December 20, 2018

Rome, Italy – Itinerary and planning (7 days) – part 2 of 2

*this is the continuation from Part 1

So I returned the rental car on Day 5 to the FCO airport. From FCO, I transferred to the city of Rome and checked into an AirBnB lodging. I had the afternoon left and used it to make some reconnaissance around the narrow cobblestone alleys, and also to pick up some of my Italian shaving supplies. The Day 1 starts the next day (on Day 6 of the whole trip). Here’s the disclaimer for this Rome itinerary:

- Actual travel time took 2 weeks (4 days at Tuscany, 8 days at Rome). You’d need a day to get to Italy by flight, and another to come back. The place is fucking far. Refer to a map. If you choose to go by other means of transportation (other than flying), you’d need to allocate more time.
– Trip was done in mid November, considered winter season by the locals. This season has a relatively short day time. The itinerary takes account on that short daylight and compensates by starting earlier in the morning.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 12-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit 95% of what I’ve planned (with the exception of 1 particular day), with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience both rural and urban Italy. The itinerary involves a lot of walking, with at least 11k steps (up to 21k steps) each day. That’s roughly about 8km – 15km of walking per day. If you have mobility issues, this is not going to work for you.
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go easy by subway/bus, or even rent a fucking car/bike. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info.
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (A lot of churches, including a visit to Vatican City).
– Some of the days are weather dependent, meaning, it cannot be done without a clear/blue-sky weather. You need to proactively check the weather forecast (when it’s within a week away) and shuffle the days around. I actually had to shift a few days around. One of my planned days did not happen and had to be substituted with an impromptu plan.
– I’m going to do something different with this itinerary sharing. Instead of including the time/hours like the actual itinerary, I’m going to just share the locations and let the readers plan it out on their own – as different assholes might have different ideas about spending time, so… why limit it?
– This is just my own planning and shared to give everyone an idea how to make it their own. It is definitely not the best, with individual preference, travel date and financial factors considered. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because you suck or we simply have differences.

*warning: long post ahead…

Prep (general)
Warm clothing – Rome is relatively comfortable in November, but temperature can sometimes fluctuate, especially at night or early in the morning. You need warm clothes with layers, to adjust accordingly.

Lodging – There are shitloads of AirBnB in Rome, and they’re reasonably affordable and convenient. Just scour around before you go.

Reserved tickets – The Vatican Museums and Colosseum itinerary would require tickets reserved to save some queue time (some fees applies). If you fancy queuing up to buy the tickets on the spot, it’s all very fine.

Meal budget: If you decide to be thrifty, a budget of EUR 10 per meal per pax should be good enough. A regular sized pizza costs around EUR 7 and a regular drink costs anything around EUR 2 – 3. (if you want to save on drinks, there are fountains all over Rome that are potable). I allocated EUR 15 per pax per meal, for 2 meals a day.

Offline map – While Google Maps is very dependable for figuring out public transportation needs, it sucks for navigating streets or off road footpath on foot. For this needs, get yourself an offline map app like OsmAnd, which uses Openstreetmap and allows you to navigate without having an active internet/data connection, just plain old GPS. I use this app 90% of the time in this trip, including driving (which came as a backup plan when my Waze failed at one of the remote hills at Tuscany). Make sure you tag the places you want to visit prior the trip.

Google translate – It has this little camera icon under the text translation page that allows you to translate Italian in real time. This will come in handy figuring out if it’s cheese or meat in your menu.

Moisturizers – You need something strong that allows you to hydrate your skin. Get something like petroleum jelly or anything that sticks to you like an industrial grade grease… otherwise, you risk of getting winter itch or eczema which can inverse your holiday with woes and suffering from the dry winter weather.

Umbrella – November is a wet month around the regions in the itinerary so, bring umbrellas or raincoats.

Connectivity – By means of wifi or mobile data. You need it to check weather, do paperwork if you need to file an insurance claim, or perform an online check on opening hours / ticket rates / etc.

Day 1 (Rome): Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Colosseum, Basilica San Giovanni

The strategy for tackling Rome is to focus on one major POI a day, and visit the smaller ones that are in the way. For day 1, it’s the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Then visit everything in proximity of the walk. The Colosseum is notorious for its long queue for tickets so, I pre-purchased the tickets online on a specific date (caveat: extra EUR 2 per pax). Official ticketing website is here. The tix allows you to enter all 3 locations, and you can choose to visit Palatine Hill/Roman Forum on the following day (single entry) with the same ticket. Note: If you prebook your tickets online, it means you’re not able to swap this day around with another if the weather’s inclement.

