The Eternal City, the capital of once mighty empire, is the city that 2000 years ago had a population of over 2 million people. It is the city full of history, a mighty city on the banks of the Tiber river, the capital of Italy. Rome is like an Italian guy on a Vespa, impeccably dressed, relaxed, wild… Needless to say why you must visit Rome, there are as many reasons as the remains of The Roman Empire, and its beauty is hard to overcome. Although we both had visited Rome in the past, we were convinced we will fall in love with it once again.
As it turned out, it would costs us the same to fly directly from Santorini to Barcelona, as the flight with the stop and two days in Rome. How to resist a free trip? We knew that a night flight and whole-day tours around Rome would be exhausting, but Rome is so much worth that. Two days in this large city full of history is a short time, so the question is what to visit and what to leave for the next time. There is too much sightseeing to do, so many monuments, squares, museums, and so little time.
If you have never been in Rome, my suggestion is to skip the museums, as visiting only a single museum can take your whole afternoon, including waiting in lines and the visit itself. So, if you don’t plan to stay at least 4 days, forget the museums and focus on marvelous architecture, and the remains of ancient Rome which you will find on each step around the city.
First, we visited The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). The Trevi Fountain dates from 1762, and is the biggest baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous in the world. Once you stand in front of it, you will understand why. White stone sculptures and water coming out of the fountain create magic with numerous glowing coins at the bottom of fountain. It is believed that if you throw a coin using the right hand over the left shoulder, you will eventually return to Rome. Around 3000 euros is thrown daily into this fountain, and the money is used for charity. If you plan to visit Trevi fountain, do it early in the morning to avoid crowds, and to experience its true magic.
After the Trevi Fountain, we headed to the Pantheon, which is not far away. Pantheon is a temple from the 2nd century AD, and one of the best preserved monuments from the Ancient Rome, thanks to the fact it has always been in use throughout the history. It is an unbelievable feeling when you observe the 2000 years old temple from inside. There is a square in front of the Pantheon called Piazza della Rotonda, a typical Italian piazza with a fountain in the center and surrounded by lovely restaurants. A few meters from the Pantheon there is a very popular café La Tazza d’Oro where you can enjoy breakfast for only 2 euros consisting of coffee and croissant with chocolate. Very close to the Pantheon there is also Piazza Navona, built on the site of the former Stadium of Domitian from 1st century AD. The Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) is in the center of the square and is surrounded by two smaller fountains: Fontana del Moro and the Fountain of Neptune.
Our next visit included crossing the Tiber and visiting the Church of St. Cecilia, which is not so known among tourists. Trastevere is a part of the city across the river Tiber, very colorful and full of narrow streets, quiet and away from all the noise and crowds. St. Cecilia was patroness of the former house of the first Christians at the time Christianity was forbidden. She was killed by the Roman legionaries, and her grave is located in this very church.
Again we cross the Tiber going to the city center where we decide to visit the remains of the Roman Forum. Even though you know well the history of this period, you will still be astonished before what you see there. Forum had been the center of public life in Rome for centuries; this was the place for public speeches, trials, gladiator fights and there, between the Capitol and the Palatine, you can find the remains of the heart of the empire that once ruled the world. The remains of temples, pillars, and palaces, speak of the power of a former empire, and if you look at the reconstruction of the entire space, the impression is immeasurably stronger. For a tour of the forum you will need at least two hours, and for a ticket that costs 12 euros you also get a ticket to enter The Colosseum.
The Colosseum needs no introduction. This is a symbol of Rome, the stadium where gladiators fought, which still impresses people today with its size and exquisite architecture. It is amazing that a building from the 1st century AD persist to this day despite all the earthquakes and fires. It is so perfectly designed to accommodate between 50,000 and 80,000 people, and to allow people to leave the stadium after the show in only 15 minutes. Next to the Colosseum is the Venice Square (Piazza Venezia) dominated by Il Vittoriano, a monument dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy. The monument was built by Mussolini, just behind the old Roman forum, on the slope of the Capitol. The monument made of white stone dominates the city, and the square is completely different from other squares due to chaotic traffic, noise and thousands of tourists. Piazza Venezia is located at the end of the Del Corso street, which connects it with Piazza del Popolo and between these two squares are situated the aforementioned Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps.
Spanish Steps were built in the 18 century to connect the Spanish square with the church Trinita del Monti and there is a total of 135 steps. One of the most famous movies recorded on the Spanish Steps is The Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. Unfortunately, steps are currently closed due to restoration that began in May 2016, and so far it is unknown when it will be completed. Spanish Steps are located in the part of town full of designer boutiques, so if you want to go shopping and experience the Italian glamour, you can do it here. The already mentioned Piazza del Popolo is on the other end of the del Corso street and was once the beginning of Via Flaminia, the road going towards today’s Rimini. This square was the first place that visitors encountered when coming to Rome.
You can’t leave Rome without visiting the Vatican. It was precisely our last stop during the two days we spent in Rome. Unfortunately, we arrived at 19h when the Basilica of St. Peter was already closed so we weren’t able to get inside, but a crowd of people who come here to pray left an incredible impression on us. The basilica was built on the site of an old basilica built by Constantine the Great and many Italian artists such as Bramante, Bernini and Michelangelo, participated in its construction from 1506 to 1626. In honor of St. Peter, above the place considered to be his grave, this beautiful basilica was built in the 16th century. We will visit the basilica from the inside on our next visit.
After two days in Rome, we remain impressed and captivated by its beauty. So many things remain undiscovered, so many museums and monuments, that we must come back again. When? Remains to be seen. But we threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and it should take us back to Rome some day…