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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

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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.


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:


"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.



"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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.



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.


Posted by Anja Fourie 02:09 Archived in Italy Tagged italy cats rome colosseum trevi caesar assassination popolo Comments (1)

When in Rome...

"Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time." - Richard Meier.

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Civitavecchia is the heart of Italy as this is a really big and important port and harbour. Civitavecchia, which means "ancient town", is about 80kms away from Rome. Walking on the port is not allowed, so a shuttle bus from the ship takes us into town where we take the 1.5 hour train ride into Rome.

1. Civitavecchia harbour wall

Rome has a few different train stations as the city is so big. We decide to buy a ticket for one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. The bus stops at 12 major points in Rome and you get earphones to plug into a little box where you can listen to interesting facts. These type of buses are a really quick and cheap way to see the city when you don't have a lot of time.

2. The map and our stops

As the bus drives down Via Labicana you see the Colosseum coming towards you. When we round the corner we also see the sea of tourist surrounding the popular fighting grounds of Ancient Rome. We walk around, take some photos and then proceed up Fori Imperial, past some beautiful buildings and ancient ruins.

3. Thank you Mr. Obvious, we almost didn't see the Colosseum there

4. Entrance gate to the Colosseum

5. The Colosseum

In the distance you can see the Il Vittoriano and it takes your breath away. The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II is a monument build to the first king of a unified Italy, Vittoria Emanuele. It is visible to most of Rome as it is so large, but is regarded by most as too pompous. To me it was just one magnificent structure. The building is made out of pure white marble and it just dominates everything around it. Not even the rude gladiators can ruin the mood.

6. Il Vittoriano

Everywhere on the streets there are men dressed as gladiators and you pay them to take a picture with them. We ask the one which way we should walk to get to the fountain. He rudely replied: "Why should I speak English to you. I am standing here and I am hot in this outfit and you don't even want to pay me for a photo." We then just use our own little map and figure the way out on our own.

The square in which the fountain is situated is so crowded that we cannot even reach the edge to throw in some coins. Throwing in a coin will, according to Roman legend, ensure that you return to Rome one day. In the end I climbed on a step just to get a photo. The Fontane di Trevi really is very beautiful. This should not be confused with the Fountain of Love that can be seen in the movie, When in Rome as this is a made-up fountain. We then make our way down to Stop 12 and come across the Pantheon without even searching for it. The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods. Vittorio Emanuele II is also buried here. Today the Pantheon is used as a Catholic church.

7. Trevi Fountain

8. Pantheon

Stop 1: Citta del Vaticano. Arriving there, the queue to get inside is at about 2 hours. We have no time to stand in this queue, so we just take some pictures of St. Peter's Basilica, the dome, and then get some ice-cream. We sit on a bench and wait for our bus to come back so we can take the train back to Civitavecchia. The ice-cream melts immediately as it probably has the same density as milk. You eat so fast, just to avoid getting melted ice-cream all over yourself. This being the first relaxed moment we had all day, I just sit in wonderment at the busy Roman street in front of me and the beautiful view of the Vatican to the right. The Vatican City has a population of about 800 people and it is ruled by the bishop of Rome, who is of course the Pope. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, which is where the jurisdiction over the Catholic Church presides. It is thus the central government of the Catholic Church. The current pope is Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope. He is of German descent and holds both German and Vatican citizenship.

9. Pope Benedict XVI

10. Outside the Vatican

Rome is a big and magnificent city. Even though there is so much more to see in Rome than in smaller cities like Florence, Florence is much more beautiful. Rome is dirty at best and there are so many people everywhere that you get crushed wherever you go. Rome is just such a big city that you really need about three days to experience it properly.

Next stop: Palermo, Sicily.

Posted by Anja Fourie 10:46 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome vatican colosseum vittoriano ice-cream trevi_fountain rude_people Comments (2)

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