Here’s the final chapter of my city break to Rome, a city famous for its historical monuments and striking architecture – not forgetting its delicious food!
Having had such a busy first day in Rome – and still a little tired from travelling – Lucy suggested going on a bus tour of the city. If you’ve already visited Rome, you’ll know that there are plenty of tours to choose from, with tickets available to buy on almost every street for between €15 and €40. We ended up getting a ticket for an audioguided hop-on/hop-off bus tour operated by Cityrama which cost us about €18.
As well as providing us with a much needed respite from the cobblestone streets of Rome, the tour was a great way to see all of the city’s most famous attractions in just a short amount of time – not to mention learn some valuable information about each one.
We hopped off the bus a few times. First, to go into the Altare della Patria or Monumento Nazionale a Vittoria Emmanuel II, a monument built in honour of the first king of unified Italy Victor Emmanuel. It’s huge, white and simply beautiful. Plus, it’s free.
Inside, there’s also the most amazing collection of militaria, from torpedo boats to flags from the Italian army, navy and air force units. While the outside balcony offers the most spectacular view of old Rome and the Colosseum.
We also stopped at Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s largest and most popular open parks. It offered a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle in the city centre. There was a lake, temples, fountains, statues and several museums to explore there, as well as a cinema. Lucy and I actually rented a tandem bike to explore all that the park had to offer which was really fun, if not a little dangerous!
It was pretty late by the time we left the park, so we hopped back onto the tour bus and headed back to our hotel to change for dinner. This time, we ate at a really cute place called La Cucina Nazionale. It was more modern than other places we’d been to but the food was still traditionally Italian. Both of us had woodfired pizza for main, and I had lemon sorbet again for dessert. It was delicious!
Our final day in Rome was Vatican day! We caught a metro train to Vatican City. The metro service was easy to use and a return ticket only cost €3. For anybody going to Rome for the first time, the metro is definitely the best way to get to the Vatican. You want to catch Line A to Ottaviano.
We joined the queue for the Vatican around 9:10 and got in at 10:30. We’re British, so neither of us particularly minded the wait. If you’re a little more impatient though, buy your tickets in advance so that you’re able to join the fastrack queue instead. The fastrack queue was moving, well, faster. Tickets for both the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel cost €16, which I thought was really reasonable.
The Vatican was a total maze, with statues, artefacts and paintings to admire at every turn. The architecture of the building itself was also something to marvel at. That said, I quickly felt very trapped as more and more people continued to pile into the museum. And, my visit to the Vatican unfortunately became less about drifting from one display room to another and more about finding the nearest exit.
When we did reach the exit, we walked across the street to the café opposite the Vatican for an ice cream. From there, we made the short walk to St Peter’s Square. The square, which is home to St Peter’s Basilica, was a beautiful place to just sit and watch what was going on around us, including guards patrolling the church, priests hurrying by and tour groups fighting their way through the crowd. There was also a number of stalls and shops in the square, selling things between €1 and €1000.
St Peter’s Basilica, meanwhile, was arguably the most beautiful church I’ve visited. Its lavish interior contained an assortment of artwork, including three of Italy’ most celebrated masterpieces, including Bernini’s 29-metre high baldachin over the papal altar.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city, passing Castel St. Angelo on the way. As dinner approached, we made our way back to metro and caught a train back to our hotel.
After a quick outfit change, we went out to eat at a charming little spot called Gran Caffe Roma, located just off Piazza Barberini. There, we enjoyed our last meal in Rome: a delicious plate of pasta and freshly squeezed apple juice under a gazebo decorated by fairy lights.
Feel free to get in touch for any advice about visiting Rome. Or, share your own experiences below – I’d love to hear them!