Friday, July 26, 2013

15 Things to do in Rome

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X and I spent 4.5 days in Rome and we accomplished a great deal! 4.5 days is definitely on the longer side but we were able to explore Rome at a more relaxed pace. Here's a list of the things that we did in Rome and we've included 10 survival tips at the end of the post. Hope you'll find this post helpful!


1) St Peter's Basilica 

We went to the basilica before our night tour at The Vatican Museum. Our apartment was a ten-minute walk away from the basilica and it was awesome to be able to see the famous dome from our place! So anyway, the basilica is part of the Vatican. So you'll have to go through security checks before being allowed to enter. The queue to get into the basilica is INSANE in the day so we advise that you go in the afternoon, like we did! The queue wasn't that long and it didn't take us more than ten minutes to enter the basilica. Do note that the basilica closes at 7!

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Everyone was queuing to touch Saint Peter's foot. His big toe is "gone" from all the touching

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2) Vatican Museum

The Vatican is crazy packed during the day so we decided to go for a night tour! X booked a night tour, which cost 60 euros, with an independent agency online. Our group consisted of about 10 people. It was quite a good size. Also, we had this little radio thing with earphones, so we could hear the guide clearly no matter how far we were from her, as she spoke into a microphone. We'd strongly suggest taking the night tour as you actually can move around easily and have more time and space to admire the art pieces. Oh! And you don't have to queue to get into the museum!

The highlight of the Vatican Museum is the Sistine Chapel. It's ceiling is filled with paintings of the life of Jesus by the famous Michelangelo. Photography is strictly not allowed in the chapel. There are guards who will throw you out if they catch you taking photographs!

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Our guide pushing the giant ball

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This is a very famous sculpture!

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One of the only bronze statues left because the rest were melted to make weapons during the war

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120 metres of painting on the ceiling

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3) Colosseum

Remember to book your admission tickets online! We were shocked to see the queue. The people probably had to queue for hours just to purchase the tickets! But yay, because X booked the tickets online, we got in immediately! Also, we booked a special tour that allowed us special access, past locked gates, to the underground and the highest level of the Colosseum. Please book this tour too! It costs 22.50 euros and it's super worth it!

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We were the only group that was allowed onto a platform on the ground level. Being in the centre of attention and feeling like everyone else in the Colosseum was looking at us, we couldn't help but feel really exclusive haha

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The underground. The rocks are held together by sheer pressure derived from the rocks pushing against one another! Amazing! The underground was where the slaves lived and where the animals were kept back in the gladiator days

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View from the highest level of the Colosseum!

The Colosseum is number one on X's bucket list. He was super happy to have finally visited this incredible place. He was especially interested in the history and he was like perpetually amazed with all the new information that he was receiving from the guide haha


4) Roman Forum / Palatine Hill

The admission ticket to The Colosseum includes admission to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Here are pictures of the Roman Forum only because I was too tired to climb up the hill and X went without the camera haha

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5) Trevi Fountain

The fountain is super super packed! You've to squeeze through a great deal of people to get to the front of the fountain. There will be people holding cameras offering to take pictures for you but just ignore them!
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When we finally got to the fountain, X handed me a coin. In my excitement to throw the coin backwards into the fountain, I forgot to make a wish HAHA


6) Spagna Square / Spanish Steps

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Widest staircase in Europe!


7) Pantheon
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One of the most famous and most imitated churches!

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8) Vittorio Emanuele II monument

This is a monument that was built in honour of Victor Emanuele, who was the first king of unified Italy. It's probably the grandest and poshest building here in Rome.

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We took the elevator (7 euros) to the top of the monument. It is the tallest building in Rome so you can have a clear view of everything!
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9) Castel Sant'Angelo

This building, which used to be the tallest in Rome, has been used as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

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Admission fee : 10.5 euros

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10) Piazza Navona

This square used to be a competition arena where the ancient Romans gather to watch the games
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Church at the piazza

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So cute. Looks like Waffles!


11) Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is a large garden which houses buildings and museums. The main attraction will be the Galleria Borghese. Do book your tickets online as early as you can because admission goes by time slots and the tickets run out pretty quickly

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Photography is not allowed in the museum and you'll be asked to deposit your belongings before entering the museum.

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We rented this bike for 15 euros / hour and just cycled around the entire compound. There's a zoo nearby too!

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You could also choose to tour the place on this train

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Or in a carriage pulled by a pretty horse


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There is also a huge dog park!


12) Campo de Fiori

An open-air marketplace that's very lively!

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13) Mouth of Truth

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There was a long queue so we decided not to queue for this haha


14) Trastevere

A calm and quiet residential area that's worth a visit.

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It's quite fun to just sit at the fountain, enjoy a gelato and people-watch. We also made friends with Chilli the poodle and his owner!


15) Sunset on Gianicolo Hill

From Trastevere, we walked for quite a distance up a hill and we finally got to the hilltop! There, we waited patiently for the sun to set. When we were in Rome, the sun didn't set till about 8pm. So we waited and waited and waited

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And unfortunately, after a long two-hour wait, the sun set behind the clouds ):


SURVIVAL TIPS

1) SHOES
Wear really comfortable walking shoes because you really have to walk very long distances. All the attractions in Rome are actually within walking distance from each other, so it's more convenient to walk than to actually take a bus. After my first day in Rome, my back was hurting really badly and my oxfords gave way on my second day. Haha so please bring really comfy shoes!

2) TRANSPORT
We bought a three-day bus pass but we realised that we didn't fully utilise it because we walked alot! So I'd recommend getting single trip tickets. Also, the system works like this. You validate the ticket when you get on the bus. If you have a three-day pass, you validate it just once, on the first time you get on a bus. So basically, people just get on and off the bus without having to do anything. So, actually, if you don't have a ticket, nobody knows. The bus tickets can be purchased at this little convenience store at the entrance of Roma Termini and various tabacchis. For the metro, you'll have to purchase the tickets at the stations.

3) ADMISSION TICKETS
Book everything online and before you get to Rome! VERY IMPORTANT! Don't waste your time queuing!

4) SAFETY
Ignore people who try to speak to you when you're purchasing train tickets at Roma Termini or anywhere else. Also, there will be people who go up to you and try to help you with the machine when you're purchasing tickets. X was super surprised and he was like "Oh! Thanks!" only to realise later that the guy took a portion of our change for his "help". If you need help with directions, always ask someone trustworthy, such as a policeman or shop owners.

5) SAFETY
People will push you off the bus just because they want to alight, so be careful if you're standing near the doors! Also, the train doors close really quickly, without any warning. And they slam really hard and fast so don't be caught in the doors

6) SAFETY
Always be alert. Try to sling your bags in front of you. Bring bags that have numerous compartments and zips. Don't carry anything in your backpockets because they attract unnecessary attention


7) SUNSCREEN
During summer, the sun sets later so the hours are longer. So plan your time wisely, and also, bring sunscreen or sunblock! The Roman sky is so blue and cloudless, that even at below 20 degrees celcius, it was really quite hot and we were sunburned! 

8) MANNERS
Don't go with the impression that the Italians are rude! We've heard so much about the Italians being really rude people and naturally, we went there with that impression too but to be honest, we've met so many nice Italians that we totally think that that's a baseless stereotype! They may appear to be slightly more hostile and unapproachable at fast but in fact, they're really nice people!

9) FOOD
They don't serve iced coffee. Salads, fruits and soft drinks are pretty expensive.

10) FREE TOURS
There are a great number of free tours for various attractions so do check them out online and plan your schedule well!


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Love, K

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