Buongiorno Italia! Bella Roma Part II
Welcome back to my little series about the Italian capital. This time I’m focusing on some other main attractions of the city, as well as some personal favourites that might not be on everyone’s list. But enough talking and let’s get right into it!
Shall we start with the most famous tourist attraction of the city, that actually is not part of the city? Of course, I’m talking about Vatican City, a little state right in the city centre.
It is actually a state on its own and residence of the pope. You haven’t been to Rome if you missed out on visiting the Vatican. St. Peter’s Church is already impressive from the outside, but I suggest you also take a look inside, mostly because it’s free of charge, so the only thing preventing you from going in is the incredibly long queue outside. The church is definitely worth the wait, and if you’re lucky you might get in in less than half an hour, but I’ve also seen queues where people had to wait for more than an hour and depending on the weather this can get quite rough. As soon as you get inside, you’ll surely forget that you had to wait (keep in mind that you have to dress appropriately when entering churches in Italy, so cover your shoulders and knees!). I still can’t figure out how people were able to build monuments like this, centuries ago.
The square in front of the church, St Peter’s Square is impressive as well. All the marble columns are simply remarkable, and the square seems infinite. Maybe you develop the need to watch the ‘Illuminati’ movie that was filmed there, maybe I did that after visiting because I simply had to after seeing all these places in real life.
If you are already at the Vatican, you definitely have to head over to the Castel Sant’Angelo, the Castle of the Holy Angel, as well. The castle was build as a mausoleum for emperor Hadrian and was then used by popes as a fortress and castle. Nowadays, it is a museum, and I definitely recommend you go there and make it to the top. From there you have a great view of the city as well as the Vatican, but I suggest you don’t climb the castle as well as the Vatican, as the views are pretty similar. Also, it is said that there exists a secret path for the pope to flee from the Vatican in case of emergency all the way to the Castel Sant’Angelo, and I think you might spot some parts of the path when on top of the building. In front of the building, there is the Ponte Degli Angeli, the bridge that crosses the Tiber river. It’s the ideal place to take your picture (but you might have to wait for a little while because of the number of people there). The bridge is full of beautiful angel statues and very impressive.
Now on to some a bit less known beautiful places in the city. One main park that is just perfect for a stroll, to relax or even used by locals to go for a quick run, is Villa Borghese. This park is located right next to the Piazza del Popolo I mentioned in last week’s blog post. There is even a little lake in the middle of the park, and despite the bad weather, I had a great time while visiting it. You definitely forget you are in the middle of a major city when spending a few minutes there.
Other charming little places are the Isola Tiberina and Trastevere. The Isola Tiberina is a small island on the river Tiber that runs through Rome, and there is even a little temple located on it. Trastevere, on the other hand, might be more familiar to you as it is famous for being Rome’s centre of restaurants, clubs and it is always full of people and life. The little narrow streets are very romantic and give you an authentic “Italian” feeling.
Very close to Trastevere is the Giardino Delle Arance located, and from there you have another great view over the city. But the park I liked the most has to be the Giardino Delle Rose, also called Roseto di Roma. It is located very close to the Circo Massimo and a garden full of roses. And when I say full of roses, I truly mean it. You’ll find them in every colour and size and even though I’m not really an enthusiast when it comes to flowers (somehow I never manage to keep them alive), seeing them in such a variety was unquestionably impressive.
When staying in Rome for a long time, I’m pretty sure you also want to go to the sea for a swim. Most people head to Lido di Ostia for that, but I suggest you invest a bit more time and head to Sperlonga, which takes you about 1 hour by train and then you’ll find yourself in a little village next to the sea that definitely looks a bit like Positano. There are way fewer people, and the water is way cleaner than in Ostia. Honestly, I think when it comes to beaches, it is always worth to take the extra mile.
Another point I just have to mention is the food. of course you can eat great Italian food in Rome, if not there, where else would you? But I can only recommend you eat Asian food in Rome, in Italy in general, I’d say. Some of the best sushi I ever ate, excluding Japan, of course, was in Italy. If you happen to be at the Aura shopping mall, go to Shi’s, and I’m confident you won’t regret it!
I really wish I could go back to Rome this year, but it seems as if I do not have enough time to do so, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get there next year. It is a lovely city with so much to see and I’m sure I haven’t seen all of it yet. Hopefully, you liked that little excursion into the ‘dolce vita’, and I’d love to hear about your favourite places in the city!