We’ve been in and out of lockdown all year. This time last year I was in Rome enjoying the sights, the sounds – and Christmas shopping! Now is the time to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things Rome has to offer, in preparation for when we can all visit again!
Even if you are not an art aficionado, Rome has some of the most impressive and well known sculptures in the world, from the Vatican’s Pieta by Michelangelo – and you may well suffer serious injury in the crush to photograph it – to the haul in the Borghese Galleries and Capitoline Museums, including the famous body parts of the enormous Constantine statue.
You don’t have to be a fan of Roman history to marvel at the architecture in Rome – it is a very interactive city, meaning you can clamber all over the sights and peer down across the landscape beyond. Find the right place for a photo opportunity and you will discover the impressive architecture takes on a whole new perspective – such as an image of the Colosseum taken fro the Temple of Venus in the Forum. It will appear as though you are on the same level as the Colosseum. Mind blowing.
Rome is just stuffed with artworks – more than you can shake a paintbrush at. A visit to the Vatican art galleries, the Borghese Gallery, the Capitoline Gallery and even churches and cathedrals will offer enough fine art to keep you happy. One of the most notorious artists ever to have lived in Rome is Caravaggio – the original bad boy who used the corpses of deceased prostitutes as models, as well as a few live ones, plus he accidentally murdered a rival and had to flee the city. His works are scattered across the various galleries and churches, but the Borghese Gallery and Capitoline Gallery both have examples of his work.
Sitting and watching life go by
There is so much to do and see in Rome, but it is important to make time to sit and just watch life go by – for example, on Sundays you will see cyclists making their way up Via Vittorio Veneto, with families all cycling together and little ones tucked up in the cycle baskets of their grandparents. Or head to the al fresco Biblio cafe by Castel Sant’ Angelo – one of my favourites – and take in everything from birds and buskers to the law courts and mounted police, as well as the stunning Vatican City shimmering in the distance. Now that’s a coffee break.
Rome by night
When the sun goes down, the sites in Rome light up and walking around at night is a magical experience, even in winter when it gets chilly. The Colosseum is aglow, the Forum awash with light, the Trevi Fountain is luminescent and Trajan’s market burns brightly. You can take a night tour of the city – try Viator for details or simply walk round and enjoy.
We all know about gelato but Rome is full of lovely places to enjoy patisserie, including Babingtons Tea Room, Caffe Greco and lots of independent coffee shops offering delicious cakes. For gluten-free and egg-free cakes, try Angelina on the corner of Via Poli and Via del Bufalo. In the shopping arcade in Piazza Repubblica, there is a wonderful chocolatier and patisserie, where you can take home a box of goodies as well as enjoy a cake and coffee break.
Italian style – indefinable, but you know it when you see it. Expect stylish guys and girls, glamorous older women – and cool priests. Yes, really.
Italian design is famous the world over – cars, buildings, art, brand names: Italy has been putting its stamp on the world since the Romans donned a toga and set off to seek their empire. If you cannot afford designer, the shops are so accessible in Rome, you can swan in, take a look and swan out quite happily. Otherwise, start at Piazza di Spagna and roam around with your nose pressed against the windows. It’s all here waiting for you.
Whether you enjoy fine dining or fast food, Rome flings opens its doors to your tastebuds – there are, of course, some bad restaurants and there are definitely tourist traps, but you can find culinary gems all over the city. You can also take home comestibles as souvenirs from the various delicatessens and also the market at Campo de’ Fiori. The one thing you can be sure about in Rome is that you will never go hungry even if, like me, you are not a dedicated foodie. Be wary of dining at touristy restaurants after 9 o’clock at night, as there may be an additional service charge of up to 20%. You will also find that freshly squeezed orange juice can cost as much as a cocktail. Rome still experiences social embarrassment at single women dining alone – just ignore it and tuck in. There are some nice restaurants at the top of the Spanish Steps which are not too pricey – and some great trattoria down Via Sistina, where the food is good and affordable and everyone from families to beardy hipsters are welcome. Largo Argentina has a great steak restaurant on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II – and you will find fish and chip shops, Chinese restaurants and international cuisine round every corner. If you are really on a tight budget, Co-op supermarkets sell pizza slices, sandwiches and panini – as do pizzerias, delis and the food wagons all over the city. And yes, there are branches of McDonalds. Buon appetito!
Featured image; Gold mosaics of Santa Maria Basilica, Trastevere – some of the most fabulous mosaics you will ever see.
Want to go to Rome now?
Download ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN free at Kindle Unlimited or for £2.40 each.
Set off to the Eternal City for a weekend of surprises in ROME ALONE, as unhappy housewife Bee and newly-divorced Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy leave from opposite ends of the country for a mini-break full of the unexpected that will change their lives forever as they make their way round the sites. Return to Rome with them three years later in ROME AGAIN and discover the forces at work which they never suspected on their first trip.
Download ROME ALONE
Download ROME AGAIN
Catch up with the story in VERONA ALONE, free at Kindle Unlimited or for just £2.60 each.
In VERONA ALONE, newly divorced former cellist Moira decides to fulfil a girlhood dream of visiting Verona during the summer opera season. There she is taken under the wing of a quirky and generous American who appears to have a secret, which is only discovered when she finds herself all at sea with him. VERONA AGAIN sees three couples fight to save their relations – who will succeed, who will fail and who will lose the love of their life?
Download VERONA ALONE
Download VERONA AGAIN
All books contain adult themes, dark humour and sexual content.