Saturday, January 4, 2014

Roman Holiday - Top 10 Things To Do in Rome (Almost)

On visiting the eternal city of Rome, art and structure that are big, magnificent, palatial and probably even imposing are in plenty. You cannot miss the grandeur that will soon become characteristic of the city in your eyes. However, some things in Rome persist longer in one's memory of the city's visit. For us it was these 9 things that I think can easily make it to the top 10 things to do in Rome, if someone can just come up with 1 more. The Colosseum?

1. Join the crowds at Trevi Fountain
Expect masses of visitors stocked around this world-famous Baroque fountain. My third visit to this extraordinary Italian masterpiece still had me gripping its artistic greatness. Only a camera with panoramic capabilities may allow capturing the entire breadth of the fountain. 

2. Meet the The Pope at St. Peter's Cathedral
Yes - in person! To our good fortune, Pope Francesca was in Rome so we saw him during the Sunday Angelus prayer as he addressed eager crowds from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square. If you are more lucky, he may also address in your language. 

3. Gaze at the Pantheon
An ancient temple, a medieval church and a renaissance burial tomb should be physically impossible to skip in one's Roman itinerary. For whatever reason, one is led here the effects are profound and we certainly consider this as one of our top visits of all travels. 

4. Sip coffee at Sant Eustachio cafe
Our airbnb host recommended this (and the gelato place below) to us with his hands clasped so we figured it simply could not be missed! Vividly local and priced accordingly, Sant Eustachio coffee house had the perfect italian coffee that both coffee and non-coffee lovers will savour. A short stroll away from the Pantheon is convenient.

5. Browse (or buy) designer fabrics at Bassetti Tessuti
Rolls and rolls of elegant Italian fabric filled up this materials mansion. Magazine photo cut-outs of fashion shows were matched with exact original prints sold at Bassetti - evidence of a business house serious in selling quality and trending italian fabrics. A striking print of Lancetti caught my eye; the challenge now will be to find a competent dressmaker. 

6. Stroll down Via Del Governo Vecchio
As opposed to hanging out at shiny shops on Via Condetti, a stroll on Via Del Governo Vecchio gave us better bargains, better choice of traditional Italian leather clothes, accessories and just a beautiful walk through tradition Italian sellers. 

7. Ponte Sisto into Trastevere neighbourhood
My personal favourite ponte (bridge) was the Ponte Sisto with a nice view of the dome of St. Peter's Cathedral and entry into the original italian neighbourhood of Trastevere, With lovely small alleyways and old italian women sitting in balconies, a stroll in this neighbourhood is sure to please. 

8. Don't miss Borghese Park and Villa Borghese
Bernini fan or not, this super-compact 20 room gallery will impress most with its elegant collection of baroque and renaissance art and sculpture, including the famous reclining Pauline Bonaparte (Venus Victrix). The museum was more of a royal mansion and commensurate with one's expectation of the best italian artworks. No photos allowed inside. 

9. Eat Gelato at La Romana
Staying a minute's walk from gelateria La Romana, gave us no choice but to head to this modern italian gelato house with innovative flavours every single day in Rome! Each cone is filled with a chocolate melt before ice-cream scoop is placed. If you decide to head to La Romana gelateria, make sure to experiment with the flavours and ask for one of the varieties of pesto gelato.