Thursday, 1 September 2016

VISITING ROME - 30TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

We travelled to Rome for a mini break, see what we got up to and our thoughts on going back.

With summer in the UK nearing an end I thought that I'd run a mini travel series on the blog to see out the summer.  I hope to do more travel bits on the blog in the future too!  I'll cover some of the places that we have visited over the years and I may also feature some guest posts too.  The hubby and I love to travel, we've been to some pretty awesome places in the world over the last 8 years and I can't wait to explore more.  One thing that we love to do is explore different cities through short breaks.  

Earlier this year I turned 30 and my husband took me to Rome to celebrate.  I've been to Rome once before but I was 4 years old so have no real recollection of it at all.  When Ian revealed that we were going to Rome I was so excited.  Having no memories of my trip as a child, and having seen so many clips and pictures of how beautiful it looked I couldn't wait to explore the beauty the city had to offer.


We stayed in the centre of the city in a hotel called La Griffe.  It was the perfect location! We were in walking distance of many of the main attractions, the hop on hop off bus routine was a stones throw away (we always use this service wherever we go!), and the cheapest pub in the city was next door!

The hotel was rated 5 star so my expectations were pretty high!  Although the hotel was nice and I would definitely stay again it wasn't what I had imagined.  The interiors were black and red, the corridors to the rooms were very dark with spotlighting and it almost verged on seadie.  We had a basic double room with a view into the high street.  The hotel does offer other types of accommodation (apartment style rooms) which I think may help it into the 5 star rating.  Although the interiors were a little out there it did have a lovely rooftop terrace with the most amazing views of the city.  One night we sat on the terrace, sipping prosecco and watching the sunset, it was pretty amazing.


On our first evening there we headed out for dinner, my husband had pre booked a restaurant next to the Trevi Fountain called IL Chianti Vineria.  The restaurant was rustic and oozed an italian feel. On arrival it was a little chaotic and it took us a good 15 minutes to be acknowledged and then finally seated, initially I was worried about the service that we were going to receive but once inside and seated our waitress couldn't have been more attentive and the food was really good.  After our meal we headed down towards the Trevi Fountain to take in the view, it was absolutely stunning.  The funny thing about Rome is that you have this amazing architecture plonked in amongst other not so beautiful things.  For example this fountain sits in the middle of the square, opposite this is a clothing store, a tat shop and lots of other random things.  It was so strange to see such a stunning monument in such a small square, surrounded by these everyday shops.  That may not seem strange to others but to me it was.  Rome is pretty much like that throughout.  


The following day we headed to the Vatican City, I was excited for this!  The Vatican City is a city within a city and is home to the Pope.  I am not a religious person at all and don't follow a faith but there is something about religious places that interests me and freaks me out at the same time.  We walked across the Vatican Bridge into the city, and headed towards St Peter's Square.  We had hoped to get into St Peter's Basilica but the queues were huge so we decided to head to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

We purchased a queue jump pass for the museum and Sistine Chapel, and I am so glad we did.  The queues were huge as you can imagine but with the queue jump we were in within 10 minutes.  We wandered through the museum and out into the gardens.  It really is a beautiful place.  The paintings and architecture really blow you away.  We made our way to the Sistine Chapel and we were told that we needed to cover all shoulders and anything above the knee.  I imagined the chapel to be extremely quiet and a little eerie, however I blinked and almost missed it.

When we reached the chapel we were ushered through, the place was packed out.  There were so many people in the chapel that I didn't really feel like it was anything special.  We walked through it and out the other side and I had to ask Ian if that was it?  It wasn't quiet, it was really noisy and there were lots of people bearing all.  Nevertheless I can now say I've seen it!

Once we had explored the Vatican City we headed back over the bridge and found ourselves a lovely little restaurant just off the beating track.  I really wanted to taste a real italian pizza so Ian and I ordered up a couple of house pizza's and boy were they awesome!


On our final day we headed out to explore the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.  This was by far my favourite places to visit.  We got the hop off bus to the Colosseum and then headed to the ticket office to buy some passes. Due to the amount of people visiting the attraction we were giving a time slot of 2pm.  We had a few hours to kill and so decided to enter the Roman Forum, WOW, what a place.

We walked around the ruins and soaked in the atmosphere.  The forum was once home to many government buildings and at one time was the core of ancient Rome.  Some of the ruins left were huge and still had so much detail carved into them.  It really was a place worth visiting.


After the forum we headed to the Colosseum.  Once we got inside we wandered round.  It was truly amazing!  I couldn't help but imagine what it must have been like for the gladiators.  Whilst we were there one of the guided tourers stopped beside us and I listened for a while as she explained about the gladiators and which entrances they used.  She explained about those that sadly didn't make it and made sense of the ruins as to where the emperors would sit and then the everyday spectators.  It was such an interesting place, to think about what went on in the area and to be standing in it was a little surreal.  We spent a good hour in the Colosseum, I probably could have wandered around it all day just imagining what life would have been like in AD.

That evening we headed to the Irish bar next to our hotel (the cheap(ish) pub) next to our hotel for some dinner and our last few drinks of the holiday.  The following day we headed home but we couldn't leave Rome without sampling the gelato.....it was epic!

We had a lovely time in Rome, the tourist spots were pretty amazing, however I don't think I would return to Rome again.  Although we had an amazing time exploring the city we did find that it was quite a dirty city, the streets were littered, there were lots of genuinely homeless people and lots of them pitched up in the tourist spots.  The city was very expensive, almost £9 for a pint of beer. Prosecco was roughly the same price as we would pay in the UK (phew) and then there's tourist tax, what?? I didn't realise that we would be charged on check out, but apparently it's a thing.

Apart from the above, Rome is a beautiful city in it's own right and definitely a place you'd want to tick off the bucket list.  We've been, we've seen and we conquered!

Kirsty x









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