08.10.2016 - 10.10.2016
First stop on our Italian adventure...Rome!
Despite an early morning flight with little sleep, when we reached Rome we were ready to go and see the sites! As usual, our room was not ready so we dropped off our bags and walked the short, 5-minute distance to the Trevi Fountain. It was great that this was so close to us! The fountain is very impressive but (as with most sites) it was absolutely packed! You could hardly move for all the people around and trying to get a decent photo was near impossible. I did go down and throw the customary penny over my shoulder, but it was not an easy task. Due to how busy it was here, we did not stay for long and moved on.
Next, we visited the Spanish Steps. Recently, we had watched the file [i]The Man From Uncle[i] and in this there was a scene with the main characters on the Spanish Steps, so it was really great to see this in the flesh! The Steps are beautiful but, as with the fountain, you could not get any nice photos as there were people everywhere - so much so that you could barely see the actual steps!
After we had headed back to the room and checked in, we got a taxi and went over to the Catacombs (we took a taxi due to being on a time restraint but I would not recommend this if you have time, it was not cheap!) The Catacombs are huge underground burial sites across the city - apparently there are 40! - and the one we visited is recorded as the biggest in Rome. I am not sure what I was expecting but it was quite a sight. There are thousands of graves in a maze of underground tunnels which just go on and on - it is like nothing you will have ever seen before. It is quite an eerie sight and quite sad to imagine all the people buried down there. You pass some graves which are too small for adults and it is a sad thought. Despite being eerie, it was very interesting and I highly recommend going to see it!
The next day we were up early and headed straight out. We had pre-booked our tickets for the Colosseum and Roman Forum, so headed there. We had our breakfast at a lovely little café which was overlooking the Colosseum - quite a place to enjoy your breakfast! After this we joined the queues to get in - you HAVE to book before going. The queues for the place were ridiculously long and by having tickets our waiting time was significantly reduced. We did not have to wait any longer than 30 minutes but we overheard people in the queue next to us (who did not have tickets) say that they had already been there for an hour and a half, and they were not near the front yet! Since I was young and my Dad made me and my siblings watch Gladiator (which has ever since been one of my all-time favourite films) it has been a dream of mine to go and see the Colosseum. Walking in to the place and seeing the vast size of it, it did not disappoint! It is quite something and, despite knowing the horrible things that took place there, you cannot help but be impressed with the place. We learnt a lot of interesting things too, such as it has recently been discovered that the place was deliberately flooded on occasions and battleship games took place - how clever! I highly recommended going to see this place if you get the chance.
After the Colosseum we headed over to the Roman Forum, which is just behind the Colosseum and easy to get to. When you book tickets for the Colosseum you can get ones that include the Roman Forum for next to nothing extra. The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum which is surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. It is again an impressive site and although a lot of the buildings are now just ruins, you still get a great idea of what it once was.
We headed back to the room relatively early that night to be able to get out in time to watch the Wales game, which was at first quite a struggle. We found one bar who said he would put it on for us but the only channel that showed it flicked continuously between four different games, which was not great. We endured this for the first half then moved on, only to find that literally around the corner was an Irish sports bar. The NFL was started so the place was crowded with Americans eager to watch the game and all the big TVs had the NFL on, but there was one small TV which had the Wales game on, so Adam was happy and we stayed there for the night. We talked to some great, interesting people there whilst getting slightly merry! At the end of the night as we were walking home, we had the genius idea of heading over to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain again. Seeing both of these at night is something I highly recommend - not only do both look gorgeous at night but also there are barely any people around! We got some much better photos and were actually able to take in the sites properly. We did get done over by a guy who we paid €5 to take a Polaroid of us which turned out to be just complete blackness, but he did take a lot of photos for us on our phones so it was all worth it in the end.
The next day we had tickets booked for the Vatican City, but these were not until the afternoon so we had a wonder around in the morning. The night before we had been told to go and see the Pantheon, something that was not on our list of things to see but we decided to go and visit it. It was truly worthwhile going to see as the building is just amazing! The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, which is now used as a church. When we turned the corner and saw the building it made us speechless - we were just not expecting to see this beautiful site! Well worth a visit.
After this we started heading towards the general direction of the Vatican City. The great thing about Rome is that there is so much to see - the buildings around you are just amazing and, even though they may not be a famous landmark or site, they are just phenomenal, so even walking around taking it all in is great. On our walk over Adam realised that we were near the place that the photo "Morrissey's Rome" was taken. Being a huge Morrissey fan, Adam wanted to go and see this, which we did and Adam has a great photo of himself reenacting the photo.
Once we got to the Vatican City, we were again faced with a huge queue which we were able to skip - straight to the front - due to having pre-booked our tickets. This queue was even bigger than the last one and I am not kidding it was the biggest queue I have ever seen in my life! Once inside, we had a look around outside, taking in the great view of St Peter's Basilica which was gorgeous. We also sent a postcard to my Gran using the Vatican post - which was pretty cool! We then headed inside and started the walk towards the Sistine Chapel. There are some brilliant pieces of art along the way but due to the sheer amount of people who are all constantly moving forward towards the Chapel, you do not really get a good chance to take these in. It was not the best experience and I felt a bit like I was in a herd of cattle getting moved who could not stop at all. It is a big place and it took a while to get to the Sistine Chapel and by the time we had got there, had a look at Michelangelo's famous ceiling we were ready to get straight out of there. A little more organisation in here would make a huge improvement. The place itself is very impressive but this gets a little lost in the mayhem and amount of people in one place, fighting to get to another.
Overall, I was hugely impressed with Rome. There is just so much to see and do and the city as a whole is just gorgeous. I may even go as far as to say it is the best city I have ever visited! Get yourself there