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After visiting the beautiful Athens and romantic Santorini, X and I took a flight to Rome. Rome is an amazing city – I love the architecture, I love the people and I love the food. X and I were practically gorging ourselves silly with pastas and pizzas and gelatos… every single day! We spent 2 1/2 days in Rome and I couldn’t bear to leave that place (actually, I love so many places in Europe that I dreaded to leave…)
Piazza del Popolo
We started off by visiting Piazza del Popolo. This place is simply bustling with life – lots of people everywhere! But of course, major tourists traps everywhere too.
Villa Borghese Gardens
We then headed towards the Villa Borghese Gardens. As the second largest public park in Rome, it is an enormous landscape garden in the naturalistic English manner.
Villa Borghese Gardens
The Borghese Gardens is so huge that my feet ached after all the walking! The garden is extremely crowded with locals and tourists. We saw people picnicking, sun-tanning, or simply just lying down on the benches relaxing.
Villa Borghese Gardens
There’s a huge pond in the garden as well – boat-rowing is an activity well liked by adults and kids.
Deep into the garden is Galleria Borghese. An art gallery in Rome, it houses a substantial collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities, featuring numerous artworks of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
One must reserve tickets in order to enter the gallery. The art gallery is truly an eye opener and I will recommend renting the audio guide in order to understand more about the artworks.
Piazza di Spagna with Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat)
One of the popular sites in Rome – Piazza di Spagna, or also commonly known as The Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps are the 138 steps at Piazza di Spagna, credited to Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is built from 1627 to 1629 and is the widest staircase in Europe.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major)
One of the five great ancient basilicas in Rome, fully restored and renovated in the 18th Century. It is a popular site for locals and tourists.
No one should leave Rome without seeing the Colosseum. Built in 1st Century AD, the colosseum could seat up to 45,000 spectators. It is an amazing historical site that one should definitely research before hand to understand the history of this magnificent site. I wouldn’t advise buying the tickets at the site – the queue is way too long! We got the Roma Pass that allowed us to cut the queue.
Colosseum – where the gladiators fought
According to statistics, 2,000 gladiators, 70 lions, 40 wild horses, 30 elephants, 30 leopards, 20 wild asses, 19 giraffes, 10 elks, 10 hyenas, 10 tigers, 1 hippopotamus and 1 rhino died over the years while the Colosseum is operating. Gladiator fights and wild beasts fights were only banned in 407 and 523 respectively by Emperor Honorius.
View of the Arch of Constantine (left) and Palatine Hill from the Colosseum
Roman Forum is also another must-visitm, must-research-before-hand and should-get-the-Roma-Pass historic site. Roman Forum was the public heart of the “Eternal City” throughout the Republic and the Empire.
If you didn’t do your research, all you see will be stones, walls, pillars and arches – you won’t be able to understand the history and significance of them.
Arco di Tito (Arch of Titus)
The Arch of Titus depicts the sacking of Jerusalem and its sacred temple by the Romans in the 70 AD after the great Jewish revolt. The arch marked the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora throughout Europe.
House of the Vestal Virgins
The House of the Vestal Virgins was the residence of young priestesses. These priestesses were entrusted with the important role of tending the flame of the sacred flame.
Statues of House of the Vestal Virgins
These priestesses enjoyed high status in Roman society, but suffered severe penalties for failing to perform their duties. If they let the flame go out, they would be flogged by the high priests. If they lose their virginity, they will be buried alive.
Temple of Castor and Pollux
This temple was orignally built in 484 BC and rebuilt in 6 AD by Tiberius. What remains today are three columns and a part of the archtrave. The tale of Castor and Pollux originated from Greek and Roman mythology.
Tempio di Vesta (Temple of Vesta)
Even though what remains of the Temple of Vesta is only a part of the wall and three columns, the original Temple of Vesta is round and its entrance is facing the East. The position of the entrance represents the relationship between Vesta’s fire and the sun as sources of life.
Column of Phocas
The Column of Phocas was erected in 608 AD by a brutal Byzantine centurion who ruled as emperor (known as Phocas) from 602 AD to 610 AD. Two years after the column is erected, Phocas was deposed off and tortured to death.
Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn once served as the public treasury and was the focus during the popular December festival of Saturnalia.
Temple of Vespasian and Titus
This temple is dedicated to Emperor Vespasian and Titus. When Emperor Vespasian died, his son Titus began the construction of this temple. However, he died before the completion of this temple, and the temple was completed by his younger brother – Domitian.
