Life's Twisted Tales
Hey there! I'm a lifestyle and travel writer, business professional, and dog lover. I enjoy sharing amazing travel adventures from all over the world, along with family life, pets, hobbies, health, and much more. Ultimately, I hope to connect with and inspire others, and maybe even provide some entertainment and useful information along the way.
Visiting Rome is like an adventure into the past, with its ancient history and haunting ruins. I visited Rome during a three-country trip to Europe with a friend, and this was our first stop. There’s plenty to do in and around Rome, but the two main sights everyone should see at least once are ancient Rome and Vatican City.
When we arrived in Rome, we found out very quickly that the taxi drivers need to be watched carefully. They might try to take you to another closer hotel with similar name and look; then they will leave with your money before you can figure it out by trying to check into the wrong hotel – yea, that happened. We were eventually warned by hotel staff that this happens often and to be careful, so consider this your warning and travel tip. With our initial bad luck and pure exhaustion setting in, we tried to make the most of it because nothing was going to ruin our trip.
After a long day of travel and spending way too much time and money on taxis, we finally made it to our hotel, the Hotel Central Park Roma, where everyone was very friendly and helpful. While the rooms were a bit small, especially for two large international suitcases, that seems to be the norm in most of Europe. And besides, we had a great view of the Vatican from our hotel balcony.
Since we arrived at night, we decided to just explore the surrounding area and find some dinner. We found some small streets nearby lined with stores and restaurants, and just had to try this cute little pizzeria. The pizza was so good!
Now back to the main sights to see…it was so fascinating to finally get to see ancient Rome, like going back in time. Of course, we had to start with the Colosseum, whish was originally opened in 80 AD. You can’t miss this massive stadium right there after you get off the metro. I have always wanted to see this in person, and it’s fascinating to just imagine all the gladiator contests, mock battles, and other public events that took place there.
After gawking at the Colosseum for a while with our imaginations running wild, it was time to explore the rest of the ancient ruins, stopping next to admire the famous Arch of Constantine. The arch sits between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, and it is the last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome.
Then, we headed toward the Roman Forum, which is a plaza surrounded by ancient government buildings. It was amazing to see how many ancient buildings were still at least partially standing and to try and imagine what they must have looked like originally.
A few of the ancient buildings really stood out. First, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was originally an ancient Roman temple, and later converted to a Roman Catholic church.
The Temple of Saturn was an ancient Roman temple to the god Saturn, and all that is left standing now are the remains of the front porch.
The Santi Luca e Martina was a church originally dedicated to the Saint Martina, who was a Roman martyr.
The Basilica Aemilia was a civil basilica that later housed the city’s bankers, and there are only a few pieces of the structure left standing of what used to be a large building with sixteen arches.
There were so many more buildings in addition to these. We were walking around for hours, slowly taking it all in. Walking through the plaza and getting to see and touch a piece of ancient history was mind-blowing. If you love historic architecture and ancient ruins as much as I do, then ancient Rome is a must-see.
The other main sight to see is Vatican City, which is a city-state right in the middle of Rome and is home to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church headquarters. As I entered St. Peter’s Square, the first thing that caught my attention was the Vatican Obelisk, which is a 4,000 year old pillar brought over from Egypt.
Then, my eyes turned to St. Peter’s Basilica, which is an Italian Renaissance church and the burial site of Saint Peter.
The Renaissance architecture was amazing, including this beautiful central dome, the cupola.
You can even climb to the top of the cupola, which we did, but be prepared for some burning calves after the climb. The climb was totally worth it, though, for this outstanding view of St. Peter’s Square from the top.
And even a great view of the basilica from the inside of the cupola.
After resting our legs for a bit, we headed toward the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican Museums had amazing rooms and ceilings with intricate paintings, leading into the Sistine Chapel.
We were not allowed to take photos in the actual chapel, but just imagine more of those intricate paintings on the ceiling, but with even more meaning. The ceiling depicts The Last Judgment painted by Michelangelo, which was stunning to see in person. Just standing there imagining for a moment how the Papal conclave takes place, where the Cardinals select a new Pope, was surreal.
After seeing all the main sites, we just walked around Vatican City admiring the architecture and doing a little people watching. It was kind of funny to see so many nuns and priests walking around, and almost all of them with a cigarette in their hands. I’m not Catholic but always appreciate seeing different ways of life and understanding different cultures and religions. It was a great experience.
I know Rome has been a popular tourist attraction over the years, but if you have not been there yet, you should make sure you see it at least once. There are so many more things to see in and around Rome too, like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and so on, depending on what you like to see. But at the very least, make sure you leave time to see ancient Rome and Vatican City, and let yourself journey back in time.
Where have you been that was like taking a journey into the past and into ancient history?