The Eternal City. The Capital of the World. The City on Seven Hills. Roma. Rome.
Finally. Rome is definitely a city to see before you die. How can you not want to feast your eyes upon ancient ruins of a city that was once the center of the world, a city that was home to emperor after emperor? Italians will be the first to tell you that you HAVE to visit Rome. And I did. This city offers so many fan girl moments—The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Gladiator, Roman Holiday. To put it in basic modern terms, I couldn’t even.
I didn’t think any Italian city would rival Florence as my favorite, but Rome actually did a good job. I still love Florence. I think I will always regret not looking into a school that offered a study abroad program in Florence. If had to live anywhere abroad, it would be there. I love visiting Rome, but I would not want to live there. You might not understand my sentiments until you have seen it for yourself. Why? I’m not a big city kind of girl. I don’t like mass exodus-sized groups of people. If you like those things, you’d love Rome.
It is massive! So many people and so many things to see. They have built around the ruins. We arrived on a Friday night, and after dinner, we took a stroll down the street, knowing that our hostel was only 15 minutes from the Colosseum. We saw modernish looking buildings, and all of a sudden, this:
Here are my favorite spots from the trip.
One of my favorite places in all of Rome. Its grandiose profile. Its history. Its timelessness. I just love it and am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to see it in person.
The Roman Forum—a must see. I wish I had more time to walk around the large grounds and read the history on every sign. I can’t even begin to describe to you the thrill that I felt deep in my heart as I walked the ancient Roman grounds that were the center of the world thousands of years ago. The ruins themselves are beautiful, and the Palentine Hill offers wonderful views. You know I’m all about those views.
The Vatican. NEVER go to the Vatican anytime near Easter, especially if you’re claustrophobic. I get road rage in Costco; the Vatican is that times 10. The Vatican Museums themselves are not that impressive, but let’s be honest, what we really pay to see is the Sistine Chapel, a masterpiece of Michelangelo. I stood there looking up at the ceiling and wall, wondering how long it took this genius to complete his work of art. There is so much color, detail, and care in those paintings. In the center is the famous depiction of Adam and God. I have never studied art in detail. I chose music history over art in college, but seeing that famous work of art in person brought tears to my eyes. It’s one of those things you could stare at for hours if it weren’t for the 10 million people bumping into you and the security officers that would probably throw you out for laying down on the floor so you could see better. Sadly I have no photos of the Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed), but St. Peter’s Square is certainly photo worthy.
St. Peter’s Basilica
One of the most grand churches that I have seen here in Italy. The Basilica is extremely well kept considering the masses of people that make it one of their must-see destinations in Rome. The beauty of the inside of this church is indescribable. Sculpture after sculpture. Art everywhere. Not to mention Michelangelo’s Pietà is safely kept inside—at a distance, behind plexiglass. I had no good pictures of it, but it is a gorgeous piece of work. I had to smile when I saw it. One of the first pictures I ever posted in my now enormous Instagram photo collection was a replica of the Pietà that is in the Santa Barbara Mission in Santa Barbara, California. Little did this small town California girl know that a few years later, she would see the real thing in Rome, Italy. It’s quite amazing to think about.
The top of the Basilica is the part that will cost you a few euro, but it’s worth the trek up there. I would advise those that are claustrophobic NOT to do this. The last part of the many, many steps you have to climb to get up to the top are enclosed in the tightest staircase that I have ever seen. The domed walls force you to lean to the right when walking up. The views from the top are spectacular, especially of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square. The views would be even more spectacular if they weren’t enclosed in bars.
The Tivoli Gardens. It’s what dreams are made of. For me, these picturesque, serene gardens were a major fan girl moment. Any true Lizzie McGuire fan will remember when Paolo takes Lizzie to a beautiful place one afternoon where there’s water shooting out of fountains on a wall and there’s a scene in a cave under waterfall. The movie makes you think that it’s just a short moped ride somewhere in Rome. It’s not. By train, Tivoli a good hour east of Rome. Oh, Hollywood, you’re so funny.
Ashley and I went first thing in the morning on Palm Sunday, crazily running from metros to the train, and it was so worth it—one of the best parts of our Roman Holiday. The gardens are part of the Villa d’Este estate. It’s one of those places that makes you wish you had William Randolph Hearst kind of money so you could build your own lush private escape. It’s a truly peaceful, beautiful place. Go in the morning on a Sunday. There’s hardly anyone there to beat you to the best selfie spots.
La Bocca della Verita
The iconic scene between Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn took place here. This Mouth of Truth supposedly will bite the hand off of a liar who so dared to stick his hand inside. I find this legend hard to believe considering the lines of people that come to see it daily and the lack of blood stains around the mouth.
La Bocca della Verita is in the very small courtyard of a church called Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, near Circus Maximus and the Tiber River. I have this classless picture with the mouth. Inside, I’m wishing I looked exactly like Audrey Hepburn and that a young Gregory Peck was standing beside me.
A gem of a neighborhood in Rome. I believe it is somewhat south of the Vatican City and across the river Tiber, a good walk from La Bocca della Verita. From the outside, all the tagging on the old buildings makes this neighborhood look somewhat ghetto, intimidating, and dangerous, but once you walk a few blocks inside, the neighborhood transforms into the cutest Italian picture you have every seen. Colorful buildings, chic boutiques, and restaurants’ sparkling lights welcome you into this diamond in the rough. It’s a great place to walk as the sun sets, and the abundance of restaurants makes for a perfect dinner spot. It’s a bit out of the way and the nearest metro station is about a 35 minute walk, but Trastevere is a unique sight. Sadly, no pictures. I’m a failure.
A couple more notes. Not that you need more to read. The Trevi Fountain was under construction. Lovely. Way too many people anyway. The Spanish Steps were a joke, not at all like Lizzie depicted it. The piazza and Steps were literally crawling with people. We could barely make our way around. NOT worth any pictures or the trouble, in my opinion.
More of my Spring Break to come. I plan on making those posts more photo-centered, so you can breath easily knowing they won’t be the size of War and Peace.