What a wonderful 4 days in Rome we enjoyed during February.
A really compact city centre means you encounter extraordinary ruins from the Ancient Roman era around nearly every corner.
We stayed in a lovely little hotel less than 5 minutes walk from the Fori Imperiali and Vittoriano (Altare della Patria) and barely 20 minutes from the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and so much more.
The city is wonderful, with its narrow cobbled streets, restaurants, cafés, piazze and countless churches to visit, notably San Luigi dei Francesi with its three Caravaggios.
The Foro Romano, which abuts the Fori Imperiali, is magnificent and reaches the Colloseo at its south-eastern end. The columns scattered about, its ruined temples, Curia Iulia and open spaces epitomise our mental image of ancient Rome.
But one of the most amazing sites of all is the still standing Pantheon, the best preserved Roman building in the world. It’s simply extraordinary that this massive temple still stands intact, complete with its 2,000 year old concrete domed roof, still the world’s largest.
While I decided against the long queue for the Sistine Chapel on this occasion, I did take a leisurely ramble along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and across the bridge into St. Peter’s Square. I then traced the Passetto di Borgo to the Castel Sant’ Angelo, originally the tomb of Roman Emperor Hadrian in the second century AD.
And though we saw loads, including the very nice Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, founded in the 8th Century for Byzantine monks, we simply didn’t have enough time to get out to Via Appia Antica. This was a real target of mine, ever since learning about it while studying Latin in school many years ago. Appia Longarum Regina Viarum will just have to wait until my next visit.
As you might expect of a major capital city and one of the most visited tourist spots on earth, the Eternal City is not cheap. Food and drink anywhere inside the city centre is expensive, but if you’re not put off by €8 beers, do go enjoy a beverage in L’Antica Enoteca on Via della Croce. It’s very nice indeed.
We avoided touristy restaurants and I enjoyed the typical Roman food on offer at La Gattabuia on Via del Porto in Trastevere, including their Coratella di Agnello (lamb offal).
4 days in Rome during February
A bonus to visiting major cities is that some event of interest might be on at the time. We treated ourselves to the excellent Van Gogh exhibition currently on in Palazzo Bonaparte (until May 2023), featuring 50 paintings and drawings by the Dutch master. It was brilliant. See https://www.mostrepalazzobonaparte.it/.
We walked everywhere, taking just one bus during our stay.
Curiously, even though I’ve never encountered a tourist tax as high anywhere else I’ve been, the condition of the beautiful cobbled streets is pretty poor. I wonder where the €4 per person per night tax goes … Comparable rates in Paris city centre, by the way, vary from €1.50 to €2.30.
Evenings were cold and wet during our stay. It was funny to come from Ireland armed with jacket and umbrella!
However, that didn’t dampen our spirits for questa meravigliosa città.
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