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When in Rome

  • June 5, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
When in Rome

Going to Italy has always been a dream of mine. I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks in this country recently and as they say “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. So of course this is what I did! I drank copious amounts of Italian wine and devoured delicious pizza and pasta every single day. Undoubtedly I adhered to the local customs!

The country is renowned for pizzas and pasta; prosecco and limoncello; fast Italian cars and men; incredible architecture and art; villages perched atop mountainsides and steep coastal cliffs; and history that takes you back to B.C.

When In Rome

The entrée to this boot-shaped country, is the capital and eternal city of Rome, or as the locals call it Roma. When in Rome there is so much to see and do that it literally sends your head into a spin. So unless you plan your intended sightseeing itinerary it is easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the wonderful historical landmarks and buildings.

We arrived in Rome around 4pm in the afternoon after spending what seemed hours trying to find our luggage off our flight from Abu Dhabi. For around €50 you can grab a taxi from the airport that takes you into the city. Our choice of accommodation was a small Airbnb apartment in the area of Manzoni, around 800m from the Colosseum. As it turned out this was a great location to see all the sights of Rome.


Our first morning we arose early with the anticipation of a big day of sightseeing and headed for the Colosseum before the crowds swarmed in. Possibly one of the most ancient and iconic amphitheatres in the world, the Colosseum stands large and proud, surrounded by an entire city of Roman ruins.

When In Rome

The exterior of the Colosseum

It was commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son, Titus, in AD 80, with later improvements by Domitian. The amphitheatre was built to a practical design, with its 80 arched entrances allowing easy access to 55,000 spectators, who were seated according to rank.

When In Rome

The interior of the Colosseum

Standing in the arena you picture the throngs of thousands of Romans who came to see the ghoulish entertainment of gladiators fighting against man or beast. Archaeologists dug up bones underneath the Colosseum that consisted of human, lion and bear. Get here early in the day to escape the long queues and then spend as long as you like strolling around this magnificent arena.

Palatine Hill

Adjacent to the Colosseum and only a short walk away is Palatine Hill, the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It was once the home of emperors and the site of temples, and was at the centre of Rome’s most important myth – the legend of Romulus and Remus. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum and after performing a circuit of the Palatine Hill you will get a great birds eye view down onto the the ruins of The Forum. Admission for both Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are inclusive under one ticket.

When In Rome

One of the remaining buildings on Palatine Hill

Roman Forum

This ancient Roman city, that is incredibly well laid out and planned, is very well preserved. Originally a marsh, the Romans drained the area and turned it into a centre of political and social activity. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic centre. The most ancient monuments at the Roman Forum are from the first kings of Rome, dating back to the sixth century BC. Monuments and basilicas followed regularly with emperors trying to outdo their predecessors, the last being added around 600AD.

When In Rome

Once the ancient city of Rome – Roman Forum

Once we exited this vast Roman city of old, we entered the Colonna Traiano, with more ruins to observe and the impressive huge statues of ancient Roman rulers, such as Caesar, Trajan and Augustus.

A short walk down this avenue you will come to the magnificent Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele in Piazza Venezia. It is a bombastic monument built with sparkling white marble decorated with numerous symbolic statues, sculptures and murals, created by artists from all over Italy. At the centre of the monument is the colossal equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel, the ‘Father of the Nation’ and at the foot of the statue is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

When In Rome

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele in Piazza Venezia

Hop on Hop off Bus

One of the cheapest and easiest options to see the remainder of Rome is to grab a ticket on the Hop on Hop off Bus. We purchased a two day pass for around €30 with City Sightseeing Roma and after seeing the ruins around the Colosseum we set off on the bus staying on the bus whilst it did an entire loop of the city.

When In Rome

The big, red, hop-on hop-off bus in Rome

On the second loop we got off at the designated stops and saw more of the iconic sights of Rome. Places like:

Trevi Fountain

A short walk off the bus through some narrow streets in the centre of Rome we followed the crowds to the infamous Trevi Fountain, a jewel of water and stone. Such an enchanting sight to see for real after seeing the old movie “Three Coins in a Fountain”, it was as expected, packed with tourists. We found it was very difficult to get anywhere near it to grab a photo, let alone throw a coin in the fountain! But when in Rome it is a must see.

When In Rome

The infamous Trevi Fountain in Rome

Spanish Steps

Another short walk, in the other direction we came to the top of the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, or Spanish Steps. Set high on a hill overlooking Rome, the views are magical and then there are all those steps to negotiate to Piazza di Spagna at the base. The Spanish steps were built in 1723-1725 in order to link the the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the king of France, with the Spanish square below.

When In Rome

The steps up to the Trinità dei Monti church or Spanish Steps

Piazza Navone

A gorgeous large square in central Rome featuring three fountains surrounded by cafes and restaurants and beautiful buildings. It features important sculptural and architectural creations and it is built on the site of the former Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD. It’s a lovely spot to sit and rest your tired feet for a while.

