Need Another Holiday: By All Means, Rome

In a way, we threw a
curve ball at the honeymoon ideal with this one. Instead of beaching it up, we
went to Rome for four days. I won’t lie, this option was half driven by budget
(don’t talk to me about the cost of the average wedding), but it was also half
driven by the fact that we knew the memories of a city break tend to have much
more impact on the subconscious than chilling on a sunbed (although we do love
that, too). We were right – talking about it now still has us questioning how
we could have only been there for four days.

Rome is a joy to visit.
People aren’t exaggerating when they say it’s an open air museum. There is
history in every viewpoint. I foolishly thought the Trevi Fountain was just a
fountain. It is awe inspiring. I could never have imagined the scale of it and
no photo I have ever seen does it justice.

Trevi by day…
And even more spectacular, Trevi by night

I know we probably only skimmed
the surface of all the sights Rome has to offer, but we had a good go and I am
more than happy to say it needs another visit before I’m willing to actually
cross it off my list. This time I think I’d book in Spring or Autumn – to be
fair, July was just too hot for me, though I did kind of enjoy prancing around
with a parasol. 

The Eternal City felt like a
dream probably because I’ve seen Roman Holiday just too many times, if that’s
even possible. Every square has its own fabulous water feature and the drinking
fountains you find everywhere you go provide welcome refreshment when you are
thirsty for more than just sightseeing and need to keep going. This is not one
of those “only drink bottled water” places. Indeed, drinking from Rome’s fountains
feels like soaking up the city’s life source itself.

The Spanish Steps are much more
than just steps and you can taste Rome here; literally in the form of a gelato,
figuratively in the form of people watching. Tourists mill and take
photographs, local youths gabble garrulously in groups, gesticulating dramatically
to punctuate their lively Italian; students sit quietly reading nearby,
oblivious to the din. The mixture of people is magical and the steps are almost
alive. Don’t miss spending some time here.

To get a chance to see a bit
of everything, I would advise that you buy a ticket for a hop-on, hop-off tour
bus. It’s possible to get everywhere by foot, but this way you can efficiently pass all the
major sights, jumping off at those you feel drawn to.

We stayed near Villa Borghese,
about ten minutes walk up the historically stylish Via Veneto from Piazza
Barberini
. The tour bus was a handy way for us to make our way to the Vatican
City
.

Wednesday’s Papal General Audience

The Vatican itself is a jewel
you would be insane to miss out on. It is an extraordinary fusion of tourism
and spirituality. Travellers queue to gain entry to the sights while nuns and
priests swish by in their robes. The magnificence of St Peter’s Basilica is nothing
short of spellbinding from the outside, while inside, the church is breathtaking.
My favourite feature was undoubtedly Michaelangelo’s Pieta, a sculpture
depicting Mary, holding her son, Jesus, after his crucifixion. To those for whom
the sculpture has religious significance, it really is something that could
move you to tears. As a piece of artwork, the detail and beauty of it is really
wonderful to view. You look at it and know instantly that you are before a
masterpiece, the likes of which you might never see again. Until you enter the Sistine
Chapel
of course!

St Peter’s Basilica

There is a real sense of
being somewhere unique in the Vatican City. You know you are not quite still in
Rome. It has a vibe all of its own. As for the Vatican Museum; I
believe it to be one of the most impressive collections I’ve seen anywhere.
Half a day flies by. Do the sensible thing though, pre-book your tour – skip
the queues and be guided by someone who can tell you what you’re looking at.
Otherwise you’ll probably wander round in a state of somewhat confused awe. Try Maximus Tours; we found a fair price and enthusiastic guides.

When you get a chance to deviate from your “must-see” list, the best thing to do in Rome is just get walking. There is always something to see. This is how we discovered several of the five hundred or so pictures and statues of the Virgin Mary that are scattered about the buildings and streets of Rome. It was like discovering one of Rome’s little secrets; we would spot another, and another by simply looking up and around us. These little shrines were both beautiful art and a poignant reminder of a perhaps somewhat forgotten devotion. Indeed, at one time there were a great deal more of these hidden gems. Thankfully, there are still a healthy number that remain. So get walking. And get looking…

Something stunning down every alley
A Secret Mary Watches Over Rome

Eating out in the Eternal
City was a bit hit and miss. I would always try to avoid the tourist menus, although
we fell a little foul of that advice ourselves. In the end, we went for
recommendations from our hotel which put us onto a winner – we went back to the
same place on consecutive nights. It’s called Piccolo Mondo.

Prices were decent and the complimentary
aperitivo of Prosecco, as well as a hit of some limoncello after the feast
added to the enjoyment. Our last night was a gem really, we had a few (admittedly
quite pricey, but totally worth it) beers sat outside a bar near the Trevi Fountain,
followed by a copious amount of vino with dinner. We put the world to rights as
you do when you hit “optimum tipsiness” and consequently were a tad worse for
wear for a stupidly early start to our journey home the next day. Oh well….

Our accommodation, Roma Boutique Hotel, was lovely. It was a one floor affair in a beautiful, large building with
only five or six rooms. Now, I am someone who would happily stay in a hotel
every weekend, despite the fact that I find it incredibly difficult to sleep
anywhere but my own bed; I slept like a log here. I think it was the
combination of peace and the location close to the American Embassy which had a
constant police presence meaning we felt safe at all times.

Yes, that car in the middle of the road was PARKED!

One of the highlights for me was
the breakfast served in your room. It was a continental affair, but there were
several options to choose from and best of all, you could enjoy it leisurely in
your complimentary robe and slippers while gearing up for the day ahead. I
loved it. The staff of the hotel were genuinely happy to help and even arranged
our collection from the airport free of charge as a honeymoon extra. On the
journey home, however, we took our usual approach of sampling public transport.
Again, mainland Europe did not let us down either in terms of cost or
efficiency.

It’s hard to sum up Rome
really – because, like I said, I don’t think I’ve really seen enough of it. So
I’ll just go with a line from Audrey Hepburn’s character, Princess Ann:

Rome. By all means, Rome.

Go and see for yourself.

Nothing on this trip was sponsored and all recommendations come from personal opinions

Have you been to Rome? Please comment and let me know!