Arch of Septimus Severus
This arch is covered with numerous reliefs of battle scenes. It was erected to celebrate the emperor’s victories in modern-day Iran and Iraq.
The real and the fake
Can you differentiate the real from the fake?
Fontana di Trevi (Fountain of Trevi)
Fountain of Trevi is one of the most famous fountains in the world. The sheer size of it and the huge crowd surrounding the fountain certainly will leave you “wow-ing”. Many people gathered around this fountain drinking, eating ice cream and of course – throwing coins.
It is rumoured that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you will be ensured a return to Rome. Two if you want a new romance and three if you want a marriage / divorce. And it is also said that it’s best to throw the coin using your right hand over your left shoulder.
It has been estimated that 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day, and the money is being used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy. There are also policemen patrolling around – just in case someone decides to steal them!
Fontana della Naiadi (Fountain of the Naiads)
There are lots of fountains in Rome – and Fountana della Naiadi is one of them. Completed in 1888, this fountain originally had four chalked lions but was replaced with sculptures of Naiads in 1901. I love this fountain because of its background. (:
Fontana dell’Acqua Felice (Fountain of Moses)
X and I happened to pass by this fountain and we had to stop and photographed it. (See the two people in the photo? It’s not us, but it does illustrate the sheer size of this fountain) Fountains are of important significance in Rome – they provide drinking water and decorate the piazzas of Rome.
Before this fountain is build, there was only one working aqueduct that brings water into Rome. Work was begun by Pope Sixus IV to restore the Acqua Felice aqueduct and this fountain was built to mark the terminus of the aqueduct.
Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Basilica of St. John Lateran)
This grand basilica is dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist and is one of my top favourite basilica. It is the first among the four major basilicas in Rome – meaning it has a rich and long history (that I’m lazy to type out… heh)
Ponte Milvio (The Milvian Bridge)
X and I also travelled further out of central Rome and went to visit Ponte Milvio – where we were greeted with numerous padlocks. There is a special ritual on Ponte Milvio, invented by Federic Moccia for his book and movie “I Want You” – each couple will lock a padlock bearing their names and throw the key behind them into the river. Kinda sweet, don’t you think?
View from Ponte Milvio
This is a grand and amazing ancient temple in Rome, and it’s also made even more famous by Dan Brown’s movie – Angels and Demons. The main source of light in the building comes from the oculus. It originally served as a chimney for the smoke from the ceremonial fires to escape.
Fountain of the Four Rivers (front) and Chiesa Sant’Agnese in Agone (background)
Another fountain made even more popular in Angels and Demon, Fountain of the Four Rivers is yet another masterpiece by Bernini. It has an Egyptian obelisk in the middle and four sculptures surrounding the obelisk, which represents the four great rivers in the four continents – the Nile in Africa; the Ganges in Asia; the Danube in Europe and the Rio de la Plata in America.
Chiesa Sant’Agnese in Agone is located just behind the Fountain of the Four Rivers and was completed by Bernini’s bitter rival – Borromini. Completed in the mid-17th century, it has a beautiful Baroque facade.
Housing a castle, chapel, a lavish Papal residence and a prison, Castel Sant’Angelo overlooks the Tiber River and is now a museum.
Night photography interests X most, hence we spend most of our nights in Europe going back to popular sites and taking night photos. Here are some of my favourite (:
Arch of Constantine with Colosseum at the background
Night view at the Spanish Steps
Monument to Vittorio
Fontana di Trevi
We ate insane amounts of pastas, pizzas and gelatos during our stay in Rome and it was simply amazing. Many gelatos cafe will display their gelatos behind glass counters and decorate them with insane amount of chocolate sauce / wafer biscuits etc. There are, however, some that keep their gelatos in metal tubs, hidden away from plain sight – all you can see are the name tags of the flavours they have. These cafes, in my opinion, have a much better quality gelatos. I love the sorbets (all the fruity ones), the honey gelato and of course the chocolate gelatos. Mmmmm…
Fresh fruits market
Markets are my top favourite places to visit (in fact I like to shop there more than I shop for bags / clothes!) Each time we go there, we’ll end up buying some cherries or strawberries or peaches to eat. And they have the sweetest and juiciest fruits ever!
Insanely sweet and juicy strawberries!
So that pretty sums up my trip in Rome – what I’d love to do if I ever go back there again, (after all, I did threw a coin into Fontana di Trevi :p) is to indulge myself in more pastas, pizzas and gelatos! (: