We flew out Saturday night from Heathrow to Rome Fumichino airport. It didn't take us long to get a taxi to 'Flaminio Village' where we stayed for 4 nights. We rented a tiny bungalow in a camping/bungalow park just outside of the centre of Rome. It was very basic but absolutely fine as a base for all the sight seeing we wanted to do! We got a 'Rome Pass' from the camps information centre which entitled us to as much use of the public transport we wanted, 2 free entries into attractions and discounts off most attractions too. All that for 25 Euros which didn't seem to bad!
We managed to find the train station 'Du Ponti' which is across a very busy dual carriage way near the camp site. It must have been the most run down, graffitied station I've ever seen and a bit like something out of a horror movie. But it got us into Flaminio station and from there we walked through Piazza del Popolo, a large cobbled area with fountains at either side, and along the Tiber river to 'Castel St Angelo'. There were some lovely views along the river and each of the bridges were decorated with statues.
The Castle was built by the Emperor Hadrian as his own Mausoleum which was later used as a fortress. Passageways were built from the castle to link it with the Vatican to use as a refuge.We walked up all the stairs in the castle which brought you to the roof where you had amazing views over the city. You could see the Vatican and St Peters square really well. It was a good way of seeing where all the major buildings are across Rome, it was an impressive sight and the weather being so lovely was an added bonus!
We moved on to Piazza St Pietro, the large area outside St Peters. It again was a lovely area and very impressive. The work that has gone into the building of St Peters and the surrounding area is just immense. It is so big and every bit of it is topped with statues. The columns making up the 'arms' are huge, apparently there was plans to build an arch to join the two ends but it never happened. There are 2 or 3 massive screens on the sides where they show important things. We had not long seen the film 'Angels and Demons' where Tom Hanks is on a mission around Rome to solve a murder/religious mystery. It was weird to see the area for real and i kept remembering parts of the film and where they happened.
From there we walked back to the river and crossed over to Piazza Navona, along the way walking through some beautiful and quaint streets. At piazza Navona was again another fountain but the square was full of artists! Some were doing caricatures but most just selling paintings of Rome. It was a great atmosphere! The square was surrounded by restaurants too! We had lunch here on the third day of our trip. The restaurant we ate at was nice and we sat outside with a great view of the square and the fountains, watching everyone go by.
We also visited the Pantheon and sat outside by a fountain for a bit. Unfortunately there was scaffolding across half the front and it looked like it was about to all collapse. From the outside it just looked like a huge, old, fort building. Then we stepped inside and it was truly amazing! The huge vaulted ceiling was really impressive. The shear size of it is ridiculous, the ceiling seems to play tricks with your eyes. The Pantheon is the most complete ancient Roman structure, finished about 125 AD. It used to have a bronzed roof but it was stripped off and melted down for use in other structures around Rome. It had paintings and statues all around and really was an amazing sight, with the sun shining through the ceiling onto the marble walls!
Not far from the Pantheon, we stumbled across a massive building and thought we'd have a peek inside. Good job we did! It was another church but absolutely covered in paintings! The huge ceiling was very impressive. Every inch of it was painted, a lot of cherubs and angels etc. It was very opulent and had more statues and alters. I'm sorry, i cant remember the name of it!
Through more little side streets we came to 'Fontana Di Trevi'. It was a massive fountain built into the side of a palace. The area was packed but we managed to find a seat to rest up for a bit. (I don't think I've ever walked this much in my life!) You are meant to throw in a coin if you wish to return to Rome, which we did. It had two giant horses coming out of it with three men, the Baroque design is massive and has apparently recently been restored. This was a bustling area, we attempted to get some ice cream from a shop near by but it was horrendously busy. So on our way back up to Piazza del popolo we found an ice cream shop and sat by the fountain to eat it. We also walked up to 'Picnico', a picnic/park area just above piazza del popolo and again had great sights of the city! We could see most of the places we had been to that day and just watched all people going about their business.
On our second day we caught the metro to Colosseo. As the name kind of gives away, the station is literally right next to the Colosseum and it was a surprising view stepping out of the station! The Colosseum was a huge great ruin, bursting up into Rome. We wondered around outside just soaking up the magnitude of the place. We had our typical tourist picture taken with a Gladiator outside, it was very embarrassing but it had to be done i suppose! We went into the Colosseum and looked around all the displays they had inside. They gave information about what the Colosseum was used for, the different types of Gladiators and displays of different costumes. It is still quite amazing to think about what happened there! They used to put criminals and slaves in to basically fight for survival! They could be granted mercy by the Emperor if they were lucky. Celebrations after victories in war used to last over 100 days! It was a way of making entertainment out of executions. It was very impressive walking out into the centre of the Colosseum! With most of it in ruins it was hard to imagine what it was like in its glory days. I kept wondering what it would have been like to be there during the Roman celebrations, with thousands of people, watching brutal fights between Gladiators, slaves and animals. Across the road from the Colosseum is another site of Roman ruins. Huge columns towering over you.
Across the river to the south west is the area called 'Trastevere'. It was full of tiny, quaint streets. We had an ice cream while sitting on a fountain in Piazza St Cosimato. (The Italian ice cream has got to be tried! ... Many times!) We saw some more churches and other buildings. Each church covered in paintings and gold. From the outside these buildings look old and run down but inside they are very opulent!
We had dinner in a little restarant down one of the side streets near the Pantheon. The Italians have strange ideas about meals. They have 4 or 5 courses, with pasta dishes, salad, meat and veg. There are tons of restaurants and cafes around Rome. Some are more expensive where they are right next to the main attractions but they're all around the same prices. Most restaurants had deals on for Pizzas and drinks etc. The cost of dishes didn't seem that different to UK prices, although it was a bit rubbish paying 5 euros for a can of coke! One of my favourite meals was a lunch we got from a shop near 'Campo de Fiori'. The shop sold homemade pizzas and you could order whatever size slice you want and they charged you by weight! Owen also tried a deep fried mozzarella and salami ball thing that someone recommended we try.
On the third day we went to the Spanish steps. We climbed to the top of the steps and to the balconies at the top which overlooked the steps and you could see the main road disappearing off in the distance. The steps were built in 1725 by the French. We went into Trinita dei Monti, the church at the top of the steps and also saw a man in white y-fronts parading about on his balcony on the top floor of the building opposite. Very funny.
'Campo De Fiori' was a busy square where they hold a fruit and veg market every morning til 1pm. This is where we had our lovely lunch, sat on a fountain in the sun! The stalls were selling fruit and veg, flowers, clothing and spices. 'Campo de fiori' means 'Field of flowers' but used to be the site of many public executions.
The weather was great for all 3 days we had in Rome. We had a really heavy thunder storm on Sunday night but it was all over by the morning and we enjoyed sunshine everyday! It was a lovely trip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! We saw all the major sights we wanted to and some unexpected ones in between. Rome is a fantastic city and i would definitely recommend people go to experience it. Its got so much history and so much to see, along with having a relaxing atmosphere and quaint streets filled with restaurants.