Rome Inspection Trip
The following blog was written by Adaptable Travel Tour Co-ordinator, Kerry Baker about her inspection trip to Rome in August 2013.
Rome has always been high on my list of cities to visit. The history, the architecture, the food!
A short 2 hour flight with Monarch took us from the miserable grey weather of Birmingham to warm Italian sunshine. Our hotel was in a small corner of the city, close to Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peter’s Square. The first stop on day 1 was a leisurely stroll to Piazza Navona to drink espresso next to the fountains. The square was full of artists painting stunning pictures of the surroundings.
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Coliseum. On day 2, we walked across the city to enter the amphitheatre. The structure is so grand, it’s almost surreal. Inside the Coliseum we learnt about the gladiator battles, exotic animals used for fights and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire through the museum displays. Your ticket to the Coliseum also allows entry to the Palatine and Roman Forum. Tiny bit of warning for you, when visiting the Palatine and Roman Forum make sure you wear proper shoes. Flimsy sandals meant my feet were covered in dirt for the rest of the day (not a pretty sight). The views of the city from Palatine Hill were breath-taking. It’s amazing to stand in the middle of the Roman Forum and picture the centre of ancient Rome.
In a small backstreet we found the Time Elevator, a 4D cinema simulation of the history of Rome. We learnt of the legend of Romulus and Remus, the assassination of Julius Caesar and the Renaissance period featuring a grumpy Michelangelo
As my gran is a big fan of the Pope, a tour of the Vatican was a definite must for our trip to Rome. As we arrived for our guided tour of the Vatican Museums at 8am on day 3, I noticed the queue to enter the museums was already down the street with more and more coaches pulling up, full of tourists from all over the globe. Our guide (who was fantastic!) told me the Vatican Museums have over 20,000 visitors a day. When you enter the museum, it’s easy to understand why. The museum is huge with over 50 galleries of artwork, tapestries, statues, busts, archaeological finds, Greek and Egyptian pieces. The Raphael Rooms were my favourite. The School of Athens painting was incredible, you could stare at it (and the other 3 painted walls) for hours and still find new hidden pieces.
The Sistine Chapel was absolutely beautiful. It’s so difficult to take it all in, the detail of the ceiling painting is incredible. Our guide tried to explain each section of the painting before we entered the Chapel (as you cannot talk once inside) however it is so large you can’t help but get lost in each panel.
As we left the Vatican after 1pm, the queue to enter had easily tripled with no sign of moving. Pre-booking your visit is seriously essential.
The rest of the day was spent lazing on the Spanish Steps, splashing water in the Trevi Fountain and eating stupid amounts of real Italian pizza.
After all of the sight-seeing, on day 4 we needed to let loose a little bit. Our next stop was the perfect place to have a bit of fun – Rainbow Magicland! A large theme park located 45 minutes outside of Rome, the recently built park (it opened in 2011) looks and feels fresh. A selection of roller coasters, water rides, haunted houses and a drop tower kept us entertained for the whole day. Queue times were no longer than 20 minutes, plus the park is open during the summer from 10am to 11pm. An added bonus is the designer outlet shopping centre conveniently located opposite the theme park entrance.
We heard a bit of a rumour from another hotel guest that the Pope likes to make a daily appearance on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica if he is in town. As it was on the news the previous day that he had met the Argentine and Italian football teams in the Vatican, we were quite hopeful this might be the case. We headed over to St Peter’s Basilica early on day 5 to have a wander around the church and square. The queue to enter the Basilica was quick to move, however it is super important that you wear the appropriate clothes as the security is quite tight (knees and shoulders are to be covered at all times). No matter what religious views you hold, it’s hard not to be impressed by the beauty of the interior of the cathedral.
After waiting for the Pope to pop out on his balcony and wave, then realising he was a no show, we headed into the city centre to visit the Pantheon. It’s hard to believe the temple is 2000 years – the architecture is astounding!
Anyone who knows me knows I love my food. A personal highlight of the trip was a visit to Café Giolitti. Easily the best gelato in the whole entire world! The café is close to the Pantheon and has an authentic old school feel with the servers wearing suits, the flavour cards written in Italian and the kind of rich ice cream to die for. I chose 1 scoop of milk chocolate and 1 of tiramisu, covered in whipped cream. Thinking about it makes me want to fly back right now…
Rome is an incredible city. There is so much to see and do and, much like London and New York, it is almost impossible to become bored. Luckily I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, so I will have to return one day.