Saturday, 4 March 2017

When in Rome

It's taken me a little while to get the ball rolling on this one, as I think both James and I can agree that this past reading week break didn't go exactly as planned.

Things went smoothly from Grenoble, to Geneva Airport and onward to Rome Aiport, it was however, upon arriving at Termini Station, the central train station of Rome, that we began to question our choice of hotel.

We learned one thing for certain, a 35 euro a night hotel (private room with en suite bathroom) is too good to be true. We basically ended up in what had to of been the poorest part of the city. We may not have paid for it in terms of the hotel, but we sure paid for it on our last night in a much worse way..


And, now that we have that out of the way, on to all of the beautiful sights that did manage to capture our hearts, while in Rome.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was by far one of the most amazing sights I've seen throughout the past six months of my European travels... I mean it is after the largest Colosseum ever built and still incredibly well maintained so I think it'd be rather offensive if I didn't feel this way...n'est pas?

Entrance to the Colosseum depended whether or not you are part of the European Union or not, so in other words James paid 7.50 while I paid 12..hmmm.

Nonetheless, it was obviously well worth the price paid to go inside (and the queue which ended up being about and hour- quite long in my opinion considering it was off season), and included access to both the first and second levels of the Colosseum. 

Roman Ruins

What I found particularly interesting (and unique) about Rome was the number of excavated remains of roman ruins situated directly in the center of the city, open and free for the public to visit.

Historical Monuments Doubling As Lookouts Over the City

Specifically referring to the Victor Emanuele II Monument, or officially known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, the monument is a large white marble building that dominates the Piazza Venezia.

The monument was built to honor the first king of United Italy in 1861, Vittorio Emanuele II.

Free to enter, walk around, and climb up to the first level (there is a true lookout point accessible by elevator for around 10 euros), there is access to a beautiful terrace with a 360 degree view of the surrounding area- and not a bad one at that.

James perfected his selfie-taking skills this trip :)

Trevi Fountain

Well not much else to say about this one other than, well, Trevi Fountain. There is a certain history behind the fountain, but to be frank I don't exactly understand it (so sorry folks, you'll have to google it). I do know however, that the Trevi fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world (hence my first sentence) and is the largest baroque fountain in the city.

Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica

Vatican City was quite the hike from our hotel, but well worth it and is one of the most beautiful areas of the city.  We queued in line for the Basilica for even longer than the Colosseum, but were "lucky" enough to have three middle aged British women behind cracking savage jokes the whole time, so that helped to pass the time.

We also had a second motive to waiting in the never-ending queue, and that was to inquire for tickets to the Papal Audience the next morning. Upon passing through security for the Basilica, we talked with one of the Swiss guards (the men guarding the doors wearing the funny pants and hats) where we received our ticket (completely free) to see the Pope speak.

The Papal Audience

Every Wednesday morning (given the Pope is in Rome that week), he will do a public reading, and everyone is welcome. Before the 10 o'clock start, the Pope rides around in his Popemobile (its a Mercedes Benz), waving to the crowd, and kissing babies on the head (no joke).

Waving to all his homies!

Following a few rounds in his Popemobile, he then took his place on the stage and read his blessing in Italian. It was then followed by readings (the same one) in a number of different languages, including, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Arabic. After each reading, the Pope sends out a blessing to certain countries which are thought to be represented in the crowd on that day, and yes, Canada was mentioned!

The official (and free) invite to the Papal Audience!
Whether or not you are Catholic, or even religious for that matter, if you have the chance to see the Pope speak during one of his public blessings, I would highly recommend it. His words are bound to touch you (and they'll be spoken in your language as well)!

The Catacombs

Last but not least for us was a visit to one of 60 some odd (can't remember the exact number) catacombs in Rome. We visited the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian, a Catholic burial site where some of the earliest priests are said to have been buried. 

We chose these catacombs in particular solely based off of the reviews online (can be risky but turned out just fine), in terms of how knowledgeable the guides are, the price of the tour, and what the tour offers exactly.

What I found quite interesting about our visit to the catacomb is that we actually didn't see a single real human bone, as we had anticipated we probably would..going to a cemetery and all.

I have no photos to share of this part of our adventure, as none were allowed to be taken, I can assure that walking through the tunnels of the ancient burial ground was both as claustrophobic and eerie as you're probably imaging.


So would I jump on the chance to visit Rome again? My honest answer would be not any time soon, but that doesn't take away from the amazing time we had together exploring this beautiful city over the past week.

Until next time, Rome (or not)!