Italy Rome

Top 5 reasons why Rome is the eternal city

What better place to ring in a birthday than the birthplace of the western civilization. The eternal city of Rome played host to arguably one of our most memorable holidays. We spent most of our time roaming the streets, visiting and revisiting awe-inspiring sights and eating food that simply is the best in the world! We came back with so many stories to share and so many more that would require us to revisit this enigmatic Italian capital that once was the capital of the world.

There are few staples that despite their touristy popularity do not fail to impress even the most seasoned traveler, read on to see our top things to do in Rome. Also, read here how to discover the mysteries of Rome that you won’t see elsewhere


Feeling like a dwarf at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum

The home of gladiators and other brutal spectacles this circular building is an un-missable sight in the historic district. It is said that when it first opened, feasts were held for 100 days which included not only bloody battles but also elaborate stage productions with water filling the entire arena to depict naval conquests. While only 30% of the original structure remains today, it still manages to make you feel like a dwarf.

Our guide of the Roman forum took us on a journey of Rome from 2 millennia ago. We stood on what was the equivalent of Rodeo drive or Oxford Street – the mecca of high-street shopping, we visited a house which would have had running water, air conditioning and even central heating, where do our everyday words like “salary”, “sale”, “all roads led to Rome”, “up your sleeve” come from. Looking over the ruins of the civilization that once was, it was heartbreaking to imagine that instead of hundreds of Basilicas that stood in ancient Rome, there was now only one to show for in the Vatican City.


People watching at Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps

Rome is littered with ornate fountains at every corner but there is something special about Trevi that it draws the most crowds. It has recently reopened after a 2-year long renovation. Gone is the sepia toned charm of an aged beauty and instead you see a stark white fountain that appears to have been freshly chiseled – we couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. But the energy of the place and the sheer scale of the monument tided us over and instead of blowing out candles for my birthday I threw a penny with my right hand over my left shoulder into the fountain and made a wish.

The Spanish steps are simply steps outside Spanish embassy. However, the sunken gondola in front makes for a far more intriguing story. One of the best places to take a bag of chestnuts or gelato and sit down for people watching.


Being awestruck in world’s smallest country, Vatican City

The Vatican museum is arguably the world’s finest museum and as Dan Brown lets us believe there is more treasure in the archives which is not available for public consumption. We made our way through the rooms of marbles, tapestries, and a giant Caesar salad bowl, then eventually made our way into the Sistine chapel. Pope was holding a private session and the exit into St. Peter’s Basilica was shut and we were queued up for a lot longer than one is allowed inside the chapel. We couldn’t think of a better place to be stuck in marveling open mouthed at Michelangelo’s masterpiece that he started when he was only a year older than I am. The constant and ironic interruption by the guards over speakers to maintain silence chipped away a little bit from a perfect experience.

Thankfully, St. Peter’s Basilica was opened for public later in the afternoon and we visited the church and the cupola, the dome on the top. A word of caution for those suffering from claustrophobia, the passage gets very narrow and is tilted and circular in places. Two panic attacks, 551 steps and several window breaks later we managed to get to the top and take in the breathtaking views with St. Peters Square laid out symmetrically in front of us.


Still counting the churches in Rome

There are over 900 churches in Rome and each with a fascinating story – one which has a connection straight to Washington DC, another with the first Sistine chapel ever built devoid of Michelangelo’s majestic ceiling fresco still strangely connected to the Florentine artist, another with a flat roof instead of semi-spherical dome which played its part in debunking the myth that earth was flat. There is a church dedicated to the patron saint of coffee which has a curious connection to the wildly popular Game of Thrones.

I was looking forward to visiting the Pantheon and it was a complete let down. It has been consecrated as a church while clearly it had Pagan origins and as a church it is not that impressive.


Eat, eat, EATaly

Italian cuisine is popular the world over with every culture trying to improvise the humble pasta and the ubiquitous pizza to suit a local palate. But you haven’t truly loved Italian cuisine until you have eaten in Italy. Every place does fresh pasta, none of that dried nonsense. The pizza is made from three simple ingredients, the best flour, the juiciest tomatoes and the freshest mozzarella. No matter where we ate we couldn’t help but mimic the Italians and say “belissimo”. Gelato is the perfect antidote to the sweltering Italian heat. They make it in every imaginable flavor and hue and Breakfast-gelato-lunch-gelato-dinner-gelato is the Italian diet. You will walk off the calories!


Not from the souvenir shops

Art – Rome and art go hand in hand– from the many prints on paper or the stencil and spray painted Colosseum or a classic oil on canvas there is a lot to choose from (we picked Trevi on canvas). The artists themselves are a jolly bunch, one of them boastfully proclaimed that there were only 3 greats in Piazza Novana; Borromini, Bernini and himself.

But if you asked Pooja what her most treasured purchase from Rome was, she will squeal “The little piggy!” – a soft rubberized pig that when you throw on the floor completely flattens out but slowly reassembles to retain the original shape.

By the end of the holiday, we probably knew a little more about Rome and the Romans but much more about ourselves. One doesn’t go to Rome to merely see the sights, one goes to explore this connection with the city and people who lived here over the ages in this eternal city. Italians can teach everyone a thing or two about how to be happy, surrounded by beauty and history, eating fantastic food and that human connection. There are no polite smiles or snobby concepts of personal space; Italians are warm, open and passionate people and it shows in everything they do. We are coming back to Rome and to Italy to get our fill of La Dolce Vita – the good life.


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