Rome in a nutshell

Colosseum, Rome

The title ‘Rome in a nutshell’ is in itself a contradiction as Rome cannot be summed up so neatly, but I will definitely try. I spent five days in Rome and they were an education in immortality and beauty.

Every road, alley and square was filled with beautiful architecture – built to last. Being in Rome, the idea of securing one’s name in history, of becoming immortal, really hit home with every building, monument and ruin I saw. The ancient Romans really knew the meaning of ‘long-term’.

The ancient Roman ideology is in direct contrast to the one we currently live in, which is fast moving, idealises instant gratification and thrives off the cheap and disposable. Events that occurred last week are considered old, companies and the business world is more prone to short term thinking and fast profits, and much of the products that we survive on are of poor quality and fast disposed of.

There’s nothing quite like seeing something that has been standing strong for well over 2000 years to remind you of own mortality and very short existence.

My first day in Rome, I decided to go on a walking tour. While it wasn’t the best day for a walking tour as it rained, HEAVILY, we visited many famous architectural sites, such as the Circo Massimo / Circus Maximus; Teatro di Marcello / Theatre of Marcellus; The Pantheon; Altare della Patria / Il Vittoriano / National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II; and of course Il Colosseo / The Colosseum.


Circus Maximus

Vittoriano Monument

National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II

The Colosseum is a particular treat – it is truly as magnificent and awe-inspiring as people say. And no one can prepare you for just how humongous it is. Not that the following photos do the Colosseum justice, perhaps they can give you an idea of just how big this building is. It gives you a new appreciation for human achievements.


The Colosseum

The second day I went to the Vatican, and again it was raining, so in some ways it was perfect that I chose to visit an indoors attraction. I visited the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. The Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica are beautiful and words simply cannot do them justice. If you’re going to queue to see the Vatican, I advise you to go early as you’ll beat the majority of the queues and have time to explore at your leisure. I’d suggest getting to the Vatican no later than 10am. If you’re tight on time, and money is no object, you can take a guided tour of the Vatican, which whizzes through all three attractions in two and a half hours. These range from €35-50 so shop around. The tours can be found in St Peter’s Square. If you’re visiting the city for a couple of days, check out my two-day itinerary for Rome.

Vatican St Peter's Square

The Vatican from St Peter’s Square

My third and fourth day, I decided to walk around the city at my leisure and with the sun shining, the city looked absolutely beautiful. There is a reason people go to Rome and fall in love with it. Everything looked so pretty – the buildings, the fountains and monuments, the ruins, and even the residential apartments all have pretty pastel hues. As it was the beginning of summer, the sun was shining and the pastel sheen brightened the streets.

With the sun shining, it was the perfect opportunity to walk about and visit some of the city’s most famous attractions – the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, Trajan’s Column and Il Vittoriano monument. I even had time to people watch and enjoy some delicious food by the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

Spanish steps

The Spanish Steps

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

I love people watching and with the sun out, it was a lovely way to relax and enjoy all that Rome has to offer: amazing food, delicious wines, pretty architecture, and a buzzing and lively atmosphere. It was lovely to sit there and soak it in. I even met a lovely lady from Denmark who comes to Rome every few months or so as it is one of her favourite cities, while having lunch at Piazza Navona. Its one of the things I love most about travelling – meeting people from all walks of life, hearing their stories, sharing some pretty special moments and making new friends.

This particular square is especially lively as it is home to three famous fountains, which pulls in quite a crowd of tourists but also because it is filled by artists exhibiting and creating artworks on the spot for tourists during the day.

The three famous fountains consist of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the centre, the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons at the Southern end of the square, and at the Northern end, the Fountain of Neptune, both created by Giacomo della Porta.

Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi)

Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi)

My last day I decided to go to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum – the sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in sight and my mood was bright – it was the perfect way to end my immersion into Roman culture. I bought a ticket for the Roman Forum and Colosseum together at the Roman Forum ticket office for €12. The joint ticket is valid for two days and also includes Palatine Hill, which is found in the Roman Forum site.

The Roman Forum is a HUGE site showcasing ruins from a variety of different historial periods and is well worth spending time on. As well the impressive ruins, the views from different levels of the site of the ruins themselves as well as of the Colosseum, are stunning. I would advise spending two days on the Forum and Colosseum, as, especially in the summer, with the sun beating down on you and the dry heat, you want to taking breaks. It can be really relaxing to sit on the grassy areas around Palatine Hill in the shade – to soak it all in, admire all the history you’re surrounded by and recover for the next bit of walking around.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

I wasn’t planning on going inside the Colosseum as I thought I’d be happy with just gazing at awestruck from afar, but I would recommend venturing in now that I have been in – very impressive. Having the dual ticket helped as I didn’t have to queue much and completely avoided the guided tour queue, which was miles long. Since there are only two levels to go up, I was in and out pretty fast.