It's not called 'The Eternal City" for no reason: Rome has been around for a long time: As the former centre of the Roman Empire and current host to the Holy Vatican, Rome seems eternal in both a visceral and metaphysical sense. If ancient ruins, classical art, grandiose churches, fine food and the modern hum of a city make up your dolce vita, then Rome is your paradise.
Head back into the reaches of history and explore the open-air ruins of the Roman Forum, where Caesars past celebrated military might and citizens discussed the politics of the day. The scale of the Forum is impressive, from the grand triumphal Trajan's arch (depicting the sack of Jerusalem) to the temples and bath houses that made up everyday life in ancient Rome. Adjacent to the Forum is the Colosseum -- the iconic bulwark of Roman theatrical spectacle, where gladiators fought and interior naval battles were staged.
Overlooking this impressive array of Roman antiquity are the Palatine Gardens, set atop the hill with commanding views to the city below. Speculated to be the original site of Rome, Palatine Hill shows evidence of human occupation since as far back as 10,000 BC. It is here that legend states Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf, and who would later become the founders of Rome on the seven hills overlooking the Tiber River.
But ruins are a dime a dozen in Rome, and it's easy to overdose on antiquity. Counterbalance your archaeological curiosity with a bit of modernism. Head to the piazza at the base of the Spanish Steps for a bit of chic, upmarket shopping. If the wallet is a bit thin, content yourself with window shopping at some big-name Italian brands. When the foot fatigue sets in, there are plenty of terrace cafés to stop for a short afternoon drink -- be it a strong black Italian espresso or a glass of vino.
In fact, it's the food that draws many people to Italy in the first place. World renowned for simple, elegant fare, Italian food is at it's best when served in a backstreet taverna accompanied by a carafe of house wine to share with friends. True Italian culinary delight is shared, and can easily span hours, as you converse into the late hours of the night. As a wise Italian grandmother once told me, the finest food should have no more than a short list of 4 or 5 ingredients. But those ingredients are likely to be farm fresh: tomatoes bursting with sweet, earthy ripe flavour; mozzarella so white it's literally squeaky clean; fragrant basil with a peppery kick; hand-rolled pasta made with flour as soft and fine as an angel's hair itself. Finish off a 4-hour, 4 ingredient meal with a shot of fragrant limoncello liqueur, or a sweet, creamy gelato guaranteed to be smoother than any ice cream you've ever had before.
Once you've indulged your gluttonous side, it may be time to pay a visit to eh Vatican to atone for your sins. Home to Pope himself, the diminutive city-state is not short of speculative rumour and conspiracy. Whatever your stance on the Catholic church as an institution or faith, a visit to St Peter's Basilica is certainly beyond belief. Cavernous, vaulted domes seemingly gilded to the hilt and statuary so detailed that it's surreal. In fact, our English word sincere comes via the Latin in cere, meaning 'without wax': sculptors would often use wax to cover the flaws and chisel marks or their works, and only the most accomplished artisans were said to have sincere pieces: true, without fault.
And for whatever faults you may wish to pin on institutions of faith, the impressive majesty of the Vatican City will shine light on a few faults of your own. And that's precisely what it's intended to do: much more than a tourist space or museum, the Vatican is meant to be a reflective space, leading us to examine our inner world. Take a moment -- regardless of your religious convictions -- and reflect on your own humanity inside this space, before rejoining the throngs of camera-brandishing tourists. You'll be glad for the moment's peace and calm.
Because Rome is a noisy city, you may feel hard pressed to find escapes into the quiet sanctuary of your own thoughts. But it's not impossible. Amid the whine of motorbikes, the blare of car horns and the animated shouting of local neighbours, quiet spaces do exist. Rome is a labyrinthine collection of neighbourhoods, alleys and piazzas that -- if you're willing to put your faith in your own sense of curiosity -- will eternally reward you with endless new discoveries.
Castello St Angelo, Colosseum, The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Spanish Steps, Tiber River, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City & Museums
Joel Bond Travels is pleased to offer extensive guided tours in and around Rome, building an itinerary around your specific desires. Contact me today to discuss your requirements, and discover the Eternal City today. It's an experience of a lifetime!
Base rate for guiding services:
£235/day per group
Rates cover guiding services, local transport (private hire, where possible) and entrance to select sites. Contact me to enquire about booking flights and accommodation as well.
Minimum trip duration: 4 days
Max group size: 6 people
- Well-researched, character accommodation
- Flexible touring schedule: see what you want, when you want
- No crowded tour buses or large groups
- Save time, see more with a guide who already knows the area
- Connect: options exist to dine with a local family in-home
- Go deeper: break from the standard tourist circuit and discover more local places