We had a little whistle stop tour of Rome, we had made our way down on the very efficient Italian train system from La Spezia at the foot of the picture postcard Cinque Terra region, pitting stopping in Rome for less than 24 hours before we caught a flight to Dubrovnik in Croatia.
What do you do when you’ve never been to Rome, you have less than 24 hours and it’s late July and the temperature in the city is sweltering? You run around like crazy travellers of course, rest and sleep being luxuries that we would save ourselves for in Croatia, for now there was only one more day in Italy.
We dropped our bags in the Four Seasons Hostel which is handy for location, 24 hour reception and there was a sweet sigh of relief to discover there was air con in the rooms!
The first thing we did was stroll up to the Colosseum, it’s such an impressive sight from the outside, the structure of it and walking around trying to remember my GCSE Latin and read the inscriptions written in a time long ago, it’s magnificent.
Short on time and not wanting to wait in the queue to go inside we got as close as we could from the outside and then we wandered onward.
Pit stopping for gelato, by which I’d eaten my bodyweight in the stuff already… there’s a cute cafe called Vale not far from the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland – above), we cooled down with a divine coconut and caramel gelato, did I mention how heavenly Italian gelato is?
We made it to Vatican City, right before it closed so we were the last people allowed in to St Paul’s Basilica – technically it’s a church not a cathedral, but it’s still one of the holiest places you go, so do be aware that ladies need to cover our knees and shoulders.
I hadn’t anything long or suitable, so resorted to pulling and stretching at my dress to cover my knees in the queue and apologies to the church, I let it all go once inside! Baring my knees in such a holy place, oops.
It’s such a deeply magnificent and impressive feast for your eyes and mind when you’re standing inside it, feeling like an ant and marvelling at human creation and design, I’m sure it’s designed to awe you into quiet appreciation. Well worth a visit.
There are so many hidden, pretty piazzas and we found a delightful one called Piazza Navona, teeming with traditional italian restaurants where you can suck up all the pasta your heart desires, and enjoy people watching and being serenaded by local musicians.
Once refuelled, off we went to find the revered Trevi Fountain, full of lovers and hopeful romantics having their selfie moment by the magic fountain. Not sure it’s that romantic when lovers and friends jostle for their moment to sit on the edge of the fountain, dip their fingers, toss a coin or take a selfie. But you know, when in Rome…
Dashing past the Pantheon, (it was closed, boooo) all we could do was glance at the outside as we had a destination in mind.
The cafe of 150 ice cream flavours! The Gelateria Della Palma is a thing of beauty (sorry Pantheon, we were distracted), and I promise you that you’ll be in there a while, it’s terrible if you’re indecisive like me. Pure Italian ice cream heaven! It was something else.
Rome was a treat. Though we were sweltering like a bikram yoga class, stuffed like turkeys at Christmas, our eye balls were delighted and our feet touched a thousand romantic cobble stones, so we rolled back into our air conditioned dorm room late that night and merrily collapsed. Only to be up again at the crack of dawn to catch our flight to Croatia….
Train from La Spezia to Rome: £18
Hostel Four Seasons: £25 per night
Entry into St Paul’s Basilica: Free!