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Rome, The Eternal City

"Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning." ~ Giotto di Bondone

rain 16 °C
View Italy and Paris April 2015 on Anja Fourie's travel map.

Where did we stay? Hotel Giotto

Read about my previous visit to Rome here: When in Rome....

The rolling hills and the beautiful villas of the Italian countryside pave the way towards Rome. Centuries ago the views on the road towards the Eternal City wouldn't have looked that much different than the one we are seeing now. The great Roman capital, seen as the Capital of the World in ancient Roman culture, has a history dating back to over 2,500 years and is seen by many as frozen in time.

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The best way to see Rome? Buy a ticket to one of the many Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Companies. Rome is a big city and these buses stop at all the major sightseeing destinations which makes it really easy to navigate Rome.

We explored Rome by bus as well as by foot.
Here are some of the famous sights of Rome that we saw:

THE TREVI FOUNTAIN

"In Rome, I particularly love the history, churches, sculptures and architecture and the fact that you can walk along a tiny cobbled street and turn the corner to find the Trevi Fountain." ~ Philip Treacy

The Trevi Fountain is truly hidden between buildings and along narrow, cobbled streets. The one moment you are walking along rows of restaurants and shops and the next the narrow street suddenly opens up into the big square hosting the Trevi Fountain. The marble sculptures are beautifully white even in the dreary, rainy Rome. During this visit, the Trevi Fountain was under construction and all the water was emptied, but it gave us a unique close up of the fountain. A ramp was built across the fountain and you could truly see the sculptures up close.

Throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. If you do this, legend says that you will return to Rome. This may just be a legend, but for me it came true as I have returned to Rome. The fountain is emptied every night and the money is used for charity.

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THE COLOSSEUM

"Rome will exist as long as the Colosseum does; when the Colosseum falls, so will Rome; when Rome falls, so will the world." - Venerable Bede

The largest amphitheatre ever built and 2000 years old, the Colosseum is seen as the iconic symbol of Rome. On the first Sunday of the month, entry into the Colosseum is free. You can also stand in the queue to buy a ticket to enter the Colosseum. If you do not want to wait in line, there are plenty of people selling tickets to group tours. The Colosseum is located just off the Roman Forum. The Arch of Constantine is also located here. It marks the victory of Constantine over Maxentius.

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THE PANTHEON

The Pantheon is one of the best preserved ancient buildings of Rome and still remains the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is the best preserved of all the ancient Roman buildings, as it is the only building that has been in continuous use over its history. It used to be a temple and today it is used as a Catholic Church.
The first king of the Kingdom of Italy, Victor Emmanual II, is buried here. The Il Vittoriano was built in his honour.
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IL VITTORIANO

Built in honour of the first king of the unified Italy, this monument is jokingly called the "Wedding Cake" by locals. It has been controversial since its beginning as a large part of medieval Rome was destroyed for it to be built. The glaring white marble on the exterior makes it stand out, and not in a good way, compared to all the other buildings with their brownish colour.
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SPANISH STEPS

Also under construction on our visit here, the Spanish steps is a popular place for tourists to sit on and relax. Eating on any of the 135 steps is unfortunately illegal, as the state would like to keep the steps clean. The Spanish steps leads up from the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinita dei Monti Church at the top. The steps got their name from the Spanish Embassy which was hosted in the piazza at the base, but it should actually be named the French Steps. The building was funded by French diplomats in 1723, and the church at the top as well as the surrounding area is the responsibility of the French state. The steps also contan the French Fleur symbol.
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LARGO DI TORRE ARGENTINA

This ancient square in Rome hosts four ancient Roman temples as well as the remains of Pompey's Theatre.

Julius Caesar's Assassination
It is right in the middle of Pompey's theatre where it is believed Julies Caesar was assasinated. Compare the remains of the theatre and the columns still standing on the left, to this depiction of the assassination by artist Jean-Leon Gerome. It is not very hard to imagine Caesar being stabbed right here on the steps of the theatre.

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Roman Cats
According to legend, Caesar brought cats to Rome from Egypt. On this spot where he met his final demise, the stray cats of Rome live. The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is right opposite the square. They care for all the stray cats here and run a neuter programme. You can visit the cat shop for some goodies or make a donation.
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PIAZZA DEL POPOLO

The Piazza del Popolo is a large square in Rome. The name translates to the "People's Square". There are street musicians performing here and the square is wide and open. To get here you can follow the Via Del Corso, the central road of Rome, all the way to the end. Before the age of railroads, this square was the traveller's first view of Rome. Public executions also took place in this square until 1826.

A view of Rome
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The best part of the square is that you can access the Pincio. As you enter the square from the Via Del Corso, you will see an outlook to the right of the square. Follow the path up to the Pincio for great views of Rome as well as the dome of the Vatican in the distance.

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TOP TIPS:

1. DO GET A MAP: Rome is a really easy city to navigate if you have a map.
2. DO ASK ABOUT THE SEATING FEE: As everywhere in Italy, some restaurants charge a seating fee to simply sit at a table and drink a glass of wine. That glass of wine can become expensive very quickly.
3. DO GET A TICKET TO A HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS: In a big city like Rome, the ticket for this type of bus is definitely well worth the money.
4. DO BEWARE OF PICK POCKETS: A very busy city and notorious for pick pockets. Hold your bag close to you.
5. DO VISIT THE POPOLO: The view from above here will give you stunning views of the city.

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Posted by Anja Fourie 02:09 Archived in Italy Tagged italy cats rome colosseum trevi caesar assassination popolo

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I loved Rome!

by Helena Fourie

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