Can’t-miss tourist sites: The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, The Pantheon, Vatican City, piazzas
Favorite meal/restaurant: Love them all!
Favorite souvenir: Books like Rome Reconstructed, Ancient Rome — facts at your fingertips.
Favorite part of the trip: Wandering around town without a map, people-watching, exploring, and Italian wine.
Lodging: Stayed in all-girls room at The Yellow Hostel. Clean and quiet, super comfy, and close to Termini station.
Easy to get around using English? Definitely.
Would you go back? Definitely.
One of the perks of living in Europe is being able to just hop on a plane and go on spontaneous trips to different European cities anytime you want, from the City of Freedom to the City of Love, all without having to endure those exhausting long-haul international flights.
Despite having lived in Prague for a few years already, I really haven’t had the chance to go to too many places besides London, Paris and Berlin. So I decided to indulge in a weekend getaway down in the heart of Italy – Rome – before school starts.
Now, on my previous trip to Paris, I made the mistake of NOT buying a selfie stick. I know, I know. Selfie sticks kill tourist interactions and they make you look ridiculous in public as you wield that 40-inch weapon around trying to take pictures of yourself. But if you see some of the pictures from my Paris trip, I’m sure you’ll all agree that getting a selfie stick is not such a bad idea.
A lot of my Paris photos look like this:
And here are my attempts at taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower and the one and only Mona Lisa.
See? I HAD to get that selfie stick. Don’t judge me. Please
Now that I’ve justified getting that selfie stick, let’s move on to the more interesting parts of my trip to Rome!
The first thing I felt after I stepped off the plane in Rome was the warmth carried by the breeze. Finally! Somewhere warm where I didn’t have to curl myself up in a blanket and hibernate.
Since most of the museums/main attractions were closed by the time I got there, I decided to just wander around the city and see where the streetlights took me.
The roads were quite busy, even on a Thursday evening. There were cars everywhere, and all the buildings were lit up and glowing. I had always heard traffic in Rome is bad, but it still shocked me when I saw people reading books while they were in the driver’s seat!
I walked past a shopping area, saw some basilicas, and then stumbled upon a huge fountain at a roundabout, surrounded by majestic buildings.
I stood there for a while, enjoying the sounds of the trickling water fountain, mesmerized by the sight of illuminated buildings…
I instantly fell in love with this city.
Now, if you’ve seen Roman Holiday, you’d know that the Trevi fountain is a must-see (Hint: it’s where Princess Ann got her haircut and Joe starts following her). Unfortunately, when I got to the fountain, all I saw was this:
Apparently it was under restoration. UNDER RESTORATION?!? All that was left of the fountain was a 10 square foot area filled with water encased in a plastic box of some sort. I was devastated. That was not the Trevi I came to see. THAT WAS NOT THE TREVI I CAME TO SEE!
To cope with this huge letdown, I went to a restaurant nearby and drowned my disappointment in a bottle of Merlot and called it a day.
The next day the weather was perfect. It was sunny, but not too hot. I got off at the metro station, and immediately saw the Colosseum. It was huge, much larger than I had expected it to be. Built of concrete and stones, the Colosseum isn’t quite as “sophisticated” or “refined” as other iconic European architectural feats. The Colosseum was built for its functionality, which was typical for the Roman Empire. The Colosseum showcases the ancient Roman’s excellent building and engineering capabilities.
The interior of the Colosseum was still well-preserved. You could see the underground chambers where the wild animals were once caged, and the steps where the audience used to sit and watch public spectacles in the arena. I imagined myself among them audience members, laughing and cheering on the gladiators. All that strength, all that power possessed by the Roman Empire; and all that brutality, all that bloodshed that must’ve taken place.
I bought a few books from the Colosseum bookstore, and then headed over to the Roman Forum. Yeah, so… My selfie stick broke down and I had to beg someone to take this photo for me:
The Roman Forum is right next to the Colosseum. It’s a plaza surrounded by ancient Roman governmental buildings where public assemblies used to take place. For centuries, it was the center of Roman civic and economic life; public discussions, criminal trials and many other public matters took place here in this forum. Unfortunately, not much is left. You can only stand among the sprawling ruins and imagine the prosperity this ancient civilization once enjoyed.
Out back of the Roman Forum is Altare della Patria, or Altar of the Fatherland. The Altar of the Fatherland was built to commemorate Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, who is also known as the Father of the Nation.
After walking around and familiarizing myself with the city all morning, my stomach started to growl. It was time to feed it some alcohol— I mean, pasta. YUM. I went to a random restaurant nearby to grab food. I ordered a seafood linguine and paired it with a Chardonnay. It was SOOO GOOD. The pasta was just the way I like it, not too hard and not too soft, the seafood was fresh, and the dryness of the wine was just right for the dish.
Once I stuffed my face with pasta and unlimited bread served on the side, I decided to go walk around randomly and explore the city. One of my favorite things to do in Italy is to chill at different piazzas, have some wine, and observe people that come and go. Sometimes you’ll see some really interesting street performers, from artists that paint with cans of spray paint and dancers who perform mini-skits to something really exotic and mind-boggling that you just can’t wrap your head around.
Here’s a look at some of the piazzas that I went to:
The Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna
Finally, to put the finishing touches on my trip, I ended the day with pasta and a bottle of dessert wine. Yay!
[All photos courtesy of Aimee Huang.]
Aimee Huang is a self-proclaimed iPhone photographer and a professional globetrotter. She was born in Taiwan, and spent her teenage years in the States and her early twenties in Europe. She spends her free time painting, drinking Starbucks and watching political commentaries on Youtube. She is a 4th year medical student at Charles University, and currently resides in Prague.