Rome pt. 3

Things to do in Rome

Fancy putting your hand in the Mouth of Truth?

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 17, 2012

The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin is a small church in Rome, which has been made quite famous due to a certain scene from the film ‘Roman Holiday’.

The church is quite easy to get to although I’m not sure if it is worth the trip or not. To get here, you need to get off at the Circo Massimo metro stop which is on the blue B line. From here, walk down the side of Circus Maximus (the side near the road) all the way to the bottom and then take a quick right. The church is just around that corner. The walk, although sounding quite short, will take about 20-30 minutes as the road is long and straight.

The church was a lot smaller than I had been expecting it to be. It is clear to see because of the queues. Entrance to the church is fee, as it is for all churches in Rome. However, there really isn’t that much to see her. The inside of the church is pretty with its painted walls and numerous arch ways. Inside are a few rows of tattered chairs, not the traditional church seating and it looks quite run down. I had imagined the inside of this church to be much more impressive than it actually is and to be honest, the inside isn’t worth seeing.

The main attraction of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin is the Mouth of Truth (or La Bocca della Verità as it is also known), which is from ‘Roman Holiday’. The Mouth of Truth dates back to the Middle Ages although it is thought to be a part of a 1st century Roman statue that had been moved at a later date. What makes this piece so interesting is that since the Middle Ages, it has been thought of as a lie detector. It is said that if you tell a lie while your hand is in the mouth then it will be bitten off. I really loved the idea of this as it is so crazy so this alone was the reason for my visit to the church. There was a long line but you are allowed to go up to the mouth, put your hand in and take photos. Luckily, my hand survived.

While it was fun getting to see the Mouth of Truth, there really isn’t anything to do here. If you carry on walking down the same road as the church and then turn right, you will end up at the bottom end of the Roman Forum so at least location isn’t too far out of the way. The walk to the church is long though and not quite worth it for what there is to see. Also, just a quick reminder… you will not be allowed to enter the church with bare shoulder so ladies, remember to cover up before going here.
Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin
Piazza Bocca Della Verita, 18
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 066781419

Rome's zoo

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 17, 2012

Bioparco is Rome’s zoo. Although I read guide books before going on holiday, I didn’t actually know that Rome had a zoo. It wasn’t until I saw a poster in a metro station that we decided to find out where this place was. I do love zoos so I really wanted to go.

== Getting there ==
There are multiple ways to get to the zoo and some easier than others. If you want to take the metro, you can get off on red line A at Spagna. To get to the zoo from here you will need to walk through the Borghese Gardens, which is how I found out about the zoo. Buses will take you right to the zoo if you get either of these numbers; 3, 52, 53, 926, 217, 360 or 910. The number 19 tram will also take you to the zoo if you get off at the Bioparco stop. Due to having so many transport options, this is a pretty easy attraction to get to.

== Animals ==
This zoo has a great range of animals ranging from small to large. There is something for everyone to enjoy here and I loved exploring all of the different kinds of animals that were housed here. At the smaller end of the scale are amphibians such as frogs and lizards as well as a large selection of birds. These animals are very brightly coloured and even though I don’t really like birds, I did like looking at all of the different kinds of frogs. These are housed in a reptile house which also has things like crocodiles, tortoises etc. Reptile houses are always one of my favourite parts of the zoo and Bioparco is no exception. This is a great area with a fantastic range of animals.

Something that you don’t normally see at zoos are wolves but this one has two, named Balto and Romolo. The sign outside their exhibit explains that they were rescued from a zoo in Croatia where they were being mistreated 11 years ago. When I got to this exhibit, I was happy to see both wolves out in the open, walking around and generally looking pretty content. Strangely, as boring as wolves might sound, this was one of my favourite things to see while I was here.

The zoo also has a lot of more traditional animals such as giraffes, lions, tigers and elephants so it isn’t all about being different. However, the more traditional animals are just as good to go and visit. I was so pleased to see that all of the exhibits are large and spacious and it didn’t seem as though any of the animals had bad living conditions. I hate to see zoos in foreign countries with really small exhibit areas. The areas surrounding the exhibits are also large and very vividly coloured. There is a lot of green space here which is covered in colourful flowers and trees. The zoo is really pretty and it did make the experience much better than the average zoo.

== Extras and amenities ==
Bioparco has plenty of toilets situated all over the zoo. As the land area is quite large, I thought these facilities were fantastic. There is never too far to walk until you find another toilet so this is a really good thing for visitors with children.

If you want to take your own food for this day out, there are a couple of picnic areas dotted around so you can soak up the sun while you eat. If the weather is nice and you are visiting in the summer, this is a lovely way to relax and have a little bit of a break from walking around and seeing the animals. There is also a restaurant and snack bar at the zoo should you want to buy something there or have a sit down meal. There could be more drinks machines around the site though. It was really hot when we went and it was quite hard to find places to buy more bottles of water.

The gift shop at Bioparco is just like any other at a zoo. The gift shop sells the usual souvenirs like postcards, soft toys of the animals at the zoo and things like pens and books. I do think that the gift shop could have been a little more exciting and with a better range of items on sale. Children will like the large range of soft toys available to buy and they were really tempting. However, you could end up spending a lot of money here if you have it to spare.

