My Roman Holiday
Rome – Every bit as enchanting as it sounds, certain that all of us have been reading about Rome way before we even knew where it was located. One of the oldest civilisations in the world, I never knew I could fall so madly in love with a place until I beheld Roma.
Even with millions of tourists each year, Rome manages to retain an old world charm that transports you to the past in a trice. Each piece of cobbled stone lining the streets has a story to tell and each brick holding up the structures that dates back thousands of years holds a little bit of history in them.
Just like the adage – Rome was not built in a day, it is impossible to experience all of Rome in a few days. You could live in Rome for years and still not have enough of it. I always feel like I’m pining for a long lost love every time I think of Rome.
Before I turn this article into a romantic novel let me move on to something more informative. Based on my experience I’d like to make some recommendations :
Where to stay:
- Campo de’ Fiori – This is the absolute best location to stay because it is in the heart of Rome. Every landmark worth visiting is at a walkable distance from this area. There are a host of lodging options available, from upscale hotels to cozy homestays. I chose to stay at an Air BnB and what a brilliant idea it was. The building I stayed in was almost 500 years old and my host was simply the best. To experience any place like a local I feel homestays and Air BnB’s do a bang-up job.Campo de’Fiori has a daily market right at the central plaza and it is just amazing. The main square is surrounded on all sides by eateries of every kind. The vibe changes according to the time of day, breakfast cafes turn to pubs as the daylight fades. It is beyond me to pen down such a phenomenon on paper at this point of time.Though there is a general apprehension about this area being too touristy, I beg to differ. It is one of the best locations in town if you want to discover Rome by foot.
- Trastevere : I had originally planned to stay at Trastevere but ended up at Campo de’Fiori, maybe next time. Trastevere is a very young and hip neighbourhood on the West Bank of River Tiber. It still retains a lot of its original structure, from narrow alleys and cobbled streets to ancient houses. It has a very active nightlife as the area has quite a bit of educational institutions encompassing a majorly young crowd. Whichever area you choose among the two, you will not regret it one bit.
What to see :
All of the places mentioned below are within walkable distance from the heart of the city but you can always hop onto some form of public transport if you don’t feel up to it. Rome is one of the easiest places to explore, be it on foot or by public transport. There is a single ticket for the bus, tram and metro which is valid for a certain amount of time after the first ride, sometimes they don’t even bother to check whether you punched your tickets on the trams and buses.
- Piazza Farnese : One of the lesser visited plazas in town, early morning is a quiet and ideal time for visiting as well as photography.
- Piazza Navona : Featured in the movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, this is one of the most popular plazas in Rome. Ideal for visiting at any time of day but especially interesting towards evening as crowds gather to witness artists of every kind display their talent and sell their works. A fun place to unwind over dinner and a drink after a tiring day of sightseeing.
- Pantheon : Built : 113 – 125 AD
Formerly a Roman temple, now a church in Rome. Almost two thousand years later, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is also one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, largely because of continuous use throughout its history. Gets pretty crowded so be sure to get there early if you want good photos.
- Fontana di Trevi : Don’t forget to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain if you want to return to Rome. I threw in quite a lot of coins so Im certain I’ll always keep returning to Roma. If you want the fountain all to yourself, make sure you go early in the morning or late in the evening else the place is a tourist magnet.
- Piazza di Spagna : The Spanish Steps of course, just stop by to see people of every nationality sitting leisurely and taking a gazillion photos. Another very crowded place but I guess some places have more character when it is packed.
- Piazza Venezia : The Central hub of Rome, it is the intersection of various thoroughfares. Walk past it towards the Colosseum via the Roman Forum.
- Foro Romano : I remember being in awe of this marvel nestled between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. The ruins itself were so spectacular that I cannot even begin to imagine the splendour at its peak. One can easily spend hours just trying to recreate history and marvel at the ingenuity of Ancient Romans.
- Colosseo : Built between 72AD – 81AD, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre in the world. Considered to be one of the greatest of Roman architectural and engineering works, it was named after a statue called “Colossus of Nero” which was located alongside. It took just 9 years for 60,000 Jewish slaves to build this massive structure of stones and concrete which would be considered a mean feat even today.
The Colosseum is listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the world. It has become a symbol against capital punishment. Whenever a death sentence is overturned or death penalty is abolished anywhere in the world, the night time illumination changes from white to gold.
- Vaticano : Rome is sometimes referred to as the capital city of two countries since Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, is nestled within its boundaries . Explore the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, stroll around St. Peter’s Square and attend a service if you happen to be around during mass timings.
Rome speaks to each traveller differently, but it will certainly make you fall in love with the way it has seamlessly intertwined the beauty of the past with the ease of the present. Whichever way it speaks to you, rest assured it will be an unforgettable experience.