What surprised you most when visiting Rome

Rome on foot: the most beautiful way to discover Rome

Dear Gustav, it is well known that many roads lead to Rome. Our journey to the Eternal City led from Corsica a total of 192 nautical miles (356 km) to the west coast of Italy. From the port in Civitavecchia we continued by train to Rome. It was a warm day; 38 degrees in the shade. But that shouldn't stop us! We were well prepared and looking forward to our first visit to Italy. In addition to plenty of water and some provisions for on the go, we also had the right clothes for St. Peter's Basilica with us. Admission is only granted if the shoulders, back and legs are covered.

Explore Rome in just one day

Where do we start, what cannot be missing, which route allows us to visit as many sights as possible in one day? Those were our questions and so we planned a walk in advance, which led us from the Vatican City to the classic buildings to the Colosseum.

By train to Rome quickly and cheaply

From the ship we first took the shuttle bus to the port exit. From there it was about a 20-minute walk to the train station in Civitavecchia. For the transfer to Rome we bought the BIRG day ticket for EUR 12 per person and got on the regional train (line FL5) at 8:49 a.m. After about 30 minutes of driving through the Italian countryside, we stopped eight stops later in the train station Roma San Pietro and left the train. Our tour began here; St. Peter's Basilica was already in sight.

St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica & Vatican City

The closer we got to St. Peter's Square, the more crowded it got. A large audience has already gathered for the papal audience planned for the evening. Unregistered visits to St. Peter's Basilica were only possible until about 12 noon that day. How good that we had already booked tickets in advance for the time slot 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. This saved us from standing in line in the blazing sun. So much for organizational matters; Last but not least, the preparation always gives a certain first impression of what awaits us on site. Nevertheless, we were surprised and quite overwhelmed by the sheer size of the square and the amount of people around. Here you can see the seat with seating for the afternoon audience.

St. Peter's Basilica itself was gigantic too. Once inside, looking up into the interior of the main sphere made us dizzy. The dome designed by Michelangelo is considered to be the largest cantilever brick structure in the world.

Given these dimensions, it is worth taking another look at the facts and figures about St. Peter's Basilica. There was not enough time to visit the dome that day; after all, we still had a lot to do.

  • Religious center of the Vatican City
  • Capacity: 20,000 people
  • Height: 133.30 meters; Interior height 117.57 meters

Castel Sant'Angelo & Castel Sant'Angelo

It's about a 10-minute walk from St. Peter's Basilica to Castel Sant'Angelo. We ran theVia Conciliatione along in the direction of the Tiber and further over the Angel's Bridge. The name can be traced back to the archangel who stands on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo. The angel statues on the bridge were created much later and were erected when the bridge was renovated in the 17th century.

Behind the bridge we strolled through small streets and happened upon the ice cream parlorGelateria del Teatro. The crowd in front of it promised good ice cream and was proven right. In the pleasant shade of the narrow streets we walked on to the center of the city.

Piazza Navona & Pantheon

A few steps further on our way to Pantheon we reached the Piazza Navona. This is a 15th century square that is famous today for its three fountains. It used to be a stadium for chariot races; this is how the elongated, oval shape of the square was explained to us. The surrounding houses were built on the foundations of the stands.

In the middle of the square was the four rivers fountain with its four male figures. Each of them embodies a river or a river god of the then four known continents. Next to it stood theCarrotand the Fountain of Neptune at both ends of the square.

Only 300m further east we were already at the Pantheon. It is considered to be one of the best preserved buildings from Roman antiquity and impresses above all with its huge, circular dome with the famousOculus, a hole in the middle. The dome has long been the largest in the world; it corresponds to half of a sphere 43.3 meters in diameter. Apart from the entrance portal, the opening in the middle of the dome is the only source of light in the interior, which is why the Pantheon served as a sundial for a long time. A really impressive building!

Trevi fountain

From Pantheon we went on to another famous building in Rome, the Trevi Fountain. This is one of the largest and most beautiful fountains ever and we did not miss the opportunity to toss a coin into it and make a wish.

Spanish stairs

Our next destination was the famous onePiazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) with the staircase of the same name and the fountainFontana della Barcaccia. But where does the name of the Spanish Steps in the Italian capital come from; we asked ourselves that. The decisive factor was probably the Spanish Square below the stairs where the Spanish Embassy of the Vatican is located.

The Spanish Steps between Spanish Square and the Church Santa Tinità the Monti took us almost 25 meters up. Here we could rest a little and enjoy the beautiful view.

Roman Forum

On our way further we passed a huge white monument: It was the national monument at the Piazza Venezia. In honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy, it was only built in 1927. One of the few buildings in Rome that is less than 2,000 years old.

Yet; the buildings of antiquity were our next destination. As a symbol of ancient Rome stood immediately before Roman Forum this small bronze figure on a column on the Capitol Square: The Capitoline Wolf, who, according to legend, saved and raised the city's founders, Romulus and Remus.

The Roman Forum as the city center of ancient Rome is now a huge archaeological area made up of ancient ruins and columns. Here we could easily have spent a whole day strolling between the individual buildings - churches, temples, public places, gardens, shops, fountains.

Visit to the Colosseum

Past the Roman Forum we reached the Colosseum around 3 p.m. The ancient stadium and landmark of Rome was our absolute highlight of the day. We stood in front of it in awe and deeply impressed and wanted to take a look inside.

Without further ado, we booked the so-called “express tour” for a small surcharge and entered the Colosseum without queuing through the entrance of the gladiators. All the details, with this dimension, the ruins of the elevators, the arena floor with the trap doors that can be guessed at. It is unimaginable that it was all built almost 2,000 years ago - without modern technology or computers to calculate the statics. 80 entrances around the arena gave the 50,000 spectators direct access to their seats. The seating arrangement arose from the various social classes, with emperors, senators and priests sitting down at the edge of the arena. The lower in rank one was in Roman society, the further away one sat from the center of the arena. We listened to the guide for a while before we set out on our own tour of discovery through the system of passages, ramps and stairs.

With a lot of wonderful and impressive pictures in mind, we make our way back, first boarding the subway in front of the Colosseum. After a few stops, we switched to the regional train, only to arrive back in Civitavecchia an hour later. The Mediterranean cruise continues. When casting off, the sun was already low and bathed the harbor in a wonderfully warm light. The holiday mood was perfect!

Rome has so much to offer; Of course, we could only get an overview of the city in one day on our walk. We felt like learning more and already know today that we will be coming back to Rome. I am looking forward. For the moment we review the impressions and are grateful for what we experienced.

We greet you; see you tomorrow from Florence!

Sincerely, Franziska