Rome. The city of ancients and history. A city I’ve wanted to visit for so many years, and finally I have. History has been one of my big loves for longer than I can remember and with it came the urge to travel. I like to think these two loves entwined naturally, and they do compliment each other. So when I was browsing my travel app back in August a 4 day break to Rome for £100pp was something I was not going to pass up. I even booked the trip before checking I could go with work… A risky move and not sure if I’d do that again.
I can’t describe how excited I was to be going on this trip. I was constantly looking at places I wanted to see, but honestly I just wanted to walk where the great (and not so great) Roman leaders had walked. The only issue I had with this trip before going was the thought of how expensive it would be. I lived in France for 3 months and visited Paris and I thought that was expensive, so I was hoping it wouldn’t be any more so than there.
Before heading out we pre-booked our tickets to the Colosseum, which included entry into the Roman Forum and the Palantine Hill. For £20 each I thought it was a good deal, especially as doing a tour around the Vatican was looking at £70 each! One word of warning, if you do buy a skip the queue ticket online print off the voucher code before travelling. Even if the voucher says you can use that to get in, you can’t. We learnt the hard way and had to pay €2,50 to print a piece of paper. Save yourself the time and the money and do it before!! It definitely reduces some stress.
Also, as soon as you go anywhere near the Colosseum you will be mobbed by people trying to make commission by selling you tickets or tour guides. The amount of times we had to say that we’d already bought tickets or that we’d already been into the Colosseum was a little crazy. I don’t think I have ever had that happen to me anywhere else before. It does show just how much of a tourist hot spot this is though.
Early on Sunday morning we set off out on our little adventure, so early we landed in Rome at 10am. But we couldn’t check into our hotel until 2pm. Not the greatest of things when you have 3 hours to kill! We had a little walk around town,and somehow managed to stumble across a movie set. We didn’t know that this had happened until one of the film hands shooed us from outside of the Santa Maria at the Piazza della Repubblica. I will be keeping my eye out for that film’s release!
After this accidental event we found ourselves in a little museum to kill a few hours. The National Roman Museum, filled with information on excavated tombs and a plethora of statues. As well as burial stones, I don’t think I’ve seen so many outside of a cemetery. It’s strange how many they found proclaiming the deceased to have been Pontifex Maximus. But I guess it means the excavations were in a similar area? If you’re under 26 (and from an EU country) make sure to take some sort of proof of age with you as you are entitled to discount and sometimes free entry to some of the museums. We got in for €3,50 each instead of €7, and the ticket was valid for 4 days.
I don’t think I’ve ever been around such a big museum for such a cheap price. I am ignoring the fact I got into the French museums for nothing! It must have been a good 4 hours walking around and looking at everything. There was so much information given, but the biggest takeaway for me was the amount of statues that had their heads removed. This isn’t even a joke! The jagged neck lines on the statues didn’t look to have broken over time, but something more malicious. But this was only on the statues that depicted Greek gods and goddesses. Could this have potentially been due to some anti-Greek sentiments? I’m not sure, but it was interesting to see.
We decided to head to the Colosseum on Monday. We hired out the audio guides for €5,50 each rather than pay for a tour guide and headed on our way round. It’s weird to see something standing that has been there for millennia, What is even weird is the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern in Rome. Walking around the Colosseum you could see the ancient remains of the Roman forum, as well as the main road to head to the centre. It is so disconcerting. But also impressive how they have managed to build around these places. But I guess they used the old roads of Rome so as not to destroy too many things? Especially once the history became so important?
Despite the fact that the Colosseum fell into great disrepair, trees and plants were literally growing between the bricks in the 18th Century, it is a sight to behold. I couldn’t get my head round the fact that those walls had been standing for so long. Or the fact that they predated the rise of Christianity. It is difficult to grasp the ancientness of somewhere like that. Or at least it was for me! How can it still look so good despite its age? You can see where the building has needed some work doing to it. But I feel like it looks pretty good for its age.
