Monday, 3 November 2014

Rome! One month after it happened...

So! I have almost been home a month, but due to more crazy work and life commitments, I have been unable to share my awesome holiday with you all.

This was a special holiday for a few reasons; firstly it was my first foreign holiday with Dave, and secondly, it was my first time ever travelling on a plane.

T5 at about 04:30 on Sunday morning!

We arrived in Rome around midday, and took a taxi to the hotel where we freshened up, before heading out to explore for the afternoon. We didn't venture far, as we were crazy tired, but we took in a few sights - the Trevi Fountain was unfortunately under renovation and was covered in scaffolding, which was a shame, but can't be helped.


After wandering around, treating ourselves to gelato (our first of many) and browsing some of the shops around Trevi, we took a slow walk back to the hotel and spent some time on the roof garden trying to plan our week, before having dinner in a local restaurant. We both opted for Pizza Diavola, which was the best choice ever!

On Monday morning, we were up bright and early and headed to Caffé Piccarozzi for our breakfast (we ate breakfast here for most of the week). After feasting on pastries, we walked down towards the Colosseum! The agenda for our first full day consisted of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Palatino; which are all right next to each other. A ticket to access all three was just €12 per person, which we thought was insanely cheap! On our way, we visited the Basilica S. Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which was a church just down from our hotel. It looked a mess on the outside - almost falling down! - but inside it was spectacular!


The Colosseum was absolutely crazy. It's something you always see in books as a kid, so to see it in person was amazing. The Roman Forum was definitely also a highlight of the whole holiday - it really gives you a proper scale idea of what life in ancient Rome would actually have been like. The remaining architecture in impressive now, 2000 years later, so it must have been wonderful in it's glory. After the Forum, we trekked up a very steep hill to the Palatino, which is a large palace that overlooks the city. The views were spectacular! It was very exposed up there though and the heat was stifling, but it was definitely worth it. We stopped for gelato on the way back to the hotel and treated ourselves to a steak dinner in the evening, which was absolutely delicious!

Tuesday brought a lie in, followed by a trip on the Metro to the Vatican. Upon planning our trip to Rome a few months ago, Dave and I weren't bothered by visiting it, but later decided that we would be silly not to (when in Rome...!) - it would be such a shame to go all that way and not visit one of the most iconic locations in the world, right?


The first things that strike you about the Vatican;
  • Wow that's a big wall
  • Wow...that's a long queue...
We opted to pay extra to jump the queue, which at around 11am, was about 3hrs long. So we got into the Vatican Museums relatively quickly, and were faced with absolute chaos. Lots of security checks, bag scanning, and mayhem in the foyer, followed by pretty crowded rooms for the duration of the visit. But, it was worth it just to have seen the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Words can't describe how amazing the chapel is..."beautiful" just doesn't cover it. It's a whole new level of beautiful! I'm so glad that we were able to view it, even if it was really crowded. The museums are full of sculptures and different exhibits - even an Egyptian mummy or two! It was nice to walk around and we were both glad that we visited. After the museum, we walked out into the square and managed to meet a Cardinal (who we have since identified as Beniamino Stella, thanks to Dave trawling through every Cardinal that ever existed!). All Vatican-ed out, we took the Metro back to the hotel to freshen up, before heading back out again to Spagna, and the Spanish Steps. These are an incredibly popular and famous attraction in Rome, but are literally just a big flight of stairs haha. It was good to visit though and fun people watching. Plus, we had a delicious pasta dinner nearby in La Capricciosa; a great restaurant that's just a short walk from the steps. After that, it was the Metro back to the hotel, to rest our feet!

On Wednesday we continued the religious theme and spent a whole day walking around and visiting churches. There were a couple that were recommended on Trip Advisor, and the others we just went inside whatever took our fancy at the time! We started the day by walking to the Pantheon, which was only about 20mins away from the hotel, and continued throughout the day towards the Colosseum and the area surrounding it.


The Pantheon is definitely a sight worth seeing! When you consider the age of the structure, and the condition that it is in, it's really breathtaking. And what you see on the outside certainly doesn't prepare you for what is waiting on the interior! In addition, throughout the day we visited the Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano, the Augustinian Monastery Santissimi Quattro Coronati, and Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. There was one other church, but the name of it escapes me. All three of the above were amazing in their own rights though. Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano has a Roman house underneath it, which has been excavated. It's extremely interesting walking down into it, through the layers - it was the first house to have running spring water (I tasted some!). As for the Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano - I have never been in a church like it. The ceilings and decoration are just awe's almost too much! We only visited that one because we were waiting for "San Clemente" to open for the afternoon; if it had been open, we would never have ventured out to "San Giovanni". A stroke of luck! After a long day of walking, we had dinner at Ristorante Zeus, which was exquisite!

Thursday; the penultimate day! This consisted of a mish-mash of different things. We started the day by visiting The Crypt of the Capuchins, which is a surreal blend of macabre art and a museum about the Capuchin monks. For reference, you are not allowed to take photographs within the Crypt, so the three included in the below collage have been taken from Google, and are not my own.


The Crypt of the Capuchins is, without a doubt, one of the creepiest locations I have ever had a chance to visit. But wow!You enter through the museum, which has information regarding the Capuchin monks and their work over the centuries. You are then left at the entrance of the crypt; 6 rooms filled with bones from 3,700 skeletons, that have all been arranged to decorate the rooms! I'm talking vertebrae flowers, rib arches, and skull walls! It's an incredibly unique experience and I am so glad that we took the time to visit. I feel that we saw something that not many people we know, will have seen. Anyway, after buying a couple of postcards to put in my photo album (so that I never forget what it looked like) and a creepy bookmark, we set off on quite a long walk to the Piazza del Popolo, where we visited the Leonardo Di Vinci museum - a place full of reconstructions of some of his designs, including flying machines, tanks, and a really scary scuba diving suit! It really did make me respect what a genius the man was; painter, designer, engineer, and his anatomical drawings were groundbreaking. I can't help but wonder what a mind like that could do today! Anyway, after the museum and a quick wander around the surrounding area, we walked to Piazza Navona and looked at some of the fountains, before having an early dinner and relaxed evening back at the hotel.

On Friday morning, it was unfortunately time to pack and get ready to leave. We went for breakfast, passing the beginning of a large student protest on the way, and stopped to photograph it on the way back through the piazza.


The piazza was packed. We managed to get some information, and the protest was apparently something to do with the distribution of money for students, and it going to the wrong things; at least, that's what some of them were protesting! It was a little intimidating at first, but really good fun once we got into the middle of it all. The only problem was that we came out of it smelling of smoke and flares! Once we'd photographed the protest from literally every angle, we walked back down towards Trevi and bought a few souvenirs, before getting our bags from the hotel and heading to the train station. We took the train straight back to the airport, where we unfortunately had to amuse ourselves for a few hours more than anticipated, due to delays - the weather back in the UK was a big problem. We landed to a temperature of 12℃, which was quite a shock to the system!

So, as you can see, it was an incredible week. We saw so many things and couldn't have packed more into our time away, if we'd tried! It was such a shame to come home, but we had a wonderful holiday! I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

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