City Break - Rome Day 2

This is the second part in a post about our recent trip to Rome without the kids. It was the first chance Matt and I had to get abroad together since our honeymoon and, despite being on a budget and missing the kids, we were determined to make the most of it.
You can read the first part here. Or read on to find out all about how we got on for Day 2, our only full day spent in the Eternal City...

On day two we woke early, refreshed after a decent night's sleep in a truly comfy bed (thank you Hotel Artemide). Our room had everything you would expect - and a free minibar which we didn't expect but was very much appreciated.

We didn't have breakfast included in our package, a shame as it looked delicious but at 14 Euros each we felt we could get more out our precious funds by grabbing a pastry en route - there were plenty to choose from and neither of us are used to having breakfast anyway.

We once more walked down towards the Colosseum, using a few shortcuts we'd noticed from the night before, including an ancient, ivy-laden tunnel which meant you approached the Colosseum from a better vantage point and got a great view of the early morning sun shining on the impressive structure.

We had pre-booked our tickets at the official site and so were able to skip the queue (already very long at 9am) and go straight in. Booking online was relatively simple but it is easy to get confused by the packages, tours and what exactly is included in the price. We felt that it was better to book direct rather than risk being ripped off and it is possible to add tours and audio/visual guides when you get there.

I would definitely recommend a video guide which you can buy from the kiosk for 5 Euros. Matt and I shared one and found that it gave us just the right amount of information, whilst allowing us to explore and take a look at other areas that caught our interest. Or stop for selfies. Obviously.

I found the facts about the performances and Gladiator fights to be fascinating and loved learning about the structure of the Colosseum and how well organised it was. It was busy when we visited and yet it still didn't feel small or cramped - imagine what it would have been like filled with over 50,000 people!

Entry to the Colosseum also includes entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and visiting all three sites (they're next to each other) can easily take a whole day. We once again paid for a guide at the Roman Forum but found that it wasn't as well signposted as the Colosseum and was quite confusing at times. For example, it took us half hour just to find the tour starting point! Maybe we're just a little stupid...

Unfortunately, the Temple of Romulus was closed that day but there was so much else to see and do that we were there for a few hours anyway - trying to find our way round!

Flagging at lunchtime we made an executive decision to abandon the ruins and head back to the hotel because Matt had left his wallet behind that morning and we needed to buy lunch! Because we didn't want to miss out on anything we got the Metro from Repubblica to Ottaviano for the Vatican City rather than walking the whole way (which is do-able but would take a while).

Controversially, Matt and I decided not to visit the Vatican Museum or Sistine Chapel. It was something I had done before on my previous trip and Matt wasn't as interested in that as he was the other sights. With a tight schedule and lots to see, this one wasn't high on our priorities. Instead we took in the sights of St Peter's Square, enjoyed lunch on one of the picturesque side streets, grabbed some delicious gelato and narrowly avoided being run over by a small car crammed full of Nuns...

From there we wandered down towards the Castel San Angelo and crossed the bridge over the river to explore the winding streets towards the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

The Piazza was once again very busy but had a great feel to it, all the restaurants were packed and so we waited until we got to the Pantheon before stopping somewhere for a beer. It was pricier in this area but we were able to sit outside whilst having our drink which was worth paying extra for - you wouldn't have had a view like this from a side street.

The Pantheon is a free 'attraction' (it's actually a church) with a very short queue to enter. I can't describe just how big it was! The ancient Roman's were clearly obsessed with making everything massive and the inside was amazing. I would have loved to have learnt more about the original structure and how it was built - the skill and engineering is mind boggling!

From the Pantheon we began walking back towards our hotel. On our way we came across a delightful little piazza which included 11 Corinthian columns from a Roman Temple (the Il Tempio di Adriano).  We would never have thought to make our way there to take a look on our own but wandering the streets provided so many wonderful surprises like this one.

In the square was the modest but chic perfumery, Tonatto. We only decided to take a look on a whim but I'm glad I did as the experience was one of my favourites from our visit. More than just a shop selling perfume, Tonatto included a gallery with signature scents for films, art and history. The lady in the store was helpful in trying to help me find the scent that was right for me and I love the romantic descriptions attributed to each fragrance - the Leopard Ball, the Awakening, the Passion. I chose the Passion as my favourite and bought a small bottle for 23 Euros as a special treat to myself. I've worn it everyday since.

Pleased with my purchase we did some more shopping on our way back to the hotel for more drinks on the roof terrace. I could easily have spent a fortune in the toy shops, could have been persuaded by absinthe just because the store itself was so eye-catching and bohemian (I have a soft spot for the film Moulin Rouge).

With our legs aching and Matt's head thumping we got back to our room with some relief. The free minibar had been restocked, the shower was wonderfully hot and refreshing for aching muscles and the bar served some delicious cocktails. It was nice just to relax, put our feet up for a bit and I sat and read my book on the terrace watching the sunset. Bliss.

After a much deserved rest we once more decided to head into the city at night. We did however find our plans scuppered by an incident. We didn't know what it was at first but there were an awful lot of sirens, police cars, ambulances and fire engines. Being in a foreign country and more than a little anxious about the prospect of terrorist attacks we didn't venture far. The road was closed at both the top and bottom of the street and there were a lot of people milling about and so in the end we took refuge in a small McDonald's restaurant opposite the hotel to grab a quick dinner and check out the news on our phones.

We discovered that the Metro closest to us was at the centre of the problem - an escalator had apparently malfunctioned and many people were seriously hurt in the accident and crush. The video itself is scary enough (you can see it here) and I was particularly shaken as we'd been on the same escalator earlier in the day. We'd even considered going to the football game and would've been there at the time the accident happened. It's scary to think how things can turn out and we returned back to the hotel thankful for our good fortune and thinking of those who had been hurt.

On our third day we only had the morning to spend in the city before getting our flight back home and we spent it shopping for souvenirs and saying a goodbye to the Trevi Fountain - hopeful to return again one day.

Checking out of our hotel at 12pm there was time for a last delicious meal and a glass of Peroni (cheaper to purchase than a soft drink) before catching the transfer from Termini to Ciampino. This was as easy as it was on arrival and we made good time, getting to the airport easily and through security.

And then, in no time at all, we were flying back to Blighty. Back to Stanstead Airport (where I'd recommend paying a little extra for the Fast Track at passport control). Back to Ashford and my in-laws where the kids were tucked up in bed sleeping.

There were so many highlights to our trip, I've done my best to capture them here and share them with you. Despite not being a 'travel blogger', I'm hoping to share some of my tips and lessons learnt with you in future posts, so please do join me again if you want to hear more about our trip to Rome and how you can enjoy your time there too!
Entertainingly Nerdy said...

I would love to visit there. It's actually on my bucket list.

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