Great selection of food and wine at reasonable prices on the top floor of the monument. Outside and inside seating with the very best panoramic views of Rome for free. Relaxing seating and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Location is between Ancient Rome sights and Renaissance museums. There is also a new sky lift (small charge) to the very top, which is worth a look.
Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma, Italy
+39 06 678 0664
Google map: bit.ly/PyWPaU
When the usual sites in Rome are heaving with people, Ostia Antica is a place of superb Roman sites which are blessedly peaceful. The site was once the sea port of ancient Rome but was silted up after the decline of the Roman Empire. Many buildings have been excavated and it is possible to spend a whole day here enjoying the sites and rural peace. We were there on a Saturday and it was not mobbed like the centre of Rome.
Google map: bit.ly/Aet2ld
The basilica of San Clemente, not far from the Coliseum, is three buildings in one - a church within a church within a church.
The church above ground dates from 1100 and is simply beautiful; one of the most lavishly decorated in Rome. A €3 entrance fee will take you down to the other two levels. There is a fourth-century church below which still houses the remains of ancient frescoes. Below that is the dark and intriguing house of Mitra (the Roman god of the equinoxes), which dates from the first-century, and was later used as a secret meeting place by early Christians. Amazing to think that this labyrinth of tiny rooms and corridors is hidden below two other churches and has still survived.
The Sabatini Restaurant is in the heart of Trastevere opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria. This area is a must when visiting Rome, as it is one of the oldest parts of the city. There are great shops and restaurants and it is in walking distance of the Vatican and Piazza Navone. There are frequent shuttle buses outside of Ciampino airport which take only about 20 minutes to arrive in the center of Rome, whereas from the larger airport Fiumicino, the train takes about 30 minutes.
Google map: bit.ly/shp4Op
The most visited attraction in Italy, the grandeur of Rome’s Colosseum seems barely untouched by the endless tourists that come to take its picture, the endless traffic that must begrudgingly detour around it and the endless decay that has come from centuries of pillage and rampage.
As a local, I see the Colosseum almost every day but nothing will take away the strength of my first impression of stumbling across it floodlit at night as I emerged from the Colosseo Metro station. And even if some days I can take it for granted, taking time out to go and appreciate it properly is still something I do on a regular basis.
While the lavish days of gladiator battles may be long gone, the Colosseum still evokes an aura of majesty and if you stand inside and close your eyes, you can still imagine the shouts of the crowds inside as they watched the spectacles of the gladiators fighting wild animals and each other o face death or glory.
Built by captive Jews at the end of the first century for Emperor Vespasian, it was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, built on the same wetlands as the Roman Forum, which stands alongside it. Its inauguration was an unforgettable show of lavish display lasting 100 days and involving the deaths of many thousands of gladiators and 5000 wild beats.
The building is oval shaped and stood at four storeys high, its facade made of travertine stone. There are three circular tiers each made up of its distinctive arches, 80 on each tier. The ones along the bottom were the original doorways. Once inside, an estimated 80,000 spectators took their free seats around the arena which was 253 feet by 153 feet, their seating depending on their social position.
The arena was open air, but there was a huge canopy ‘the velarium’ which was extended across on ropes to protect the crowd from the sun. Ceasar had his own royal box, surrounded by his consuls and officials whilst the only women allowed in were the Vestal Virgins and the Empress.
Underneath the arena there were elaborate systems of pulleys and machinery to bring the caged exotic animals such as tigers, hippos, crocodiles, elephants and bears into the arena from the tunnels below to fight their bloody battles for the pleasure of the crowd. One of the most heart-wrenching events was when prisoners sentenced to death were let loose into the arena, and given weapons with which to kill each other.
After the crowd were warmed-up with preliminaries, it was time for the real battles of gladiator combat. These were often fights to the death, but if a gladiator was badly injured, he could appeal to the crowd for mercy. If the crowd felt he had fought well and deserved to live, the crowd gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Often gladiators were slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. A successful gladiator could expect riches and a life of privilege.
These barbaric practices were eventually stopped around 3rd century with the advent of Christianity. As the saying goes, “While stands the Colosseum, then Rome shall stand ” but despite earthquakes, plundering (much of its materials were taken to build other monuments in Rome such as St. Peter’s Basilica) and general neglect (at one time it was used as a stone quarry), the building is still remarkably intact.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get there is to take the Metro Line B to Colosseo. Otherwise it’s a short walk or bus ride from Piazza Venezia, passing through the ruins of the Forum down Via , controversially built by Mussolini. Tickets 9 Euros (but also includes access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill and it stays valid for two days.
Buy the Roma pass which is a combined discount card at any ticket booth around the city (23 euros and includes a free 3 day public transport pass and entrance into 2 museums including the Colosseum). Roma pass holders have a special entrance so avoid the queues. Otherwise buy your ticket at the Palatine Hill for shorter waiting times.
One of Rome’s highlights has to be climbing the Dome. Set off early in the morning on a clear day with a bottle of water and camera and prepare for a view of Rome that cannot be equalled.
