretty sure I could write a whole blog just on this incredible building! We did a self guided audio tour so we learnt so much about its history and what used to happen. Many of the original features are still present now. You can see the names of the important people who had their own seats; you can see the original entrances and exits; and you can see the underground rooms where the Romans has pulleys and trap doors to enter gladiators, animals and scenery. The Romans really were centuries ahead of their time and this one building is the best representation of that.
Food and Drink
For anyone who’s read my blogs before, I love food. A lot. In particular, Italian food. I made a special effort to eat every type of Italian food in the space of 4 days and I’m very proud to say that I managed it. I had all types of pasta, pizza, calzone, gelato, Caesar salad, ham and melon, and washed it all down with copious amounts of Italy’s finest beverage: prosecco. Rome’s signature dish is spaghetti carbonara so I made a special effort to make sure I had a bowl of that and it was the most delicious carbonara I have ever eaten. After coming home, I became obsessed with making carbonara (with eggs like the Italians as mum normally makes it with cream) and made it at least once a week when I started back at uni! Click HERE for the easy recipe that I use.
Mum also really enjoyed her Italian coffee! One of the great things about Rome is that it is built over a natural aqueduct and all the springs have been turned into taps and fountains. In the summer, Rome gets pretty hot and it’s important to keep hydrated so everyone drinks from the springs as it’s potable water! Never thought I’d get in a fountain because I’m thirsty!
It’s been hard to not waffle on for ages because there really is so much to do and see and learn in Rome. There is so much more that we saw and did that just wont fit in this blog as the whole city is covered in things to talk about. If I were to recommend any European city to anyone, this would be it. Do a walking tour, see the Colosseum and eat your own body weight in food is the best advice I could give! The day after leaving Rome, me and my mum watched Roman Holiday the 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn. There are famous scenes at the landmarks like the Spanish Steps that haven’t changed so it’s like it could have been filmed yesterday! You can watch it on Netflix and probably YouTube.
To save myself from going to OTT with this blog, I’ve also written a separate photoblog about The Vatican City which is also worth a visit if you’re in Rome!