Rather than staying in the Italian capital itself, I was staying in a villa in the seaside town of Sperlonga. Visiting family in the nearby city of Fondi was the main purpose of the visit. But with Rome being just a short train ride away from this area, it would be crazy not to go and explore the one city I had always dreamed of visiting. Even if we did had just over 12 hours until our flight back to Heathrow...

Is it possible to see a large handful of Rome's best bits in less than a day. Possible? yes. Tiring?...yes.

In 35 degree heat and the travel method of choice being on foot it was an incredibly exhausting day. I think I racked up about 25,000 steps on my fitness tracker. But walking gave me a real taste of the culture, walking from roman ruins through to modern streets filled with shops was a feast for the eyes in this whistle-stop tour of the Eternal City.

We started at Rome Termini, the main train station, where we left our luggage in the hold facilities in the station. This cost about 30 euros to be held for the day which was perfect for us as we were getting the coach to the airport from just outside the station at the end of the day.

We set off on foot from the station towards the centre of the city. It took about 20 minutes through quirky little back alleys and side streets laced with markets and street food stalls to reach our first destination.

The Colosseum

The first stop had to be the most recognisable landmark in the city. The first introduction to the landmark was walking through the Oppian Hill Park, a public garden filled with marble sculptures, statues and fountains.  The park was built in 1800's as part of the 'urban reorganisation that followed the establishment of Rome as the capital city of Italy'.  It was busy with people having picnic, leisurely strolls and we even walked through a film set! There's a central avenue that leads down the middle of the park to the Colosseum, that acts as a majestic entrance and the perfect photo backdrop. We couldn't resist our own mini photoshoot here...

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go inside the Colosseum. But the views were enough for us, we were mesmerised and stayed for around an hour just doing a few laps around site. Built between 70-80AD, it was the largest amphitheatre in the world at the time of construction holding around 50,000-80,000 spectators.  The oval ampitheatre was used for gladiator contests, animal hunts, executions, reenactments of famous battles a d dramas based on classical mythology. Seeing something that was built so long ago was truly surreal. Something that slightly ruined the mood though was the sheer amount of street sellers trying to flog tacky merchandise every 2 minutes. I didn't give in, but my mum ended up with one of those pretty Chinese oil-paper parasols... just what you'd want as a souvenir from an ancient roman monument. Nonetheless, this has to be NUMBER ONE on your Rome bucket list, even if you do as I did and just admire from the outside.

Roman Forum

Just past the Colosseum we found the Roman Forum. It's a rectangular forum (plaza) made up of several ruined government building from approximately . It was the centre of day-to-day life in Ancient Rome. What once stood here was temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces. What we are left with today is mainly foundations and columns. I didn't get chance to go in, but just standing on the public path overlooking the forum gave breathtaking views. There are also many statues that line the path, including one of Julius Caesar, who was actually buried in the Temple of Caesar within the Roman Forum. 

Credit: Unsplash

Piazza Venezia

Walking a little further on from the Roman Forum led us to the Piazza Venezia. When I first saw it I was absolutely amazed at the size of it! It practically took up the whole of the skyline. The huge white building was built between 1885 and 1911. It was built to celebrate the unity of Italy in 1870 and to honour the first kind of Italy, Vittoria Emanuele II (1878) whose bronze equestrian statue sits directly in the centre front of the Piazza Venezia. We stumbled across this building a few times that day as we got lost down some side streets thanks to my impressive navigation skills... 

Credit: Unsplash

A little bit of wandering...

We were on our way to the Trevi Fountain, but found cute little shops, bars and markets so we had a bit of a pitstop. We saw a sign for a rooftop bar so jumped at the chance to see a good view and a large glass of vino. I can't remember the name of the bar and can't seem to find it anywhere on google! But it was lovely and quiet and offered views of the orange, sand coloured buildings and their garden terraces. It had quirky little interior features like big buddha heads and the Mona Lisa on a door... 

Big Buddha lamp decor

Mona Lisa doorway

Surrounding the Trevi Fountain there were rows of little tourist shops. We couldn't stay away from the liquor shops that offered free tastings! Bottles came in all shapes and sizes such as the Italy boot shape and some more provocative shapes as seen in the first picture below... Belgian chocolate, pistachio and strawberry and cream were just a few flavours on offer. And I walked away with a banana one to take back to England. 

Trevi Fountain 

This was one of the most crowded tourist spots in Rome that day. It was HEAVING. As if it wasn't hot enough. But this fountain is definitely the most elaborate one I have ever seen. It  was so beautiful. The site was originally an acquit that provided pure water for Ancient Rome from around 19 BC. It was made a fountain in 1732. According to legend, throwing a coin into the fountain will ensure you return to the Eternal city. Of course I had to throw in a euro if It gave me a higher change of coming back! Roughly €3,000 is thrown in to the fountain each day, this mounted up to around €1.4 million dollar In 2016. People have tried to steal money from the water, which is illegal to do so. I sat on the wall that surrounds the fountain and dipped my finger in the water for a short relief from the heat and was immediately shouted at by security... 

Spanish Steps

I must admit, Spanish Steps wasn't on my list of places to see. My mum was the one who insisted on the stop. I'm glad we did though because it's a really  lovely part of Rome and the atmosphere was amazing. Tons of tourists were sat on the steps taking a few minutes downtime with a gelato in hand. Although now there is a law stopping people from sitting and if caught you could face a hefty fine of €250. They opened in 1725 and boast 136 steps up to Piazza Trinità dei Monti and the Trinità dei Monti church. I miraculously managed to get a picture of me walking up the steps with not a tourist in sight... 

Vatican City, St Peter's Basilica 

We walked through the city and a long the River Tiber, which was lined with art and book markets, to reach the Vatican. This was our end goal. Vatican City is an independent city state encapsulated by Rome. It became independent from Italy in 1929. It is ruled by the Pope. Within the city lies various cultural and historic sites like St. Peter's Basilica, the largest in the world, and the Sistine Chapel, which is home to Michalangeolo's ceiling famous painted ceiling
Aerial view of St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square