…but we certainly made a good dent in travelling it in a day!
After our near disastrous Race to Rome – Monarch Air got us to the eternal city with our tourists hats at the ready. We checked in at Hotel Beautiful, which ironically was anything and everything but beautiful – it was an absolute dive. It was conveniently located though, right by Termini station. They say all roads lead to Rome – but when in Rome, all transport lines lead to Termani – so Hotel Beautifuls location was its (only) beauty. We didn’t let the torn wallpaper, the no air conditioning or fan, the lose power sockets or the spraying toilet flush put us off our game plan however – we were in Rome, we were going to do it and do it well.
My wonderful travel buddy had been organiser extraordinaire leading up to our departure and after doing her research she found and bought us a golden ticket; an Omnia pass. If you’re planning a visit to Rome, I highly recommend pre-purchasing one of these, they might set you back €98 – but they are absolutely worth it. For three days these beauties cover your entry in to the Vatican Museum (including the Sistine Chapel), St Peters Basilica, two other Roman attractions of your choice, a hop on hop off bus pass, unlimited free use of the public transport system – and the best part; skip the queue passes in to the attractions. This is where these passes are really worth their weight in gold; when they allow you to bypass the four-hour queues in the beating sun, you’ll see what I mean.
To collect our passes we decided to brave the solely Italian speaking public transport system and caught bus 40 to St Peters square. Little did our slightly drunk Friday night selves know that Saturday would consist of battling the bus and visiting nearly all of Romes most iconic sites. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – perhaps the cocktails and the limoncello’s of Friday night weren’t the best way to set ourselves up for 15.9km of walking in 44 degree heat – but we couldn’t be rude to our new (& cute) friend Francesco and turn away ‘gifts’ could we?
When in Rome!
Hangover or no hangover – to be honest it wouldn’t have mattered, I melted like the wicked witch of London. And actually, in all fairness to the green-skinned lady, she probably looked a whole lot better than I did after our day exploring – warts and all! Rome in the peak of summer, in the middle of a heat wave does nothing for how you look or feel – hot, sticky, drained and smelly.
Dewey (understatement) skin and boofy hair aside, on this incredibly hot day we managed to tick off nearly all our Roman tourist bucket list. St Peters Square, the Roman Forum, Palentino Hill, St Peter’s prison, the National Museum, the Pantheon the Trevi fountain and the Colosseum – even with this being my second trip to Rome, none of these sites left me anything less than speechless. I personally think that photos speak louder than words for these sites, but a few insights in to my mind boggled brain anyway;
> St. Peter’s square – just the sight of this square will leave you in awe of this city-state, it is absolutely phenomenal. Religious or not, it’s a pretty crazy thought that the head of the Catholic Church & his gowned men are right inside…
> Roman Forum / Palentino Hill – this place is ridiculous. How is it that old, broken, dusty stones are so fascinating and absolutely beautiful? It hurt my brain to even try digest how long ago these structures were built and in place. Incredible. Top tip: don’t wear white or shoes you don’t want to slightly discolour here – it won’t end well, learnt the hard way
> The Pantheon – I’m not surprised that this is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. Built between A.D. 118 – 125 it’s unfathomable to try wrap your head around how they built this dome roofed structure without modern-day tools and technology – crazy.
> The Colosseum – enough said. This amphitheatre is the largest and one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Don’t get me wrong – it’s considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering for a reason – it is amazing – but it’s not my personal highlight. Top tip: when planning to channel your inner gladiator, head over to Russell Crows old office at the end of the day to avoid the horrendously long queues – this way you’ll be waiting in the shadeless queues for a shorter period of time than you would by getting up at the crack of dawn attempting to beat them!
The touristy sights of Rome are fascinating – but by this stage I was craving more – I was craving real life, real Roman life. After a few bottles of Prosecco in Trevi we ventured to our new friend Francesco for this. It’s always a good idea to spend time with locals right? Especially if they’re hot and give you free drinks…
// Info ~
IMAGES // snapshot of my trip here, here and here …
WHAT // Rome, Italy
WHERE // Any London airport
WHEN // I would advise not to go in July/August – the heat is almost unbearable and so are the lines
HOW // Aeroplane – approx. £150 return in peak season
TRANSPORT // Nearly all transport lines lead to Termini station, the buses are easy but the hop on hop off buses are key for making your way around the city ticking off all iconic landmarks
TOP TIP // Buy an Omnia pass – it might seem expensive but I really couldn’t recommend it more highly
WEBSITE // http://www.omniavaticanrome.org/en/the-card/