Travel: There’s just no place like RomeBy Vicky Smith
August 24, 2011
After becoming hooked on Italian ice cream and getting a taste of the fascinating sights the country has to offer, we departed Venice to explore Rome.
Home to Vatican City and its multitude of museums filled with priceless art, the Colosseum and countless galleries and other remnants of the Roman Empire, this is a city that can keep your travel schedule jam-packed for a week and still you will have only scratched the surface.
Rome not only offers visitors a wealth of historic sights, with art, culture and amazingly preserved reminders of how grand the empire was, but its modern vibe and social scene rivals that of London for its liveliness and variety.
We stayed about 15 minutes outside of Vatican City at the Visconti Palace. This hotel is popular with visiting corporate types, however also offers a stylish place to stay for tourists slightly away from the beaten track.
The proximity to the Vatican and Piazza San Pietro is extremely handy, while the hotel’s roof garden offers an oasis away from the bustling city where you can sip on prosecco and sample food from the barbecue.
Visitors are spoilt for choice on where to start in Rome, however the essential places to check out are the Colosseum and Vatican museums. These provide a good start to any itinerary, however other worthwhile stops include the Borghese Gallery, after which you can take a stroll through the park in which the gallery sits.
The Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel, takes up pretty much an entire day however well worth the time spent. Entry is 15 euros each and it is most definitely worth booking in advance online at www.biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/.
Similarly for galleries and sights such as the Colosseum and Palatine Hill it is worth booking in advance as waiting in queues in Rome’s hot summers could sap your much-needed energy.
The Roma Pass offers transport and entry to two museums for free, as well as queue jump privileges to other locations. Visit www.romapass.it to order, you won’t regret it.
After all this city exploration it was time to slow the pace a little on our Italian excursion.
The Amalfi Coast is renowned as one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Europe, and it does not disappoint.
Miles of cliffs dotted with trees and homes and hotels that boggle the mind as to how they were built in such precarious positions, as well as roads snaking along the seafront, make this an impressive sight to behold. We stayed in the port town of Salerno, a good position for exploring the rest of the Amalfi Coast without paying the high tourist prices of towns such as Amalfi or Capri.
From here, you can take a boat trip along the coast to one or all of its many coastal villages and towns, or catch a train to Pompeii and explore the ruins of a town that was both destroyed and remarkably preserved by Vesuvius when it erupted in 79AD.
Once our exploration of Italy was over, we departed with sadness, but knowing our journey home would be a simple one, catching the overnight train from Rome to Paris and then connecting to London.
Whether you are looking for a one-stop trip in Italy or planning a whistle-stop tour of its many fascinating regions, travelling by train will keep you on track for a fascinating, and easy-going, exploration of this country’s ancient and modern attractions.
- Train tickets to Italy, including Eurostar to Paris, can be purchased from Rail Europe at www.raileurope.co.uk. Prices for the overnight train between Paris and Rome or Venice start at £62 return for a seat in a six-berth couchette and go up to £284 each return for a two-person sleeper cabin. Eurostar fares are £69 return for a second class seat.
- For more tips on travelling through Europe by train, I would thoroughly recommend www.seat61.com for advice on the various routes you can take.
- Vicky stayed at Venice’s Ca Maria Adele hotel, visit website www.camariaadele.hotelinvenice.com, and the Visconti Palace in Rome, visit www.visconti