When In Rome

One of 3 fountains in the gorgeous Piazza Navone

Circo Massimo

The Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) was an ancient Roman circus dedicated to horse racing, built in the centre of Rome. Nestled in the valley between the Palatine and the ‘Aventino’, it is remembered as the site of games since the beginning of the history of the city. 

When In Rome

Where the races were held in ancient Rome – Circo Massimo

Directly opposite Circo Massimo are the absolutely glorious Roseto Commulae or Rose Gardens. The Roseto was the site of Rome’s Jewish cemetery for centuries, before being presented to the city in the twentieth century. It is definitely worth a stroll through these extensive rose gardens where you will see every type and colour of rose.

When In Rome

The glorious Rose Gardens in Rome

Tiber River & Isola Tiberina

We jumped off the bus at the Circo Massimo stop and strolled along the Tiber River and across to Isola Tiberina, a small island ringed by the river. During the plague of the 1600s, the entire island was transformed into a quarantine hospital. The island was an excellent place for this purpose because it offered guaranteed isolation from the rest of the community. The scenic river is fringed with large Sycamore trees and it is a very tranquil and pretty walk. 

When In Rome

The Tiber River and Isola Tiberina (island)

Vatican City

You need almost an entire day to see everything in the Vatican City and the lines are endless so get here early in the morning. We arrived here before 9am and decided to pay for a guided tour that enabled us to jump the queue and head into the museum. For around €40 it was well worth the money spent, as the tour guide knowledge of the city was excellent and she spoke perfect English.

When In Rome

The entrance to the Vatican Museum in Rome

The museum is mind-blowing with centuries old marble statues, mosaics, tapestries, murals, ornate furnishings and artefacts absolutely everywhere. The hallways holding these exquisite pieces of art go on forever and then the piece d’resistance, the Sistine Chapel awaits you at the end of the tour. You get a stiff neck from sitting in the chapel in complete silence, as there is no talking allowed, looking at Michelangelo’s masterpieces on the ceiling.

When In Rome

Some of the art in the Vatican Museum

St Peter’s Basilica adjoins the Sistine Chapel and you can rejoin the queues to have a look inside, or do what we did and exit the Vatican City and capture this magnificent cathedral with it’s iconic dome from St Peter’s Square.

When In Rome

St Peter’s Square in Rome

Campo di Fiori

We found this charming area by accident, after visiting the Vatican, and strolled leisurely through cobble-stoned streets with little cafes and nice shops. The Piazza Campo di Fiori was infamous for being the place where executions were carried out, but is now a bustling marketplace, that transforms into a nightlife centre in the evening. It is one of the most vibrant parts of the city and is a lively cultural and commercial centre.

When In Rome

The very cool Campo di Fiori area in Rome

Castel Sant ‘Angelo

This castle sits on the Tiber River in a lovely area with a few market stalls outside. The cylindrical shaped Castel Sant ‘Angelo was built in 123 AD by Emperor Hadrian as a monumental tomb for himself and his family. It became a defensive bastion during the time of the barbarian invasions and since then there were many popes who used it.

When In Rome

The iconic Castel Sant’ Angelo in Rome

The heavily marble statued Sant ’Angelo Bridge, is protected by the reassuring gaze of ten beautiful angels that carried symbols of the passion of Christ. This bridge then takes you back to the Rome city side of the river.

When In Rome

One of the angel statues on Sant’ Angelo Bridge

Rome Shopping

If you roam through the narrow cobble-stoned streets and laneways of central Rome there are plenty of wonderful shops from designer clothing labels, to Italian leather handbags, beautiful Italian shoes, souvenirs and gift shops.

When In Rome

One of the narrow shopping streets in Central Rome

Rome Food Scene

There are literally thousands of restaurants (ristorantes, trattorias, pizzerias, osterias and caffes) in Rome. It can get confusing knowing the difference between these bars and restaurants, so here’s the lowdown:

  • Trattorias are traditionally family owned, casual, rustic neighbourhood restaurants found throughout all of Italy that serve fresh, unassuming, conventional local food. These are my favourite.
  • Ristorantes generally are full service restaurants, with a host or hostess to seat you, wait staff, including a sommelier, experienced with food and wine as well as with proper service etiquette.
  • Pizzerias are simply just that – a place where pizzas are made and served. However some Pizzerias also make and serve pasta dishes.
  • Caffe is the Italian word for coffee and is occasionally used as a synonym for and Italian coffee bar. They are equivalent to a coffee shop of cafe in our part of the world.
  • Osterias are places serving wine and simple food, similar to a wine bar here.
When In Rome

A typical Ristorante in Central Rome

Rome was a feast for the eyes. Everywhere you look there is history, beautiful architecture and art. Although it is an extremely busy and crowded tourist city, that attracts billions of tourists every year, it is a must see when travelling to Italy. To me it was like a buffet loaded with the most delicious treats that I could simply not resist. I had to gorge myself on every sumptuous morsel until my cup runneth over!

