After a wonderful time in beautiful Venice, we hopped on a high speed train bound for Rome. As a present-day and ancient capital, Rome is rich with history, old ruins, museums, churches, and of course great food. We spent a good four days there and I can say I really liked Rome. One of the first things that came to mind as we first started wandering around the city was how ancient it really is. Sure, European cities in general are all old and have unique histories in one way or another, but in Rome it has never appeared so prevalent. It’s amazing how you’ll be walking down the street past modern 21st century retail shops and corporate businesses then right around the block you’ll find something the Colosseum, which has been sitting there there for almost two thousand years. Rome is ancient. It’s also modern. It’s beautiful. And it’s the home to some of the most amazing gelato, which is just icing on the cake for me.
Here are some of the highlights during our stay:
One of the most famous landmarks in the world and among the seven new wonders of the world, everyone goes to the Colosseum when they come to Rome. Just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, seeing the Colosseum for the first time was surreal. You grow up seeing so many pictures of it you can hardly believe you’re there when you see it sitting there in front of you.
The Roman Forum
Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, once the buzzing social and political center of the former Roman Empire. It’s hard not to imagine what it was like here thousands of years ago back in its heyday as famous ancient rulers and figures like Caesar and Augustus walked its streets.
Another major landmark that everyone flocks to when in Rome. We easily spent a few hours there wandering through the museums, admiring Michaelangelo’s famous Creation of Adam painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, checking out all the priceless pieces of art, and basking under the heavenly light beaming through the windows of St. Peter’s Basilica.
It may have been because it was so refreshing after walking around all day under the hot sun, but I remember having some of the best gelato in Rome. There are a lot of gelaterias throughout the city, some selling the real stuff and others not so much. We learned that color and texture play a big role in determining what’s authentic. Anything that’s piled into a giant fluffy mountain and glowing vividly in color is most likely made from artificial ingredients. To find the real deal, the colors should be more muted and match their flavor. So the melone gelato shouldn’t be a vibrant orange like a traffic cone–it should look the same shade of orange as a real cantaloupe. Giolitti’s near the Piazza di Monte Citorio is a great place for some authentic gelato and was one of my favorites.
Hanging Out in the Piazzas
All over Rome you can find public squares that are perfect places to eat lunch, feed the pigeons, and people watch. Piazza Navona was my favorite as it was surrounded by beautiful buildings and decorated with fountains.
Speaking of fountains, Italians really know how to do them well. Although the famous fountains like the Trevi and Barcaccia (next to the Spanish Steps) were bone dry and under renovation during the time of our visit, there were lots of other intricately designed fountains throughout Rome.
Across the Tiber River is an especially beautiful part of the city with a vibrant atmosphere, narrow cobblestone streets, aged, ivy-covered buildings, and tiny restaurants. Exactly how I imagined a street in Italy would look like. The neighborhood is also set at the base of the Gionicolo one of the tallest hills around Rome which offers a great view of the city. There’s a big fountain at the top–a perfect place to soak your feet after walking around all day in the sun!