Monday, 21 April 2014

Italian Tale Part 1: Romeing Around.

Okay, this has been a long time coming, but I did so much in the sixteen days that I was away that even if I break it down place by place it's still far too much to condense. It will take me forever to write it and I really want to write more posts so I have decided to just give you my highlights and the most memorable things that I did. I hope you like it, and I hope it is helpful. Firstly, if you are thinking of going to Italy: go, just go! Go now. You won't regret it, it is impossible to get bored there, and it's the perfect place to go with either friends or family, you will have a great time no matter what the circumstances and without further ado lets jump into the magical place that is Rome.


Romeing Around

Like what I did there? Thought so.

I went to Rome with a friend from university and we took a plane from Stansted with Ryan Air. We stayed in a hostel because I am absolutely not the type of person that travels a few thousand miles away to lounge poolside in a bikini and relax in a swanky hotel that provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I hop on a plan it's because I want to see the city and not the inside of The Hilton hotel, but who says you can't do both? The hostel we stayed at was called The Yellow and it was incredible. I love The Yellow, it is in Termini, about a thirty minute walk from all the main attractions like the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, it is next door to two great and reasonably priced pizzerias and the hostel itself has a bar that serves great food and €5 cocktails. The rooms are spacious and clean, as are the bathrooms. They have areas outside with large mirrors perfect for sitting and putting your makeup and lashes on and hairdryers to dry your hair and absolutely everyone I met from the staff to the guests were lovely. Really really lovely and from all over the world.


Trevi Fountain
In terms of my favourite places, it would be hard to narrow it down, we were in Rome for a week and we did a great many things but the ones that spring to mind is seeing the Trevi fountain at night, that was truly wonderful. It is so busy during the day you can't really appreciate it, and at night it's so bright and lovely and there are still people excitedly making wishes. It is really nice to see that and ridiculously cute. There was a married couple getting their photos taken in front of the huge fountain which was beautiful and an old Chinese couple held a single euro between them, sharing their wish. And that might just be the most stunning thing I have ever witnessed. I want that.



Piazza Navona
This is where the Fountain of Four Rivers is, it's also the busiest square in all of Rome with magicians and street artists, there is a tonne of things to do and it's beautiful to see.  This is probably my favourite fountain in Rome, I love how there is so much water in Rome, there are fountains everywhere, rivers, lakes and drinking fountains. It's awesome. 



Roman Forum
Another favourite was The Roman Forum, we went to see that on the same day we saw The Colosseum, and though both were great we spent only an hour or so at The Colosseum and about four in the Forum. I do recommend you see The Colosseum though because it's a pretty big deal. The Roman Forum is amazing mainly because you're walking on the same paths and stones that all those awesome Romans walked on so long ago, you can feel the history because you're immersed in it. You can build what the ruins were supposed to look like in your mind. We went on a sunny day and it was extremely pretty to behold all of that, there was a sassy little American girl explaining to her brother what Rome was like all those years ago, she surmised: 'There were slaves, and people wore sandals and there were slaves. Like a lot.' She is adorable. 



The Roman Forum is basically where the government was based in Ancient Rome, but there are also lots of temples and other ruins around. There was a lovely chapel or church with a gorgeous bronze door. It was stunning and the plaque explained it was dedicated to a child who died before their time. And there was another temple dedicated to a woman's husband, which is atypical because usually buildings are erected by men for women in history, so I thought that was pretty cool.




Wedding Cake
Next is Piazza Venezia, you have to go past here to get to most places and it is a huge square, ginormous and there is a church there which is very silent and beautiful with priceless art like every church in Rome. If you don't have anything to do just walk around and find churches, because you'll see some amazing sights just doing that. I am not religious or Christian but I could appreciate the beauty in all the churches and it is time well spent, believe me. Also in Piazza Venezia is The Wedding Cake. Which, in my opinion, actually in everyone's opinion, is the most ostentatious building in Rome, I love it. 




The Wedding Cake's real name is Altare della Patria or Il Vittoriano, it was built to honour the first king of a unified Italy which was Victor Emmanuel the Second.It is the largest monument ever created from white marble and features stairways, Corinthian columns, an equestrian sculpture of said king and statues of the goddess Victoria. Inside, it holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame this occurred after World War One following the General's idea as a few deceased soldiers remained unidentified. Naturally, I got all this information from Wikipedia. 




Sistine Chapel
The trip to the Vatican took the whole day, for ease I suggest you buy your tickets beforehand online it's about ten euros per person. I loved The Vatican, there is such amazing art around and it wasn't that busy in late March which was good. But what I loved the most was The Sistine Chapel, I really thought it was one of those places that would be unjustly overhyped like in my opinion, The Mona Lisa is. But it isn't, in fact all the famous art we saw in Italy exceeded expectations for me. It is incredible, and the look of awe on people's tilted faces is so sweet. There was the occasional eight year old playing Subway Surfer but you can't win them all. This was the first time I actually cared what the paintings depicted, I was interested and I could have sat there for days. It's a masterpiece, i have mad respect for Michelangelo. Donatello is still my favourite Renaissance artist though. 



St Peter's Cathedral
Another religious building but the most impressive by far. The Piazza it's in is stunning, huge with fountains and children from schools playing tag on day trips. But the inside is simply mesmerising, you could stay there for days and still not see the whole thing because every inch of it is worth looking at. It is overwhelming, but well worth the queue. 



Villa Borghese
I didn't even mean to go here, my theory is if you have seen one park you have seen them all but this park is definitely worth visiting. It''s peaceful and beautiful, there was a guitar playing and lakes and couples having picnics. The perfect place for some R&R and wonderfully free. I went with a friend from the hostel and had such a great time, talking and reading and walking. It's a great place to sunbathe and chat and eat gelato or have a picnic. Also the walk back to Termini is full of great places to eat and drink as well.




La Romana 



One of my all time favourite places in the whole of Rome. It's just the best gelateria in Italy. Not only are the staff really friendly and helpful, the gelato is sublime and their cakes are beautiful as well as really tasty. They have a great variety of flavours and are open until midnight. What's not to love?





San Lorenzo
This is basically the student district in Rome and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to get lost in. There are people drinking and smoking on the street. We went to a reggae bar  and a beautiful cocktail lounge called Streat, it was chic and modern and they gave you a bowl of crisps for free. The perfect place to go with a group of people. 




Trastevere
This is basically the 'true Rome' according to guide books, so the more rustic Roman experience, with laundry hanging out of the windows and Italians spilling onto the streets drinking espressos and doing Italian things. I did like this place because it was different to the sights you get on the other side of the river. The food was good, but it's not a pretty place.



Cioccolato e vino
This is one of my favourite places by far, it is a bar in Trastevere that specialises in chocolate shots. As in the chocolate shot glass is actually made of real chocolate, then they put in liqueur or whatever you ask for and put cream on top and then you put the entire concoction in your mouth and prepare to be amazed. It's awesome, and the bar itself has a classy decor with books on shelves and comfy seats. Perfection. 





These were my favourites, of course we went to lots of other places as well, including a lot of churches; the Spanish steps; The Pantheon; a million restaurants; a reggae bar; and all the requisite designer shops because who can resist? But these were the highlights, I did have a fantastic time in Rome and I would love to go back, there were some problems but when you're on holiday you just move past anything shitty that happens because you don't want it to ruin this once-in-a-lifetime-experience. So in the famous words of everyone's new favourite Disney movie 'Let it Go. . . '. I hope you enjoyed it, my links are all below, check out my Instagram for more pictures, thank you very much.



Next stop: Florence.



Kiran xxx




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