Arch of Constantine [location] – It’s an arch right outside the Colosseum (see cover pic), calls for a good photo op. It was built as a triumphant arch for the the Roman army/generals to bask in their victories in war and is like, damn famous [wiki]. I learned about this in the game Civilization V, having this dope structure in your city means reduced unhappiness in conquered foreign cities, and generates extra culture points each turn.

Colosseum [location] – Go early in the morning. Opens at 8.30am. Once you’ve gotten your tickets sorted out, head on in. There’s a security checkpoint to screen for weapons or illegal substances, to prevent people from taking drugs and act like a gladiator inside this historical landmark [wiki]. You can opt to pay extra to spelunk the underground section of the structure – which you can experience the locker rooms of the gladiators in their heydays. Have to say, even without the underground level, the top part of the Colosseum is HUUUUGE. Allow up to 2 hours (more if includes underground) here.

Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano [location] – Exiting the Colosseum, can opt to walk about 1.6km to the east to this awesome basilica [wiki]. It is one of the 4 major basilica in Rome. Like, if St Peter’s basilica is John Lennon, this is Paul in The Beatles. If you’re a very devoted Christian and your aim is to cover all the fab 4, then this is a must visit. After doing this, break for lunch during the walk back to the Colosseum area.

Palatine Hill [location] – The Palatine Hill was like, the Beverly Hills of the ancient Roman (that’s how I interpret it). This was where the rich fucks lived. It had the best view of the forum, and the world’s biggest stadium – Circus Maximus (which is located right next to the hill). Although most of it is in ruins, the walk around the area itself is like a walk in a nice park. Enter from Via Di San Gregorio [location], and walk counter clockwise to cover as much area as possible. There’s a viewpoint overlooking much of the city of Rome and the forum here, be sure not to miss it. Allow up to 2 hours doing Palatine Hill.

Roman Forum [location] – Roman Forum is like the downtown of ancient Rome. Most government buildings were there, and this place is an archaeological site that gives you glimpse of its past glory. The huge ass columns of ancient temples, the large blocks of concrete scattered all around, one can’t help but imagine Joaquin Phoenix parading around the city like he’d just won the war with his barehands… Having said that, this place is best appreciated if one has some knowledge about Rome’s past, otherwise, it’ll just be looking at ruins. Once done, take the exit at Via Dei Fori Imperiali [location].

Trajan Market /Forum [location] – From Via Dei Fori Imperiali, you have the choice to break for lunch at nearby eateries or just head over straight to Trajan Market. It’s the world’s first shopping mall. You can pay a fee to enter it but, I think the exterior itself is more impressive than the interior, so…you can just skip it if you don’t feel like spending money to enter a jurassic mall.

Altare della Patria [location] – This big ass building with huge proportion of staircase is a monument for Victor Emmanuel II [wiki]. It is also said that this monument is also built to honor all soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their countries in all the wars in the history of mankind. At the top most part of the monument is a museum with medals and artifacts from Italy’s past wars (free entry).

Santa Maria in Ara Coeli [location] – Right next to Altare della Patria, is this beautiful church, with a famous scenic staircase called Scalinata dell’Ara Coeli [location]. This church is significant enough to house some important holy relics in it. The time we visited this church, there was a ceremony going on, which I believe was a death. (this church is also accessible via the southern entrance, from the Piazza del Campidoglio [location]. Also, if this gate is open, you can simply walk over to Altare della Patria.

We completed all the areas mentioned above in 9 hours, when the sky was about to turn dark. It was one of the most exhausting day during the week in Rome.

