When Romulus and Remus wandered around the streets of ancient Rome, it’s likely that they would have captured a glimpse of what we should all be appreciating today. The legendary founders of Rome clearly saw something spectacular about this city and of course, visitors to Italy’s capital reap the benefits of the rich iconography and ancient history that oozes throughout the streets of Rome.
But before you start thinking this post is going to be another typical reflection on why you should visit the Colosseum or Palatine Hill by taking a typical walk around ancient Rome, this is anything but that type of story. Instead, we want to share some of the experiences we encountered while taking a leisurely stroll around the back streets of Rome. This is when you see the ‘real’ city away from the hustle and bustle of tourist hot-spots.
Our First Impression
Arriving at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport following our short flight from Birmingham, we headed to downtown Rome aboard the local train. After alighting from the train at the Termini station and heading outside the impressive building (it certainly gives Grand Central Station in New York City a run for its money in terms of architectural brilliance), we followed our GPS towards our humble abode for the next three nights.
We were both immediately blown away by the beauty of Rome and this was just an impression at night with limited visibility. Even though we couldn’t identify the intricate details that typify Rome’s gorgeous grandeur, we did capture enough of an impression that excited us about the next few days exploring this city.
It’s worth noting that the walk from the train station to our hotel was about 20 minutes, and at no point did we feel unsafe despite our unfamiliar surroundings. A quick bite to eat in a delicious local pizzeria was certainly a welcoming to Rome that we had hoped for.
After hearing all of the hype about Italian cuisine, we were ready for an authentic experience and we didn’t leave disappointed. A local food tour in Venice or a cooking class in Florence may be appealing to other visitors to Italy but for us, it was all about hitting some of the best local establishments in the Italian capital.
After relaxing in our quaint hotel in the heart of downtown Rome, we planned our self-guided walking tour for the next day and drifted off to sleep excited about what lie ahead of us.
Architecture on the Streets of Rome
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”…that saying is so true especially when you look at the impressive architecture lining the streets of this ancient city. The Romans were the true masters of creating iconic architecture, just look at all those Roman ruins around the Colosseum and you will understand what I am talking about.
Walking along the streets of Rome we were able to appreciate the modern day version of Roman architecture, yet still maintaining a distinctive reflection on Italian Renaissance style.
As we strolled around the idyllic and picturesque ‘vicoli’ (alleys), we noticed the urban architecture that typifies this part of the world. Colorful and vibrant facades combined with the aforementioned intricate details ensures that these back streets maintain their timeless charm. How could you ever get bored of exploring these narrow, cobblestone streets? The simple answer…NEVER!
Much of Rome is preserved through the history and deep roots of the Romans that are reflected inside these buildings. However, we also capture a sense of Italian splendor through the variety of iconic fountains, memorials and minor details that Italy seems to do better than any other nation that we have visited.
All too often you hear people say that “it’s the little things that matter”, well Rome certainly followed this philosophy to the smallest detail when designing all of the architecture throughout the city. Even a water fountain close to the Vatican City is far superior to anything I have ever seen before!
Any aspirations you have when visiting Rome that you will be rewarded with appetizing cuisine options will always come true if you are prepared to go out of your comfort zone and sample those local, back street restaurants.
From local bistros serving cappuccino and other stereotypical Italian espressos to delectable pasta cafes serving the finest spaghetti bolognese, you will find the best of the best in Rome.
After sampling this fine Italian cuisine, we were ready to experience local ‘gelati’ which for anyone with a sweet tooth will simply take your breath away. This is the finest ice cream around and after sampling gelato in the States and falling in love with this, we were ready to experience the ‘real deal’.
From Local Italian Markets to Historic Castles
The beauty of walking around Rome and simply allowing yourselves to get lost in the city is that you never quite know what you may stumble across next. Of course, Rome is a pretty large city to cover, but it’s a great ‘walking city’. As we walked past the Mausoleum of Hadrian, locally known as Castel Sant’Angelo, we stumbled across our first Italian open-air market on the banks of the Tiber.
Local, homemade souvenirs and Italian delicacies are items worth purchasing, but it’s the overall atmosphere of walking through these markets that is the most rewarding experience.
The views across the River Tiber are stunning, especially with the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica inside the Vatican City surely inspiring you to set aside some time to make a return trip to explore the world’s smallest country.
Rome is a city that you can’t help but love! The moment you step off the plane or train, you are embraced in a city full of history and it’s apparent everywhere you look. Cities like Rome are proud to preserve the ancient history that is stereotypical of the Roman era.
I really do believe that you have to go off the beaten path and explore those hidden back alleys and streets of Rome to fully appreciate the beauty here. We barely touched the surface given that we only spent a couple of days in Rome, and I have to admit that even though we loved our time exploring those ‘hot’ tourist attractions, the best experiences were during the time we spent wandering around the back streets of Rome without really having any clue where we were heading.
What are your experiences of Rome? Did you fall in love with this city or did you leave just a little underwhelmed? We realize that everyone has a different perspective on cities around the world, so please feel free to share your experiences on Rome!