Let’s take a few minutes to think about Rome. I adore Rome. I think it is truly the first city I have fallen in love with. The idea of revisiting this city brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it. You throw that coin into Trevi Fountain, and you know in a year or so, you will get that itch to come back.
When to Visit?
Rome is beautiful no matter the time or year; Summer is best for the weather and wine on the terrace but means hoards of crowds. Rome in the Winter has the dismal weather of the UK, a fraction of the price, and less crowds – but you do loose the urge to enjoy antipasti outside.
Average rainfall is at it’s lowest June through to August.
Weather information taken from Holiday-Weather.
Why Visit in 2016?
Why should Rome climb to the top of your Bucket List for 2016? This year marks the reveal of some of Rome’s most significant refurbishments. Since 2013, over €25million has been invested it the iconic Colosseum and scaffolding has been visible in phases ever since. The first section has now been completed, and more shall follow as the year progresses.
The famous Trevi fountain has also had a facelift, last time I visited the basin had been drained and a walkway put in place to give you an opportunity to look at the statues while the restoration took place. The works are due to be completed in Spring 2016.
Pope Francis has also announced that 2016 shall be the Jubilee Year of Mercy attracting pilgrims worldwide to celebrate their faith in the Vatican.
Things to See and Do
- Tour Colosseum and the Forum
- Marvel at the Pantheon
- Sit on the Spanish Steps
- Throw a coin in Trevi Fountain
- Basilica Santa Maria and St Valentine’s skull
- Ruins of Torre Argentina – Now Rome’s unofficial cat sanctuary..
- Villa Borghese Gardens
- View the city from Gianicolo Hill
- Stroll through Piazza Navona
- Visit Castel Sant’Angelo
- Take a tour of Vatican and the Sistine Chapel
- Visit a Wine Bar and enjoy Antipasti
Colosseum and the Forum
The Colosseum, built in 80AD, is arguably one of the most iconic buildings in history. The most cost-effective way to visit the Colosseum and the Forum is to buy your ticket directly through the ticket office rather than through a private tour provider. The official site is CoopCulture. Since my last visit, you can now book your underground and third tier tours online rather than having to ring up – for the additional €9 this is unmissable.
Booking your tickets ahead of time allows you to queue jump, which in the summer can save you over an hour. I would recommend an early morning booking as there is no limit on your time in the Colosseum so it tends to get busier as the day progresses.
Both audio-guides and guided tours can also be booked ahead of time. There is plenty of inflammation in English available throughout the building in the form of plaques etc – so don’t feel as though this is compulsory.
Once you have finished your tour of the Colosseum, your ticket shall grant you access into the Forum free of charge (must be used on the same day). This is where a guided tour may be more useful to walk you through the vast space; alternatively invest in a little travel book which has a “Forum Walk-through Guide” included.
For those who don’t know, there is a huge perfectly circular whole in the roof of the pantheon. The 9m round aperture at the top of the dome shines light into the entire building. “What happens when it rains?” I hear you say – you won’t notice unless you are looking for them, but there are holes in the ground for the water to drain away.
This amazing building dominates Piazza della Rotonda. Both the Pantheon and the Colosseum must be visited again at night to truly appreciate their beauty. Entrance to the Pantheon is free.
Directly in front of the Pantheon stands the Fontana del Pantheon (Pantheon Foundation) and the Egyptian Obelisk which is also worth your time.
The tradition is one coin to return to Rome, two to find love with a Roman, three to marry said Roman. All of those coins add up, with local authorities gaining over €500,000 per year from a tradition actually started by a German.
This amazing open space is probably one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, with no less than three stunning fountains and the breathtaking baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
You can usually find a number of artists selling their wares in the square, typically paintings of Rome or offering portraits. During the festive season, Christmas market stalls are also set up here.
Vatican and the Sistine Chapel
Vatican is one of the few attractions in Rome I think a guide is truly necessary to make the most of your visit. The Vatican has so much to offer, and is so vast that it is quite overwhelming without a guide. Remember, you are entering a Holy area – shoulders should be covered, recommendations state that you should wear trousers / long skirts.
Brace yourself for a busy day and lots of walking. Make a note of any public Pope addresses, otherwise you may struggle to make your way through the square.
Rome is a easy city to navigate using a simple tourist map provided by most hotels. If you opt for a central hotel, you can walk everywhere. If you do opt for public transportation, I would advise the metro over the local buses. The bus service tends to be over-crowded during the summer and is not as reliable as the train network.
Outside of Rome
The saying goes that “All roads lead to Rome” but so do all the trains. Rome has a large train station with easy access to all the major cities in Italy if you decide to be a bit more adventurous with your time – think Florence, Milan, Venice and Naples!
Top Tip: Book tickets to major tourist attractions in advance. This will save you both time and money!
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