Day 2 (Rome): Day trip to Pompeii / Naples

Because our Day 2 falls on a Saturday, we signed up for a day trip to Pompeii / Naples, just to avoid the weekend crowd at Rome. Back during my planning, I surveyed a few tour sites and discovered that the Viator deal was the cheapest, and had the best overall review. It was actually operated by a local Italian tour company called City Wonders – which provides excellent tour services. Its tour agents are professionals and know their shit well. During our trip, the 2 guides took turns to continuously chat with the bus driver, trying to keep him alert, a strategy I believe was to ensure that he’d not feel tired and dozes off – which I’ve seen many a times during my travels in other places. I would highly recommend this company if you intend to book a day tour anywhere – City Wonders – deals might be even cheaper if you were to book directly from the site instead of through Viator. (I, not knowing this before, booked the day trip through Viator [link])

Here’s the itinerary copied from Viator:

- Day trip to Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii from Rome with an expert guide
– Hike up the side of the volcano and walk along its ridge, gazing into the crater
– Drink in dramatic views over the Bay of Naples
– Experience the world-famous Napolitan pizza
– In the winter season (late November to March), enjoy a visit to the City of Naples, with its regal architecture and timeless traditions, all set against the backdrop of Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii is best appreciated in good weather. We were fortunate enough to be able to experience this day trip with a clear blue sky. Pompeii itself was amazing, and the short stop at Port of Naples was very pleasant (see the cover pic of Day 2). This day trip took around 12 hours (transportation by bus) to complete. By the time we’ve reached back to Rome, it was already 8 – 9pm. We still had time to walk around Via Del Corso [location], which is damn happening at night with all the Christmas lighting already put up in late November.

Day 3 (Rome): Appian Way, Aqueduct Park, Spanish Steps, Via Del Condotti

Day 3 fell on a Sunday for us, and was the only failed day we had. The day required a good weather to execute, and we did not have enough good days to trade for so, I made an impromptu change of plan to go for shopping instead. We had a luggage problem (was damaged by the airline), and needed a new bag so, we took the day off to hunt for bags and souvenirs (it was a Black Friday week and there were crazy sales everywhere, which was also a coincident). Anyway, following would be the places we planned to visit for that Sunday (it has to be a Sunday to work)

Appian Way [location] – Appian Way can be regarded as the world’s first highway, dated back when there weren’t cars but horse carts around. The Appian way goes all the way from Rome to the coast of south east Italy, to a port where they can sail to Greece. On a Sunday, the road would be closed to traffic, and one can rent a bicycle there to roam around its ancient cobblestone highway. Going there by foot is a bit too far, so one will need to get there by bus. We’d start from Appia Antica Caffe [location], and walk westwards towards a few POIs on the way (cycle, if you so decide to rent a bike).

Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella [location] – A mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, one of the VIPs back in BC [wiki]. A short stop for sightseeing.

Catacombe di San Callisto [location] – Then a short walk to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus [wiki]. Allows entry (for a fee of EUR 8) to the catacombs beneath the structure – to see how the ancient folks were interred in underground levels, stacked pigeon hole style. (If you’ve been playing games such as Diablo or Skyrim, you’d know what this is…).

Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis [location] – Small church, may seem insignificant but houses something holy – Jesus’ footprint (at least that’s what they believed). Not something you’d want to miss if you’re in the area, so this was in the plan.

Aqueduct Park [location] – Going from Appian Way to this location requires bus/metro with a couple of exchanges (exit from Subaugusta metro and then walk). There’s also a route that allows you to cycle to it via shortcuts, if that’s your thing (requires a bike return though, back to Appian Way – bitch of a plan). It’s a park that has the remains of ancient Roman aqueduct (old ways of bringing fresh water to the city). Quite a view, requires a clear day to be enjoyable. If goes well, would take a couple hours to appreciate the area.

Spanish Steps [location] – From the Aqueduct Park, you can take the subway all the way to Spagna (Spanish Steps). That’ll take you right on top of the hill, just right outside the church – Trinità dei Monti [location]. In front of the church, is the famed Spanish Steps [wiki], which offers a great view of the streets below (cover pic below was taken during the shopping excursion, which was taken from Via Dei Condotti [location], with the church in view at the end of the street).

Shop till dark around the Spagna area, then get a nice dinner before calling it a day.

Day 4 (Rome): Trastevere, Gianicolo

Day 4 was Trastevere for us. This is a free standing day, meaning, it can be swapped around any other day to suit other weather dependent days. For Trastevere, it was easy for us. It’s meant as a walk-and-discover day, so nothing’s really fixed in place. Trastevere is famed for its narrow and old streets, with cheaper food options than the center of Rome. It’s opposite the River Tiber, and is located south from the Vatican City. A lot of the locals eat here, as the price is generally cheaper (EUR 6 – 7 for a regular whole pizza), food more original. Here, you can just hop into any restaurant that doesn’t employ a guy standing outside pestering you to patronize them, and it’s usually good. Following would be the key places I planned to cover on a Trastevere day.

