In 2014, we started to test out our backpacking muscles by going on a two-week whirlwind tour of France and Italy. We struggled getting all we wanted to take into our bags which are the same ones we plan to take round the world! I have no idea how we’ll cope for an entire year.
Our last stop was Rome. You may notice that I was as red as a lobster by this point in the trip, so Sun Cream will definitely be making it onto our packing list.
By the time we got to Rome, we were so shattered! It was our seventh city in about 10 days, which is absolutely NOT the way to travel. We had seen all the major tourist sights, but I now regret not spending more time feeling like a local, or just sitting in a cafe people watching.
We went to the Roman Forum. It’s crazy to experience different layers of history right before your eyes. You imagine it’s all just ‘history’, but there are structures in the Forum that were history to people thousands of years ago.
Obviously one of the most famous buildings in Rome is the Colosseum, which is just a magnificent feat of engineering. It is gigantic, and you can still feel the atmosphere that it would have had when filled, like a football stadium. But one where people were cooking and gambling, trading and chatting.
In the middle of Rome is a set of Roman ruins that are interesting enough in themselves, but the thing that makes Largo di Torre Argentina special (and of course why we went there on three separate occasions), are the cats!
That’s right. There is a Cat Shelter under the pavement at one corner of the square. It provides warmth, food and veterinary care to the stray cats of Rome. Most of them lie in the sun on the ruins, safe from passers-by who cannot access the square. A few of them like to interact with the public, for tummy rubs and playing with dangling string.
As I said, we hit up the major sites in Rome, and this had to have made it onto the list: The Vatican.
St Peter’s Basilica is another breathtaking sight. If you’re anything like me though, and just a little squeamish, make sure you have your eyes cast upwards. Admire the meticulous artwork on the ceiling, instead of turning your attention to the memorials (and corpses) of long-dead popes at ground level.
We also visited the Vatican Museums, which was a perfectly pleasant experience, and worth it just to say we’d been to the Sistine Chapel. As I’ve mentioned before though, we’re not really ‘art’ people, and I thought the most beautiful thing in the whole place was this staircase (massive engineering geek here!).
So there we have it, our Best Of: Rome. All in all, we were gutted to be back on the plane to England, but D had run out of clean pants.
Veggie Rating: 3/5. I’m sure we could have tried a little harder to find some really good food, but we were so exhausted by then I just craved pizza and beer every night. There was a really nice sandwich shop just outside the Vatican that did a huge range of tasty meat and non-meat sandwiches.