My first stop in Italy was Rome, where I spent a full on week exploring some of the history on offer by the city. I doubt you could see it all in a month, let alone a week, but here are some of the places we visited.
The Colosseum was our first visit. It was great doing a tour, as they really went into the history of the place (and the palace next to it) in an interesting way. We only did two guided tours in our entire time in Rome, but I would definitely recommend them. This tour was in English (which my aunt didn’t really understand), then we did the Vatican tour in German (see below).
The Vittorio Emanuele Monument was amazing, and we got there just as a large protest was happening. It was the only one I’ve seen since coming to Italy, but it reminded me of my previous trip to Thailand, which had the intense protests happening in Bangkok – I flew out on the day that the violence really started to escalate.
We visited the Trasevere neighbourhood twice, because it really was lovely, and the food – cheap and good!
The Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain were covered in tourists, which made us disinclined to linger.
The Pantheon and other sights in the area where connected by small alleys that had great little bistros.
After reserving our place, we visited the Villa Borghese – definitely a highlight of Rome, though $$$! After a stroll through the gigantic gardens, we decided to bike down the Appia Antica – a must do if you’re looking for a little break in the countryside.
On Sunday it rained for most of the day, but it as a great day to visit the Caracalla Baths, a massive structure which could accommodate up to 1600 people (apparently). The audio guides are useful, even if they are not exactly recorded with much enthusiasm. I would actually recommend doing on a slightly rainy day – you’ll have the place almost to yourself! See the photo at the very top for a panorama of The Baths.
Monday was our last full day in Rome, and so we hit the Vatican. The line to get in was almost 2 hours long, so we decided to go with a tour group instead. Tour groups organise your ticket so that you don’t have to stand in the cold/rain for 2 hours. We figured paying a bit extra would be worth it. As I stated before, if you go with the German tour, you’ll probably have an Italian (Roman) guide who spent a few months in Germany, so don’t expect any world class performances. The museums are ok. I wouldn’t be heading back in a big hurry, though the hallway with all the maps in it was really awesome. I guess it would be better if you where Catholic (although my aunt is Catholic, and actually works for the Catholic Church, and even she wasn’t that impressed). Might be better if you go there on your first day in Rome – after a week you can have ‘museum/church burnout’.
Would I recommend Rome – YES! It is awesome, especially to any history buffs out there, but also for anyone who enjoys European cities, good food and a variety of activities!