Rome is really huge and impossible to explore in a week! It is also very crowded throughout the whole year, so one has to be prepared to try and make the best of it and not get stressed out – just wander around, discover nice places and enjoy the city as much as possible!
I would strongly recommend visiting some of the famous landmarks by night! It is calmer and all of the monuments are so beautifully lightened up! It is so peaceful to experience the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona or to take a walk by the Tiber riverside and the Vatican walls on a warm spring night! I am happy we went out every night and got to see and feel this side of Rome!
Considering my love for rooftops, I wanted to see Rome from above of course! I had heard so much about the chaos at the dome of St. Peter’s and since no building in Rome is allowed to be higher than St. Peter’s Cathedral, it was a challenge to find that place with that view over the city And St. Peter’s at the same time! But mission was accomplished! Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II a.k.a. Altare della Patria! A colossal monument of the italian king and a museum built in the 1930’s just next do the Roman Forum! It is a breathtaking building itself, so take your time to climb the stairs and look back at Rome every couple of steps you take! Try the different balconies. The view from every side and height is unique!
The elevator to the top is a bit tricky to find, because it’s kind of hidden behind the building but it is really inexpensive and waiting is not a problem since there are either no queues or they’re not too long! Once you are up, you have Rome in its full greatness and glory in front of you! On one side you can have a nice look over the Colosseum and on the other – St. Peter’s Cathedral!
On our way to Altare della Patria we took the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II from the Castle of St. Angelo, which is a really big street and represents pretty well the business of the city! And then by chance and after taking a “wrong” turn (Via degli Astalli just behind the Il Gesu Basilica), we found ourselves standing in front of a large wooden door that looked like a gateway to another world, like a mirage! At first I wasn’t sure if we are allowed to go in. It was so surreal. But fortunately I have a brave boyfriend, who took my hand, and we walked in towards the paradise gardens.
Suddenly it all became so quiet, as if we had entered a calm oasis in the middle of this crazy loud city! It felt so right to just sit there on a bench in the shadows of the palm trees by a beautiful fountain immersed in the silence. The only people in the garden were the two of us, and a lady reading a book! To me this garden is the ultimate Rome escape! And we declared it our favorite place in Rome!
I think we sat there for hours and calmed our souls before we continued our journey! Maybe that’s why we enjoyed the rest of the day so much. We felt so relaxed! And I must admit that I checked the map much later to spot this magical place and it was nothing less than the Giardino di Palazzo Venezia (btw the main entrance is at the Via del Plebiscito, and I believe that we were really lucky that the side entrance was open that day).
By the end of the day we met my best friend and her fiancée at the Pantheon and had the cutest experience walking the little streets in the area together where we also found some amazing places for food and drinks!