Rome

Arriving in this beautiful city I had to get my priorities straight, Wales had beaten Ireland in the 6 Nations the day before, meaning that if England beat Scotland then they would be crowned champions. I went out for my first walk on the streets of Rome, bypassed the Colosseum and went straight to a pub showing the game. First up before the England game was Italy v France, which had a great atmosphere in the pub and then England thrashed Scotland, what a great start!I had 3 days in Rome altogether and I knew I could fit everything in that I wanted to do in the remaining 2 days. First up was the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. A ticket cost €12 and allows entry to both sights and the Palatino (I actually forgot to go in the Palatino… oops) and is valid for 2 days, with 1 entry into each attraction. If you are between the ages of 18-25 and are from an EU country the ticket is only €7.50. Now I missed the whole Brexit thing, being in the middle of the Gobi Desert with no WIFI, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t in the EU anymore, luckily that didn’t matter, I managed to secure the cheaper ticket. The Colosseum or Colosseo in Italian is an amazing piece of architecture. Make sure you approach it from the park to the east as you will see it growing bigger and bigger through the trees, and eventually it towers over you, a spectacular sight. From the exit follow the walkway round the outside which takes you to the Roman Forum and dive inside to explore. A good tip given to me by my mum’s window cleaner (weird I know!) is to purchase your combined ticket at the Roman Forum, that way you skip the queues at the Colosseum, however I didn’t have too much trouble with the queues as its not a busy time of year! The Roman Forum is huge with a large number of historical ruins, with information boards next to each ruin to fill you in on the history of this fantastic site. 

From the Roman Forum I continued north by foot and arrived at the Pantheon, another fantastic building and very similar to the one I had just seen in Athens, just in a lot better condition. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes surrounding the Pantheon so it’s probably a good place to stop for lunch and soak up the atmosphere. From there I walked over to the Trevi Fountain which was incredibly impressive and then I continued on to the Spanish Steps. After I walked up the Spanish Steps I took a left and followed the road into the park, where I spent a lazy afternoon recovering from the long walk and I took my time watching full grown adults falling over trying to learn to rollerblade. I then walked over to the view point and looked down over the Piazza Del Popollo which offers great views of the city, if you time it right you could catch the sunset. I then went down the steps to view the Piazza Del Poppolo up close before catching the Metro back to my hostel to freshen up before an amazing Italian dinner. I was staying a 10 minute walk from the Central Station or Termini which I felt was a great location. It meant I was close to the public transport links if I didn’t feel like walking and I wasn’t far from the Colosseum. A ticket for the Metro costs €1.50 and is valid for one whole journey with a total time of 100 minutes. It means if you want to travel from the end of Line A, swap lines at Termini and continue to the end of LIne B, as long as it takes under 100 minutes it will cost the same as travelling 1 stop, €1.50.

On my final day I caught the Metro to the Vatican. The stop to get off at is Ottaviano even thought the stop before is called Lepanto Vaticano. You will see a lot of people getting off at Lepanto but it is a longer walk to the Vatican. The 2 main attractions are St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum, which houses the Sistine Chapel. One thing to note is you are not allowed to enter if you are wearing shorts or showing your shoulders, no matter how hot it is or what gender you are, I saw people getting turned away. Also the Museum is shut on a Sunday which can be annoying if you are only there for the weekend. When you enter St Peter’s Square you will see a huge queue with people queuing to go through airport style security to enter the Basilica. I decided not to join this queue and went back outside and round to the left to join the queue for the Musuem. I had about 20 touts come up to me and say that the queue was over 2 hours long and I could pay them €60 so I could jump to the front of both lines, for the Museum and the Basilica. I decided against this and joined the queue, which was down to the second corner and I was inside within 37 minutes. Now this was quite a long time to wait but it saved me tons of money and everything moves quite quickly. The entry ticket was €16 and the Museum is home to sooooooo much art and history, if you are an art lover then you could easily lose 5 hours in the museum. If you haven’t purchased the queue jump ticket make sure you visit the Sistine Chapel last. It is an amazing piece of art and it takes a while to get through the crowds. Once you are through to the end there is a door on the right which says “Exit Strictly For Tour Groups Only” and an exit on the left which takes you back out the front. If you take the door on the left you have to walk back round to St Peter’s Square and join the queue for the Basilica. Or you can be cheeky and do what I did… I immersed myself into the middle of a tour group heading out the exit on the right and 2 minutes later found myself in St Peter’s Basilica, looking out at everyone queuing in the square.

I took my time looking around and taking in the amazing architecture before joining another queue to head up to the top of the dome. This is definitely something you have to do as the views from the top of the whole city are amazing. You can pay €6 to walk up all 551 steps or pay €8 to get an elevator up some of the way and then walk up 301 steps. It’s not worth paying and waiting for the elevator, the first 250 steps are small, wide and its an easy climb, its after that things get narrow. The final 301 steps are quite steep, tight and tricky but I thought it was fantastic. There are a few places to stop and rest if needed and the views from the top make it all worth while. After I took a few snaps I made the descent before walking back into the centre of Rome along the river, appreciating my final walk in this beautiful city. From Rome I’m catching a bus to Florence, supposedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, it will do well to beat Rome. 

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