All roads lead to Rome (part B)

The previous week, we explored the ancient side of Rome, when it was the capital of the great Roman Empire. Now we will move forward to the Renaissance era, admire its magnificent creations that we find across the city and afterwards we will see the modern Rome.
St Pauls Rome Vatican River Sunset Tiber

Saint Peter's Basilica as seen at dusk from the Tiber river

During the Renaissance, Rome was one of the most important cities not only in Mediterranean area but in the entire Europe. Many artists, who were in the Pope's service, were based in the city of central Italy and created many works that adorn even today every street of Rome. For this reason, Vatican City attracts many visitors. It is arguably the only place in the world with so many masterpieces in such a small space. Starting your tour in the smallest independent state in the world, you will definitely spend a lot of time in St. Peter's Square. It was designed by Bernini in the 17th century and in the middle of it there is a huge obelisk, which was moved here from ancient Egypt and it was built more than 4000 years ago!


Saint Peter's square, with the 0belisk and the Basilica

Right behind stands the most characteristic building of the state: the Basilica of Saint Peter (Basilica Sancti Petri). The largest church in the world gained its current form in 1626 and has a long history. Under the Basilica there is the tomb of Peter, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, while there are also entombed many Popes. Moreover, inside the Basilica you can find many chapels. But what will amaze you more is the artistic side of it. Some of the leading architects of that time contributed to the design, making it a unique creation. Furthermore guests have the opportunity to admire some of the greatest Renaissance's sculptures and paintings, such as Michelangelo's Pieta.


The interior of the cathedral, and the bronze sculpture of Bernini

After the Basilica, you should definitely stop by the famous adjacent Cappella Sistina, where Papal conclaves take place here. It is such a beautiful church decorated with frescoes of Pietro Perugino and Botticelli amongst others, as well as the famous Creation of Adam, work of Michelangelo. Before leaving the Vatican, you can spend several hours in the museums and libraries of the state. Galleries, religious museums and the famous secret Vatican archives, most of which are accessible to the public. Finally, the Swiss Guard and their fancy uniforms will probably amaze you.


The Capella Sistina, with its beautiful frescoes

Returning now to Rome, it's almost impossible to avoid visiting Castel Sant 'Angelo. A cylindrical building that was originally built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, but later used by the popes as a castle, fortress and prison. It offers a stunning city view, and at night it looks even more majestic. In the Trevi district, you will find the most famous fountain in Rome, Fontana di Trevi. "Protagonist" in Dolce Vita by Fellini and an attraction for tourists. But what is so admirable, is the fact that every cathedral of Rome is like a museum. All of them are decorated with works of well known artists and their history is so special (such as Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria dell 'Anima). Also think about the palaces and residences of the nobility of that era, that now host public services (the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Senatorio, etc.), and you will easily understand that it is a city where you will hardly get bored.


The Castel Sant' Angelo

However, Rome is not just visiting archaeological sites and Renaissance buildings. After all you are in the country of pizza, the espresso and famous fashion brands. The Campo de Fiori area in the center is one of the busiest. Located only a few hundred meters from many attractions, you can sit there in a restaurant or trattoria (Italian restaurant) to enjoy the tasteful Italian cuisine or drink a coffee. Of course if you prefer something cheaper, there are countless options to buy street food and eat while sitting in one of the many plazas. And don't forget to try the famous italian gelato, also knows as ice cream. Furthermore. a few decades ago Rome was one of the most vivid capitals of Europe. Apart from Campo de Fiori, in San Lorenzo and Testaccio neighborhoods you will find many bars, clubs and pubs. If you want something more "alternative", Trastevere is a good solution for you. But probably the real fun is in the streets and squares of the city, where the always noisy Italians have fun until late at night. For shopping, in the main streets of Rome there are boutiques and shops of independent designers, various stores, and on Sunday morning there is a flea market called Porta Travese.


Alley in Trastevere, and a traditional trattoria

If you ever want to do this trip, make sure to avoid high - season and winter. So the best periods are March-April and September-October. About the accomodation, you can find either affordable hotels near Piazza di Venezia either stay at a hostel. Be aware of the many pickpockets, and definitely your stay will be pleasant.


An image that you see often in Rome, locals and tourists driving the typical scooter



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