Rome, the last stop of our 3-week trip in France and Italy, is 3 hours away from Pisa by train. We stayed near Roma Termini station but note that from this station the Fiumicino Airport is 40 minutes away by train or car.
We bought the Roma Pass for 48 hours to get us around the city but because the sites are close to each other we ended up walking a lot too. It was good exercise since we’ve been eating like crazy.
So there’s the famous Vatican City!
Vatican City, located within Rome, is considered the smallest state in the world ruled by the Pope and has diplomatic relations in almost all countries. This is where St. Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles, was believed to be buried and eventually became the seat of the Catholic Church.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the main site you can find in the Vatican City. It’s the largest church in the world and built on the grave of the first pope, St. Peter. The architecture is largely influenced by the Renaissance period and the design of the dome was initiated by the famous Michelangelo. You can check out the website to get a schedule of the masses and when you will be able to see the Pope. Make sure you dress appropriately too.
There’s an area inside where you can hear mass and an area where you can confess. I haven’t confessed for years so I did and had our rosaries blessed by the priest as well.
St. Peter’s Square is the plaza right in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. When we went, large part of the area was closed and was filled with chairs to accommodate the tourists who want to attend the scheduled mass or want to see the Pope.
Rome, the capital of Italy, is the largest commune and one of the most populated cities in Europe. The mix of the old and new architecture design and structure definitely gives it a unique flavor and you can never have enough of all the photo-worthy locations. It also has a rich history and culture so if you prefer not to get tour guides, for better appreciation of the places make sure you do your research or bring a guide book with you.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, located near Roma Termini is one of the five ancient basilicas of Rome and known for its well-preserved Byzantine interiors. It is considered a Papal Major Basilica and houses the image of Salus Populi Romani. Although it is outside the Vatican city, it is under the full ownership of the Holy See.
Club Macchiaveli is probably one of the best restaurants we tried in Rome. It is a hole-in-the-wall located in a small street in Machiavelli. The menu changes depending on the available ingredients and it’s always better to reserve since most of the time it’s full.
Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome thus making it a top destination for tourists. Roam around the plaza and see different street artists and painters or take a rest in one of the three beautiful fountains.
Sant’ Agnese in Agone is a Baroque Church found in Piazza Navona. It’s one of the beautiful churches I’ve seen in Rome where you can actually sit down and pray without seeing a lot of tourists taking pictures of the place.
Pont Sant’ Angelo located just in front of Castel Sant’ Angelo is the bridge crossing the Tiber river connecting Ponte and Borgo. The bridge also showcases 10 beautiful angel sculptures symbolizing a part of Jesus’ story of suffering and death. The angels were designed by Gian Bernini.
Castel St. Angelo or also known as the Castle of the Holy Angel used to be the pope’s fortress and castle but is now a museum.
Trevi Fountain – yes, the one you see in movies! It’s even more majestic when you’re actually in front of it. Don’t forget to make a wish and throw the coin over your left shoulder so you are sure to return to Rome. Trevi fountain is an example of Baroque art situated in the city center surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafes. You will not miss it because you can hear the sound of the water from a few meters away. It is one of the oldest water sources in Rome situated at the center where the three main streets intersect.
If you wish to visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palestine Hill, make sure you purchase the ticket beforehand so you save yourself from lining up. There is a dedicated line for tickets purchased online where you just need to reserve a schedule when you want to enter the Colosseum. You can’t enter anytime you want because they want to limit the people inside. There are still people selling tickets in the venue but it’s not ideal to buy it on the day. We purchased our ticket in Tiqets.com covering the three areas mentioned. You can spend the whole day exploring the three sites and it still might not be enough so start early and plan your day!
Colosseum, used to be known as the Flavian Amphitheater is the largest stone amphitheater built as a gift to the Roman people. It can hold more than 50,000 guests to watch Gladiators who were mostly slaves, criminals or prisoners fight each other or hunt wild animals. Now, as an archaeological site it’s one of the most visited sites in Rome.
Roman Forum located just beside the Colosseum is an important archaeological site that used to be a social and political center of the Roman Empire. It took us more than 3 hours to explore but it was worth it. Better to have a guide map or a tour guide so you can understand and appreciate each area of the site. The whole place was composed of remnants of buildings that housed government affairs, market place, and communal affairs and for centuries it used to be the center of the Roman public life.
Pantheon in greek means “temple of every god” is a preserved Roman temple known to be a place to honor the pagan gods of Rome then later on became a church to honor St. Mary. Its unique circular dome showcases the classic Italian Renaissance design used in temples.
Spanish Steps is located in Piazza di Spagna and a popular place where people get together and hang out for the day. Before, artists, painters and poets stay here to get inspiration.
Then don’t forget to get lost in the streets of Rome!
This was one of my best trips so far and I can’t wait to go back and explore the other areas not just of France and Italy but the rest of Europe!
Now back to Asia, next stop: Taiwan!
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