Campo de’ Fiori [location] – The first stop before crossing the river – Campo de’ Fiori [wiki], which is a market in the morning, and a watering hole areas at night. The place reminded me a lot of Chowrasta in Penang, except that Chowrasta is much much bigger. You’d see vendors selling fresh food and pasta, some even souvenirs. The pasta seem cheap but, the locals do not recommend buying anything from here so, it’s just for the experience.

Ponte Sisto [location] – Walk through the streets around Campo de’ Fiori towards Ponte Sisto [wiki] to cross the river. Just take any alley that fancies your interest. The 500 over years old pedestrian-only bridge offers a great view of River Tiber (see cover pic for Day 4).

Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere [location] – Head on in to this basilica. In my opinion, it is one of the most charming basilica around in Rome. Seriously I think it’s even better than the big famous St Peter’s Basilica. This one has little amber colored windows in it, and when the sun shines at the building in a certain angle, the place will glow up in gold like a scene in Indiana Jones. It’s just too charming and I had a field day in it with my camera.

From here on, just wander towards the east side of Trastevere, and then southwards to just enjoy the streets around. We stopped by at a shop for some takeaway food during the walk. Shop’s rough location is here – it has no name but just a small inconspicuous ‘pizza’ sign, right next to a Conad supermarket exit. Sells very nice suppli (rice ball with cheese) and pizzas here.

Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio [location] – From the suppli place, we head on northwest towards Gianicolo hill, and visited this St Peter’s church [wiki]. Spend some time to roam around the church and admire some of its artworks.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola [location] – Further northwest, is this fountain which begs for your attention. It’s somewhat historically significant [wiki], although it’s not as nice as the Trevi Fountain or those fountains in Piazza Navona, but for me, it’s the killer view in front of it that’s more interesting.

Gianicolo (Janiculum) [location] – It’s one of the 7 hills of Rome, and has the best view of the city (viewpoint). The walk towards this hill is like a hike, and will take you to a piazza called Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi. There’s a monument to the guy right at the center of the piazza. The walk and hike from the day should tire you out enough to let you sit there to enjoy the view for quite a while. If you have brought food, this would serve as a perfect picnic spot. When we were there, there were a few blokes in tux who brought a bottle of champagne, probably celebrating some milestone in life.

After the hill, you can choose to walk back down to Trastevere to stay for dinner, or back to where your lodging to call it a day. For us, we went for some souvenirs hunting.

Day 5 (Rome): The Vatican City : Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, and a Rome trip will not be complete without it. It’s the center of the Catholic Church, some people regard a visit to the Vatican City as a pilgrimage for their faith. I dedicated the entire day to Vatican City, because after spending time in the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica, you’ll basically have no energy left to go other places.

Vatican Museums [location] – Vatican Museums, is not a museum. It’s a collection of many museums in one. Note the plurality of the 2nd word. The place is FUCKING HUGE. I’d say, once you’re out of that place, you’re going to feel sick of museums. It has basically everything about Christianity in there. Artworks, statues, carvings, frescoes, you name it. There’s a map for you to guide yourself in there, so, just grab one. Don’t bother about getting one of those ‘skip the line tickets’ from one of those street d-bags out there (they’re out to scam your ass) because there’s basically no such thing. The only skip the line that one can get, is to bypass the ticket purchase line – just by simply purchasing the online ticket reservation via the Musei Vaticani official website. With just a printout from the online purchase, you can then skip the line to the inside, and get your tickets there. No lines. There is, however, a version of skip the line at a premium, which allows one to enter the place 30 minutes before the opening, bypassing the crowd (the entrance location is here). Then from the inside, you’re on your own. Can opt for a guided tour or simply pay to get one of those audio guides (which is better). If you’re an art fanatic, you can easily spend 5 – 6 hours in there, listening to the audio guide explaining every piece of work in there. I am not an art fanatic but I manage to kill about 3.5 hours there, having walked every corner inside. I could only spot a handful of works which I know – a few Caravaggio’s, a piece of Van Gogh, and an unfinished work of Da Vinci.

