Rome is poetic, intense, quite a good representation of Italy, with beauty and chaos combined.
We tried the drinks 'grappa' and 'limoncello' for the first time, buying a bottle of each for about Euro 10 - less than 20. The wines are good too, but it varies. Also tried 'prosecco', a bubbly drink resembling champagne. A range of bottles can be found at any small store and even the touristic ones aren't expensive.
Of course eat as much pasta and pizza (and lasagna and tiramisu and panna cotta)...as you like! Italy has world famous food!
Not forgetting two hundred flavors of gelato...!
Most underrated sight
One of the most underrated sights in my opinion is the Chiesa del Gesu, it's not even 'on the map', but that's the beauty of travel, going to unknown places and discovering new things. I loved the really 3D frescoes on the ceilings, it's not done by any famous painter but it was the best art I've seen in my short unenlightened visits to churches. Any of the churches in Rome easily makes anyone breathless with their splendour of marble statues, mosaic and stained glass, sculpted and painted art masterpieces, as well as the large buildings and tall columns, but at the end this one was our favorite:
Chiesa del Gesu (Church of Jesus)
Amazing, speechless, could stare at the ceiling forever!
They are paintings but look like they are jumping out from the ceiling! No idea how it is being painted!
Best thing we did in Rome:
For me, I loved the 'unplanned' walk we took to see something I wanted to see, 'The Mouth of Truth'.
It became a longer walk than expected and that was because every single place was too picturesque to rush through - from the fountains, to the sudden grove of orange trees and poplars, to the hidden gardens, and small churches, every place and corner had some ancient stories to tell...
Here are some pictures that do little to describe what an amazing feeling it was just to take your time to walk through the area:
And finally one of my personal must-sees, 'The Mouth of Truth'!
(Also perhaps one of the most un-hygenic places to put your hand onto. We didn't place our hands onto the mouth...)
Spotted a smaller 'Mouth of Truth' (with better sculpted features) on our walks.
Walking in Rome
We spent a day in the amazingly large gardens in Villa Borghese and it was a really relaxed and enjoyable day. There was a small Leonardo Da Vinci museum just before the gardens, and we also went to Piazza del Poppolo, huge gated way with a large square that had such a nice peaceful vibe. I really loved the entire day and everything we did, including taking photos with the large pink rabbit that was in the front of the zoo in Villa Borghese!
If you can walk for an entire day then you could explore and complete almost all of the main sights in Rome in a week. In 4 full days, we went to:
2. The Forum / Palantine Hill
3. Capitoline and its museum
4. Bocca Della Verita, surrounding ruins - Hadrian's Crypt, Octavia ruins
5. Jewish Quarter
6. Villa Borghese - large gardens with zoo and museums within
7. Piazza del Poppolo
8. Vatican City, Basilica St Peter's
9. Outside the Castel near Vatican
10. Santa Maria Maggiore
12. Trevi Fountain
13. Spanish Steps
14. Pantheon and surrounding area
Of course, we also visited other small corners and churches all around!
Staying in Rome
We booked the apartment for Rome on housetrip.com. Not knowing Rome well, it turned out to be a really good location, in Via Urbana, couple of streets away from Termini Station, a quiet, nice, and rather large apartment.
Travelling around Rome (train/regional train/flight)
Contrary to what I've read online, getting in and out of the international airport Fiumicino was a breeze. Despite some renovations, the signs were easily to locate as well as getting to the train station to and fro. There are nice shops around in the check in area, I enjoyed my time waiting for the departure flight.
For the regional trains, I felt it is very well-organized too, apart from once where the train in Cinque Terre area was cancelled (every train waiting duration is 20 mins apart, so, it is still okay), the fast train (4 hours approximately) from Rome to La Spezia was a breeze. However, J had a little bit of a twisted nightmare taking the ongoing train to Genoa and then crossing the border to Nice. It was too complicated to make sense to the averagely intelligent person, it involves many changes, including bus, but the ticket was a 'general' open ticket. In any case he was able to reach Nice in the end, delayed by a few hours.
Also, a good tip is to always validate the ticket and ask other friendly passengers if they are going in the same direction as the train doesn't always arrive at the same platform.
At Villa Borghese:
I just love these trees =)
Walking around 10 km everyday, I enjoyed Rome on foot, and can't believe I haven't been there earlier.