Arrive in St. Peter’s Square and join the queue which forms at the security check. This queue does move quite quickly even if it seems long. Once through security, follow the path around to the Basilica, and head for the ticket office which is clearly signposted. You can opt to climb the whole way or take the lift which takes you to the first part and the roof area where you will find a small cafe.
Once you have reached this roof area, you then start your journey into the dome proper. Just at the start, there is an opportunity to walk around the base of the dome high inside the basilica, giving you a true sense of its scale when you see the tiny tourists below you.
Start the climb up varying staircases for a total of 330 steps. For the most part you follow spiral staircases, but there are also parts where you walk on a slight incline as the walls lean in forming their dome shape, and also very straight steep parts where there is a rope to help you keep your balance, until finally you emerge breathlessly to the top and the stunning views of Rome that meet you from every side.
Slowly make the 360 degree circle absorbing views of the Vatican gardens, the rear view of the statues that stand above the entrance to the Basilica, St Peter’s Square, Castle St Angelo and the cityscape of church domes, buildings, green spaces and the river that stretch out before you. At peak times it can be hard to look properly due to the sheer volume of people at the top, but don’t be hurried.
Then its time to start the descent down to the ground, to stand in St. Peter’s Square and look up at the top of the Dome to appreciate your hard work.
Hints and Tips:
At busy time, there will be a large queue on your right hand side after you have passed through security and headed round to the Basilica – this is the Dome queue – those passing on the left are going straight into the Basilica which is free to enter. This queue can be quite slow moving, and you are really advised to get here early (around 8.30am) not only to avoid a long wait, but also to enjoy the climb and the views at the top more easily.
Opening times are 8.30 to 4.45
It will cost you €4 to make the climb (or €7 if you use the lift at the start) Get your tickets at the office just next to the Basilica entrance, clearly marked after you have passed through security checks.
As with any visit to the Vatican, cover shoulders and do not arrive in shorts or a mini-skirt. You will not be allowed in. In hot weather, get into the habit of carrying a cardigan with you to put on as you enter churches around the city. apart for the decorum aspect, they can be quite cool inside.
St Peter's Basilica is in the St Peters Square, in the Vatican City. Nearest metro is Ottiviano or take the 64 or 62 bus.
Taking the tour underneath St Peter’s Basilica within the Vatican City is one that takes you to the very heart of the ancient Rome. The highlight has to be the visit to St Peter’s Tomb, a key symbol of Catholicism. The longstanding belief that St. Peter’s relics lay underneath is the reason that the present day Basilica and its predecessor which was built by Constantine was located here.
Take time to admire the street of mausoleums which is almost perfectly preserved and imagine it open to the elements as ancient Roman families came by to visit their families, often bringing picnics and wine to spend the day in the family vaults. Those that have been excavated reveal intricate mosaics and frescoes which are still brightly coloured even 1700 years later.
Sadly excavations stopped after just a few years as it was feared they could endanger the structure of the immense Basilica which has this area as its foundations so only a small area is revealed and open to the public.
Hints and Tips
As with any Vatican visit, keep shoulders covered and do not turn up in short or a mini skirt. You need comfortable shoes and layers are advised as the temperature underneath the Basilica is quite humid. This is NOT a tour for people with access needs or for those susceptible to claustrophobia. The tour lasts around 75 mins and you cannot take photos or bulky bags with you.
Booking your place:
This tour is not one that you can do spontaneously as you need to book it several weeks ahead. Email or fax your request to the Excavations Office and await your allocated time if a tour is available on your chosen date and in your chosen language. You will then need to pay immediately to confirm your place. Only people aged 15 or over are allowed on the tour and you must book directly as no reservations through agencies are allowed.
Send an email or fax that includes the following information:
The exact number of visitors and names
Language desired for the visit
The dates available during which the Office can arrange the visit (The precise time of the visit will be determined by the Excavations Office).
Contact information (an e-mail address, fax number, or full postal address) so that the Excavations Office may advise you about your visit
Cost: 12 euros per person (January 2010 price)
For more details about the tour, visit www.traveltalesfromrome.com
Fabbrica di San Pietro
00120 Città del Vaticano
Tel: 0039 0669885318
Fax: 0039 06 698 73017
Nearest Metro - Ottiviano
If you don't want to queue for hours book your Colosseum ticket before you go, on line.
We arrived at the Colosseum and found a long snake of a queue. For ticket holders you can head for a different ticket office with no queue.
This is highly recommended especially if you have children.
A great stay. Location is terrific (Colosseum) and the owner is very friendly - I forgot to buy an electrical plug adaptor for my laptop and she provided me one for free.
The area is also safe at night, I really recommend it if you want to see the very best of Rome!
Via Baccina, 44
The Italian capital has always been particularly famous for being an expensive city, but if you like Italian culture then you can enjoy the best that Rome has to offer for next to nothing. The city houses countless churches (the Piazza Santa Maria), monuments and galleries (Piazza dell'Accademia di San Luca) that are available to visit for free, and if you feel you have exhausted those, then step just outside the city center and take a relaxing walk through the luscious greens of the Villa Ada.