Sistine Chapel [location] – The venture in Vatican Museums ends at the Sistine Chapel, which is the most important structure within the large cluster of complexes. In the game Civilization V, the Sistine Chapel generates a whopping +25% culture points of all your cities in your control (the culture points expands your borders, which could mean additional natural resources). The chapel has its ceilings adorned with frescoes, most famous was the ceiling work which was done by Michelangelo – master artist who had mad skills in sculpturing and painting – which ‘The Creation of Adam’ was originally painted (it wasn’t very big but if you have seen it, it’s depicting Adam reaching out to God, who is in this blob of thing filled with other humanly figures – which looks like the silhouette of a human brain if you look at it from a broader view. Brilliant hidden message of ‘God only exists in our brain…’ I’m an atheist so, this means a lot to me and I like that). The Sistine Chapel isn’t very big so, you can choose to sit around to admire the frescoes (it’s usually very crowded).

Upon completion of the Sistine Chapel, one can take an exit back towards the entrance, or if you’re in a tour group, you can actually exit directly to St Peter’s Basilica (which I failed to locate, need to ask around). If you’re to exit via the main entrance, you’ll have to make your way around the wall to be able to get to St Peter’s Square.

St. Peter’s Square [location] – The large square [wiki] is the main entrance to the world’s biggest basilica – the St Peter’s Basilica. The square is where the Pope would hold public audiences, and it could hold as much people as the Queen’s performance during the Live Aid. To enter the basilica, one goes to the right side of the square, where you’d see lines of people going through security check to enter the basilica. I spent about 30 minutes dicking around the square, before queuing up to enter the basilica.

St Peter’s Basilica [location] – The world’s biggest church, aka the tomb of St Peter (who was Jesus’ direct report and also the first Pope), is ornately decorated and everything inside is just grand (see cover pic for Day 5). Takes time to absorb in the grandiosity of the place, and taking pictures is hard unless you have ultra wide lens. Entry is free, but one has to pay if choose to scale up the stairs to the top of the dome, which offers a panoramic view of the Vatican City, and Rome in general. (we didn’t do it, too exhausted from the day’s walk). There’s also a statue sculpted by Michelangelo himself, to the right side after the entrance called ‘Pieta’, which is a remarkable piece of work.

Castel Sant’Angelo [location] – Once out of the basilica, one can choose to further explore along the area for food, or if have enough energy to spare, maybe head over to Castel Sant’Angelo nearby, which itself is a tomb for one of Rome’s emperor called Hadrian [wiki] (I jokingly told my daughter that Hadrian stands for Hungry Adrian). The place charges an entrance fee, and one can see more artworks inside (if you’re still not already sick of seeing more arts after a visit to Vatican Museums).

Day 6 (Rome): Pyramide, Orange Garden, Jewish Ghetto, Pantheon

It’s a walking and free standing day. Like Trastevere, the day is to roam and discover and can be swapped out with any other day depending on weather. Could be a short day or a long day, depending on a person’s travel style. Because it is a walking day, one is free to choose what time to start the itinerary.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius [location] – It’s a real pyramid and a real tomb [wiki]. Was built in BC and surprisingly, still in very good condition with smooth marble surface, unlike those in Giza which were built with limestone finishes that had worn off over the centuries. It’s very much smaller in size and can be accessible via the Protestant Cemetery entrance here (the cemetery itself is a charming place, with a lot of cats because there’s a cat sanctuary nearby. Also grave of a few famous poets if that’s your kind of thing).

Eataly Roma [location] – Walking distance away, is this franchised joint [wiki] called Eataly Roma, which houses Rome’s (or Italy’s, for that matter) famed food choice under one roof. It’s like a mall for food. You can buy cooked food there, wine and other packaged food as souvenirs. We did not visit this place because it was too early in the morning when we came out so, we skipped it.

Knights of Malta Keyhole [location] – Plan to walk towards the Knights of Malta Keyhole, basically just a green door with a very unique keyhole for you to peek (you’d recognize it with the worn out surface surrounding the keyhole, from the chafing and contact of thousands of peekers who had peeked into the keyhole). From the keyhole, one could see St Peter’s Basilica dome right at the center, which is a unique experience [wiki].

Basilica dei Santi Bonifacio e Alessio [location] – While walking east, stop by this basilica for some sightseeing. There’s a garden right next to the basilica which offers a great view of the city of Rome (this is situated on a hill, by the way).

