...You have to try the famous Gelato (Ice cream), get a selfie stick and book the Vatican Museum in advance to avoid 3 hour queues!
They are my top 3 tips when visiting Rome and will help you make the most of your trip.
I have always wanted to go to Rome, however it can end up quite an expensive trip when you add on the flights, hotel room and spends - as capital cities are always expensive once you get there. We hadn't been on a proper holiday abroad for nearly 3 years because we were saving for a house etc so I was dying to get away and we spontaneously booked Rome a month before we went!
To save on money, we booked our hotel through lastminute.com for 3 nights and we went with one of the secret hotels; something I have always wanted to try but never had the guts to do in case we ended up with a horrible hotel. This time we braved it and upon booking you receive an e-mail revealing what hotel you are staying in - I do like surprises. Luckily for us the hotel was amazing - a 4 star 'Roman Palace' near the centre of Rome with extravagant ancient Roman inspired decor and a roof top terrace overlooking picture perfect views of the city. I probably wouldn't have chosen the hotel myself, however I'm so glad we got it as it was amazing. Romanico Palace was the name of the hotel and I would definitely recommend it. We received 20% off going through the secret hotel booking process.
Top ten places to visit in rome
Read on for my top ten places to visit in this beautiful, historical city with impressive, world-famous Architecture.
1. Vatican Museum & Sistene Chapel
I cannot express how amazing the interior is of the Vatican museum. I was more impressed with the ceilings of each room, never mind the contents within them. Apparently there are hidden vaults that aren't available to view by public and they hold a ridiculous amount of gold. One piece of advice is to look up. Every ceiling is covered with intricate paintings or moulded with ornate architecture. We bought our tickets online before we went luckily, as the queue was right around the entire building and I heard somebody say it was a 3 hour wait - in spring! So imagine what the wait would be like in the peak of summer.
2. St peter's Basilica
I'm so glad we decided to wait in the queue to go inside as the architecture is out of this world. It is one of two of the largest churches in the world and there are over 100 tombs below the building including 91 popes, a Roman Emperor Otto II and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
3. The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum was the centre of ancient Rome. 'Forum' in Latin means Public space outdoors. It is a rectangular square with the ruins of several important government buildings. When you buy a ticket for the Colosseum online, you also get entry into the Roman forum too. It was amazing to see the remains from this important place in ancient history and when you walk up Palatine Hill you have a spectacular view of the whole site, including the rest of the City,
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre in the world. It was a must-see and such an important part of Roman history. I learnt so much about the gladiators and was desperate to watch the film Gladiator as soon as I got home to see if the CGI represented how I imagined it to be. It is so interesting, although I did find it much smaller than what I thought it would be.
5. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is almost 2000 years old and is the worlds largest un-reinforced concrete dome. It was strangely positioned in the centre of a small square and surrounded by winding narrow streets. I imagined it to be surrounded by vast open space for some reason, however many of the main sights and monuments are within small squares like this one.
6. Piazza Navona
This is a lovely square with a beautiful fountain in the centre, surrounded by restaurants, artists selling work and street entertainers playing authentic music. It was built in the 1st Century AD and was home to the 'agones' - the games in Rome. It was known as the competition arena. This square was lovely to sit and relax with a drink after walking around all day. I'd recommend scheduling this in around 3:30pm so you can take advantage of the late afternoon sun. The drinks are quite expensive here but it was worth it to relax in pretty surroundings.
7. Trevi Fountain
I was a bit disappointed visiting this world-famous site, as they were in the middle of refurbishing it so they had scaffolding all over the building, and no water in the fountain. Although, saying that it is still worth the visit as it is impressive to look at. Be careful in this square as it is very small and gets really busy - beware of pick pockets!
8. Ice Cream Parlours - Gelato
The ice cream is out of this world, Choose to go to a proper traditional Italian ice cream parlor as opposed to the street stalls in the main tourist destinations. We found a cute one by our hotel called La Romana with all the choices written in Italian on a board behind the counter; it added an element of surprise as we didn't have a clue what we were ordering! They filled each cone with a choice of either melted white or milk chocolate... delicious! At 2 euro each for 2 scoops it was a bargain compared to the 4 euro you pay for a bog standard ice cream elsewhere.
9. Spanish Steps
These are a set of steep steps in Rome with a fountain at the bottom and a Church at the top. We wandered the streets when we first arrived in Rome and this was the first site we encountered. This is where we bought our selfie stick!
We are so glad we bought a selfie stick at the beginning of our city break (one with a button on the handle to take a photo) - it allowed us to take much better photo's that we wouldn't have been able to get and avoids having to ask other people to take photo's for you.
10. Winding Streets
Lastly, this is not any site in particular, however I would recommend exploring the back streets of the city that are away from the main sights. Some of the streets are so winding and narrow in complete contrast to the grand architecture elsewhere. It's great to see the contrasting architecture as these little streets are cute with small restaurants and shops.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my review of Rome and I would definitely recommend visiting this buzzing city. It is one of the best places I have been so far and would love to go back! 3 nights was the perfect amount of time to fit in all the main sights, anymore and my feet would have fallen off.
Note to self: Do not wear converse EVER AGAIN on a sight seeing holiday.
Hope you have enjoyed reading 🙂