Rome really surprised us. It wasn’t as dirty or tacky as we expected, we didn’t have to fight off the gypsies like we thought, and there was a totally unexpected, beautiful central park (Villa Borghese) that we loved spending time in. All in all, Rome was a great destination for another short trip.
We arrived at Rome Termini and had an easy 6 minute walk to our accommodation, Macao Rooms, where we were greeted by the owner. We stayed in a pleasant bed and breakfast that we luckily didn’t have to share with any other guests, so it essentially felt like staying in an apartment. The location of the room was in perfect walking distance to many of the attractions and, for us, in walking distance to all the attractions of Rome. On our first day we just explored the local area, including the Villa Borghese which was not too far up the road.
Day 2 started slowly as we made use of the free internet to try and get ahead in our booking of accommodation for our next few destinations. Unfortunately our sightseeing was further delayed by a trip to the Australian Embassy as we had learned that we had not been taken off the electoral roll, despite filling out forms in January, and needed to try and organise something to not be fined for not voting in the upcoming State election.
After a bit of mucking around we were on our way to the Spanish Steps to meet our friend Chad, an American studying in Italy who we met at a hostel in Vienna. He had kindly agreed to tour us around the city. The tour was a lot of fun and it was nice to have some extra company for the day too. Chad was able to share some of the information he has been learning about Italian history while studying abroad, and this made for a more interesting tour than we could have done ourselves. We saw all the famous Ancient Roman sites including the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and of course many fountains, statues and churches too. My favourite site of the day was, hands down, the Pantheon. It was so beautiful, highly decorated, well designed and well presevered – a very impressive building indeed. After saying our goodbyes to Chad at the Trevi Fountain, another amazing attraction, we made our way back to our room to have dinner and rest our tired feet from the day’s walking.
Another full day meant we were able to take our time walking from our accommodation to the Vatican City. As we headed up the road to Saint Peter’s Square a dozen tour guides flocked to us like seagulls to hot chips, trying to convince us to pay for a tour or express entry into the basilica. Of course we said no to them all, I didn’t really see the point of paying for something that has free entry, and the line moved quite quickly considering to volume of people, the metal detectors and the x-ray bag scans. The fuss outside was definitely worth the effort as the interior of the basillica was just amazing. In my opinion it’s magnificence is only rivalled by Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice. I coud not believe how detailed every inch of the place was, and it was just enormous! After soaking in the sunshine and having a snack break in the square we made our way back to our accommodation via Castel Sant’Angelo. The afternoon saw us once again enjoy the sunshine at Villa Borghese before we went out for dinner and admired the Trevi Fountain at night.
We have really enjoyed our time in Rome. The relaxed pace, sunshine and constant surprises have made it a great 3 days. To my surprise, Jason has even said that, while different, it is on par with how much he enjoyed Vienna.