A Weekend in Rome
Ever since I fell in love with Venice (and The Talented Mr Ripley), I’ve wanted to explore more of Italy, but mostly Rome and it’s pastsa, piazzas and past-worlds. Finally, in honour of my birthday in January, it was time to have my very own Roman holiday and soak up all Rome has to offer for three whole days.
We stayed at the perfectly-situated and beautiful Palazzo Dama. Ideal for all the main sites, it’s an old palazzo converted into a chic hotel with it’s own pool (a bit of a rareity in Rome and no doubt much-appreciated if you go in the height of summer) and Peruvian restaurant. Marble bathrooms, chandeliers, well-thumbed art tomes and an antique tiled hallway, this place ticks all the boxes in terms of old-meets-new stylish Roman bolthole. Insider tip; the hotel has a basement club that kind of kicks off at the weekends so just in case, might be worth asking for a room on the second or third floor. We were on the second floor and heard nada.
Having never stepped foot in Rome before, first things first, it was time to hit up all of Rome’s must-sees in the city centre and it goes without saying, there are a lot… You could spend a whole two weeks in Rome and still have things to see and discover. But we went on a bit of a mission the first two days, marching between sights like the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Vatican, which in itself you could spend a week exploring if you wanted too (an afternoon sufficed on this trip). Stopping regularly for pizza, gelato, aperol spritzs and ‘hugos’, my new favourite drink on le continent, we managed to take in a hell of a lot of big hitters in the first 36 hours. On top of all the sight-seeing, we also squeezed in a lot of extracurricular Roman treats. We tried truffle oil, bought paint-splattered ceramics and ate proper, crusty Roman pizza in Campo de Fiore, bought gelato from the legendary Giollitti (white chocolate and mixed berry for me), took in the view at sunset from Viale Gabriele D’Annunzio, ate asparagus lasagne and prosciutto and melon at Hotel Russie, browsed prints and drawings on Piazza Borghese and had an insanely romantic dinner for two at Pierluigi sitting outside in the piazza with blankets and proseco on hand to keep us warm(ish).
Rome really is a beauty. Everywhere you look there’s another crazy beautiful church or a heap of ruins thousands of years old, just casually perched in the middle of the city. It made me wish I hadn’t forgotton so much of my primary-school Roman history lessons (I referenced Gladiator an embarrassing amount of times) and had a few more reference points for the endless, fascinating history. It really is worth getting lost here too and straying off the main streets and finding hidden court yards and wandering round more residential neighbourhoods and streets amidst all that history. Unsurprisingly, Rome attracts a lot of tourists and not to be that person, but I’m not great with literal swarms of selfie-sticks. The Trevi fountain is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen but I can’t pretend it’s not ever-so-slightly tainted by the heaps of people (head to the sides of the fountain and look down on it if you ask me). I hate being that person but I was quickly fantasising about those Forster-esque days that were free from school trips (we only went as far as Wales until sixth form) and those lucky tourists coming to Rome in the ’50s and ’60s. Obviously we’re tourists too, and taking a tonne of photos, so I have zero legs to stand on, but after seeing the beautiful Spanish steps full to the brim of peacocking, hormonal teenagers texting on their phones, I was ready to find a slightly (emphasis on slightly) more off the beaten track side of Rome. Enter Travestere which I’ll take you on a tour of in the next blog post…
One place we loved which felt slightly off the very well-trodden tourist path, was Palazzo Altemps. Beautiful, quiet by Rome standards and full of ancient statures and the most incredible marble, it’s a lovely spot for a brief respite from the crowds. I kept getting stunned that half the statues around the place were THOUSANDS of years old, and none had a glass box around them. That kind of blew my mind, as did the swirled marbled-walls and frescoed ceilings.
No trip to Rome is complete without a trip to Vatican City, a country in its own right no less, mainly for the Sistine Chapel. We’ve all grown-up with references to Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel (“This is a bedroom ceiling, not the Sistine chapel”) but in all honesty, I had no idea what to expect which was half the appeal to me. We hired a private guide for three hours to take us through the Vatican museums, through the Sistine Chapel and ending up in St Peter’s Basillica. It was well-worth the money as it helped us cut the queues (100% you need to buy tickets in advance, those queues looked killer) and hone in on pieces of interest as well as giving us pointers to look out for in the chapel itself.
It really is an amazing sight, as is the cavernous, awesome (in the true meaning of the word) cathedral. The Sistine Chapel is surprisingly small, so much so apparently Michelangelo didn’t want to do it to begin with because it didn’t seem grand enough, but the colours and detail are mind-blowing. He painted the whole thing tilted his head back rather than lying down…. Given I had neck ache from 10 minutes in there, it’s a wonder his neck was ever the same again. Pictures are strictly prohibited so you’ll have to go yourself one day to check out Michelangelo’s masterpiece (or just google image it lol). Also, don’t do what I did and wear a dress above the knee as you’ll need to knot a sarong or scarf around you to go into the church and chapel. Thankfully our guide helped me out but yeah, don’t be that person. I eternally cover-up for temples and for wandering around the likes of Morocco and India, but not being catholic, I had no idea that was a thing but there we go. Wear trousers people!
Next time, we’re heading to the Colosseum, the Roman forum, Villa Borghese and postcard-pretty Trastevere as well as giving you a run through of photos tips and tricks for travel photography with our new Olympus Pen-F’s.
Till next-time Rome….
Red shirt | & Other Stories
Gold earrings (night time outfit) | & Other Stories
Moon and Stars bag | Prada
Vintage-look jeans | Redone High Rise Crop (size 24)
Red lipstick | Nars ‘Mysterious Red’
Red floral dress | Realisation Par
Denim jacket | Levis
Trainers | Converse
Black sunnies | Rayban
Blue Gingham top | Topshop
Leather jacket | Coach
Suede espadrilles | Loewe
Cat eye glasses | Gucci
Necklace | Theodora Warre
Suede bag | Gucci
Black patent bag | Mansur Gavriel
Gold hoop earrings | Mango
All photos take on the Olympus Pen-F (the one I’m wearing in most of the pics – Jamie and I both have one!)
Ph. by myself and James Wright