How to Get Around Rome
We are glad that we had our walking shoes with us because, even though it’s 10 pm when our hotel is in Rome’s historic center, we still want to see the sights at night.
Walking is the best way around the city. The majority of major landmarks are located within one hour of each other. It’s best to walk around the city, taking in the sights and stopping by churches, shops, and historic buildings that aren’t listed in the guidebooks.
It is worth visiting the tourist attractions. The Trevi Fountain is our first stop. It is hidden among cobbled streets and surrounded by shops. It is taller than any of these buildings and romantically lit at night.
Each statue’s face are frozen in time. Every crease in their robes is preserved in stone. The non-existent wind blows behind them, making the statues look like they have been there forever. It is recommended to go at night to avoid crowds. However, even at 10 p.m., you will still see hordes of people crowded around this beautifully carved wonder.
The heat of Rome the next day is intense, especially for me with my pale Northern Irish skin. We are again introduced to traffic in Rome as we walk to the Vatican, our destination for the day.
It takes some getting used to traffic in Rome.
Traffic in Rome
If you’re from the UK, it can take some time to get used to Rome’s traffic. People walking on the streets are often not noticed by drivers. It is your responsibility to get out of their path and not to expect them to move for you.
Surprisingly, cars can fit down most cobbled streets. Don’t let this fool you into believing these areas are pedestrianized. If you hear a car, move.
The cars won’t stop at zebra crossings either. You must take control of your life and get out. The car will continue to drive once you’re done. Motorbikes can continue driving even if you are given the green light to cross.
Although it seems chaotic, it is actually well-organized chaos. It seems that everyone in Rome knows these rules, and it works.
Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican
We make our way safely through the traffic and cobbled streets to The Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo, despite the traffic. The Vatican’s architecture is breathtaking. It also has a wealth of religious artifacts and paintings that can take up to two hours to see.
It becomes increasingly crowded once you reach the Sistine Chapel. As you move through the streets, you’ll be surrounded by people. You won’t have much time to take in the details before you move on.
The Sistine Chapel is a marvelous feat of painting. Every inch of the ceiling contains details from Biblical scenes. But again, you are crammed into the chapel with what appears to be the rest of humanity. Someone shouts out, “Silencio! Silence!”
Dining in Rome
After a long day of walking in The Vatican, we are eager to enjoy some Roman food. It would be impossible to visit Rome without trying as many different foods as possible. Even if I’m not feeling well, I have to try Rome’s special dishes.
We are going to Trastevere in order to try authentic Italian cuisine. Trastevere is a less popular tourist destination. It is located across the Tiber River, south of The Vatican and the historic center.
It is reminiscent of the historic center, with its cobbled streets, fountains, and charm, which are enhanced by fairy lights that decorate the doors and the ivy that runs along the buildings.
In Trastevere, I find my favorite Roman dish, Suppli. This is a ball made of rice and tomato sauce that’s deep fried. The middle contains a bit of mozzarella that makes it a satisfying snack. It is delicious, just like all the Rome food I ate.
We spot a small restaurant on a side street and ask for a free seat. The waiter enters and brings a table with two chairs. We were pleased with our first dinner in Rome. Both of us enjoy pasta and some Italian wine. It is prepared less than it would be at home, which gives it a more delicate texture. Simple ingredients, but full flavor.
After dinner, we come across a man playing the guitar and singing in one of these squares. Rows upon rows of people sit in front of him, enjoying the music. As he invites volunteers to join him in singing, we do the same. People move to the beat of the city and join the singing.
Forum and The Colosseum
The Colosseum and Forum are our second day in Rome. It takes about half a day to visit as it covers such a vast area. Even if you’ve been there before, the Colosseum is well worth a visit.
The structure is impressive now but it was amazing in its early days. With its rows of seating, marble columns and ceilings so high, it can make your neck hurt. Recent excavations revealed narrow passageways where animals and people would have waited before being thrown out to fight. This gives us a glimpse into the brutal history of this building.
The Forum is the remnants of once prosperous city. The Colosseum is visible under the ruins, which gives a glimpse of the grandeur of the buildings that once stood there. The intricately carved archways are made to appear small by the great columns that once supported temples. You can feel the atmosphere of life for this powerful and wealthy nation through the remnants of grand and extravagant buildings.
Villa Borghese Gardens
The Villa Borghese Gardens is where we spend our last day in Rome. There are cafes, fountains and statues in the Gardens. You can also hire bikes, ride on carousels, or visit a theatre. It is peaceful among the bustle of the city.
These gardens offer one the most spectacular views of Rome. This place must be seen in order to appreciate the size and detail of this once great empire.
More information can be found at the Rome Tourism Office