Remember how I told you about my weekend trip to Rome at the beginning of the year?
I went back to Rome last weekend.
It all started with my brother and me looking for a birthday present for my mother. After a long discussion, we decided to try ‘Blind Booking’. It is offered by Germanwings and it’s a nice idea. You choose the airport you fly from, pick a theme (we went with ‘big cities’) and the dates on which you want to fly. Germanwings then chooses your destination for you.
I was the one who made the booking and I can tell you, I had never been as excited to enter my credit card details. You don’t know where you’re going to fly to until afterwards.
When I saw Rome, my first thought was, ‘Again?’. But then I started to get excited about it because I realised that Rome in July meant good weather. And I’m tired of always wearing jackets and being interrupted by rain when I go out even though it is supposed to be summer.
My parents booked rooms in the same hotel where we’d stayed the last time (in case you’re wondering, it’s called Hotel della Conciliazione and it’s located next to the Vatican). And then, finally, last Friday, we were ready to go. Even though we’d already spent a weekend in that city, there were still a lot of places left for us to explore.
1. The Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel
I’ve been to the Vatican Museums once before but I would always go here again. They have amazing exhibitions, from Roman sculptures to ancient Italien maps. Everything is housed in beautiful rooms and then, of course, there’s the Sistine Chapel.
The chapel is a masterpiece. It is a common myth that Michelangelo painted it all by himself. While that was not the case and there were more than enough people working alongside him, the paintings on the walls and especially the ceiling still inspire awe.
The Vatican Museums are large enough to spend a whole day inside. We didn’t have that time and walked through more quickly than most, spending about two hours. If you have more than just a weekend in Rome, you should consider renting an audioguide or taking a guided tour as you’ll get much more out of your visit that way.
Remember to dress respectfully. I know it’s hot in Rome. Take a scarf to cover knees and shoulders when entering the chapel. A very light one will do.
Also, to avoid long queues at the entrance, buy your tickets online in advance. If you didn’t, it might be worth paying one of those agents who can get a no-line ticket for you. You’ll find them near the Vatican – or rather, they’ll find you before you find them.
2. The Palatino
The Palatino, also known as the Palatine Hill, is what you could call Ancient Rome’s fanciest neighbourhood. This is where Roman emperors used to live. The Palatino is also where, according to legend, Romulus and Remus were saved by a wolf. Romulus then founded Rome on this exact hill more than two thousand years ago.
Unsurprisingly, there is no archaeological evidence that Romulus and Remus lived here. But the hill is covered with ruins from Ancient Rome. You’ll see the Stadio, which was used for leisurely walks. The foundations of various temples remain and you’ll find a hut village, which is supposed to date back to Romulus’ times.
Plus, the Orti Farnesiani, the Farnesi Gardens, were one of Europe’s earliest botanic gardens. We strolled through those gardens, enjoyed the view over the Circus Massimus and the Foro Romano and then made our way down to the Foro Romano.
3. The Foro Romano
The Foro Romano, also known as the Roman Forum, is where the Romans used to come for shopping, meetings or legal affairs. Entrance tickets always include the Colosseo and the Palatino as well and you have two days to see those attractions.
Most of the buildings in the Foro Romano have fallen down and all you get to see is a foundation here, an old wall or a couple of columns there. It takes a lot of imagination to think about how the place must have looked in Roman times.
Still, even in its current state, the Foro Romano is impressive and a must-see if you’re in Rome.
4. Ice Cream in the Centro Storico
You’ll find lots of places to buy ice cream in Rome’s city center. But how do you know which ones are any good?
Take a look at the pistachio ice cream. Is it a bright green, unnatural colour? That means they’ve added artificial colour to make it look more fancy. The good ice cream parlour offers pistachio ice cream in a slightly brownish colour.
And pistachio is exactly what I recommend because it’s a typically Italian flavour. The other flavours are, of course, amazing as well.
So that basically sums up our weekend in Rome. We didn’t get to do much on Sunday as our flight left around lunchtime. Now tell me, have you been to Rome before? Did you like it? What did you do? And if you haven’t been – what is your favourite ice cream flavour?