Italy, a country which we visited several times before, but never together. Time to change that!

26765727605_bf3fffef8b_oWe left Belgium from one of the smaller airports, Ostends. Our country is still recovering after the attacks at the moment we take off for about 10 days. Bad idea to leave from the national airport … A regional airport on the other hand, offers lots of advantages. As it is supposed to, your holiday really starts at the airport!
Arriving in Rome, our first stop, however is, well … let’s keep it friendly: stressing!! Fiumicino has 4 terminals, all of them are crowded like London Heathrow. We had to wait for about half an hour for our luggage and missed the train to the city center by one minute. Luckily trains drive every 15 minutes (which we didn’t know). It is costly though: € 14 per person one way (+ €2 when bought at the counter – tip: go to the ticket machine!). By the time we arrive at our AirBnB it is 5PM and we are pretty tired.

But our nature is stronger than our weariness, and we get out to discover the city in eveningmodus! Our AirBnB is just a few meters from the metro, which comes in very handy (although we’ll soon discover the subway is absolutely in need of an expansion!). We bought a 72h card which provides us unlimited public transport.
We get a little bit lost, but eventually find the famous Spanish Steps. From the church Trinità dei Monti you have a lovely view over the city. Have we mentioned yet Rome was build on seven hills? Unfortunately the Steps are being renovated, but the area around Piazza di Spagna is bustling and very pleasant to walk around. We find a nice pizza place to have dinner and refueled with energy we pursue our way to the Trevi Fountain. Through little streets we end up along the church San Carlo al Corso and the Mausoleo di Augusto to find the Parliament. Nobody is interested in this building it seems 🙂 What a difference with the Fountain! Neptune watches over thousands of people every day. This impressive work of art is a must-see but is oh so cramped! Off we go to a quieter place: the Piazza del Quirinale – home to the presidential palace – offers another view over Rome at your feet. We end the day by bumping into the Via Quattro Fontane (four fountains – truly beautiful – at each corner of the road).

On the second day, we decide to take in the most. And for us, this means going to a place high above the ground. We take the subway to the Vatican, and are very lucky to find the place almost empty when we arrive (8.30AM, one hour later and we would have turned around!). Don’t be surprised to find a lot of soldiers in the city, and yes, also at the Vatican we have to go through security26502381380_21a48b6985_o before we get in. The Basilica of St-Peter is free to visit, but far more interesting in our opinion is the roof of the church. We pay €6 to go to the top by foot (€8 brings you to the middle by elevator, but then you still have to walk about 250 steps). Surprisingly we enter the dom along the inside. A rare perspective to see a church, and especially this one with all the art- and gold work. Once all up, the view over the Piazza San Pietro, the city and the surroundings is stunning! Only go there when the weather is clear, to be sure you can soak it all up. The Vatican Garden is at our feet, just as the not so known cemetery – only accessible to Belgians, Germans and Dutch people. And still this is not the end of our adventure in the sky: going downstairs you can enjoy more of the view at the platform behind the giant sculptures portraying some saints. We end up (not dressed appropriate we must admit) inside the largest church of the world. This truly is an impressive building, both on the out- and inside. We end our visit at the Vatican on the square, with the colons build by Bernini. After lunch (we found an affordable and good place just nearby) we are shocked by the endless row waiting to visit the Sistine Chapel and we set off to the Castel Sant’Angelo. This place once was a fortress and prison, but also housed the premiere of Puccini’s Opera Tosca. We hesitate to go in, but €10 per person is quite expensive. The garden around the castle is a nice place to rest a bit. Another reason to come here is the footbridge with statues of Bernini. Along the banks of the Tiber river, we walk down to the Island of Tiberina and the Trastevere quarter. We enjoy a very yummy gelato and want to visit the must-see basilica Santa Maria but one of the oldest Maria churches of Rome is closed. At night a downpour sets the streets of Rome under water but by the time we finish our dinner, we get home dry.

#visitrome #360view #sanpietro #church #wanderlust #travel #rome #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

26201303274_7cbc931831_oOn holidays, you’re not supposed to set your clock. But sleeping-in in Rome means queueing for hours … So at 8AM, we are in line to enter the Colloseum. A ticket at €12 per person gets you in this truly ancient building (over 2000 years old!), the Forum Romanum and the Palatine Hill. The Colloseum has been stripped over time, and restored, but the arena didn’t charm us so much. The Forum on the other hand was a lovely place to wander around. Once the centre of the Roman Empire, it is fascinating to try to imagine how people lived here thousands of years ago, when the temples and palaces of the great Roman emperors where standing tall. From the Palatine Hill, one has another nice view over the city. Romulus for sure knew where to build his house! We take our lunch (self-catering today 🙂 ) between history and by the afternoon we leave. Circus Maximus, just around the corner, is not that impressive since all that’s left of the old racing arena is just grass, but the Vittoriano Monument really is! It is just impossible to miss this huge marble building, celebrating the first king of Italy: Emanuelle Vittoriano, and the unification of Italy. The Altar of the Fatherland is free to visit, but you have to pay to take the elevator to the roof (which will cost you another €7 per person …). We leave the king and his horse behind us and walk down to a special building: the Pantheon. The best conserved building from the ancient times is free to enter (what a surprise!). Here we find our king back, although in his tomb … But the special thing about the building is the roof: a hole provides the only light inside. This also means: when it rains everything gets wet! And another rare feature: although the place is officially a basilica, the intentional use was a spiritual place for all believes.

#pantheon #rome #visitrome #360view #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

A gelato as entrance, we have dinner at our AirBnB with some delicious take-away from around the corner. At night, we take the metro to Piazza del Popolo (the legend says the church Santa Maria del Popolo is build on the tomb of emperor Nero) and head down to Villa Borghese, a neighbourhood aka huge park and yet another viewing platform to see Rome from above. We end this city trip where we started: at the church Trinità dei Monti. Time to leave!

As you see, we visited the must-see spots of Rome, although there are lost of interesting places of the beaten track as well. But one has to start somewhere, and missing these ‘touristic hot spots’ would mean missing a lot of what is Rome about: the place where modern history started, thousands of years ago.

– Good and cheap-as pasta: Pastificio – Via della Croce (close to Piazza di Spagna)
– Even cheaper and delicious pizza and typical food: Re di Roma Pizza
– Ice cream in Trastevere: Fior di Luna Gelateria
– The Airbnb that was our base in Rome: 196 Central Garden

see the full album on flickr scalled and the photo spheres on google streetview: IMG_0208   IMG_0210   IMG_0209

#360view over #rome #visitrome #travel #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

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