Prior to my memorable week in Florence for Pitti Uomo 85, I spend five amazing days in Rome with family. I have already visited Rome during the Summer of 2012 on the mandatory “Euro-trip” with the lads, but had only spend a day and a half in the historical city. So this time it was a little different, the temperature wasn’t 35 degrees plus and there weren’t as many tourists roaming around snapping photos every three centimetres.
My five day stop over in Rome allowed me to explore the city at my own pace. From finally laying eyes on Michelangelo’s masterpieces throughout the Sistine Chapel, to not having to wait three hours to make my way into the Colosseum, I fell in love with Rome.
Here are my top 10 things to do in the city that possesses so much history that you can easily spend six months exploring.
1. Get your gladiator on at the Colosseum
Get your Russell Crowe and visit one of the most historical monuments still standing till today after thousands of years.
It’ll cost you between 8-12 Euros to get inside the Colosseum. Cheap as chips if you ask me when you compare it to what Sydney charges to visit Taronga Zoo or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
2. Visit the Pope at the Vatican City
Religious or not, visiting the Vatican City is a must when you’re in Rome. If you do plan to visit the Saint Peter’s Basilica, two you must remember, the first, do not wear clothes that reveal a lot of skin. The guards at the front gate will reject anyone who is flaunting too much skin as it is deemed disrespectful, so do not wear a single or short shorts. The second, if you wish to enter the Basilica without waiting, try and get to the square as early as possible as the line to enter can sometimes stretch 500 meters (I kid you not).
3. Eat Pizza, pasta and antipasto, and drink barrel loads of wine…mandatory
I can confidently say I gained a kilogram or two during my five day stay in Rome. The carb, cheese, pastry and wine overload have given me a little bit of a double chin, however, I don’t possess a single regret.
4. Run a muck on your scooter through the streets of Rome
So as you can see from the video above, I haven’t had the best of luck with scooters in Rome ha! Just make sure you’re always wearing a helmet, you keep your eyes on the road (should take my own advice) and you’ve purchased travel insurance.
5. Make a wish at the Fontana di Trevi
Like millions every year, I visiting this amazing fountain once again to make a few wishes. So after taking a few photos, the compulsory coin throwing/wish making begun. Coins are purportedly meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown in the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidise a supermarket for Rome’s needy.
6. Be amazed by the paintings throughout the Sistine Chapel
Ok, so the photo I took in the Sistine Chapel of Michelangelo painting above maaay be illegal, but who cares, look how amazing it is. Upon entering the chapel, you will be absolutely stunned with the paintings covering every inch of the chapel. I stood there for minutes on end with my head raised, analysing painting after painting. My body was completing overpowered by goosebumps just at the though that a single human being was behind all of this.
The line to enter the Sistine Chapel is long, very long. On some days you’ll be waiting up to two hours to finally make it inside. So when you see those “tour guide lookalike” people on the side of the road telling you that you can be fast-tracked straight into the Sistine Chapel for an extra couple of Euros (in total 20-25 Euros), they’re not lying, they are being legitimate. I used them to get into the Chapel and I suggest you do too, unless you have the time to wait in a queue for more than two hours just to save ten Euros.
7. Spend like an Arab down the Via dei Condotti street opposite the Spanish Steps
From Prada, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo to Bvlgari and Hermès, you will find every designer label under the sun on the Via dei Condotti. Twice a year, once in summer and once in winter, every store (except Louis Vuitton) hold sales on a selection of items. This is where shit gets crazy. On the first day of sales, it is literally a stampede of tourists pushing and shoving to purchase that wallet or handbag they’ve had in mind for months but couldn’t afford to pay full price for. But it’s so worth it.
8. Indulge in gelato
Rain, hail or shine, when in Rome, you eat gelato. Simple. The place right opposite the Fontana di Trevi has mouth watering gelato that will send you back for seconds, multiple times.
9. Explore the tombs of Castel Sant’Angelo
Not one of the most famous historial site to visit in Rome when you’re comparing the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Colloseum that’s for sure, but if you have a lazy hour or two, I highly recommend you visit the castle. Once you reach the top of the castle, you’re presented with a 360 degree view of Rome (as you can see above). The castle possess some great and interesting history.
It will cost you around 10 Euro to get inside the castle. Peanuts.
10. Climb to the top of the St. Paul’s Basilica Dome
It’s mandatory that you tunnel through the narrow walls just to get to the top of the St. Paul’s Basilica Dome so you can take an amazing phone of the whole Vatican City with one killer panorama photo.
If I were ever presented with the opportunity, I can confidently call Rome home. A must see.