Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, The Pantheon
Our first morning in Rome started with an early visit to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. These iconic Roman landmarks become overrun by tourists from mid morning through the evening, so I recommend getting an early start to appreciate their beauty without getting bumped by a selfie stick. I was much more impressed with the Trevi Fountain which towers over observers as a breathtaking work of art. Although the Spanish Steps provide more room for tourists to admire them, I found myself thinking "Huh, they are steps." However, I would still stop by to see such a well known set of stairs!
|The Spanish Steps|
Another iconic landmark, the Pantheon, should be appreciated in the early morning from the outside. We arrived before the inside opened and admired the massive columns lining the front. Later in the day we visited the inside which is free and, in my opinion, not as impressive as the outside. The most remarkable part of the interior is the hole in the domed roof which lets a large beam of light inside.
I was most looking forward to seeing the Colosseum when we planned our stop in Rome, and the World Wonder didn't disappoint. We did not hire a guide and purchased our tickets there. We were able to pick up some interesting stories from the information signs (posted in English) and snips from guides giving tours around us. John likes to read up on the history of the places we will visit beforehand so he was also able to inform me on some interesting facts. However, a tour of the Colosseum wouldn't be a bad idea. Your ticket to the Colosseum also includes going to the Roman Forum, an ancient town of remarkable ruins.
Lesser Known Sites
One of our favorite spots was the ruins where Julius Caesar was murdered which homes hundreds of stray cats. We visited the cat sanctuary twice to enjoy the happy, roaming felines.
Off the beaten path we stopped at the Zuccari Palace, a building where the facade looks like a giant face. This neat piece of architecture was only a few minute walk from the Spanish Steps and we had the view to ourselves.
With countless museums and ruins it's hard to catch them all, however if time permits I recommend Galleria Borghese. This collection of 17th century art is well worth the 15 euros. The detail on the gold statues and intricate rooms requires an afternoon to admire. We purchased tickets ahead of time and opted out of the audio tour, however the displays do not provide a lot of background on the artwork, so a tour would have been useful.
|The Rape of Proserpina at Galleria Borghese|
Our vacation ended with a trip to the Vatican and the Vatican Museums on Friday evening. St. Peter's is undoubtedly one of the most incredible churches in the world. Both outside and inside, plan on spending a bit of time admiring the architecture and artwork. The Museums are massive, requiring hours to walk through and appreciate the vast variety of exhibits. We thoroughly enjoyed the Egyptian gallery. Here we did purchase the audio guide which provides information all over the museum by selecting the number of the exhibit you are viewing. Keep in mind that you couldn't possibly listen to information on every piece without spending an entire day in the museum, and we were only allotted 5 hours with our Friday evening ticket. The tour of the Museums ends with the Sistine Chapel. We strained our necks for at least 30 minutes admiring the breath taking artwork in this room alone. I definitely recommend the Friday evening visit which was quite a bit less crowded than the daytime. We could sit down in the Sistine Chapel and appreciate the room without feeling like we were shoulder to shoulder with strangers.