“I just love Rome, it really does cast a spell on you.” Alec Baldwin
The reason for this trip was my present to my parents for their 25th Wedding Anniversary – so all three of us went to Rome with British Airways in Business Class and stayed at the wonderful 4 Star Hotel Artemide in the centre of Rome which is walking distance to nearly all of the tourist spots.
Flying Business Class is really something – you must try it at least once – this was my first time. We walked into the Lounge and wow – what a difference. After having some lovely pastries followed by a cup of coffee or two and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice we gathered up our free newspapers from the British Airways lounge and strolled to the priority boarding at Heathrow Terminal 5.
The meal on the flight was fantastic – three course all the way and coffee or tea afterwards before landing.
We arrived without a bump (thank goodness), the lovely gentleman next to me in 3C must have thought I was a lunatic as I fanned myself constantly whenever I felt a slight move in the plane (I’m not the best flyer) – let’s just say I’m not going to be the next Alan Wicker…
It was 33 degrees without a cloud in the sky and we were being driven through Rome to our central hotel. Everything is happening so fast! Cars don’t stop at red lights or when pedestrians are on the crossing (trust me I was on it and in the taxi at one point) We arrived at Hotel Artemide and were given a welcome drink of Prosecco on the rooftop terrace overlooking the glorious sunny city of Rome. Which is so divine, so amazing.
After wanting to take in some sun we headed off to explore the local area which is 10 mins walk from Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain – Not that we did all that in an afternoon.
After trying “Cake of the day” at Breakfast which was Pineapple Sponge Cake in case anyone was wondering and it was FANTASTIC!
We set off to walk and discover the Basilica of San Giovanni, according to my Lonely Planet Guide it was the date of their feast day and there was meant to be a big festival. So after walking in nearly 100 degree heat for 25 mins there was no festival… but the Basilica was wonderful and so amazing. We did however, find some breathtaking and beautifully decorated chapels within the Basilica. Gold plated everything and marble pillars surrounding the altar it was just really something else.
In the afternoon we went in search of the Trevi Fountain which is only 10 mins from the Hotel. The fountain is not something you’d miss and rather oddly placed as well. It is one street off the main road and then all of a sudden you turn the corner and there are a hundreds of people and the Trevi Fountain. It is quite awe-inspiring – quite a fantastic piece of architecture and very emotional as well. My mother and I both cried when we got there.
Yes, all three of us threw a coin into the fountain to make sure we go back to Rome, we couldn’t not do that – we have to go back.
Hot was a word I’d use to describe Day 3. We were off to visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica. This was definitely something not for the faint hearted – It was 33 degrees and felt like 40+!
Even though we had pre booked our tickets to not queue for 3 hours on the day there was still a 20 min queue to get through security at both the Vatican and Basilica. Once we were off it was amazing, breathtaking and there were so many things to view in such a small space in each room at points that you were worried you might miss something.
The ceilings in every room of the Vatican were just unbelievable and looked out of this world (and we hand’t even got to the Sistine Chapel yet!) painted with such care and attention – these were just the ‘ordinary rooms’ with some carvings or tapestries in them. It is unbelievable that a bigger and better room is to come – the amount of architecture here is really quite something, it really is something to be believed.
There are statues everywhere and the detail that has gone into the carving is quite astounding. This trip to the Vatican & Rome in general has helped with my interior design diploma and the ideas I am gaining from this is great.
All of a sudden the amount people in the room as we keep walking gets larger – there is a door at the end of the room and people are being slowly taken down a staircase that goes down further – not too good if you are claustrophobic as the amount of people and amount of space doesn’t seem to be looking too good. Then after a slow quiet walk and a lot of “Silencio” being shouted by the security we arrive in the Sistine Chapel. I went to Rome 10 years ago and had forgotten what it was like so this was a wonderful experience.
There are no words but it is out of this world and how it takes over your emotions you start crying for no reason. It is so divine in there. I have no personal photos of this unfortunately as you are not allowed to take any. I did buy a book about it in the gift shop which has a fantastic picture of the whole chapel. So here is a photo from the book so you all get a feel of how wonderful the Chapel is.
After that wonderful experience we then went for a coffee in the Vatican restaurant (believe it or not they have one) and strolled round to St Peter’s Basilica to find the world and his wife queuing to get in. Unfortunately there is no “beat the queue” tickets you can purchase, as it is free. So, after nearly 30 minutes of queuing in 95 degree heat with NO shade we made it in and WOW isn’t it worth it.