== Overall ==
I had a really great time at the zoo and it is definitely worth the trip and the entrance fee, which I didn’t think was too steep anyway. The zoo takes a good few hours to get around so at least half a day should be given to this attraction. I highly recommend it.

== Prices ==
Adults €13.00
Children over 1 metre and under 12 years of age €11.00
School group leaders and accompanying parents €11.00
National servicemen, security forces (upon presentation of ID) €11.00
Senior citizens (60+) every day except Wednesdays (€ 4.00*) €11.00
Groups of 15 or more adults €11.00

== Opening Times ==
1 January – 23 March 

9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Monday - Sunday)
Last admission at 4:00 PM

24 March – 28 october

9:30 AM - 6:00 PM (Monday - Sunday)
Last admission at 5:00 PM

29 October – 31 December 

9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Monday - Sunday)
Last admission at 4:00 PM
Bioparco di Roma/Rome Zoo
Piazza Del Giardino Zoologico, 1
Rome, Italy, 00197
+39 063608211

Shopping in Rome

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 17, 2012

Via del Corso is one of the biggest streets for shopping in Rome. The Via del Corso connections the north gate to the city, Porta del Popolo, past the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II and into the heart of the city at the base of the Palatine Hill. The street is about 1 and a half kilometres long so it is quite a way to walk down. Although this is a main street for shopping, many tourist attractions are accessible from this location such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, which are within walking distance.

Via del Corso dates all the way back to 220 BC when the road was originally built. Over the years, the road has been used for many different things including a racetrack for the Roman Carnival in the fifteenth century while in the seventeenth century, the road was known for unfashionable buildings and churches which were beginning to be run down. Pope Alexander VII had the Arco di Portogallo demolished so that the street would be wider. He wanted the street to impress visitors to Rome so added things like a fountain and prettier churches.

Before even heading to this area of Rome, you will need to remember that shopping hours are different here. Shops are generally open from roughly 9:30am until 1pm and then again from 3.30pm until 7.30pm. At least during the times when shops are closed, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants open so this could be a good way to spend a couple of hours or you could even head to one of the close by tourist attractions while you take a shopping break.

Via del Corso is the equivalent of our high street. Unless you venture off onto one of the smaller streets nearby, you won’t find expensive designers but instead you will find many well-known shops like the Gap, Miss Sixty, Nike etc. and many of the shops are aimed at a younger audience. The clothing shops I found here generally seemed to be aimed at teenagers up to younger adults but there wasn’t much for older generations. The clothes shops were very fashionable and cool looking and prices were a lot cheaper than what they would be here in the UK. If cheaper clothes is what you’re after then this is the place to be.

Also along this street are many tourist souvenir shops. I was surprised at just how many there were but honestly, none of them seemed different t any of the others. If you want to buy some cheap, tacky items then this is probably the best place to be. As the shops aren’t right next to tourist attractions, the prices here are much more reasonable and due to competition, the prices are kept quite low. After looking round a couple of these shops, they quickly got boring so we didn’t bother for very long.

Also along the via del Corso are many other shops and boutiques. I was glad to see that there were plenty of book shops and place selling music and dvds. This street really has something for everything. One of the most interesting things for me was the jewellery shops. Although some of these did seem ridiculously expensive, some were very reasonably priced. The jewellery available in Rome was stunning and I wished that I had more money so that I could buy something… or that my boyfriend could buy me something. The via del Corso has a great variety of shops and a long time can be spent looking through them. Luckily, as shopping is quite tiring, there are plenty of restaurants nearby where you can grab a bite to eat or just sit and have a drink. We didn’t do this though as we didn’t stay in this area very long.

The via del Corso is an amazing shopping area to visit and a must do while in Rome.
Via del Corso
Via del Corso
Rome, Italy

Have something other than pasta and pizza!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 17, 2012

When in Rome, you would think of traditional places to eat serving pizza, pasta etc. However, there is only so much of this you can eat and seeing as I had never been to a Hard Rock Café before, we decided to go here for lunch one day.

The Hard Rock Café, Rome is located on Via Vittorio Veneto. This can be reached from the Barberini metro stop. When you leave the metro station, instead of heading south towards the Trevi Fountain, head north and it is only a short 5 minute walk away. The streets leading up to the Hard Rock Café have flags and signs all over so there will be no getting lost to worry about. This was actually one of the easiest things to find in Rome and we didn’t even need to use a map.

Before we got there, I didn’t really know what to expect. The restaurant wasn’t very impressive looking from the outside but inside was a whole other story. When we arrived, we were told that there was a 40 minute wait for a table and were given a pager to let us know when ours was ready. I really liked the way that this was done as it meant you could either head outside the restaurant and sit in the sun or go and get a drink at the bar and it meant that the entrance area wasn’t clogged up with people. We decided to head to the bar and get a nice cold drink as it was seriously hot outside. Being served by an American man was slightly confusing but then I realised that the staff here was a mix of American and Italian which was quite nice. I had a coke, which I was told had free refills if I ordered food later, and my boyfriend had a beer. These came to around €12 which I didn’t think was bad considering I was going to get free refills on mine.