Once we’d walked around twice, we picked up a few souvenirs and headed back to our hotel. I know, we should have probably gone straight to the Palantine Hill and the forum but Todd wanted to change his shoes and I felt like a proper sit down. Unfortunately life doesn’t always play out like you wanted. I had passed my extreme cold onto Todd and he unfortunately ended up taking a nap. It may feel like a waste of some time on holiday but it meant I could read in peace for a bit. True, I can do this anywhere but reading when you don’t have to do anything is so relaxing I can’t even describe it. As Todd didn’t wake until the evening we decided the forum and the hill would be conquered on the Tuesday.
We had a leisurely start to our Tuesday, maybe more than we should have. We didn’t leave the hotel until gone 11 and then we had the 30 minute walk back to the Colosseum and Forum. Tuesday was a tiring day, in total we did nearly 10 miles but we were out for pretty much the entire day. As much as I enjoyed the day, I’m not sure I will be doing this more often. I woke up Wednesday night from the pain in my leg as I was sleeping on my side… I think I need to up my fitness first!
We started off by going up the Palantine Hill and seeing the Flavian palace. It must have taken a good hour and half to two hours to walk around this. The history emanating from the walls was unbelievable. How can you envisage such people that seem almost fictional? I can think back nearly 100 years, it’s difficult but doable. Life was different from now but the history is taught to such an extent it feels familiar. Whereas, only the myths and legends are told of Rome. Ancient Rome is one of those time periods that seems so old and different. If you’re only told of a place in relation to fiction, it’s difficult to see as real.
I think the most surreal part of being on the Palantine was the marble flooring which has survived. How can the floor survive? You’d have thought this would have had the most wear and tear, and especially if it was marble. To see the patterns and styles that they had chosen was wonderful. At least the fashion choices at the time were pretty decent!
However, the place I was most excited about seeing was the Roman Forum. The legislation and political arguments that must have gone off in this small space were enough to send goosebumps down my spine. It was fascinating to see how closely compacted everything was in this area. The amount of temples and basilicas that were erected at one point or another, that still show signs of having been there. I don’t think I absorbed the history properly at all. But I guess this just means I have an excise to go back at some point?
Seeing the columns of Saturn’s temp, and the Vestia Temple, and the Regia were a little too much for me! These places featured heavily in a set of books I read a few years ago by Colleen McCullough called Masters of Rome (*Disclaimer, this is an affiliate link). It felt very weird to me to be walking among the ruins where Julius Cesear had once lived. Again, it was something I don’t think I was quite capable of computing properly at the time. How is it possible to walk in the same places of such well known names? And also, to use the same pathways that they would have used? I can definitely see another trip here in future!
When we finished walking around the ruins Todd started to walk back towards the hotel. But I knew he had wanted to see the Spanish Steps, and I wanted to see the Trevi Fountain. So I persuaded him that it didn’t matter if it was going dark soon as we would be able to take it in anyway. Honestly, I’m not really sure why the Spanish Steps are such a think, or why so many people go to visit them. But even at duck the place was rammed. Todd being Todd made sure that we walked all the way to the top of the steps to get a good view. Although my legs didn’t think thank him, the view was beautiful. The skyline against the dusky pink sky is something that I was glad to see.
Although the sun was beginning to set in earnest, we made our way towards the Trevi fountain. Again I don’t really know much about this location but I know that if you throw a coin into the fountain you are supposed to bring yourself luck in the form of returning to Rome. I don’t know where the tradition started, but it’s kinda cute that so many people do it. I didn’t throw a coin into the fountain but I did take a fair few photos of it instead. You’ll be able to tell why I could get to the fountain…
I’m a little gutted that my mini break to Rome didn’t leave enough time to see the Vatican city as I think it would have been fascinating. But I am being optimistic that this won’t be my only visit to Rome! At least it means I will have a bit of an idea of where I need to be going!
My next little break away is in a couple of weeks and I’m heading off to South Wales to stay in a little cottage over my birthday weekend. It will be quite a bit different from my trip to Rome but it should be just as relaxing. After that I don’t know where we might be heading off to as we need to save for a house. Hopefully, there will be a couple of trips though next year!
If you have any suggestions of cheap and cheerful trips away I’d love to hear them! And I will need them to convince Todd next year!
Hasta la fuego