Our Journey in Europe included a stop in the capital city of Italy, Rome. With its unique blend of culture, architecture and history, it’s no wonder why this city is often referred to as the Eternal City or the ‘Navel’ of the World. Rome, Italy is home to the Coliseum, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps overlooking Via Veneto, the infamous Quattro Fontane (four magnificent Baroque fountains at four corners), and the Vatican.
We would recommend that if you visit, you book a hotel near Via Veneto or the Coliseum, which will put you in the center and within walking distance to all the sights this beautiful city has to offer.
Our time in Rome began with a rooftop breakfast on top of our hotel, the Mecente Palace, which gave us spectacular views of the ancient city and views of Basilica Square. After our authentic Italian breakfast, we took a short walk to the Coliseum. Of course, no visit to Rome, Italy could be complete without a tour of the Coliseum and Forum.
The Roman Coliseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, was commissioned in 72 AD, as a place where spectators, who were seated according to rank, gathered to watch deadly combats of gladiators and wild animals fight to the death. The gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals.
Walking through the Royal Entrance, and once we were inside the Coliseum, it was as if we were brought back in time to the day of the gladiator games; you could hear the roar of the spectators and the rumble of their hungry appetite as the gates opened for the lions to enter and the prisoners to defend their lives.
Standing inside the mighty Coliseum leaves you in awe of who designed this and how this was built in ancient times. After we spent the morning exploring the Coliseum, we continued our adventure on to the great Forum, directly across the street.
The forum was once the center of political, commercial and judicial life in ancient Rome.
The largest buildings were the basilicas, where legal cases were heard. We spent the rest of the afternoon touring this incredible sight.
Inside the Forum, was a Mecca of ancient ruins, cobblestone lined stairs lined with massive marble statues, meticulous gardens, fruit trees and the remains of what was once a thriving city. At the very end of the Forum, you will find the grand mansion, once called home by Mussolini, filled with ornate paintings and excavated artifacts, has now been turned into a museum for all to enjoy.
While on the walk to the museum, at the top of the hill, overlooking years of excavation below, we came across a group of orange trees filled with fruit. Our guide explained to us that it was often told that if you can reach the fruit, it would be yours for the taking. Of course, Pol’ always up for a challenge, had to have a bite of the ‘forbidden fruit’, and used every means possible to get it. His reward was a delicious afternoon snack of a very juicy orange, from a tree that had been there for over 300 years!
Our time in Rome finished with a quick visit to the Quattro Fontane. These four fountains are a group of four Late Renaissance fountains located at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale in Rome. The figures of the four fountains represent the River Tiber (the symbol of Rome); the River Arno the symbol of Florence; the Goddess Diana; the symbol of Chastity; and the Goddess Juno, the symbol of Strength.
Our last two stops were the Trevi Fountain, arguably one of the most beautiful fountains we have ever seen. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
It stands 85.3 feet high and 65.6 feet wide, and people from all over the world come here to throw a coin into the fountain to make a wish. Legend has it that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. Another is that it is lucky to throw three coins with one’s right hand over one’s left shoulder into the fountain, and of course we did as well.
We ended the evening passing through Via Veneto, commonly referred to as the ‘Rodeo Drive’ of Italy, with a walk up the Spanish Steps. Pol’ recalled when he was invited to the famous fashion designer, Valentino’s fashion show many years ago. Rich in history, the Spanish Steps were designed in 1723 and are 138 steps joining the Piazza di Spanga and the Trinita dei Monti church. Once we got to the top of the steps we took in the final breathtaking views of the city. It was from here that we were able to walk back to our hotel all the while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this marvelous and unique city that has withstood the sands of time.
Our days in Rome, Italy took us back to moment of history where we lived through the eyes of the Romans and we reminisced about what it would have been like to live in such a modern city in such ancient times. Since, we both tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain, we hope our wish comes true and we return to the romantic city of Rome, Italy and bring you an insight into the Vatican in the future.
Written and contributed by Pol’ Atteu and Patrik Simpson