The Vatican , as it is referred to, is a principality inside the city of Rome.
As the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, many make the pilgrimage here to pay honour to the home of the Pope and one of the strongest religions world wide.
Inside the grounds of the Vatican are the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Church (St. Peter’s Basilica) , St Peter’s Square and many museums.
This historical and religiously significant venue is best seen before ALL the crowds arrive. It is one of the most visited places in the world… with millions streaming through ever year.
The good news is the Sistine Chapel and church open really early in summer – usually 7-730am. I would suggest setting an alarm clock and being one of the first in queue. If you don’t want to leg it alone, definitely do a tour as you can jump the queues and this is well worth it otherwise you may spend an hour or two(!) in a line up which is plain exhausting.
The police of the Vatican are the Swiss Army and are a step back into medieval times with their kit and custom. They are friendly and don’t mind a photo but are on duty so don’t be a pest.
St Peter’s square is massive and surrounding the periphery are significant people from the Roman Empire. If the pope is in town and giving a sermon, it will be in this square.
The grandiose centre of the Roman Empire stems from the Roman Forum.
Located in central Roma, this is a must see place when in Roma.
I didn’t have time to fully explore the space (it was closing as I arrived) but I got a fantastic insight to the sophistication of the Roman Civilisation from the hill surrounding the Forum, known as Palatine Hill.
The monuments still standing are incredible!
Built nearly 2000 years ago in Caesar’s rein the buildings give a great insight to the confidence this empire had.
Not only confidence but the pioneers of architecture.
The columns, the arches, and layout still being used by many engineers today.
I am stunned at the incredible details and stories scribed on the great arches.
On Palatine Hill is a great art gallery and many water falls and sculptures.
There is something very special here… make sure you put it on your map. Even if to have a red vino on Palatine Hill watching the sun set over Roma. You can do night tours here which I imagine would be spectacular. Check out more here.
I stumbled across it the first night I was in town and Maurizio, the owner, is a gregarious and friendly soul. Greeting everyone, making them feel welcome, pouring their wines, he is the perfect host and his bar becomes like a home.
The pizzaria and bar is close to everything but very close to the Pantheon. You can sit back away from the hustle and bustle and watch life go by.
The staff are all wonderful and enjoy working for the boss.
Attentative and friendly there is a reason why many Roman’s have made this their drinking hole.
You can wander in and grab a pizza and vino, or eat a main meal.
The vines are amazing, especially the red, which is made by Maurizio’s friend. I found it wonderfully fruity and light, not bitter nor heavy. It was a little to easy to drink, but that’s ok, because you are with friends.
In fact, I started hearing the “Friends”theme when I would walk to the cucina. Fun, times, good people and great wine!
Thanks guys, I look forward to seeing you all again when I come back to Roma.
Roma as it is affectionately known to Europe is an incredible place and will require at least 3-4 full days of sightseeing and exploring… Longer if you have the time and really want to enjoy the Roman lifestyle, of sleeping in, lazying around a piazza for lunch, exploring side streets and relishing in feasts.
I have been to Roma a few times but this time felt different.
Maybe because I wasn’t doing a one day stop over with a contiki crowd, or not with 18 month old daughter so could really savour it from a relaxed grown up perspective.
There is so much to see and do and while I understand people liking maps, I really think half the fun of Roma is following your heart. Not your mind.
See where the streets take you, discover Roma…. you can always ask for directions for the main sites and everyone will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Here are my top 5 things to see and do in Roma
Visit the Colosseum
One of my favourite buildings in the whole world, is the Colosseum.
The sheers size of it is incredible. You can do a tour during the day but can I recommend going at night? It is special. The illumination, the stories, the ambiance, give you insight to a very real world that existed over 2000 years ago.
The Colosseum was a big stadium which had trap doors, floors that could flood and a myriad of corridors beneath it’s surface.
The walls whisper great tales while you are there and it is impossible not to imagine the morbid entertainment, the deaths and massacres that would have taken place hundreds of years ago.
