Roman Times

On September 12th myself and my mom set off for 5 days to see the Italian capital. It was my second time visiting as I had previously been there in 2009 for 2 days while interrailing. During my 2 days there the first time round myself and my friend managed to squeeze in quite a bit but what I discovered was there was actually still plenty more we hadn’t seen. Unfortunately, we had to travel to Dublin to get to Rome which added a lengthy three hour bus journey onto the trip. This wasn’t too bad on the way over but coming back it nearly finished me off. After a whole day travelling we got to our hotel about 10pm that night.

Our first day saw us head for St. Peter’s Basilica. I had a rough idea of where to go and thankfully we were quite near a metro line which made things much more convenient. The weather on day 1 was beautiful, about 29 degrees but it was nice to feel the heat for a change. Surprisingly, it didn’t take us too long to get inside but it was quite busy when we did. Even for people who aren’t overly religious there really is something spectacular about the place. Perhaps it’s just the sheer size and grandness of the basilica but you can’t help but be in awe of it. The Pieta, also resides in St. Peter’s which attracted quite a bit of attention. We spent most of the mid morning and early afternoon wondering around inside and even managed to sit in on a service that took place also. Afterwards, we sat outside in the square which really is stunning on a sunny day.

On Wednesday we ventured to another side of the city. The Roman Forum was one of the sites that I didn’t see the last time round and so I was quite eager to catch a glimpse of it. We had to queue for about 20 minutes for tickets and about another 20 afterwards but once inside we were free to roam… (no pun intended). In the afternoon we went to one of my favourite spots, Trevi Fountain. It really is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. Crowds were unfortunately a feature but we managed to grab a few seats on the steps just in front of the fountain and stayed perched there for a few hours.

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the Sistine Chapel. Hidden away in the corner of the Vatican museum we queued for a painful two and a half hours to get in. The only consolation was that the weather was much cooler so standing around counting how many feet you moved every time the queue crawled forward wasn’t as draining. Eventually, we got inside and it is absolutely stunning within the walls of the Vatican, there is almost too much to visually take in. The negative is the crowds that are swarming around you. I really think they need to implement a better system to manage the  vast numbers of people as it does take away from the overall experience. Back to the positives, the Sistine Chapel is amazing and truly is a masterpiece. You could stare at it for hours wondering if the figures really are about to jump out at you. I think it is certainly worth the wait.

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The following day the weather broke and we had to dig out the umbrella, although many had been using them to shelter themselves from the heat earlier in the week. We wandered around a few of the shops, took in the Italian fashion and happened to stumble onto the Spanish steps. On our final day we went to another spot that I hadn’t been to. Piazza del Popolo and the Borghese Gardens. Both were again absolutely beautiful. The gardens made a welcome change to the busy city streets, noise and traffic not to mention it overlooked the entire city. This was actually one of my favourite things that we did while there.

The only criticism I can give Rome is the cost. It really is one of the most expensive places I have ever been. I know it is to be expected to an extent when visiting a tourist city but it was far more expensive than I remembered. Although I was reminded by my friend Ilona who I travelled there with the first time that we were broke in Rome then too! We did have a near miss with a few pick pockets also but luckily they didn’t manage to get anything and instead caught a man nearby before jumping off just as the doors closed. One other surprise was a little thing called city tax. I was not aware of this but apparently it is a tax you have to pay when visiting cities in the EU. I’m still not 100% on it but it added a hefty €70 onto our bill when we checked out! Other than that Rome was far more beautiful than I had remembered and even gave my favourite city, Prague, a serious run for its money.

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