ROME Trip Report
by EWA International Travel Associates, Kristin Scott (writer) and Kim Grasso (photographer)
Kim and I had the amazing opportunity to visit Rome last week! We were only going to be there 3 full days so we definitely wanted to make the most of it!
October is certainly the best time to visit. Crowds were low and the weather was absolutely beautiful! It was sunny and in the low 70’s the whole time! We got so lucky! We stayed at the Santa Maria Hotel which is a quaint little property located in the very hip Trastevere. The location couldn’t be any more perfect. You are just a stone’s throw away to all of the stores, restaurants, bars and markets. Plus an added benefit- you’re with the locals! Tourists are few and far between! In the mornings they offer a complimentary buffet with fruits, pastries, eggs and coffee. In the evening there is a wine and cheese hour. It’s so pretty sitting in the courtyard and absorbing the beauty of your surroundings.
Every day we headed out by 10am and wouldn’t get back to the room until 530P-6P. The best way to see Rome is by foot and that’s what we did! I outlined our days below.
Day 1: Oct 14, 2012
Colosseum , Palatine Museum & Roman Forum
Buy your tickets ahead of time!! I cannot stress it enough! You can bypass all the lines which is huge and most importantly, your days aren’t wasted standing around for 2+ hours! We paid a little extra for a 70 min tour of the Colosseum. (http://www.tickitaly.com/tickets/colosseum-tickets.php). I would recommend it over and over again. We got to see the dungeons and upper levels as well as other areas that normal ticket holders couldn’t tour (such as the center!) We were there a good two hours. From there, we walked to Palatine Hill and Roman Forum (still getting to bypass all lines!) There is so much to see! The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings. Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of the city and is known for its ruins of ancient imperial palaces. Our whole day was spent exploring those areas. It is so amazing to see all the ruins and that so much of it is still standing after all these years. It really is surreal.
Day 2: Oct 15, 2012
The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Saint Peters Square and much more!
We also purchased tickets in advance (http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do) and once again, got to bypass a huge line! There is so much history in the Vatican Museum. The artwork is beautiful! My favorite was the Garden of Eden. I have to admit, we missed the Sistine Chapel. The map I had made it look like it was separate from the Vatican Museum. Plus, once we were done going through the Vatican, all the signs were pointing to exits. I did not see one sign for the Sistine Chapel. So be careful because once you leave you cannot re-enter. On the positive side, we had much more time to see a ton of other things! Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome. The Pope comes out on Wednesday’s and unfortunately that is the day we left. From there, we headed over to Castel Sant’ Angelo. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. It is huge! A short walk later we arrived at the Palazzo di Giustizia (The Hall of Justice). The architecture is stunning. Across the bridge we hit Piazza Navona which is a city square built in 1st century AD. The ancient Romans came there to watch games. There are now shops, restaurants and fountains. Next we walked to Campo de’ Fiori which is another square filled with restaurants and shops. In the mornings it becomes an outdoor market with food, fruits, vegetables and flowers. By this point, we reached 530P and it was time to head back to the hotel for some freshening up and dinner!
Day 3: Oct 16, 2012
Cimitero dei Cappuccini: The Capuchin Crypt, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain
A friend of mine lived in Rome for a while and gave the recommendation to check out Cimitero dei Cappuccini. I am so glad we did! The crypt is located just under the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione, a church commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in 1626. The pope's brother, Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who was of the Capuchin Order, in 1631 ordered the remains of thousands of Capuchin friars exhumed and transferred from the friary on the Via dei Lucchesi to the crypt. The bones were arranged along the walls in varied designs, and the friars began to bury their own dead here, as well as the bodies of poor Romans, whose tomb was under the floor of the present Mass chapel. Here the Capuchins would come to pray and reflect each evening before retiring for the night.
The crypt, or ossuary, now contains the remains of 3,700 friars buried between 1500–1870, during which time the Roman Catholic Church permitted burial in and under churches. The underground crypt is divided into five chapels, lit only by dim natural light seeping in through cracks, and small fluorescent lamps. The crypt walls are decorated with the remains in fantastic fashion, making this crypt a true work of art. Some of the skeletons are intact and draped with Franciscan habits, but for the most part, individual bones are used to create elaborate ornamental designs—as was popular at that period.
Next we headed over to Trevi Fountain (Fontana del Tritone). It is one of the most famous fountains in the world and is so beautiful. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day! Our next stop was the Tempio Adriano (a temple built in 145AD). All that remains of the building is the northern side with eleven columns. The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. It is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. The brick stamps on the side of the building reveal it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125. It is truly magnificent.
Continuing on, we walked to Largo di Torre Argentina (a square that hosts four
Roman temples, and the remains of
Church of the Gesu’ and Palazzo di Venezia (an old palace that currently houses
the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia).
That brought us to the end of day 3. Back to the hotel we headed, our camera’s full, feet sore, backs aching. It’s true what they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t plan on seeing it in one! We set out wanting to see and conquer what we could in three days and we did just that! We had some great food, great drink and met some wonderful people along the way. So until next time Rome, Ciao’!