Personal Finance

A Roman holiday!

Maulik Madhu | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on May 17, 2015

As fascinating as the Colosseum is by day, it dazzles at night



With a city as beautiful as Rome, it’s simply love at first sight. For no matter which way you look, there’s always a stunning sculpture staring at you. Simply walk down the cobbled streets of Rome and you wonder whether a visit to any of the city’s museums is even necessary.

But then there are many that are worth a visit. The Capitoline Museums, for instance, are the world’s oldest national museums. They house a collection of Classical and Renaissance art including a gigantic statue of Emperor Constantine.

The Vatican Museums are a wonder, stretching for nearly 7 km inside the Vatican City. And if you are a serious art lover, then you may take several days to complete the entire tour! The not-to-be-missed attractions here are the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco, the almost mind-numbing collection of Renaissance art, and the Pinacoteca that houses Raphael’s last work, the Transfiguration.

Travel back in time

After you’ve visited every nook and cranny of the world’s largest museum complexes, its time to stop over at the iconic Colosseum that was used to host gladiatorial combats in the past.

Though not nearly as impressive as it used to be, the Colosseum is still an imposing structure. It’s no surprise that thousands of tourists, undeterred by the long winding queues to buy tickets, still throng the amphitheatre every year.

As fascinating as the Colosseum is by day, it dazzles at night. Escape the scorching sun and crowds to visit the wonder when it is cooler outside. As day gives way to night, the illuminated Colosseum is a sight to be seen.

If you want to get past the crowds, there are many guided skip-the-line tours to choose from during the day.

A three-hour 25-member guided tour of the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum can cost you around $60 a person. But if you want an exclusive tour around the Colosseum — not open to most tourists — it will cost you around $440, for a family of four.

On the other side

Once you have explored the ruins of Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum that lie to the east of the Tiber river, cross over to The Vatican on the west bank. It will lead to one of the most spectacular churches, St Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo’s Pietà, a sculpture showing Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, is a marvel in white.

When you walk out of the Basilica, you will be awe struck by the sheer expanse of the piazza that stretches out in front of the church. And the only thing that extends beyond the massive square is the long line of tourists!

Eat, drink and be merry

But if long queues puts you off, simply take the easy way out — a Vatican walking tour with an expert guide that will cost $70 a person.

Rome is a foodie’s paradise and you will be spoilt for choice. From street cafes and gelatarias to fancy upscale restaurants, the city offers a parade of trattorias (semi-formal restaurants without a menu), ristorante, pizzerias, and enoteche (wine bars that also serve food).

Within the city, the Centro Storico is a maze of narrow streets, buzzing with sidewalk cafes. The best, and frankly the only way, to explore them, is on foot. Even if you are a connoisseur of exotic cuisines and hardly the type who is guilty about spending a few too many bucks on an entreé, don’t leave Rome without trying out their street food! The cafes, and in particular those around the Vatican, will be worth your time. Try some authentic Italian pizzas, bruschetta and salads and follow these up with a gelato.

With flavours ranging from the usual chocolate, strawberry and mint to exotic ones such as toasted sesame, gorgonzola cheese and pumpkin, you will not know where to end!

In the northern part of the city is the famous Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps).

This is arguably the most posh corner of the city, full of designer boutiques, high-priced hotels, and chic restaurants.

The connoisseurs among you will however, want to head for Villa Borghese & Parioli, home to possibly the city’s most elegant residential areas, and framed by some of the finest restaurants, hotels and public parks.

But, most of all, don’t forget to treat yourself to some fine wines during your stay in Rome.

Try the Vino Roma wine studio for some tastings. Pick from a range of fine Italian wines or if you wish, sample some of their wine cheese offerings. A two-hour wine-tasting session could cost you around $50 and a three-hour food tour could make your wallet lighter by $80.

And if are hankering for a taste of home food — there are over 30 Indian restaurants in Rome — Krishna 13, Jaipur and Maharajah are some of the older, more established ones.

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