Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four glorious days in Rome, Italy


My Mum and I spent four glorious days in Rome. We walked all over the city and there was so much to see - the Roman ruins, the beautiful churches, and the abundance of art everywhere.

Piazza Navona
 The location of where we stayed was brilliant. I found out about this lovely B&B called Eveylyn4Fountains near the Trevi Fountain run by a French lady. It’s on a small side street just off of Via Natizonale (one of the main roads in Rome) which is such a central location.  If you walk down the road to the left, you hit the Spanish steps; to the right you could walk straight to the Colesseum; and if you walk straight down, in less than minutes you’re at the Trevi Fountain and then further along is the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Also, it feels utterly safe at night to stay there, because it’s right opposite the police station headquarters!

Our lovely room

The rooms at the B&B were just gorgeous. We stayed in the ‘Red Room’ which was incredibly charming and comfortable. Both my Mum and I fell in love with the decor – the rooms are decorated with such care down to the last detail. I highly recommend staying here if you're visiting Rome. At £130 (160 euros) per night, it might not be an option for someone on a tight budget but I think it’s great value for money given the fantastic location and quality of the rooms.

And you have the added value of the owner Evelyne who speaks fluent English, Italian and obviously, French. She is very charming and a host of information. Here is the website in case you’re interested: www.evelyne4fountains.com

Octopus Linguini at Berzitello

Another bonus is that there is a fantastic Italian restaurant called Berzitello (Via Delle Quattro Fontane) just down the road run by two friends called Andrea and Alessandro. From the outside, you might miss it and walk past – which is a tragic mistake to make. Once you sit inside its quirky interiors, you can’t get enough of the food and the restaurant has a warm friendly atmosphere. On our first visit, I had the spicy calamari with chilli and peppers and the classic Spaghetti Carbonara. We had to visit again and the second time, I had the Octopus linguini with bacon, tomatoes and Mirto (a dark liqueur from Sardinia with a herbal taste). My mother loved her meal as well – a Caprese salad of fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and Quattro Formaggio Pizza (with four types of cheese). It was hard for us to find good restaurants where my mother  felt comfortable eating since she has an allergy to eggs but Berzitello has her seal of approval now. Here is the link to the website if you want more details on how to find it: www.ristoranteberzitello.com

Moving on from talking about where we stayed and what we ate which certainly made our four days in Rome very enjoyable, the star of the show was, of course the Eternal City and all its spectacular sights.

Trevi Fountain

On the first day, we arrived in the afternoon and decided to walk around to get our bearings. Our first stop was at Piazza di Spagna. We sat at the Spanish Steps to take in all the sights and sounds. We then walked through Via Condetti which is full of designer stores and turned left onto Via del Corsa, one of the main streets, walking past all the high street shops and then made our way to the Trevi fountain. It's a beautiful sight, the gorgeous Baroque fountain set against a monumental Renaissance building but to be honest, the sea of humanity around it was off putting. It felt like every tourist in Rome is at Fontana di Trevi was there at  that moment. 

Eager to get away from the crowds, I went to search for the famous San Crispino gelato, rumoured to be the best in the city. I found it on a small side street close by called Via della Panetteria. The verdict: my Rum Chocolate Gelato was as good as claimed. Fyi..they have another location behind the Pantheon on Piazza della Maddalena and one in Terminal A of Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Vittoria Emmanuele II monument

The second day, we walked down Via Nazionale to the Vittorio Emmanuele II monument. It was built to honour Italy’s first king and is a rather imposing white building that really stands out. Right next to it, is the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo – which I found far more beautiful. The Piazza is right on top of the Capitoline Hill and when you walk up, you get to see an amazing view of the Roman Forum and all the old ruins.

View of the Roman Forum
 We then wandered through the winding streets and small piazzas to Campo dei Fiori – a street market that sadly, seemed a bit touristy to me. From Campo dei Fiori, we walked to Piazza Navona – which is a lovely square with three fountains and is the perfect place to stop, take a break and watch the world go by.

The Pantheon

Next was the Pantheon, an ancient Roman temple and one of my favourite buildings. There was something so captivating about it – it’s aesthetically pleasing and perfectly symmetrical in design. It’s about 2000 years old and very well preserved.

Inside the Pantheon

Entrance of the Vatican - Sculptures of Michelangelo and Raphael

On the third day, I decided to splurge and go for a guided tour of the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. I'm so glad I did - it was well worth it. I pre-booked the tickets with a tour operator called Dark Rome for £45 for a three hour tour (which includes the cost of tickets plus special access – no waiting in queues - yay!).


The  Hall  of Maps

One of my favourites: School of Athens by Raphael. He's painted Michelangelo at the extreme left and himself at the right. Can you spot them?

Our guide Simone, an Egyptologist by profession, was funny, articulate and knowledgeable. We were in a group of 15 people but I didn’t feel like I was part of a large group being herded along. I really enjoyed the tour but if you’re an art history buff or want to go at your own pace and spend more time, then maybe a guided tour isn’t for you. The museums were so interesting and it was amazing to be in the presence of so much of Michelangelo’s exquisite work. Here is the link to the tour if you’re interested. www.darkrome.com


Statue of Antinous

Our last day in Rome, we went to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We decided against paying to enter since we were running short of time and didn't really feel like spending money on the entry fee! To be fair, you can really see quite a lot just walking around the ruins and it leaves us something to do for our next visit. I’m definitely going to visit Rome again – I did the ultimate touristy thing and threw some coins in the Trevi Fountain just to make sure! 

The Colosseum

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the pics. I think that's a statue of Antinoüs though...

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    Replies
    1. Ah yes, you are correct. Antinous as Bacchus. Fixed !

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