Giardino degli Aranci [location] – Further down the road, is this beautiful serene park called ‘Orange Garden’ [wiki], which offers the same view of the city of Rome. When we visited, there were people there just walking around there relaxing, walking their dogs et al. 2 of the dogs then came to play with my daughter Regine, great place with a view.

Circus Maximus [location] – Even further down the road, past the Rose Garden (which you can skip), one reaches the main road called Via Del Circo Massimo, which of course, is named after the world’s biggest stadium ever built – the Circus Maximus [wiki], which is located right opposite the road from the direction of Rose Garden. The site is now just a piece of empty land of what it used to be, but one can still see how massive this whole thing is (it was used as a venue for chariot race, equivalent of a NASCAR event in ancient Rome). There’s a view point to oversee the whole area here.

Bocca della Verità [location] – Northwest from the Circus Maximus, is this popular place called ‘The Mouth of Truth’, made popular by Audrey Hepburn’s movie ‘The Roman Holiday’. Story has it that it’s a magical lie detector. Make a statement and put your hand in its mouth, if the statement is a lie, you’d lose the hand or something like that. The place is so popular, that there’s always a queue of people wanting to take pictures with it. The exit would take you inside the basilica Santa Maria in Cosmedin [location] (which is just an ordinary looking building).

Forum Boarium [location] – Opposite Bocca della Verità is Forum Boarium [wiki], a small park that is a site that has existed since BC and used to be Rome’s first gladiator ring. There are 2 historically significant buildings in here – the Temple of Hercules [location] and Temple of Manly Fortune [location] – both buildings are more than 2000 years old.

Theatre of Marcellus archaeological site [location] – The archeological site in front of Theatre of Marcellus [wiki] is just a short walk from Forum Boarium. The Theatre of Marcellus from far, is often mistaken as the Colosseum building but is located at a different area (see cover pic for Day 6). There’s a footpath near the north side of the theater [location], which you can walk across to Portico d’Ottavia [wiki]. Along the footpath, you’d also see the ruins of Temple of Apollo Sosianus [wiki].

Tempio Maggiore di Roma [location] – Otherwise known as the Great Synagogue of Rome [wiki], is located just a stone’s throw away from the end of the Theatre of Marcellus archaeological site footpath. This whole place (from the beginning of that footpath onwards), is tacitly known as ‘The Jewish Ghetto’ – which used to be a walled place specifically for the Jews community, who were persecuted and lived in poverty inside these locked walls. Now the ghetto is just narrow little charming streets (pretty much like Trastevere) and the walls no longer around, with the synagogue building gleaming almost gold colored and very eye catching. One can pay a fee to enter the museum housed inside to see the Jewish artifacts.

Largo di Torre Argentina [location] – Roaming around the ghetto, make an effort to visit these ruins [wiki]. This was where Julius Caesor got assassinated. Now, there’s just ruins of temples around the area. What’s interesting was, the number of cats in these ruins (which are protected by the Roman government) – which was said to appear from all around when the archaeological site was first discovered. My daughter and I spent quite a while here counting the number of cats in the ruins, while my wife scoured around for souvenirs. There was also a great cheap pizza shop here – Florida Pizza – which you can snack on.

Basilica di Sant’Andrea della Valle [location] – Once you’re done with the ruins, pizza and cats, get out of the ghetto towards this basilica for a drop-by to admire this building. Amazing basilica with gold colored interior [wiki].

San Luigi dei Francesi [location] – From Basilica di Sant’Andrea della Valle, go north to this church – Church of St. Louis of the French [wiki], another great looking church to admire while you’re in the area. (Seriously, Rome is full of churches/basilica like this, and they’re all awesome – for me, I’d just pick the significant ones, otherwise, it’d take a very long time to explore Rome if you were to walk in every church/basilica you come across… you see).

