Julius Caesar said that ‘experience is the teacher of all things’. Although he obviously wasn’t referring to my journey to Rome, it is certainly true that my experience of just 72 hours in this city taught me much about history, culture, art and food. Many others have been to Rome before me and will have their own, but here are my five favourite things from my visit:
1. The sights at night: Rome is like one giant, outdoor museum full of history, architecture, and statue masterpieces all around. It has spectacular monuments to see and tour — Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Victor Emmanuel Monument, Spanish Steps — and I found them just a little more special at night.
2. Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums: Not officially in Rome, and actually in Vatican City, but I think it can count in this top five. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums is a must-see, and even the least-religious travellers are likely to marvel at the Michelangelo masterpiece on the ceiling — four years of effort laying on his back (I wasn’t able to take photographs in the chapel, but luckily elsewhere in the precinct it was allowed — see images below).
3. Campo dei Fiori Market: Fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats, a sense of old village in a big city, and lots of colour. Open every morning except for Sunday, this market is lovely to wander through, and buy produce direct from the producer, as many have done since 1869.
4. Il Fornaio: Just off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and near the Campo dei Fiori, a bakery of sweet and savoury Italian fare. Not only is it one of my favourite places in Rome, it was where I had one of my favourite eating experiences in Rome — a delicious pastry of fresh ricotta, topped with chocolate (I sat eating it under a tree across from the Victor Emmanuel Monument on a sunny November afternoon). Il Fornaio is a handy spot to pick up a snack on the go if you are out and about looking at the sites and here is the Tripadvisor review.
5. Wandering: Just walking the streets and admiring the architecture, fashion, local style, stopping for coffee or trying a local dish (uber-traditional light, buttery Roman polenta gnocci is my tip). There are many narrow streets, laneways, and hidden churches that help give a feel for the city away from the large tourist crowds. Places in which to imagine what it would have been like in Caesar’s time.
More photos from Rome can be viewed on Flickr.