I put the vote out to the hunnies of Instagram and they voted yes to more travelling pics and blogs so here goes one about Rome.
Rome is a stunning city, one of the capitals of food and culture, Rome has been a city of major global importance for thousands of years. There are countless things to see and do, and it would be so easy to spend weeks there and still feel like you’ve hardly made a dent. One of the most prevailing impressions Rome made on me was that it was really bloody hot, and very very busy. The main thing I love to do when I visit new cities is to just wander through the streets and soak up all the ambience. As I have mentioned previously, I study history of art, for which Rome is one of the key cities. I absolutely love architecture and gazing up at all the buildings so I always have to allow myself plenty of time to do that.
There is so much of Rome that I don’t really know where to start, but it wouldn’t be a visit without the Colosseum. One of the most iconic landmarks and historical sights, the Colosseum is pretty much a must see, but for this same reason the queue is also pretty damn awful. No one can deny it is pretty damn spectacular. It’s amazing to think of the people who sat in that very arena and watched gladiator shows all those thousands of years ago.
Another very popular tourist location is the Vatican. The centre of the Catholic church, it is also a destination of pilgrimage for many people. Being a bit of a nerd, I can’t help but admire it for it’s architecture. St Peter’s is built on what used to be a medieval site, with the Square (even though it’s a circle) added in the seventeenth century by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When planning the city of Rome and the square, Bernini wanted it to be breathtaking, hence why the houses and streets surrounding the city are quite closely packed, then you emerge into this pristine, white open space. Later changes to the road approaching St Peter’s were made in order to be able to have processions down the street which subtracts to the effect these days. A nice fact to drop in there is that the obelisk in the square of St Peters is the only one still in the original roman position (back in the Roman days the area was used as a circus). St Peter’s is breathtaking, the pristine stone glistens under the scorching Italian sunshine, the water droplets from the fountains delicately catching the light and reflecting it all around the space.
One of my favourite places is the Pantheon. From the outside it doesn’t really appear to be anything spectacular, however it has been standing since roman times which is pretty remarkable I would say. The inside is absolutely incredible. The space is truly awe-inspiring, and the fact that it was built many thousands of years ago is a testament to the ability of Roman architects and design. Like St Peters, this building has also undergone drastic transformation having been appropriated from the traditional paganistic Roman religions and being used as a church. In the seventeenth century the architect Borromini added two bell towers known as the ‘ass’s ears’.
The art produced for churches in Rome is some of the most spectacular there is, you should never underestimate what treasures a church will hold. This picture was taken in Santa Maria Del Popello, I thought it was spectacular (in the same church they also had a Caravaggio painted in a chapel). The church was the main patron for many artists, even very wealthy families considered it a good act to get a piece of religious art commissioned, hence the wealth of art available.
If you want to get out of the city a bit then the catacombs really are spectacular. Just a short drive away, they are so beautiful and peaceful, and feel completely removed from the city. Built underground to house the bodies of the dead, I expected them to have a slightly creepy atmosphere, however mass is still regularly held in the tunnels.
The picture above was taken in one of my favourite areas of Rome, Trastevere. The Trastevere area is a spectacularly lively and bohemian area of Rome with tonnes of restaurants and shops. This particular shop sold glass of all different varieties from light shades to beads. Walking in it took my breath away, like an Aladdin’s cave of glistening, multicoloured lights. The whole area was buzzing with people out to eat and shops enticing you in. We went in the evening, when the scorching sun from the day had cooled off and people had their second wind of life.
Now we definitely couldn’t talk about anywhere in Italy without mentioning food. Now I hate to say this, but after a week I was actually starting to have enough of Italian food. Don’t get me wrong, every meal we ate was incredible but I just wanted something homemade. I think I had pizza and pasta every day which to be honest is my dream, but it did mean I came back a lot heavier. Rome has such a wealth of picturesque pizzerias and trattorias producing some of the most incredible food. The picture below is a brasserie by the Spanish steps. We stopped for lunch and had these desserts that were a strawberry tart, but instead of the usual strawberries it was dotted with lots of tiny wild strawberries. Simple and elegant, the pastry was flaky and buttery, the filling was a ligth creme pattisiere, and the strawberries were dusted lightly with icing sugar. The strawberries were exquisite: fresh, juicy, and packed with so much more flavour than cultivated ones.