After years of wanting to go to Italy, I finally went ! The plane tickets were kind of booked on the spur of the moment with my boyfriend as we finished our exams around the 25th of May but he started his internship on the 1st of June. This was a very small window, but we took the opportunity to travel thanks to Ryan Air and their really reasonable prices.
Several exams and one Airbnb reservation later, we were on the plane to enjoy our first Roman holidays. To my great pleasure, this meant that would be able to speak Italian, take cool pictures, and eat pizza every day (spoiler alert : I totally did!). After having shared my day at the Vatican, here are my pictures from the beautiful city of Rome.
Piazza Venezia was probably the place where we were most of the time because it was kind of close to our home (our Airbnb was in the Trastevere), and enabled us to go pretty much everywhere : Palatino, Colosseo, museums… You name it. It is the central hub of the city. But again, this is also because every street corner in Rome deserve your attention. You never know what you are going to find, but you are always sure that there is, indeed, something to see !
Piazza Venezia was named after Palazzo Venezia, built by the Venetian Cardinal, Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II) alongside the church of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. The Palazzo Venezia served as the embassy of the Republic of Venice. One side of the Piazza is the site of Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Altare della Patria, part of the imposing Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of Italy. In addition, in 2009, during excavations in the middle of the square for the construction of the Rome C Metro Line, remains of the emperor Hadrian’s Athenaeum were discovered.
I have to say, this piazza really was beautiful, but after going there every day for almost a week, the enormous roundabout and the crowd as well as the construction workers everywhere were kind of getting on my nerves ! But again, it is really conveniently located, so try to ignore the rest !
One of the most famous monuments of the city is probably the Pantheon. We visited it during our first day here and were not disappointed (especially because it is free !). Next to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church. It was built on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian.
The building in itself is so impressive. It is circular, with enormous granite columns everywhere and a central opening to the sky which is called an oculus. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome ! This is really impressive and explain why it was so crowded. In fact, in 2013 it was visited by over 6 million people, so you can imagine. We also visited a church next to it (the last picture above ) which was beautiful.
Then of course, we had to see the Trevi Fountain. It was designed by the Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. It is 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres (161.3 ft) wide, making it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. You might have seen it in several notable films, such as Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
Again, it is convenient to know that the fountain is always crowded with people trying to take selfies or toss coin in it (an estimated 3,000€ are thrown into the fountain each day!) But we were lucky to pass by it a second time earlier in the morning, when there was almost nobody ! So we were able to have breakfast in front of the fountain : smoothie and a Sicilian cannolo ! I particularly recommend you go to the bakery next to the Fountain, Via della Stamperia (I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name !).
And of course, what would rome be without its famous Colosseo ?! Also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, this oval amphitheater is in the centre of the city. This architectural marvel built of concrete and sand is actually the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus.
The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
My boyfriend and I spent a lot of time in it, it was truly mesmerizing to imagine naval battles in this huge building. Be sure to bring some water and your camera ! And below is a view of the Colosseo from the Palatino, which I will talk about in a second article (some suspense to let you dream a bit about this magical city, right ?)
Time to leave you all with your thoughts, I will post the rest of the pictures in a next article in order to avoid making this one too long ! Hopefully, this will make you want to explore and discover the secrets of the Roman city yourself…