Various; Rome City Centre
The Palazzo rooms are spacious - and if you like antique decoration and a welcoming atmosphere, you won't be disappointed. It has high ceilings and all the luxuries you need (TV, minibar, fully equipped bathroom, etc), and you can even play the piano if capable.
You get a feeling of living in an aristocratic duke's house. The breakfast selection was unbelievable (cereals, yoghurt, fruit, bread, sweets and more) and most of all the quality was top-notch. It's in the city centre, and a two-minute walk brings you right to Piazza Navona. The owners are extremely friendly and helpful.
Reality was nicer than pictures. Really quiet hotel (rooms 1,2), which is not so usual in Rome. Lots of restaurants outside. We found the Hotel Felice to be very conveniently located between the termini and the metro stops. The staff, particularly Mario (at the desk) were friendly and helpful. Great staff and location.
Testaccio is a lively and cool area situated in the neighbourhoods of the Piramide and the thousand-year Circo Massimo, just under the famous Aventino Hill and demarcated by the River Tevere. Testaccio district is characterised by several typical Trattorie and offers a slice of trendy Roman life with its multiple nightclubs.
Testaccio district is situated at a comfortable distance from the archaeological area; enjoy the charming Colosseo by night and admire the nearby church of San Pietro in Vincoli with the Statue of Moses sculpted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Find out what Rome is capable of offering beyond history and culture.
Rome is riddled with catacombs and underground tunnels, but few are as intriguing as the catacombs of San Callisto.
These early Christian tombs are a variety of different shapes and sizes, and once housed the remains of up to half a million people.
Although they're on the outskirts of the city they still don't manage to escape the tourist scrum, but with nearly 20km of tunnels it's undeniably worth it.
Via Appia Antica 110-126
Rome is overwhelming. But I have some reservations. Compared with other European cities its facilities for visitors are primitive. The main bus and tram station in front of the central station was a free for all for traffic (this is true of the city as a whole), and the melted tarmac was churned up into waves so that one had to totter across a petrified sea to catch a bus.
The ticket machines for the Metro were generally not working and there were vast queues for the one booth that seemed to be open. Indeed, queueing seemed to be imposed upon all visitors who wished to see any of the city's sights. Moreover, if you had a mobility difficulty, such as being confined to a wheelchair, you could forget a place like the Forum, which required climbing gear to explore it - so steep were the steps. There was litter everywhere.
In contrast Vatican City appeared well cared for and receptive to visitors. I wondered how much of the money made from visitors to Rome was being fed back into the conservation of monuments and improvements in facilities. I visited Rome for the first time in March 2006, and I would be interested to know if more recent visitors have seen progress in these respects.
Rome, Italy, Eternal City.
There are many reasons for taking the trouble to queue and shuffle through the museum and to continue on to the Sistine Chapel. For although the droves of other people, some of whom have a scanty understanding of why they're there (I know, I asked them!), can make the visit pretty stressful, the sight of the Sistine Chapel and especially the work of Michelangelo is entirely worth it.
This palace contains a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture, set in galleries of the most sumptuous rococo design. Parts of the building are still used by members of the original family and the entire collection has the strong sense of having been bought and assembled by a succession of discerning individuals. The "star" of this great show is undoubtedly the Velasquez portrait of Pope Innocent X.
Piazza del Collegio Romano, Rome.
If you are thinking of coming to Rome, this is just to let you know that in order not to queue for hours to get into the Coliseum, you can buy your ticket (valid for Palatine and Coliseum) at Via San Gregorio which is just few metres away from the Coliseum.
Please be aware that the “Gladiators” around the perimeter of the Coliseum will ask you some money to take a picture with them (at least you can decide if you want a picture with them or not).
There are a lot of illegal tour guides pretending to be professional ones, always ask to see their badges and to get a valid receipt of your payment.
Be aware of pickpockets, they are in the crowd pretending to be tourists like you.
Hope you will enjoy Rome and the friendliness of the real Romans.
I recommend this area because it is full of things to see and to experience too.
Let's start from the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran, the cathedral of the Pope, the main Basilica in the world for Catholics.
This is unique because there are different styles and the result is perfect. In case you want to know more about the complex, you can get an audio guide at the information point which is beside the statue of Constantine in the main porch.
Other interesting sights include; the 12th century cloister; the Baptistery (the Basilica and the Baptistery were the very first Christian sites in Rome); the Scala Santa that was walked on by Jesus on his way to trial by Pontius Pilate and brought from Jerusalem in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena; the Sancta Sanctorum, the private chapel of the Popes and the Triclinium where you can see the very first flag of the Vatican State.
You need to spend at least 2 days within this area because nearby you can visit the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, the small and cosy church of the SS 4 Coronati and its cloister, visit the Villa Celimontana Park, the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo, the very well preserved Roman houses of the Celio, they are located just beside the church.
Remember, just in front of the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran you can get the bus 218 (blue one) that will take you directly to the Catacombs.
Metro Linea A-B and Bus N. 16-81-85-87-117-186-218-650-714-850.
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