Rome is a large, busy metropolis intermixed with ruins. Everywhere. Even in Termini train station- in the McDonalds downstairs lol. It's really cool. From half broken columns to fully intact, breathtaking arches, the ruins are quite something. Authorities close roads near the Colosseum, the roman forum and Piazza Venezia for the hoards of tourists, which is really helpful.
I had 5 nights in Rome and I was sick during all of them. It did impede my visit slightly- I just didn't do as much per day as I normally would. I still feel like I saw everything I wanted to though.
My first day I got distracted by the Fori Imperiali and the aaaamazing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. I spent like 3 hours at the monument and it's museum. Basically its a huge white building with tiers, columns and statues. I went inside- It was all free except for the super expensive (7 euros) elevator to the top of the monument, but I had to do it. It had a great view of all of Rome. Inside was a museum, including information about people emigrating out of Italy. It was useful, especially at 4 pm when it poured outside for an hour. (It basically rained at that time every day I was there.) For days after, when I was exploring the centre, I'd see a white building or a statue in the distance and want to go towards it- but it was always the monument lol. It's huge!!
Fori Imperiali (imperial fora) was built 150 years after Caesar's reign and was where business of the forum took place. What's left are many columns in ruins, brick structures in various states of ruin, and one amazing and beautifully carved column or monument, whatever you want to call it.
Next it was exploring the city centre. I took the metro to the Spanish Steps, a large beautiful staircase built in 1723 to connect the piazza to Trinita dei Monti church. At the bottom of the steps is the house where the poet John Keats died at the young age of 25, I believe. There is now a museum there.
There are beautiful squares, buildings, churches, ruins and statues everywhere. Meaning there are tourists everywhere. Aaanyway, one of my favourites was the Trevi Fountain. I went at supper time... And it was packed! It's always packed! Created by Nicolo Salvi, the fountain itself is huge- very tall- featuring Neptune surrounded by the goddesses of abundance & good health, as well as two horsemen. Bright blue water spewing everywhere. It's quite worth the fuss I think.
I threw in 3 coins- each one represents something. I think 3 brings about your wedding - maybe I should have stopped at 1 coin- a prompt return to Rome :)
The Pantheon is another great building. It has a huge dome- an engineering feat because it's a perfect hemispherical dome, 142 ft in diameter and height. The Pantheon's only source of light is through the 27 foot 'oculus' (a circular strip cut out at the top of the dome). It's extremely old and very well preserved on the inside- gorgeous marble, a beautiful dome. And stuffed with people of course. Tourists are everywhere ...but then again it was free.
The colosseum. It is something. Seeing it in person- a building that I've seen on tv and in books... Awesome. Of course it's not as well preserved as the one in Nimes but it was abandoned, then pillaged for building materials. Only until a pope declared it a sacred place where Christians were martyred, did the structure get any respect in recent times.
There are layers to the structure and my favorite part of it is where 2 layers stop- that famous slice in the colosseum. That's also where the original stone is. Only part of the colosseum is original- much has been filled in with cement etc to keep it standing. In fact it almost collapsed several years ago but the brilliant engineering job has preserved it and will for years to come!
It was hot in there. I wouldn't recommend the audio tour. Only 6 stations! Nimes was better. Also recommended- colosseum at night. Gorgeous. Well, Rome at night is gorgeous! Quite well lit up.
Afterwards I toured Palatine hill and the Roman Forum (all inclusive ticket). Amazing ruins, especially the arches and the most complete column structures I'd seen up until then. I even toured Augustus' house. He was a very popular roman leader and he lived in the same small house for 40 years. Frescos on the walls are still preserved. His bedroom was tiny! In the forum, I went into an old building that still had it's original bronze doors (now slightly green). Original. As in 2000 years old! I also took the metro to Circus Maximus- once Rome's largest stadium that held chariot races and 300 000 fans! Now it's a huge plot of grassy land. You just have to have a good imagination! The Appian Way is nearby, which features catacombs, a church and ruins. Back in the day, tombs were forbidden within the city walls so many important Christians and Romans were buried here. Popes, Saints (including Peter and Paul) and martyrs rest in these catacombs. Unfortunately it started *pouring* so I came and saw, but did not actually do anything -plus I'd been to the Paris catacombs.
There is a castle just off the river in Rome called castel sant'angelo. It's cool- it has a winding ramp up to the top, where I got a great view of the Vatican. A pope lived there. Nice digs. There are two beautiful bridges near the castle, with sculptures placed on them. I'm always impressed by that lol.
One of my favourites so far. I reserved my ticket to the Vatican museums so I got right in. The building, the art, the rooms- all extremely impressive. The art collection (statues, pottery, native works, egyptian ones, even mummies!) is extensive. The mummy was cool but gross lol. There is a room of (gorgeous) maps of the regions of Italy. There are the Stanze Di Rafaele (painted by Raphael), 4 rooms that were originally Julius II's apartments. There is the Sistine chapel. It is stuffed with paintings- the chapel part is more disguised lol. The paintings are amazing. Lower walls are painted like curtains, above are biblical scenes, and above that, apostles, I believe. On the front wall is a huge painting of the Last Judgement, featuring Christ and his mother, muscular figures, clouds... and a flayed human skin that hangs between Heaven and hell- its a self portrait of Michelangelo lol. I listened to the commentary about the meaning but uh I was distracted- by taking illegal pictures (no flash! Duh) and the fact that I was in the frigging Sistine Chapel! I just sat there for 30 min, taking it in :) Michelangelo's ceiling is impressive. Many rectangular panels including the famous Creation of Adam, of which I got a close-up pic!! Woo lol. For some reason I didn't realize the chapel was rectangular. It's quite unlike anything I've seen before.
Piazza Di San Pietro is something as well. Huge, with a surrounding colonnade (a whole lot of columns surrounding the square), which represents the welcoming arms of the catholic church. St Peter's Basilica is massive. As soon as you walk in, you see the huge crowd around michelangelo's Pieta, a statue of Mary holding Jesus after he has been brought down from the cross. In the front/middle of the church is Michelangelo's dome (still the biggest in the world) and a beautiful, huge baldacchino, under which is the alter used by the pope. Also here is St Peter's tomb, which the church is said to be built on. A plaque saying "Peter is here" was found, so I guess it's legit? There is also a statue of Peter, whose toes everyone rubs. One metal foot is almost completely smooth- Peter has no right foot toes! Overall I enjoyed the baldacchino and seeing the tomb the most, but (dare I say it) I have seen nicer churches. This one is just so big- it's dark too. And at this point I was feeling really tired and lightheaded so that's all i have for St Peters.
I also visited the Borghese Villa park (mom- yes, Borghese as in the Italian prince on The Bachelor lol). It was really nice to be in a park after all those days in the city. There was a cute pond with rentable canoes. Unfortunately the famous Galleria Borghese was booked up, so I didn't have the chance to go.
So I saw quite a bit, but spent most nights in the hostel and some afternoons napping. I do feel like a got a decent experience though. I like Rome- I just wish I had eaten it's food (not gross, free, cold hostel pizza) and not been so miserable the whole time lol. Maybe on that prompt visit back to Rome?