Pantheon [location] – From St. Louis the French, head east wards until you came to this very old building – The Pantheon. The most amazing building (in my opinion) of all Rome. Hell, not even St. Peter’s Basilica can lay shit on the Pantheon. In the old days, the Romans demolished pagan temples and places of worship during their conquering spree, and ‘relocated’ all of their empire’s ‘Gods’ to Rome, inside the Pantheon, in the bid to win loyalty to the empire. You can imagine it like it was a country club for Gods. Pilgrims of various faith from all over would visit the capital for their Gods inside the Pantheon. The original building was built in the BC (2000 over years ago), but was destroyed by fire again and again (the Gods duking out with each other, perhaps). The final form was built to last, and has a mind blowingly huge motherfucking dome, which still holds the record of the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world [wiki]. It’s unbelievable that people could build such thing 2000 years ago… whilst those boneheads in my workplace can’t even fix a fucking leaking gutter…

You can call it a day after the Pantheon. If you’re not too exhausted, you can perhaps spend the evening hopping cafes or simply just continue on to the streets to shop for gifts, souvenirs or snacks (or gelato!)

Day 7 (Rome): Piazza del Popolo, Borghese Garden/Gallery/Museum, Via del Corso, Trevi fountain, more churches…

Piazza del Popolo [location] – It’s a large square [wiki] flanked by several rather beautiful churches (feel free to enter). But the most important thing was the huge Egyptian obelisk smack dab in the middle of the square [wiki], one of the few large ones in Rome. This one in particular, is older than the Pantheon itself so, be amazed. Before continuing with the itinerary, you can opt to have some breakfast at a nearby joint called ‘Mondo Arancina’ [location] which serves the most fucking amazing suppli (rice balls with cheese) in Rome.

Terrazza del Pincio [location] – From Piazza del Popolo, head east up the hill towards Terrazza del Pincio, a short stop before continuing to the park behind. This is a viewpoint (a balcony, actually), overlooking the city of Rome (see cover pic for Day 7). Place is located in the park called Pincio, which is a recreation area like Penang’s Youth Park or something.

Pincio [location] – The park behind the balcony viewpoint, which itself is a serene park for a peaceful walk and for enjoying the breeze.

Villa Borghese gardens [location] – If you were to walk further northeast on Via dell’Obelisco [location], you’d come to the Villa Borghese gardens. This place is like, damn fucking huge so, it is important to plot out your route prior coming here (it’s just too big to simply roam around aimlessly). It’s a beautiful park owned by an influential (art collecting) family called Borghese.

Galleria Borghese [location] – An exquisite art museum in the gardens (Borgheses’ own art collection) – tickets have to be reserved in advance otherwise would be refused entry (just google around how to do that). Touted as the best art museum in the world [wiki], it is said to be mind blowingly awesome. (we did not enter though, as we’re not really art fanatics. Besides, we were still sick of arts or museum exhibits from the overdosage at the Vatican Museums). If you’re into arts, this will make you cum in your pants.

Basilica di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte [location] – Once done with park / museum, head back towards Piazza del Popolo, and head south east on either one of the shopping streets. If you use Via del Babuino [location], you’d come across the Spanish Steps again. If you have not already took enough photos there, this is another chance to do it. Basilica di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte [wiki] is located just a stone’s throw from Spanish Steps.

Trevi Fountain [location] – The famed Trevi Fountain is just nearby [wiki]. Nothing special about the fountain other than it’s a recognizable landmark, and there are shitloads of people there. There were a few incidents in the past where people actually jumped into the fountain naked, but mostly, it’s just tourists taking pictures. There are also people throwing coins over their shoulders into the fountain for blessing/luck, which is said to amount to thousands per day (proceeds will go to charity).

Churches - There are a few in the area that’s worth visiting. We did about 3 – 4 of them, amongst them – San Marcello al Corso [location], Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola [location], a couple more which I forgot.

Il Tempio di Adriano [location] – There’s also the Il Tempio di Adriano (remnants of a temple) [wiki] which is worth a couple of photo ops.

Piazza di Monte Citorio area [location] – A few POIs nearby this square – Obelisk of Montecitorio [location], Column of Marcus Aurelius [location], also the Galleria Alberto Sordi [location] which is a tiny mall which has some boutiques in it.

Piazza Navona area [location] – Piazza Navona [wiki] is a rather large square, and there are many eateries and gelateria around the area (although I’d advise against patronizing any restaurants at piazzas – expensive). There are buskers, street performers, often artists performing in the square. The fountains are lovely, and there is always a crowd there, even more so when it’s nighttime, when the place lights up. Also, make a point to visit Sant’Agnese in Agone [location], which is quite a beauty [wiki].

This concludes the 7 days itinerary for Rome. Our flight wasn’t due until the day after day 7, so we had time to stay till way after dark.

michaelooi  | places  | 

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