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When In Rome!

Blondie a Roma

sunny

So I realise I have a little bit of back dating to do before I can update with my current travel plans...and yes I do have a few sneaky trips in the pipeline!

The biggest city break I have done recently was Rome. I mean I travelled Italy last summer and saw Florence, Verona, Milan, and Venice, but this was ROME! The city that housed the capital of the Roman Empire until 330AD when it was moved to Constantinople. The city with the iconic colosseum, Vatican city, Trevi fountain, and Parthenon, how could I not start my blog with this city!

Of course I went to all the sights. My friends and I did the typical movie style montage of throwing coins in the fountain, the 'peace' gesture photos in front of the monuments, and the Vatican Tour that are all essential for any tourist's visit to Rome. However, travelling in a group consisting of 2 archaeologists, a biologist, and historian does have its advantages, and makes for some interesting discoveries! We tried to stay off the beaten path as much as possible and explore the little secrets that Italy is so good at hiding. Sometimes we did this successfully, finding the quaintest restaurant in Rome called Traverna Romana which is located just down the road from the colosseum. In our opinion it was the best restaurant we went to in Rome, and had the tastiest lasagne I have ever had.
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Then again there was the day we decided to try something different, and set out to find the catacombs. We ended up following a map that led us in the total wrong directions for 2 hours, before pulling up google maps on 2 separate iphones, retracing our steps for another hour, asking 3 people for directions- including a police officer- (note: never take directions from an Italian seriously. Whilst they are very lovely and willing to give them, the location you are looking for is always 'just down the road and turn right/ left.... leaving you a little confused if that takes you to a road of residential houses with no signposts for catacombs! no prize for guessing who was in charge of the map that morning!). It was only after it started raining, and following signs for the catacombs that suddenly appeared we found them! (turns out they were only 10mins on a bus from our apartment - blondness strikes!) The journey to catacombs and the catacombs themselves were totally worth all the trouble :) We got a most wonderful view of some ruins on the way as well:
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If you are the type to try something a little different then I would for sure recommend the Callisto catacombs. Le catacombe di San Callisto or Catacombs of St. Callixtus as it is also called, is an underground burial chamber which contained thousands of bodies, including fifty martyrs and sixteen pontiffs. Many bodies were dug up as the area was raided and stripped of its goods many years ago, however what you can now see lining every inch of the walls on display for public visitation are cut out slits about a foot in width, all that is remaining of many of the graves. The passageways are narrow, quite dark, and go a fair few metres down into the ground, so it isn't recommended for those who suffer with Claustrophobia. There is no photography permitted due to the sacredness of the site, but the guides are extremely knowledgeable and create a great mental image of the importance of the burial site to contemporaries and the history of its transition into site popular with visitors. Entrance is only a few euros, I think I paid €7-8 , so wont break the moneybank and you get your money's worth in the hour long tour. Definitely something I would recommend to anyone planning on a trip to Rome.

A few little tips for when visiting Rome:

1. Explore the backstreets when going out for dinner. As you will find in most Italian cities the best places to eat are not the ones in front of the star attractions. They are usually just round the corner. Usually much less noisy, better quality food, and at a much better price.
2. Have a potter about in the evening. Many of the sights really come into their own when the sun goes down. Definitely a good opportunity to grab a gelato after dinner and take a few sweet snaps in front of the buildings as they are lit up in the night.
3. Take a tour, or two...or three! The tour guides have excellent knowledge of the sights and the city's history. So unless you specialist in Ancient History it is well worth paying for a tour guide of the Vatican, the colosseum, and the forum. We were approached by a young woman in the queue for the colosseum offering a tour of the colosseum, forum, and Palatine Hill (Emperor's Palace) for around €15 including entrance.
4. Wander into some of the local churches. The renaissance of 1300-1600 left some pretty spectacular renovations in many of the churches. Full of rich colour, and gothic/ renaissance architecture it is well worth a step off the busy streets into the peaceful atmosphere of the church. Most only ask for a donation if they charge at all.

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Interior shot of St Peter's Basilica.
The late Renaissance building is full of Renaissance style Architecture which can be seen especially in the geometrically proportionate arches, the ceiling panels that create a sense of depth and perception, and in the roman style columns that decorate the building.

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Interior of Vatican buildings.
The interior fills its walls with paintings from the renaissance legends, inviting such crowds that the umbrella is adopted my many tour guides as their new favourite accessory for keeping their troops together.

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The photo that had to be taken.
The colosseum has some great viewing areas that utilise the perspective of the building. Great for taking the perfect pic!

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Palatine Hill
One of those awe inspiring sights to been seen. Also named the 'Emperor's Palace' the area is perfect for a wander round someplace a bit quieter.

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The Vatican at Sunset
Never miss a chance to see the sunset on St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. A marvel in its own right.

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The Colosseum
Perfect example of why wandering round at night with a camera is a must-do in Rome!

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Church Interior
This church is located right by Palazzo Venezia. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name but it is well worth a look inside whilst you're passing by. The rich colour inside is something to wonder at. The features are so delicate and yet create a very warm interior.

Jen x

Posted by Jen_Ingrid 15:53 Archived in Italy Tagged history italy rome colosseum renaissance catacombs

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