There’s plenty to see in Rome, one of the most interesting cities in the world. Like Paris, Rome can be a very romantic city. There are thousands of bars and restaurants that make it a very pleasant place to just sit and watch people, relax and ponder. Discovering somewhere near one of the following may be a bit hard with all the crowds but you definitely won’t forget the experience.
The Vatican City
Whether you are religious or of some denomination other than Catholic, a visit to the Vatican is a must. The size of St Peters Square, St Peters itself or the number of shops selling church vestments along streets leading to St Peters make the trip worthwhile.The best way to approach St Peters is from the Via Della Conciliazione. You can get to it by a number of minor streets but coming this way gives you the full effect of its magnificance.
The street is of normal width but after about 200 metres it opens out to triple the width and finally your enter St Peters Square with its colonades made up of 280 doric columns down both sides topped with 140 marble statues of various saints. The columns are four rows deep and form the boundaries of the Square. My neck ached from looking up and counting the marble statues.
Bernini, the architect, planned everything to be built using giant proportions and what Rome ended up with is a magficent display of his genius. If you don’t mind queuing, you can visit St Peters and look at all the statuary inside and out without paying a cent because it is a working church, however, if you wish to visit the Sistine Chapel there is a small entry fee.
Over 1800 years old, this is the only ancient building left in one piece. Started by Marcus Agrippa in 27AD, it was reconstructed by Hadrian in 200 AD. Its walls are an unbelievable 7.5 meters thick and its bronze doors weigh a humungous 20 tons each.
It has an oculus it the cupola (roof) that is 5.4 meters wide, although it doesn’t look that big from the ground. It was built for ceremonies where animals were burnt (pagan sacrifices) and offered to the gods.
It is a truly fantastic building and when it was built it was made from the largest piece of concrete ever used at the time. Its dome is a solid but perfect hemisphere that sits on a solid ring and holds the building together while being supported. But be warned, you can get dizzy from looking around and around at the ceiling which is a geometrical pattern, very cleverly down.
The Trevi Fountain
This, I feel, is one of the most disappointing monuments in all Rome. After seeing the film ‘Three coins in a fountain’ I thought that the Trevi fountain would be a magnificent structure with lots of room around it. But through clever camera work it gives that appearance in the film but in real life it is quite small (as monuments go) and it is shoe-horned into a little square full of snack bars, shoe shops and tourist outlets selling resin copies of the fountain.
You can’t get near it because everybody wants their photograph taken throwing coins into the fountain or they sit down on the edge and eat Gelati. It also seems to be the meeting place for all the screaming children. I have passed by several times and it is always the same.
It is hard to believe when looking at the buildings and fountains in the Piazza but this used to be another circus like Circus Maximus. Taking a good look at the Piazza you notice that it is not angular like other piazzas nor is there a church at either end. In fact the rounded corners follow the design of the circus where the charioteers used to race and corners were too dangerous.
At one stage the piazza was a market but slowly permanent buildings grew up around the edge and in the 17th century competition between famous architects who built large baroque palazzos, saw the square became the place to live.
It is one of the loveliest squares in all of Rome. On the weekends it is full of artists selling work and a cup of coffee at the restaurants will be overpriced but its all worth it. Visitors to the square can get a special treat at Christmas where the square is lit with lights and Christmas trinkets are for sale.
These are all personal points of view and you may disagree entirely with what I say but whatever your conclusions are, there’s something for everybody in Roma, you just have to find it.