It only took about 20 minutes for us to be seated so it was nice to not have to wait as long as we had expected to. The restaurant was extremely busy at the time we got there but I could see it was slowly clearing out due to it being about 2pm instead of bang on lunchtime. After being seated, we were given menus and asked if we wanted more drinks. We were given a good 10 minutes to look over the menu before being asked if we were ready to order – which we weren’t. The menu has so much to choose from that I just couldn’t decide what I wanted. The menu offers classics like burgers and fries, steaks and chicken but also salads and pasta. In the end, I opted for a cheeseburger while my boyfriend had a chicken burger.

While we were waiting for our food, I had a chance to look around the restaurant. The whole time, music was playing and televisions were showing live performances from over the years. Covering the walls was memorabilia from singers and bands which I found so interesting. On the wall behind us was an outfit worn by Elton John. The atmosphere in this Hard Rock Café was fantastic and although there was music playing, it only enhanced my experience here. I didn’t find the music too loud or annoying and it didn’t put me off from having a good time.

I couldn’t wait to tuck into my food once it had been brought to our table. The fries looked extremely hot and fresh while the burger was mouth-watering. The burger was huge though so I had to cut it in half and cut into it rather than just eat it normally. The burger was lightly seasoned with salt and pepper which gave it a better taste than any other burger and with three slices of cheese on top, it was delicious. The burger was cooked to absolute perfection with it not being overcooked or too dry. It was slightly moist on the inside while a bit crispier on the top and bottom. This really was one of the best burgers I have ever had and to be honest, I was expecting it to be quite bland and average. My boyfriend really enjoyed his meal too although after trying mine, he wished he had the same as me.

Hard Rock Café, Rome also has a gift shop selling a variety of Hard Rock Café souvenirs and memorabilia. As cheesy as it is, I did buy a t-shirt while I was here. This cost €27 but I did buy a men’s t-shirt as I wanted it to sleep in. The ladies t-shirts are slightly less expensive. Other items on sale are things like keyrings, hats, sweat pants. Hard Rock Café also has a collection of pins available, some being limited edition so the prices of these vary depending on what you choose. I don’t think I would have bought anything other than a t-shirt but now I can’t wait to go to another branch and get another one.

For both of our meals, my refillable coke and 2 bottles of beer, the bill came to just over €30 which I thought was extremely reasonable. The food was piping hot when it arrived and tasted great. The portions were also quite large so I don’t feel as though we over paid for anything. The bottles of beer did cost quite a bit more than my coke though so refillable soft drinks are definitely the way to go if you ever go to a Hard Rock Café. I really enjoyed going to this restaurant and would definitely go to another one in other cities. Although it’s not a typical Italian restaurant, it is still worth visiting.

Hard Rock Cafe Rome
Via Vittorio Veneto 62 a/b
Rome 00187, Italy

Sun - Thurs 12:00PM - 12:00AM
Fri - Sat 12:00PM - 1:00AM
Sun - Thurs 12:00PM - 1:30AM
Fri - Sat 12:00PM - 2:00AM
Hard Rock Cafe
Via Vittorio Veneto 62 A/B
Rome, Italy
3 (906) 420-3051

A pyramid seemingly out of place

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by linzeeloulabelle on July 15, 2012

When I heard that Rome had a pyramid as an attraction, I was a little unsure of what it was all about. Pyramids are generally better known for being in Egypt although there are more all over the world. As this was something slightly different to the other attractions in Rome, I wanted to see it, mainly because I have never seen one up close.

The pyramid is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome due to its location in the city. Due to its size and place, roads were built around the pyramid and it now stands at a fork between two ancient roads. The pyramid was built between 18 and 12BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, hence the name of the structure. The size of the pyramid is 29.6 meters at the base and it stands 37 meters high. Before it was rediscovered, the pyramid was sealed shut and had no exterior entrance. Although not accessible to the public, the inside is a burial chamber.

Getting the to the pyramid is very easy. The site has its own metro stop, Piramide, which is on the blue B line. To get onto the blue line the easiest way is to change at the main termini station as most popular places are easiest to get to on the red A line. After you exit the Piramide station, you can easily see the structure right in front of you so at least it is not hard to miss. Also, as this is at the stop after Circus Maximus and the Colosseum, it is within walking distance of these other two top attractions.

Unfortunately, the pyramid is quite unimpressive. Made from concrete with white marble coverings, it gleams nicely in the sun but that is about it. The structure isn’t too large in size so even this wasn’t very impressive. While it was nice to look at, there isn’t anything else to do here and we stayed to look for less than 5 minutes. The trip down to the pyramid is quite a waste of time and should only be visited if you are close by anyway. I don’t regret going to see this because at least now I can say that I have seen a pyramid up close but I really wish that it had been something much more spectacular.
Pyramid of Cestius
Near Porta San Paolo and Protestant Cemetery
Rome, Italy

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