Have you been to Rome? What did you love about it?

Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday



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By 50 Shades, June 5, 2017 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

  • Lyn Darke
    June 5, 2017

    Hi Cathy loved your great blog and wonderful interpretation of this amazing place ! I’m sure everyone will find your blog very helpful if they’re travelling to Rome( Roma)

    • Kathy
      June 5, 2017

      Thanks Lyn. It was a place that you need to plan ahead on what to do and see whilst you’re there, otherwise it would be easy to get very overwhelmed. I loved it very much, but disliked the crowds. :)

  • Lyn @ A Hole in my Shoe
    June 5, 2017

    Loved this post Kathy, takes me back to my short visit to Rome and reminds why I must go back.

    • Kathy
      June 6, 2017

      Thanks Lyn. It was everything I expected plus more. I loved the place and could easily spend more time here exploring. The history is incredible! :)

  • Jane
    June 5, 2017

    Your post brought back memories of cycling through Europe over 25 years ago, Rome was a highlight, just loved everything about it You saw a lit more than I did though,Kathy. I need a return trip!

    • Kathy
      June 6, 2017

      There is so much to see and do in Rome. I think I could return and do it all again plus see so much more. :)

  • Lyndall @ SeizeThe Day Project
    June 6, 2017

    I don’t have to tell you how much I love Rome Kathy :) Your post reminds me of so many beautiful places and our next visit can’t come soon enough. I’d visit Rome/Italy every year if I could #ILoveItaly

    • Kathy
      June 6, 2017

      I know you are a huge fan of Italy Lyndall and your blogs and photos on your website compelled me to go see this country with my own eyes. It was everything you described and I also fell under Italy’s spell. :)

  • Chris
    June 8, 2017

    Great pics! I drank my first ever cappuccino in Rome way back yonder as a backpacker. Was lucky enough to have friends living there a few years back so we stayed with them for 5 days and toured like the semi-locals. Didn’t get to Pompeii though unfortunately.

    • Kathy
      June 8, 2017

      It sounds as though you got around when you were younger. I never had that opportunity so I’m making up for it now. We loved every part of Italy that we visited – Rome, Venice, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Tuscany and Amalfi Coast. Rome was like a history lesson and I loved the ancient architecture and art. I could easily return to see more of Rome and Italy for that matter. :)

  • Trekking with Becky
    June 9, 2017

    Rome has been on my bucket for ages. I’ll need at least s few days in Rome. I love your Colosseum shots. :D When you took the guided tour of the Vatican, did you have enough time to take photos and to soak everything in, or did you feel rushed? I always feel rushed with guides.

    • Kathy
      June 10, 2017

      Yes the Colosseum was a highlight. The Vatican guide was excellent but as you say it doesn’t allow you a lot of time to take photos plus listen to her information about the exhibits. I tried to do a little of both. However if you don’t have a guide you need to line up in the endless queue and then you don’t really know what you’re looking at in the museum. :)

  • Ruth | Tanama Tales
    June 10, 2017

    It is great that you were able to visit Italy. I went to Rome long time ago and felt like I barely scratched the surface. There is so much to do in the city. Your photos are so great! They make me daydream! #TPThursday

    • Kathy
      June 10, 2017

      Italy was amazing. I loved every part of it and although I’m not that fussed on big touristy cities, Rome was a must see. I hated the crowds, but loved the history, the architecture and the art. Incredible!! :)

  • budget jan
    June 11, 2017

    I do love Rome. It is very close to top of my Big City loves. You saw so much in the time you were there. Do you know we missed the rose garden. We were in the vicinity and read about it but never found it. I loved seeing all your photos. I’d go back to Rome any day. I’ve never done a hop on hop off bus trip but I can see it was very beneficial for you! Welcome home.

    • Kathy
      June 12, 2017

      We did get to do and see a lot of Rome’s wondrous sights. We really enjoyed our time here and would certainly recommend that everyone see Rome at least once in their lifetime. The hop on hop off bus was a great way of getting around. :)

  • Nancie
    June 13, 2017

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Kathy I was in Roma back in the 1990s and loved it. I got to tour the Sistine Chapel just after all of the frescoes were restored. That was a memorable experience. I hope to get back again one of these days. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

    • Kathy
      June 14, 2017

      The Sistine Chapel was an ethereal experience. I spent ages with my neck craned looking at the ceiling in pure adulation on how this artist depicted the stories from the bible. I think Rome is a place you could return to again and again. :)

  • Janet
    June 17, 2017

    Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Rome during our trip to Europe 2 years ago, though we visited Venice and Pisa. Reading your post made me even more sorry that we missed it. Ah well next time!!!

    • Kathy
      June 18, 2017

      Rome is a museum city with so many historical sites. I really enjoyed our very full-on 3 days in this city, but preferred some of the less busier parts of Italy. Venice was also amazing. :)

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