There was one place I most wanted to visit.
Rome has been a dream destination for many years brought on by my love for the Roman Empire.
I spoke to a friend and began arranging an affordable holiday to the Italian capital.
I booked a mid-November holiday because flights and accommodation were reasonably priced outside of the peak tourist months.
We decided to meet at Gatwick Airport and go on to Rome together.
I secured accommodation within the Trastevere district through booking.com.
We landed at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in the morning after a crisp flight lasting a little over two hours.
It was a short half hour train ride to Trastevere. Our accommodation was a brief walk from the station.
Our enthusiastic, positive Italian landlady, Annalisa showed us to our room. After settling in, we decided to head out in search of food.
We wandered along cobbled Roman streets and located the Tonnarello restaurant recommended by Annalisa.
We queued outside and discovered the one downside of our November holiday. It rained. A lot. At least it wasn’t cold.
We were soaked by the time we got inside. It was a surreal but charming experience when one of the waiters approached with rolls of kitchen paper for us to dry ourselves with.
Real Italian pasta is legendary and we both ordered carbonara. For dessert, I treated myself to homemade tiramisu.
They were, without doubt, utterly sublime. My taste buds were in love.
From Trastevere the train journey to San Pietro lasted only five minutes and tickets cost just €1.
We purchased a couple of tour tickets (for student prices despite not being students). Therefore we were able to skip the line.
The tour began at 11am in a small group made up of other English-speaking tourists.
Our guide took us through the rich Vatican Museums. She explained the history and significance of the artefacts and artwork. We realised we wouldn’t have understood enough on our own.
This showed us why choosing a guided tour had been the right decision.
Part of the tour took us inside the Sistine Chapel. There were no photographs allowed here. Several tourists’ sly attempts to take sneaky mobile pics led to stern reprimands.
The tour ended with a look inside the mesmerising St Peter’s Basilica. You aren’t prepared for the wealth of artefacts contained within. It’s quite simply astronomical.
It was a small tour with only two other customers, both Americans. Our guide was Alethea, a Canadian woman living in the city.
Alethea was personable, funny and her storytelling around each of the sights was fantastically detailed.
We learned about the heretic, Giordano Bruno, burned alive by Pope Clement for daring to suggest the Earth might go around the sun. His statue faces the Vatican in Campo de’ Fiori.
This is Rome’s only piazza not to feature any churches.
To this day, Bruno is seen as a symbol of free speech in the city and an annual memorial service takes place near to the sight of his execution.
Alethea told us about past Rome’s ingenious solution to the problem of littering. A sign on the walls of wealthy homes instructing people not to leave their rubbish here or face a fine of 15 scudi.
All well and good except a number of the citizens were illiterate and unable to pay the fine.
Giulia Tofana was responsible for the deaths of over 200 men through selling a poison made from anthrax, lead and belladonna.
Tofana sold her poison to women trapped in difficult marriages since divorce was illegal.
Her activities were discovered by the Papal authorities. However, due to her popularity among the locals, Tofana was granted sanctuary inside a church.
A rumour spread that Tofana had poisoned the water supply and, after torture, she confessed to the murders and was executed alongside her daughter.
It was time for the big one. We took the tram to Piazza Del Colosseo for a 3 hour tour beginning at 10:15.
This is a long time on your feet and I’d recommend wearing sturdy footwear as well as taking plenty of water if you come along in the summer months.
We marvelled at the size and scale of the Colosseum as well as the impressive ruins uncovered by archaeological digs and now preserved on the Palatine Hill.
It’s akin to looking through a window into history and seeing the echoes of Rome as it once was.
After the tour we found a place to have lunch. We sat outside under a canopy which protected us from a fresh onslaught of rain.
This was the best pizza I’ve ever enjoyed in my life.
We decided to spend our final day present shopping and sightseeing.
We took the number 8 tram to Venezia and walked from there to the iconic Trevi Fountain which took around 15 minutes.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most visually stunning buildings in Rome. It has featured in movies including The Lizzie McGuire Movie and La Dolce Vita.
It’s the largest baroque fountain in the city and, as a result, it’s quite imposing up close. This is another example of Rome’s sometimes excessive but always incredible historic architecture.
We visited the Castel Sant’Angelo museum which is situated at the end of Ponte Sant’Angelo, known as the Angel Bridge.
Castel Sant’Angelo has a history spanning from its origin as Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum.
Since then it has been a fortress controlled by the Vatican, with an underground tunnel linking the two, and now a museum.
It was free entry that day. Lucky us!
We walked around and marvelled at the examples of its history.
The roof of the museum offers an amazing birds-eye view of the entire city.
Perfect for taking a few panoramic photos!
We continued shopping after lunch and found our way to the bottom of the Spanish Steps, however we didn’t climb them. Maybe next time!
Darkness descended and it was time to head to the airport.
Our time in Rome had been fun, illuminating, exhausting and full of memories to treasure.
Rome is a fantastic and safe city. However, be aware of pick-pocketing as well as the entertaining driving and parking styles.
It’s possible to do a lot in a short holiday although you’ll only have just scratched the surface of how much there is to see.
Make sure to bring enough money as many of the attractions can be quite expensive, however the food is reasonably priced and delicious.
The public transport links are excellent but most major sights are within walkable distances.
Rome at night is particularly beautiful and, if you fancy an ice cream, there are plenty of places to sample exquisite Italian gelato from which open late into the evening.