Few cities can match Rome in historical significance. For well over two thousand years people have lived there, and throughout its long history Rome has developed its own unique identity. It is not hard to walk through the streets and see the remains of the past. Getting lost one day, we stumbled across a ruin which was entirely surrounded by one of the busiest roads in the city. It was truly a remarkable sight; ancient Roman ruins fenced off in the middle of a major junction. I’ve never been anywhere that has such a curious layout, the new built around the extremely old. It creates such a wonderful atmosphere which is one of the special things I have taken from my visit there. The ancient past seems more alive, and you can sense that you are walking down the same streets that people have for centuries.
Nowhere was that feeling clearer than in a place called Ostia Antica. Once a busy port town which traded with Rome, it is now a huge archaeological site. It’s about a forty five minute train journey from central Rome. However, if you love Roman history, and want to really explore the lives of Roman people, this is the place to go. Although the Colosseum is magnificent, for me Ostia Antica was more impressive. The town is extraordinarily well preserved. You can see the same mosaics people walked across in 1AD and the huge grindstones in the bakery used to make bread. The crowds which constantly attend the Colosseum are not in this ghost town, allowing you to relax and explore at your pace. But the best part was just how much you could explore. Virtually nothing is off limits; you can wander through buildings and alleyways, climb up to rooftops and touch walls which have stood for two thousand years.
Of course Rome is not just famous for its ancient Roman ruins; it is also one of the greatest places to see Renaissance art. None is more famous than the artwork found in the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo in the early 1500’s. Seeing The Last Judgement and the Chapel’s ceiling was certainly one of my personal highlights of Rome. The amazing quality of his work is clear to see despite the many years which have past. This combined with the vivid colours and enormous complexity is truly impressive to see.
Another wonderful place to see Italian artwork is the Galleria Borghese. The villa is the definition of extravagance, filled with beautiful paintings and sculpture. I loved the layout of this place. Each room had a focal point, such as a beautiful sculpture, and the walls and ceilings are richly decorated. This is a place where the closer you look the more wonderful details you notice. If I had to choose one museum to return to this is undoubtedly it.
The Galleria Borghese
The Galleria Borghese
It isn’t just during the day that there are things to see. In the evening the many Piazza’s of Rome come to life. One that I think anyone who goes to Rome should visit is Piazza di Santa Maria, in a neighbourhood called Trastevere. There are lots of street performers to watch as well as many great restaurants and bars. The surrounding cobbled streets are full of boutique shops and stalls selling quirky handmade items well into the night. This created a fun and relaxing space for tourists and locals alike. We enjoyed this area so much that we chose to spend our last day exploring it. We visited the Basilica of Santa Maria, one of the oldest Churches in Rome from which the Piazza takes its name. Sipping cocktails in the afternoon sun in this bustling Piazza was a wonderful way to end a memorable and fascinating trip to Rome.
I really could say much more about my visit; it is a busy city with lots of places to explore. Having thrown a coin in the Trevi Fountain I hope that the myth is true and that I will one day return to this beautiful city.