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ITALY | Thursday, 25 August 2011 | Views [470]

Once the centre of the ancient empire, Rome still holds all the charm and grandeur that existed two and a half thousand years ago. It’s a place that you won’t want to leave; beauty hides around every corner and some of the best discoveries come from straying from the main tourist routes.  Perhaps the best time of year to visit is September when the temperature is still hot, but not overwhelming. The main attractions certainly do not disappoint. 
Seeing the Colosseum for the first time is like seeing a celebrity; it takes your breath away and makes you feel numb with excitement. Before you even arrive at it, you must pass ruins which line the road as a path to the iconic arches, which stand proud and majestic. Inside, if possible, is more beautiful, the 3 walls and lower floor of the building give an idea of what must have taken place and the volume of people who came to visit Rome's greatest stadium. It was mind-blowing. It is certainly something to see. Immediately after leaving the Colosseum you stumble upon the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Forum was equally impressive as the Colosseum, once having housed Emperors and the high class society of ancient Rome. The temple pillars stood high, as if watching and guiding its ancient people. The detail which is still visible just gives a sneaky look at what may have been - and to think it was all handmade. 
The other major sites, such as the Pantheon, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are more impressive in real life than any photo. One of Rome’s huge advantages is the proximity of the attractions, once you get past the grand walls of city the major sites are within a twenty minute walk of each other, allowing for a full and productive day sightseeing.
The Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica are a must see when staying in Rome, though you should definitely book tickets in advance to skip the line as the queues snake the walls. It holds some of the most beautiful and well preserved artefacts from ancient Egypt to the Romans. The Sistine Chapel houses Michael Angelo’s masterpiece which is reproduced everywhere, but once you see it you can't help your jaw from dropping at the scale and detail of it.
I chose to stay in an apartment, which if you want a space to put your feet up and relax after a long days walking, is perfect. But Rome does offer an array of restaurants some of which serve beautiful Italian cuisine, so a hotel would serve just as well, while some are overpriced and not so flavoursome. One gem situated just beyond Piazza Nova is Pizzeria Da Baffetto, serving pizza for 6/7 Euros, while you may have to queue for half an hour, the food is worth it; made quickly and you can taste that’s it’s fresh. Recommended to me by a true Italian: a sign of a good place! Campo de’Fiori, just across the road, is the place to be seen, perhaps encompassing the spirit of Rome, friendly, talkative people who are terribly laid back creating an atmosphere that is nonexistent in Britain. 
Rome has so much history and personality that even by sitting in a piazza drinking espresso you are bound to find a piece of the ancient city that you will hold close to your heart. It has something for everyone and is a must visit.

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