Determined not to spend my 23rd (eek!) birthday in London, I started looking at short, cheap city breaks (Brighton was a serious contender at one point)! Thankfully, as luck would have it I found a 4 night, 3 day trip to Rome, staying at none other than the Grand Ritz Hotel! I eagerly booked my ticket feeling rather boujie (leaving the financial woes this mini break would have for 23 year old me to sort out) and convinced Katarina to do the same.
And boy am I glad we did, Rome with its immersive history, marble-enriched architecture and lest not forgetting all the gelato, pizza and pasta is a real treat for both the eyes and the stomach. And of course, getting upgraded to a junior suite with a Jacuzzi bathtub for free was just a bonus!
Visiting the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum were all breathtaking. Despite only 30% of the famous amphitheatre remaining, and the marble having been used to reconstruct and rebuild Rome, it still remains quite a sight to behold. To think, the Colosseum could hold and captivate an audience of over 60,000, and was used for gladiatoral competitions (where slaves would compete and could be freed after the 20th victory). Even more interesting, is that such contests were free for the public to marvel at, and the theatricality of such brutish entertainment all acted as propaganda for the Emperor’s agenda.
Palatine Hill, minutes from the much-instagramed Colosseum, is another site worth marvelling over. Thought to be the birthplace of ancient Rome and as fables highlight, where Lupa the she-wolf discovered the abandoned Romulus and Remus and kept them alive. The site, which is under further excavation and reconstruction work is only fully appreciated along with the imagination and re-imaging of the legends that occurred.
Trevi Fountain: One of the most famous fountains in the world.
The Vatican: Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and independent from Rome (yet confusingly enclaved within it) and presided over by the Pope. Within the 110 acre city-state hosts the St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. The museums have roughly 1600 museums within it, and even visiting the recommended rooms (around 22 museums) a few hours are required.
Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo’s infamous painting, and the Last Judgment.
Overall, Rome is a history nerds dream (Katarina’s) and pretty spectacular for the rest of us. I was amazed by how the idiom “A picture tells a tale” was not true here, but rather the paintings told a play with each wall depicting a different Act. History really does come alive through the works of art.