The majority of our sight seeing was based around the Top Ten attractions on the map offered at our hostel, and I think it is a pretty great place to start if it is your first time to Rome. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Colosseum – arguably the most iconic attraction in all of Rome, you may have to wait a little for tickets and there is a lot of security, but it is well worth it to see inside the ancient arena which remarkably still stands today (well, at least most of it does). Plus, the ticket allows you access to the adjacent Palatine Hill.
- Palatine Hill – I have to admit I had no idea what this was, but Peta and I ended up spending almost two hours wandering around the expansive ancient ruins of Rome in another era. You do need to use your imagination a little here, but with descriptive signs it is easy enough to envisage what a bustling place it must have once been.
- Piazza di Popolo – we ended our first day at Popolo, which holds an Egyptian obelisk at its centre. Off the Piazza are two gorgeous churches (although the larger one is currently covered in scaffolding as they are undertaking restoration work). If you venture up the steps off one side you can get to the Pincio lookout, which on a good day serves as the perfect spot to watch the sunset over Rome.
- Spanish Steps – located off one side of the Spanish Piazza are the Spanish Steps, another iconic spot in Rome. Walk up them. Admire the view. Walk down them. Take a photo or two!
- Vatican City – I have been led to believe that the Vatican not only constitutes the holy home of Catholicism but is also technically speaking the smallest country in the world (it has its own flag and everything). This is another place where you could easily spend a day simply wandering and reading all of the little plaques next to the thousands of statues and historical pieces, and that is before you even get to the famous Sistine Chapel.
- St Peter’s Basilica – a short walk from the Vatican Museum is the famous St Peter’s Basilica. If you visit just one church in Rome (because there seems to be one on every corner), you must visit this one. It is free entry into the basilica, but if you want to splurge a few Euros you can take the stairs (fit traveling!) or elevator up into the dome and admire the incredible mosaics up close. I would personally recommend this if you have a few extra minutes and the cash to spare.
- Trevi Fountain – having recently been restored the Trevi Fountain is an imposing and impressive piece of architecture (if fountains count as architecture?). Legend has it that you should throw one coin into the fountain to assure your return to Rome, or two coins to find true love. Who knows…
- Piazza di Navona – another stunning Italian piazza, complete with three rather large and fancy fountains and another obelisk (there were several in Rome).
- Pantheon – another amazing church built in the classic Pantheon style, complete with a hole in the huge domed ceiling to allow sunlight to stream in and hit different areas at different times of the day.
- Vittoriano – from what I can remember this building was to signify the unification of Italy. I just thought it was grand and very stately!
Voglia di Pizza – gluten free pizza & pasta
Nestled in a gorgeous little bustling street, Voglia has an entire separate menu filled with gluten-free pizza and pasta options. We opted for the eggplant pizza and pesto pasta, both of which were amazing! The pizza base was satisfyingly thin and crispy, no gluggy dough in sight.
Fatamorgana – “healthy” gelato
Fatamorgana helpfully labels all their gelato flavours as gluten, dairy, egg and sugar free, so you can make choices according to your dietary needs. And trust me, I can vouch for the fact that the gelato does not lose any flavour even when dairy free.
Grezzo – raw, vegan, organic chocolate and cakes
Just up the road from Fatamorgana in the Monti area is Grezzo, a completely gluten, dairy, refined sugar free, organic and vegan patisserie and chocolate shop. They also have delicious nut-milk based gelato, as well as a huge selection of raw cheesecakes, brownies and an extremely decadent hot chocolate (trust me, you will only need the half serve)!
I have one last instalment coming next Friday – Travel Diary 7: Paris (possibly my favourite city of all!).
Love Erica x