Today’s guide is by Kirsten Powley, author of the travel blog Kirst Over the World. Exploring the world started young for Kirsten, being half-Czech and cruising around the Mediterranean from an early age. Since, her desire for travel has led her to tour Iceland, study in Australia and drive through North America, along the way writing about her adventures on her blog.
It’s safe to say that everyone, at some point or another, will have a strong desire to go on holiday in Rome. With good reason – for more than two and a half thousand years, this city has stood proud (if not a little battered). In those years, Rome has racked up its fair few sights and attractions. Rome firmly remains a fascinating place to visit, with enchanting architecture and mysterious lost city ruins a short distance away.
When you set foot on the sun stained cobbled streets, you’ll need to know where to begin…
The Trevi Fountain needs no introduction. Every time you look at it, you’ll notice something new to admire. There will be crowds but try not to be put off. Your best bet is to go as early as possible, which will give a romantic morning glint soaking the stone and water.
It’s somewhat surprising to see the Italians in their cars and on their motorbikes zooming by the imposing, dusty Colosseum. This mix of other-worldly ancient city and modern life is evident everywhere.
In some cities, there are tourist attractions it’s acceptable to miss. Rome isn’t like that – it’s worth taking the time to see the Pantheon, Roman Forum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Of course, there’s Vatican City, where you can tally up a visit to another country in one trip!
Get stuck in
You can’t go to Rome and not indulge – guilt-free! – in the Italian cuisine. Whether it’s markets of fresh produce, up-scale restaurants, petite cafés or gelato shops, there’s a lot to take in that could leave you feeling like an overwhelmed child in a sweet shop. Food tours like Walks of Italy will introduce you to the food culture and also show you the streets of Rome you may not have found yourself.
Using food to understand the neighbourhoods and culture of Rome is so personal to this foodie city and is incredibly useful, especially if you’re short on time.
Try La Vecchia Conca or Vladimiro for an authentic meal and Gelateria Corona on Largo Arenula for perhaps the best gelato you’ll ever have.
When in Rome… leave Rome
Depending how long you’re in city, you might want to venture out. Italy is a varied country and when there’s even more culture and beauty in Pompeii and Capri only two or so hours away by train, why not?
Discover the Lost City
Pompeii is a world away from the bustling Rome, but just 2 hours 20 minutes on the train to Naples then a short switch to Pompeii and you’re there for a day trip.
Pompeii may be slightly eerie to walk around but it gives another dimension of Italy: in Rome you see the evidence of a great Empire created, and in Pompeii you see the rubble of destruction when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
Both places in one trip will give a great contrast between different aspects of the weathered and experienced country.
Explore the Enchanted Island
I wouldn’t blame you if you needed a pristine ocean fix after the ancient realms of Rome and Pompeii. From Naples, take a ferry to the island of Capri, one of the most glamorous but charming places I’ve ever been. White washed walls, lusciously bright pink flowers and the alluring azure of the sea are just a few of the things that keep you dreaming of Capri.
Walk and ogle at the wealthy houses or take a little wooden rowing boat into the Grotta Azzurra – caves where a luminous electric blue lights up the water beneath you. It’s not magic (although you’d probably believe it), but an underwater opening in the entrance of the cave, streaming sunlight through.
Shhh… what they don’t tell you is…
Beat the lines at the Colosseum by buying your ticket at the Palatine box office on Via di San Gregorio 30 – you can then walk right past the queue to the entrance turnstiles!
All-in-all Italy is a beautiful place with a rich history, along with experiences of exploring lost cities and enchanting islands. I highly recommend you visit; the memory of Italy will remain with you long after you leave!