In my 3 years from home I have made a fair dent into my list of places to see. The 'big four' places left (those ones left from the original list) seem to be languishing in the distant future at the moment because of work commitments and cash going on other things but they will be done. In the meantime I have been reminiscing over past travels with my friend Mark who is now on his OE and staying with us.
Combine that with reading Dan Browns Angels and Demons and you can just tell how itchy the old feet have gotten. I have definitely gotten a bit Rome-sick. Its such a beautiful city and you can gad about the central city on foot and walk from the Pantheon to St Peters Square in minutes passing the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Nouvona on the way.
If you fancy going bottom to top, you can walk from the coloseum right through the city via the Forum up to the Spanish Steps (nicer in Spring than summer)and right up the the walls of the Vatican city without feeling like you have taken on a major trek. This is always helped by frequent stops to buy Gelato and look at various souvenir shops.
One of the really lovely and unique things about Rome is the drinking fountains. The Senate declared that Rome would supply fresh drink water to all her citizens and so it is. If the fountain isn't good for dangling your tootsies in its good for filling your water bottle from so you always have a supply of cooling liquid at no extra cost. Which is important if you are going to walk all over the historical city on a hot day.
On my last trip to Rome, with Anton, we managed to cover the city several times over. Every time we walked back to our hotel which was situated behind the colosuem we directed ourselves past this fountain very near the Forum and stopped for 10 or 20 minutes to let our feet recover. Bliss is a cool fountain on a hot day!
For those people who are into the slightly different you can also travel south of the coloseum by the Metro and go to the Non-catholic cemetary which is fronted by a pyramid and is home to another population of Romes cats (much like the colloseo cats). Here you can visit Keats and Shelley in their final resting place or sculpture/american artist William Story and his amazing final sculpture which deorates his wifes grave. Its so peacefuland calm and oasis like that it is worth a stop if you are in Rome. Its like a little time out!
The Vatican city is also somewhere I think you could visit a dozen times over and not get bored! There is so much art and so many rooms to see! The Sistine Chapel alone could use up about 4 hours of your day. On both my previous visits to Rome I have seen Il Papa (John Paul II). To then walk through the city you really understand why the catholic faith has inspired so many millions of people. St Peters is also such a tremendous place you can only feel awe when you are there.
Something I noticed about Rome that I haven't really considered on any other trip to Italy is how massive the buildings are - their dimensions are just huge - but within an hour inside the city you stop noticing the enormity and your perspective adjusts or adapts so that you have to remind yourself how huge are the buildings you are in or looking at! The pantheon is a prime example. Its just so huge! It totally dominates the square it is sited in between residential buildings/restaurants. However, once you have taken it all in your eyes adjust and then this massive dome seems to be just the right size even though you may have never seen a one floor building of its magnatude before! When you get home and see a photo of yourself completely dwarfed by the Pantheons gargantuan proportions you think 'I don't remember it looking so huge'! And the whole city is like that!
Its a beautiful place. Of all the Italian cities I have seen Milan and Rome are my two favourites so far. Milan is small and has such sweet and small places to see that you can visit its major tourist highlights in one day but you could spend a lifetime shopping - from Gucci to the market square - but rome offers shopping and sights and experiences that far surpass any other place in Europe that I have been. It was the one city I never really wanted to see but Rome has totally captured me!
If you go make sure you stop and see the monastery of the cappucine monks. There are 5 chapels or alters in successive rooms that have each been entirely decorated with the bones of dead monks. Sounds creepy? Thats right! Apparently the monastery was originally outside the walls of Rome but at some point in more recent times (say - a few hundred years back) they were ordered inside the walls for their own protection. They refused to leave their brothers behind and so dug them all up and brought them with. And now you can, for a donation, visit the rooms and see how they have been decorated. I have tried to describe it to people but its not the easiest image to convey so go and see, leave them a hefty donation to help them keep on keeping on and marvel at the alters! This site comes highly recommended!
And while your in Rome, or if you stop in Italy at all make sure you spend your days eating Gelato! I have found love and love is... gelato! Simple as - this food is gods gift to man- and womankind. Life does not get any better once you have discovered gelato.
I can rave about it all day but I think you get the idea. Its better than regular tip-top or walls ice cream. It beats the pants off mr whippy and it sure as heck rates as highly as any of the other good stuff in life. You make a trip to italy totally worth it if you only go for the gelato!
Still Rome-sick. Roll on holidays!