A making of an Empire that would span hundreds of years and travel throughout Europe and parts of Africa, didn’t just pop up.
It has strong roots in Rome and the heart of the Roman Empire is the The Forum.
Here you can see some incredible structures still standing in their majestic beauty and still symbolising strength, precision and beauty.
The architectural genius is second to none. The fact many structures still stand 2000 years on is testimony to its design.
Definitely worth a meander and wander through it’s wonderful gardens and paths.
The religious home of the catholic church and a country in its own right, the Vatican is fascinating.
One of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
Thousands visit each day and just being part of such a pilgrimage is incredible.
If you wish to see the Sistine Chapel, get there early. It opens at 7am. Although check in winter, as this could change.
St Peter’s Basilica is grand and breath taking and worth setting aside an hour just to soak it all in and bath in it’s glory.
The walls around St Peter’s Square are also grandeuse and on a clear day, there is nothing more crisp than seeing the walls silhouetted against the Roman blue sky.
The Swiss Guards still to this day (some 500 years on from being appointed by Pope Julius II) guard the sacred land. There uniforms are bright, distinguished but slight impractical.
There are many amazing piazzas in rome. Which really are large areas, almost like court yards, where multiple roads and back streets meet.
They bring together people and are the basis of modern day villages. Around the periphery are shops and particularly in Roma, restaurants and cafes.
The social hub is fantastic and one of the best is Piazza Navona.
I visit at night time but any time is good, and later in the day, you can sit and have a local favorite, called an Aperol Spritza. Aperol is a palate cleanser and apertif which primes your stomach for food. I find them very bitter – which they are intended to be. Some people love them. Either way, they are very Roman and appropriate to do in Rome!
Anyone who is not impressed by the Trevi Fountain is going to be hard to please.
With it’s huge sculptured works, carvings and at night, illuminosity, the fountain is more than a water feature. It is a living art piece that draws in hundreds of eager tourists, all with a selfie stick, after that “postcard perfect photo.”
I visit the Trevi Fountain most days when in Rome because of its sheer beauty and for some reason it makes me smile! Becareful of pick-pockets in this area who work the surrounding area stealthly.
Not to be over shadowed by all the other incredible buildings in Rome, the Pantheon, in my humble opinion is the most magnificent.
It’s understated persona doesn’t prelude what is inside her magic walls.
Inside is a captivating, perfect sunlight opening.
To me the hole says, “precision” and also shows what a deep understanding of design and maths that the Romans natural have.
You can walk around the inside of the Pantheon and it is free to do so.
The piazza around The Pantheon is fun and lively.
Something not many people do, is come back late at night and lie on her huge stone tiles. I did this a few times, to marvel at the history and size of this amazing building.
Other wonderful things to see are the Spanish Steps, the BIG house, Circus Maximus and the pyramid….
Fancy SIX fantastic Nights in Italy Exploring Amazing Food, Culture and History?
Last minute I have decided to share my trip exploring Italy starting in 3 weeks.
DATES: starts Wednesday 6th October and finishes Monday 10th October
It includes 6 nights accommodation, 3 lunches, 3 meals and all tour costs.
NB: Alcohol, shopping, tips, flights, insurance and others (see under booking page) are at your expense.
Italy is a country full of passionate people. Being part Italian I resonate well with the culture and people and am very proud of the food, the arts and history and would love to share it with you.
It is the BEST place to fall in love with food, to create a positive relationship with life and happiness and learn why I DO NOT believe in dieting. I want to show you the real currency of food.
On this 6 night trip of a life time these are the highlights:
1.Visiting the The Vatican and seeing the famous Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.
