The Area Sosta LGP Rome is not busy. A handful of motorhomer’s from Germany and France are spread out on the dry and dusty lawn. The plots are very narrow, so everyone is taking advantage of the lull and extending their awning on to the neighbouring plot. Including us. At €18 per motorhome plus €1 pp city tax the sosta is reasonable priced with full services. Our home and base for the next 5 days.
Last time we were in Rome we missed the Vatican and a few other highlights, so we thought why not revisit. Plus we love Rome, so a good excuse to return. We have a thing for architecture and churches, two great things the ancient Romans are most famous for. They brought a lot of new ideas to architecture including the arch, the baked brick, and the use of cement and concrete. The fact that many ancient Roman monuments are still standing is evidence of how good Roman architecture really was.
The best way to see the city is to walk or cycle and we did both with the odd zip on the motorbike to the burbs. Like any city it was busy but not as busy as we’d expected, which is a good thing. With minimal crowds we were able to wander around the street and unearth those unexpected finds. The tucked away piazza stuck in the 16th century, with grandma hanging the clothes out the window and kids chasing each other across the cobblestones. The ruin no one cares about and the local church off the tourist trail. The sum of the parts truly makes this city a great place for visiting, time and time again. Even if it doesn’t ever really change, Rome always has the power to surprise.
The best way to soak up the city is to zig-zag from piazza to piazza. For a good morning or afternoon stroll, start at the bustling Piazza Navona then head to Campo dei Fiori, where you’ll find cafes, food stalls and flower markets. Then saunter over to the charming Piazza Farnese with its pair of fountains and Renaissance palace. From here, continue toward Ponte Sisto for a great perspective on the beauty of Rome. The Gianicolo hill rising to the west and St Peter’s to the north. Trundle over the Tiber river to arrive in the pleasant Trastevere neighbourhood. Where bistro chairs and tables line the alley’s. Laundry swings overhead and flowers burst from window boxes.
Rome is known as the city of seven hills, but actually Rome has more than that. The Gianicolo, the hill that affords the best view of Rome is worth a visit and definitely great for a zip on the motorbike. At noon, the quiet is momentarily broken by the single shot of a cannon. A tradition that dates back to the 19th century and the Italian Risorgimento that unified modern Italy. A massive statue of the great Giuseppe Garibaldi on horseback stands in the small piazza. As you continue along the street and you will find the pathway lined with busts of war heroes. The hill is outside the ancient city, so it’s not counted among the ancient seven. Still, it’s close to the historic centre and just above the Vatican with peaceful and panorama views to take your breath away.
Proverbs such as “All roads lead to Rome” are no accident but instead come about due to the enormous feats the empire created. A road network of over 50,000 miles spreading its culture, politics, trade and influence throughout the world. Via Appia Antica (built in 312 BC) is the most famous road stretching all the way from Rome to Brindisi. Each Roman mile was about 1,000 paces and was marked by a milestone hence the proverb. The road’s initial stretch in Rome is lined with the ancient catacombs of well to do families, as burials were forbidden within the city walls.
The church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, has impressive ‘trick of the eye’ effect on its ceilings. But an even more peculiar visual effect lie tucked away in the next-door Rooms of St. Ignatius. Decorated by Baroque painter Andrea Pozzo, the ornate Pozzo Corridor was inspired by the Galleria Colonna and features scenes of the life of St. Ignatius. It is fascinating because it was a relatively contained corridor that gives the impression of being much longer because it is painted on a slant. As you approach figures, they become distorted and stretched when seen from up close.
In between, seeing new stuff we ventured to a few of our favourite haunts including colosseum, the pantheon, San Giovani, Capitoline hill, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc… it worth noting that since our last visit in 2014 security is now pretty tight. Not only have they more police presence but military vehicles and armed soldiers are located at all major attractions. Security tents and scanners are positioned at the entrances and if areas become excessively busy the army block road access. Despite the security measures we never felt intimidated by their presence but most definitely felt reassured.
The Villa Borghese park once one of the first parks in Rome. With formal gardens divided by avenues, graced with statues, flower gardens and lakes. The promise of a romantic stroll was soon damped when we wandered through the park to find dusty fields and untended lawns. We walked and walked wondering what the attraction was. I am sure it was lovely in his hey day, but sadly now it just a bare park with a small lake. Equally as disappointing, Rome by night. Completely the opposite to Paris, with twinkly lights on all the attractions. Rome was dark and desolate and would you believe it, even the street lights were off!
One of our favourite finds from the last trip the Church of San Giovani, so we had to back and visit the wonderful statues.
Rome in one if the oldest cities in the world but how did is start? A question that I’be often thought about. Well, it was founded in 753 BC by Romulus. Roman legend says that Romulus had a twin brother called Remus. As babies they were abandoned in the area which later became Rome. A she wolf found and raised them, but when they grew up Romulus fought and killed Remus and became the first ruler of Rome. Rome’s mascot is a she-wolf.
One of our favourite finds has to be Basilica of San Paolo, whose origins date from the time of Constantine. It was erected over the tomb of St. Paul and although it fell victim to fire in 1823 it’s been beautifully rebuilt. It is the second-largest church in Rome after St. Peter’s. With amazing translucent alabaster windows and an vivid gold mosaic ceiling. This is one of the most elegantly decorated churches in Rome with no crowds.
During our 5 days we did visit the Vatican, which we will cover in a separate post cause so many beautiful photos to show you. To top our stay we went dined out on our last evening. We found a small restaurant tucked away near Piazza Navona. This traditional Italian trattoria charmed us with its simple wooden decor, centuries-old wisteria, welcoming service, and the warm glow of candlelight. The intimate atmosphere, with only enough room for a few tables on the cobbled alley made it the perfect setting for a romantic evening. Stunningly situated in one of Rome’s most historic areas and magnificent architecture surrounding the restaurant on all sides – a magical location in which to wander round, hand in hand, on our final night in Rome.