What to do and see in Rome, Italy.
by alanmack37 on October 25, 2010
I have been to St Peter's square three times now. Once with friends when backpacking, once on a tour bus and once by myself. Every time i have went, even though i have seen it before I come back and spend hours walking gazing in amazement at the beauty of the spectacular buildings, the baroque statues and the area.If youre travelling within the city, St Peter's square is a good walk away from the other sights so the best way to travel is using Rome's underground. I travelled from Termini station to Piazza San Pietro subway station, and having also travelled on a tour bus it is the quickest way to get here. If you prefer the views you can get an all day ticket on the city sightseeing bus which departs regularly from Termini station, however i prefer for a direct and quick route to travel by underground. On departure from the exit of the underground station for St Peter;s square i found myself in maddening crowds approaching the square there are a number of souveneir stalls and street vendors selling all kinds of expensive wares. You find yourself in Vatican City and you are actually in a new country, one that is historic and the only country where latin is the main language.St Peter's square is amazing a large open aired terrace where the buildings of the Vatican and the Basilica are sandwiched in the background. This area takes awesome photographs and you will recognise it from the many television broadcasts that the Pope makes throughout the year. There is a massive queue to get into the visitors area of the Vatican and also is quite expensive to get in so i didnt go to that part. I just found it amazing to tour the area and read the many tourist definitions that are listed throughout the various parts. The St Peter and Paul statues are amazing and so beautiful to see up close.There are beautiful 8 metre length fountains to the right of the square and also several amenities such as a post office and reservations office. If you want to tour the Vatican you have to book in advance and then again spend a long time waiting in line just to get in. There is also a need to book in advance to the Scavi office to see St Peter's tomb. However for myself just to be in the area and walk around was quite magical. It is beautiful on a sunny day and also at night where it is all illuminated and picturesque.A word of warning, if you intend to eat in the Vatican area be prepared for a very large bill as like all tourist areas it is very expensive.I would view this as one of the most spectacular sights of Rome, well worth a visit.
The Trevi Fountain is a breath-taking monument in the heart of Rome. It is definetely worth visiting. I went to visit the Trevi fountain in 2007. The area holds a lot of touristic sights and is in within walking distance of the Spanish steps. The area is well signposted, the good thing about Italy is that the major cities are very familiar to tourists and English is widely spoken. I remember walking the street towards the Trevi fountain and followed the signposts and eventually found myself in a more crowded area as i got closer. It was kind of like going to the Louvre and walking through and seeing the Mona Lisa picture. The fountain is situated in the Piazza Di Trevi and once you arrive you will find yourself pushing to get to the fountain. Legend says that if a visitor throws a coin into the Trevi fountain, he/she will certainly return to Rome. No wonder then that I made more than one trip to the fountain, each time throwing in a coinonce over the left shoulder and once over the right, not being sure of the correct ritual! Even if you do not believe this, no trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi! No matter what the time, the place is crowded with people, both locals and tourists--and has an atmosphere of its own. Trevi is decorated with statues and bas reliefs on big rocks from which water gushes out. Set against the background of a huge building, the central figure of the fountain is Neptune, standing on a shell drawn by sea horses. On either side are Tritons, one trying to control an unruly sea horse, the other with a gentler animal symbolizing the two moods of the sea. There are figures Abundance on the left and Health to the right. Trevi is the largest and most famous fountain in Rome, so make sure you have enough time to admire its unique architecture and soak in the atmosphere.My personal impressions were that the fountain was majestic. There seems an era of excitement and mystery and is absolutely beautiful. I found myself staring at the fountain for several minutes. This is also a great sight for taking photographs so dont forget your camera. The colour of the deep pure blue water with the amazing baroque statues on the backdrop is amazing. I was stunned at how large the fountain was as i was only expecting a tiny area, but the area is a large circular area in the middle of a square which holds hundreds of people.There is a great underground subway system in Rome, but i stayed in an area where the central station Termini is. There are lots of cheap hotels, pensions and hostels here and the good thing is that there is a nice walk that will take you through all these sights: the colleseum, spanish steps and trevi fountain. I wouldnt call Rome a pedestrian city but it is possible and people love to walk here.On another note if you fancy trying one of the Italian gelatos or pizza avoid the shops in the tourist area around Trevi fountain as they cost a small fortune. Its much better to go off the beaten track and get something to eat in the Termini area.However the fountain is beautiful and well recommended a visit.
