Saturday, 26 March 2016

Rome: Pantheon and the rest.

For me the Pantheon is one of the highlights of Rome, it combines ancient Rome and a beautiful Christian basilica, plus it's free! We arrived at midday after a rainstorm and the lighting inside was amazing. 

The Trevi fountain was jam-packed with tourists, both times we passed it. We snapped a photo and didn't even attempt to go near it to make a wish. It is really easy to walk from Trevi to the Spanish Steps etc, which we did a few times. 

As Rome doesn't follow the typical Roman style city-plan there are tonnes of tiny streets and back alleys to explore. On sunny days everything is bathed in lovely orange sunlight, making even the grotty streets look beautiful. One quirky thing that I loved about Rome is that public buildings and utilities all have SPQR on them, meaning Senatus Populusque Romanus or The Roman Senate and the People. Referring back to ancient Rome and the power it was in the Mediterranean world.

The Spanish Steps are annoyingly shut off so the view from the top of them is blocked. However, we travelled along the road and found many viewing points with fantastic views across the city. Nothing beats a St. Andrews sunset for me but the Roman one sure was nice. 

After spending a busy week in Rome I am already itching to go back! I am a huge fan of ancient history and pizza, both are plentiful in Rome. Hopefully my academic career will bring me back to Rome in the coming years.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Rome: Colosseum and Roman Forum

The colosseum, or the Flavian Amphitheatre if you want to be pretentious, is perhaps the most iconic Roman ruin in the entire empire. To avoid the queues we arrived early, taking full advantage of our student discount for the triple ticket which included the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. After a lacklustre tour from one of the official guides we explored on our own, guidebook and personal knowledge in hand. Whilst many of the walls remain the seats and steps are gone, meaning imagination must be used. For me however the highlight of this day was the Roman Forum. 

As someone who studies ancient history and spent two weeks researching and writing an essay on the Forum Romanum, this was an exciting day. The forum itself is large and has ruins from the very beginnings of Rome through to the end of the empire and beyond. Unfortunately the majority of the buildings in the forum are now ruins but you can go into the ones that were turned into churches, and thus saved from ruin. The signs aren't too detailed so I would recommend getting a good guidebook or a tour. I could have spent all day in the forum, just imagining what it was like in the glory days of Rome. 

The Palatine Hill overlooks the Roman Forum and is the site of some ruins as well. The beautiful Farnese gardens provided a shady spot on a sunny day. It is the views of both the forum and the colosseum that make the uphill walk worth it in my opinion. 

The Capitoline Museums have a good collection of art and archaeology, making it a good introduction to Rome. There is a large amount to see but the layout and variety means you can spend a good couple of hours there. For me the best part was underground in the Tabularium, in archaic times this is thought to have been archives and nowadays has an impressive view of the Roman Forum. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Rome: The Vatican and St. Peters

We paid €8 to get an elevator up and then had a few hundred stairs inside the dome itself to climb up. These stairs are weird and at points very cramped, just a word of warning. However the view is worth the stairs! The first view you get is of the inside of the basilica dome and the basilica itself. It was great to see the ornate decoration up so close. 

Of course, the reason anyone climbs all those stairs is to see the iconic view of St. Peters square and the city of Rome behind. 

We spent the morning at the Vatican museums which I unfortunately have no photos of. The Sistine Chapel was good to see, if a little underwhelming. The museums themselves can be overwhelming as there is so much stuff from a large period of history. The rooms themselves are heavily decorated and there is something to see in every room. 

I recommend buying your ticket online, it costs €4 more but it is worth it to beat the queues that wrap around the city walls! We sat in St Peters enjoying the weather and the views, and then explored Vatican City for a few hours.