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October, 2016

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We travelled to Rome in October 2016. It is good time of the year for sightseeing as the weather is warm without being too hot.We stayed at the 3-star Hotel Kennedy, which was suitable for our budget. It is located in the centre of the city close to Rome Termini station, which was good for us as we were able to walk to all the main sights and get a metro train back if needed. Also, this was the stop for the Terravision bus from Ciampino airport. The bus runs every 30 minutes and costs 8€ return. The small hotel was clean and comfortable but not luxurious. Even though it is so close to the main transport hub it is sufficiently soundproofed for a good night’s sleep.

We saw all the main sights such as the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Square, the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Campidoglio, Piazza Navons, Piazza di Spagna, St John in Lateran Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore Church, the Roman Forum, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Palazzo delle Esposiizioni, Arco di Costantino, Santa Gregorio Magno, Castell Sant Angelo, Isola Tiberina, the Pantheon and of course the Colosseum. Many tourists had paid to go into the latter, but we found that we could walk around the perimeter of the structure and the Palatino area to see everything.

However, it was well worth the money to pay for the guided tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. We bought our tickets (16€) for the tour from an office on the corner of Via Ottaviano. There was a small group of English tourists assembled,we were presented with a radio and earphones and met our guide. He must have been one of the best because he had an extensive knowledge about the museum and Rome itself. He was over 6ft tall, which was very useful because we could spot him head and shoulders above the multitude as we walked around. Half way through the tour we had a sit down and comfort break which was welcome.When it came to St Peter’s Basilica we had the freedom to stroll around independently.

We found some excellent small restaurants within the streets in the vicinity of Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. The food was good and the service welcoming. There was also a couple of friendly Irish pubs – we liked the Fiddlers Elbow.It was here that we met an English couple who had a cautionary tale to tell.They had wanted to take a ride on a horse drawn carriage and picked an operator whose horse looked well cared for. However, what started out as a 50€ ride turned out to cost 200€. Basically they were conned.So the moral of the tale is: pay “up front” at the start. Also beware of pickpockets, my brother was a victim on a previous visit to Rome.

The old city is brimming with timeworn monuments, some of which are remarkably ancient. It seemed as if there was a church on every corner, so it is impossible to visit them all. However, we found them so useful to take a rest and sit down as we did our sightseeing. The interiors are awe inspiring – as is the whole of the centre of Rome. It is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.


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