2. Touring the Colosseum and hearing about the gladiator fights of yesteryear.
3. Visiting the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain and Pantheon.
4. Night tour of Rome, sampling local delights and wines
5. Full day visit to Umbria, exploring the hill top village of , a cooking class and wine tour
6. Full day trip to Ponza Island with a day cruise, blue grottos and snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea
7. Visit the ancient underground Catacombs
8. Discover Egypt in Rome in a 2000 year old pyramid that is only open twice a month
9. Walk on the old Appian Way.
10. Experience the Three Tenors, inside the walls of St Paul’s an opera experience you will never forget
We will experience Italy through half and full day tours with some time on your own to explore the many piazzas at your own pace, or to sit with a cappuccino and watch the incredible fashion walk past.
I love Italy and particularly Rome.
It is an ancient history and has so many wonders to explore as well as being one of the fashion capitols of the world.
This is the program so far (subject to change but will involve these elements).
Wednesday 5th October
We arrive and check into our comfortable hotel. This will be base which is central and close to all the sights.
We kick start the retreat at 4pm for a welcome drink, then head off for our light night tour through Rome.
Exploring side streets and piazzas we discover incredible restaurants, bars and sample local foods. The Trevi fountain and Spanish Steps are beautiful at night, as is the Pantheon all lit up. You will realise by bedtime that you are in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
Thursday 6th October
Today is a serious day of Rome immersion.
Every time I go, it spins me out how many landmarks and wold events took place in Rome. From the Colosseum and gladiator fights in Julius Caesar’s Rein, to the Roman Catholic Church influence and home base in The Vatican.
Rome will inspire you through history – it is simply overwhelming at times.
The art works in the Vatican make it one of the richest museums in the wold and the tour around the Colosseum take you back 2000 years to a land that really did exist. Being amongst the well preserved ruins you can nearly hear the cheer of the crowds.
In the afternoon there is a some time off to do a spot of shopping before we meet for our “Food Tour” of Rome.
We will be guided by a local to all the secret eating places, sample many local foods and wash them down with delicious wines.
Friday 7th October
We head off nice and early to visit the incredible country side region of Umbria.
We have a full day visiting a working farm which produces wines, olives and foods. We visit a few towns, including the sensational hill top village of Santo Umbria and visiting. On this day we get too cook some of the produce we gather from the farm, sample local wines and see a more relaxed side of Italy.
Tonight is free for you to discover your own trattoria or revisit one from the night before.
Saturday 8th October
Twice a month, the 2000 year old pyramid (that not many people know about) is open to the public. This will be a first for me so I am extremely excited.
In fact today is all a little bit, “off the normal tourist” map with some activities that I hope you love.
After the pyramid, we will walk on the famous Appian Way. Built in 312 BC it was a strategic road for the Roman Army.
Time permitting we will visit the catacombs, which gives a stunning insight into ancient Roman life. The Romans were actually quite short and seeing these well preserved catacombs is fascinating. If you have ever read the Holy Grail by Dan Brown, or other books about Rome, the Catacombs are a must.
Tonight we are treated to a Opera inside the walls of St Peters.
Recapturing the magic of Pavarotti and the three tenors, tonights voices will be accompanied with a string quartet.
Sunday 8th October
Today we have a sleep in…. you can experience a mass first hand if you like as our morning starts a little later.
Today we explore the lesser known ruins of Ostia down near Lido Beach.
The well preserved town gives a true insight to the Roman Empire and is easier to access than Pompeii.
The afternoon will be relaxed back in Rome to visit museums, art galleries, or to simply sit in a piazza and watch life go by. Dinner is at your leisure.
Monday 9th October
Today is a full day starting with a short drive, then ferry to local island Ponza. Less busy than the other Amalfi islands but just as pretty (if not more) we have the whole day to explore the island, swim through grottos, cruise on a boat and drink wine and eat local pasta.This is what the mediterranean is all about and for a day we will lap it all up. Optional snorkeling on this day (which I will definitely be doing).
Our tour and retreat ends back in Rome tonight. We can head out for a final drink or you can relax after a wonderful day on the Med.
This trip is perfect for people who want to find passion again! You will get to hang out with me for six days and over that time we will break through any fears, issues that may be holding you back in life.
Come on a trip of a life time with me and yes, while last minute this promises to be an amazing trip.