Gold is key here, they use it on everything, the whole ceiling – not just a little part of it and so is marble. There are pillars everywhere and they are big thick colourful ones not just horrid grey ones you see sometimes in other places.
Nothing is done by halves, it is so pretty and well decorated it is like Christ is sitting there all the time. It is really quite unbelievable.
It is such a huge building but when you walk inside it looks even bigger I don’t know how they do it but somehow they managed it. As we were really flagging by now we got a taxi back to the hotel.
As I’m sure you are all wondering, “Cake of the day” today was Pineapple Cake again! So I was very happy. We had each day planned out so we didn’t waste time – today we we were off to the Spanish Steps. They were only a 10 min walk from our hotel so off we set with water bottles and cameras in hand.
On our way there was a road called “Via Del Quattro de Fontaine” or “Road of 4 fountains” it is a cross roads at the top of a hill and on each corner there is a fountain – where else would you find that in the world? It is spectacular. We carry on walking a little bit further and then we see this fantastic view of Rome. Looking down over everybody on such a clear sunny day – we have made it to the Spanish Steps. Feels like we’ve walked to Spain in this heat! How beautiful they are and grand.
When I last came 10 years ago there were flower pots on every other step but unfortunately they are not there anymore. It is quite unbelievable to think that you just turn a corner and something so grand and mesmerising is there off a back street. There are just 135 steps at the Spanish Steps and the architects who designed it were Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Speech and it only took two years to construct them believe it or not (1723-1725)
We had a wonderful lunch just round the corner from the steps, seated under fans which sprayed out cooling mist over the customers which is a fantastic idea! One pizza and one tricolour salad to share (very Italiano).
After our lunch we went for a slow mooch round the wonderful shops and in particular were on the look out for one shop who sold the fragrance to our hotel (Acqua dell Elba) it is the most fantastic fragrance ever. Well, the minute we entered that road we could smell it out instantly – shortly after we walked out with a bag each of that particular room fragrance so we wouldn’t go without it! Happy customers!
Unfortunately, it got too hot and we had to walk back – up the Spanish steps and that huge hill with the 4 fountains! Not something you want to do in late afternoon heat….
Today was our last full day unfortunately and we spent it in the most wonderful surroundings – in the morning we gazed in wonder at Piazza Navona with it’s beautiful fountains and churches. A Piazza is equivalent to a square in London but 1000 times better! In Piazza Novona there are 3 huge fountains that you can walk round, they are just beautiful and when you walk up to them you can’t move for looking as they are so breathtaking.
The amount of time that went into building these fountains is just unbelievable – the carvings are fantastic and you want to stand and stare forever and not leave. So to spend more time we had morning coffee in the Piazza looking over the fountains and architecture – what wonderful surroundings to spend your last day there. We were very happy to save this till last.
However we had to move onto another item on our itinerary! We then went in search of the famous Ice Cream shop “Geletaria del Teatro” and now all three of us know what all the hype is about. The amount of options are fantastic, Ice creams, sorbets & homemade chocolates etc – I had White Chocolate & Basil, Mummy had Tiramisu and Daddy had Lemon sorbet. They have a window so you can see them making all the ice cream as well which is great and there is a lovely terraced area for you to sit outside and eat what you have bought.
In the afternoon we walked onto find the last big sight of our trip “The Pantheon” – wow it’s bigger than you think, well actually everything in Rome is – well worth the trip! Again, like most of the other sights this one is just off a back street so it takes you by surprise as well.
When you enter the Pantheon, opening in the dome is vast. The amount of light that is let in shows up all the gold on the different chapels when the sun moves round – extremely cleaver.
Did you know – The design of the Pantheon is so that a perfect sphere could sit inside symbolising the vault of heaven.
Also, the present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa’s original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not certain when the present one was built.
After 5 magical days that we will all never forget, it was time to go home. The man that picked us up from the hotel took us to the airport past the Colosseum so we got to see one more ‘tourist sight’ on the way home. It is ginormous – and a fantastic piece of architecture. One thing that did make me laugh was that they had build a very busy main road right next to it so it looks like they’ve just stuck it in the most unlikely place.
British Airways were wonderful, warm hand towels before take off, then drinks before lunch champagne if you wanted (I went for tomato juice). Lunch was a carpaccio of Beetroot with goats cheese to start, then for main course (which I didn’t have) was Sweet & Sour Chicken, cheese and biscuits then chocolate cheesecake moose – fantastic.
After a little too bumpy flight for my liking we landed at Heathrow (yes I did use my fan in case you wondered) we came back to reality with 18 degrees and rain!
I hope you have enjoyed my Rome blog and please do like and share this.