Exploring Italy – Rome
Words and images credited to Carrie-Ann Dring
As the theme for this month’s issue is travel, I thought it was the perfect time for me to pack up my troubles in my old kit bag, don my intrepid explorer hat (it’s a vintage straw), and travel to Rome with my husband for a bit of rest and relaxation.
It didn’t work out quite as I expected. There was so much to see that we walked at least nine miles every day during our time there. My feet were very sore, but on the plus side, I discovered two things – the first: hotel showers can double up as surprisingly soothing foot spas, and the second: I can be quite resourceful when the mood takes me!
Our hotel was just around the corner from the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, and I couldn’t wait to channel my inner Audrey. As you’d expect, both sites are very popular and as a result, can get incredibly busy. We prepared accordingly and got up early one morning to avoid the crowds, and it was worth it – we got to explore both much more closely than if we’d gone during a busier time.
Once I was all Audreyed out, we headed over to the Colosseum, which I’ve wanted to visit since I was a little girl and read a guidebook on Italy (no, I have no idea why I was reading it either). It’s a fascinating piece of history, and having looked at more pictures than I care to remember, I loved seeing it in real life.
The queue is – as you’d expect – long, but we paid for a tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which meant we avoided the queue. For me, the additional expense was worth it because I really hate queuing when I could be exploring!
The surprise highlight for both of us was the Roman Forum, which dates back to the sixth century BC and used to be the marketplace, business district and civic centre of Rome. We had a brilliant tour guide (I couldn’t decide if he reminded me more of James Corden or Prince Harry), who was informative, funny and really brought the history to life. After a tour of Palatine Hill, we were left to explore the Roman Forum on our own, and we were still there four hours later. During our visit, the Santa Maria Antiqua exhibition was open; the church was buried in a landslide in 847 and various bits of architecture and art have been wonderfully preserved. I hadn’t heard much about it before we visited, but now I’m reading up on it obsessively!
On the way back to the hotel to try the aforementioned improvised foot spa, we visited the pantheon, a 2,000 year old building that was once a temple and is now a church. As you’d perhaps expect, it’s spectacularly beautiful, especially the famous dome.
As regular readers will know, I usually like to end my articles by talking about food, and as I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to visit Italy and not wax lyrical about the cuisine, this month is no exception. On our first morning in Rome, I discovered that cake for breakfast is a thing. It made me very happy indeed. Everything we ate and drank was wonderful… the pizza, the pasta, the prosecco… and of course, the gelato. But if I had to pick a favourite, it would be the tiramisu in Angelina Ristorante, just around the corner from the Trevi Fountain. Yum!
By the time we left, I felt like we’d only just begun to explore Rome. I can’t wait to go back and discover more!