Buon Giorno, Roma!

The latest adventure took Peter and I to Rome, Italy. We couldn’t wait to explore the home of the Romans with sights that are recognised all around the world. I had booked cheap flights through Ryanair and accommodation through Booking.com, we had almost 6 full days there and I had got some advice from an Italian colleague who is from Rome.

We arrived at the airport and through security with plenty of time to spare so we grabbed breakfast and I got the obligatory pint as we waited for the flight. It’s an easy 2 hour 45 minute flight from Manchester to Ciampino airport which is situated just outside of Rome centre. It’s really easy to get a bus just outside the main airport exit, we saw people queuing for them and hopped on, buying a return ticket for 9E each. It takes around 40 minutes to get to Termini, the main bus/train station in Rome, with some ruins to see out of the window on the way.

Our apartment was about a half hour walk or a short bus journey, as we were in Rome we decided to walk to soak up the atmosphere. We were greeted with amazing architecture, plants hanging down over the roads and buildings and the sun was gorgeous. 

Our walk took us through Piazza Venezia where the Il Vittoriano dominates the skyline, past Largo Di Torre Argentina an archaeological site near to where Julius Caesar was killed and down to the river. Our apartment was located just off Via Giulia, a street in the historic centre of Rome, we arrived and although we had tried to call the apartment company we had no reply, so we wandered around the beautiful little streets and found a small restaurant to stop and have some lunch. 

The food was incredible, freshly baked thin crusty bread, sliced cured meat and big lumps of mozzarella cheese. All washed down with a 5E carafe of wine! We were sat in another piazza, I think we lost count of the amount of piazzas we wandered through by the end of the 6 days. 

As we were eating we realised we had been messaging the wrong number! Ooops, I got the right number and they replied immediately, so we walked round and met them before being shown into our lovely little home for the week.The location was great, just across the river from the lively Trastevere area, 10 minute walk from the Pantheon, 15 minute walk to Vatican City and about 30 minutes walk to the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

We quickly unpacked our things and Peter worked out how to get to the Piazza Navona, one of the more famous piazzas, it follows the form of an old Roman stadium – Domitian from 1st century AD. It was paved over in the 15th century and contains designs from the famous architects Bernini and Borromini.

The streets surrounding the piazza are beautiful and filled with little idiosyncrasies and full of foliage, small restaurants and gelato shops. We grabbed some gelato on the way, it was delicious! after getting a little lost we passed the hotel Raphael with it’s facade covered in plants and made it to the sprawling piazza. It’s a lovely wide open space, with two fountains in the centre, one of which (Fiumi) has the personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Plate and Danube – my favourite river.  The huge Palazzo Pamphilj commands one side of the piazza, it was built for Pope Innocent X in 1650.

From the piazza it’s easy to wind through some more little streets over to the Pantheon, we were super excited about this due to it being built in the 2nd century AD and still standing. A lot of it’s marble exterior was removed to use on other buildings in Rome but the inside has remained largely intact. The bronze from the portico was melted down and used at the Castel St Angelo nearby too, it’s crazy how these incredible buildings from the Roman empire were torn down or used in other buildings around the City.

The building itself is huge and the inside was beautiful, I couldn’t believe there was a huge hole in the centre of the ceiling. You definitely couldn’t get away with that in the Manchester weather! I loved how the light shone through though, so we walked around and saw Raphael, the famous architect and painter’s burial place.

From here we walked back along to the Largo Di Torre Argentina,  a square with the ruins of old roman temples  in the centre of it that you look down on. It also hosts the Rome cat sanctuary, these cats get to live in amongst Roman ruins, I was jealous! 

It’s really cute that the cats live there and they even have a little place you can visit to read about the sanctuary. From here we decided to check out the Jewish quarter or ghetto as it’s known in Rome. The streets were nice to walk around but the best part of this area were the old Roman ruins, Teatro Marcello was the most impressive building, resembling the architecture of the Coliseum and the pillars of the Porticus Octaviae were cool too. There was an old guy playing accordion which added to the atmosphere of the place. 

Our last stop of the day was Campo D’Fiori, another square with a slightly sinister statue in the centre dedicated to the philosopher Giordano Bruno. This guy was hung naked upside down before being burnt to death in the square in 1600 for his heretical views! No wonder the statue looks a bit gloomy… other than that it’s a nice square with restaurants and bars lining it and some lovely markets in the day time selling all sorts.

It was time for a little nap and rest before we headed out for dinner, I had found a top rated restaurant to try near Piazza Navona but when we got there it was full with loads of people milling about waiting for a table. The hostess gave us a small plastic glass of prosecco but after standing there for ten minutes we decided we were too hungry to wait. Walking further away from the piazza we found a little place where we Peter got a ragu type sauce on pasta and I got an amazing carbonara.

The pasta was on a different level taste wise,  the colour and texture was nothing like what we get in our supermarkets. We had a lovely Lazio red wine with the meal and I finished the night off with Tiramisu. I knew it was a good restaurant as after we paid our bill we got limoncello which was so good and refeshing after the meal.

We finished the night off by enjoying the walk around the historic centre with all the old buildings lit up. So far Rome is a very agreeable city, the buildings and layout are all beautiful and it feels like there’s something new or interesting to see around every corner.

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