The Spanish Steps is a remarkable staircase of steps which was built in the 18th century for the newly formed Spanish Embassy. I visited the Spanish steps 6 years ago on a hot sunny night. I started at the top and walked down. There is a pretty church at the top, which i only glanced at quickly. There are so many churches in Rome that i tend to stare at the exteriors, rather than the interiors.Rome, the Spanish steps is situated in the Piazza de Spagna, the heart of the city’s main hotel district. In the seventeenth century, the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See had his headquarters in this square, and the area around it was supposed to be Spanish territory. The Trinita dei Monti church (with a fine view of Rome) was linked to the piazza by a flight of steps, now known as the Spanish steps. On one side is the Babington’s tea rooms, started in 1896 to cater to homesick British tourists, and a meeting place for writers and poets. It seems only fitting that on the other side of the steps is the Keats-Shelly Memorial house, where Keats lived with the painter Joseph Severn. The memorial and library houses photographs and manuscripts, including handwritten lines of Keats’ poems. One can also see the room where Keats died, though the original furniture was burnt and later replaced by copies. At the foot of the steps is a famous baroque fountain, the Fontana della Barcaccia, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini or his father Pietro. It resembles a leaking boat; "barcaccia" means "useless old boat". It is decorated with bees and suns, borrowed from the family coat of the Pope who commissioned it. The Spanish steps overlooks Via Condotti which has the smartest designer clothes shops, and is considered to be one of the best shopping areas in the world. A stone’s throw away, to the left, is the Colonna dell Immacolataa Roman column supporting a statue of the Virgin Mary. One piece of advice be alert in this area and watch your wallet. There are pickpockets and predators around. There are flower sellers and people who will try to put a bracelet on you and then follow you around until you give them money. If this happens just throw the bracelet off and say no. I did a walking tour of this area in summer at night and there were lots of men standing round the steps. I was told that tradition has said that the most handsome of men in Rome stand by the steps. No idea if this is true.Well recommend a visit
by alanmack37 on October 22, 2010
Hostel Alessandro is a pleasant place and with rates starting from 15 euros a night it is bargain accommodation. Although being nearly 40 I have spent several nights in hostels around the world. I book a ryanair flight and if im arriving late check into the hostel and get some sleep. In this case i arrived at the hostel at midnight (thank you ryanair for the ridiculously late flight). I came from Ciampano airport on a 5 euro terravision bus that left me at the big station Termini and found a map to get my way to the hostel.I recommend getting directions yourself on the internet before coming. I checked into the hostel late with no problems. The room was small but comfy and the people i met were friendly. I had a great sleep and bought breakfast the next day. The building is in a good area Termini is perhaps the centre of Rome and you can get to all the sights from here by walking or by the good transport network.The hostel is clean with internet access ports. At reception, as in the rest of Italy, they take your passports overnight and give them back the next day. The police want this information for all travellers. The hostel staff are young and friendly, one being interested in me being Irish. The hostel has a great pizza and pasta party, when youre on a budget you sit and wait for the pizzas and hurriedly stuff yourself.I would recommend a visit, but it is full of young folk mostly.
by alanmack37 on October 21, 2010
I went to visit the Colleseum in 2005. You can journey to it quite easily from station Termini, where my then youth hostel was. I took an underground train from Termini to Il Colesseo stop, but i found out much later that i could have easily walked it. The beauty of Rome is, dispite having crazy drivers and non stop beeping cars you can walk along a beautiful route and see many of the sights free.One very big tip, if youre coming here be prepared for queues and also bring water. The stalls outside sell water and gelatos for like 5 times the price. I simply refused to pay and i walked off to the hills to get a massive bottle of water for less than a euro. The queue to the Colesseum was massive. Outside there are several predators for the tourist trap, with the rip off gelato and refreshment vendors, good looking men dressed as gladiators looking for female attention and money. Also on the prowl will be thieves so watch out. I wore a money belt. In summer there is sweltering heat so important to remember the money.Admission cost me about 15 euros and a wait of well over an hour. You can get the audio tour or just tag along to one of the many tour guides. The area inside is amazing, massive and you get a taste of what it used to be like. The sculpture is amazing and it takes brilliant photos. You get an insight into the gladiators, the blood-thirsty sports. It is amazing to see a building that is so full of history and was built almost 2000 years ago. The Colesseum is the size of Wembley stadium and can hold around 80,000 people, quite fantastic.I was pleased to see the Colesseum and to take photos and be at such a historic and beautiful landmark. However i couldnt help but feel that once youre in there and walk around for a bit, there isnt much else to do but go. I found it very overpriced, for an Italian landmark, however if there are queues as long as an hours wait then they sure wont be reducing the price soon.Please if youre hungry do not buy off the vendors. Walk up to the hills where there are a lot of cafes and sandwich bars, however even still there are cheaper options for those on budgets. Go back to the Termini area and get un etto de pizza for a couple of euros.
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