Italy’s capital takes great pride in its prehistorical and artistic charm – where else would you find the biggest concentration of ancient monuments and art in the world?
Rome is so special – and it’s not just because of the globally respected art galleries, 3000 year history, and culture. The best way experience the city of Rome is to walk in its very streets: the statues, the sculptures, the fountains (with drinkable water!) the piazzas.
In my tour of Rome, our first stop was the Colosseum, a massive stone amphitheater which we learned is still the largest in the world today. The building stands out for a reason – it has a complex and intricate architecture with a massive sitting capacity and about 80 entrances.
And below it, there are numerous underground tunnels where entertainers would emerge to the arena. Walking across the hallways of the Colosseum is truly exhilarating, what with all the gladiator fights that used to take place here, the public trials and sometimes executions!
The Roman Forum, just west of the Colosseum, is another nostalgic blast from the past of ancient Rome. It gave us a glimpse into the majesty and splendor of ancient Roman architecture – little wonder the buildings here have inspired countless artists through the centuries.
The place features an impressive lay of ruins of what were once the nucleus of Roman public life. Strolling through the Roman Forum, one can feel the sway of the once deified temples, the imposing arches, the striking statues and sculptures and the magnificent Corinthian columns.
Michelangelo, the great artist and architect of the Italian Renaissance remarked this about the Pantheon: “built by angels, not men”. And it’s true, the sheer engineering wonder of the Pantheon is a sight to behold. Nobody knows exactly when the Pantheon was built, which only adds to its charm and mystery.
The Pantheon’s dome, which has a hole at the top, “the oculus” (meaning eye) is what is most striking because of the precise mathematical calculations matching the rest of the building. The oculus serves as the only source of light in this building which when combined with the cylindrical shape of the dome makes one feel as though they were in the centre of some universe!
Inside the Vatican City: Our next stop was Vatican City – the smallest city in the world. But don’t let this fool you, this place is not short of amazing sites. First is the St. Peters Basilica, the largest capacity church in the world, and definitely one of the most remarkable.
Apart from being a majestic piece of work itself, the church is home to many great works. The Pieta, the famous Michelangelo sculpture masterpiece depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary, is right on your right when you enter St Peters, so don’t miss it. Whether you are religious or not, this sculpture is sure to leave a lasting impression on you! The Sistine Chapel is in the official residence of the Pope and the place where new popes are elected, is another architectural masterwork. Here, I was immediately taken by the Chapel’s ceiling, which is covered by frescoes depicting tales from the Bible’s Old Testament, designed yet again by Michelangelo. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is definitely a must see!
In Trevi district in Rome is another yet amazing site, the Trevi fountain. A trip to Rome is not complete without seeing the Trevi fountain. It is made with sculptures representing the Greek god of sea, sea horses and mermen. Most people are used to hearing of mermaids, but here, you get to see mermen.
Not only is the fountain very breathtaking, but the crowd energy here was awesome! Interestingly, people would apparently fetch water here for home use back in the day. The story goes that if you throw a coin in the water from your shoulder, you will certainly return to Rome. And who doesn’t want to?
To escape the heat and just lazy about by the sea, we would head over to the many beaches outside of town. The Roman coastline has plenty of beautiful beaches with fine, golden sands and turquoise waters and seaside restaurants offering a mouthwatering medley of Roman cuisine and fresh seafood. Santa Marinella beach is pretty convenient as it’s just a 40 minutes ride away. Other beaches are Sabaudia, Anzio, Fregene, Sperlonga, Maccarese and more!