Turned out Rome is a far more walkable city than I expected in late June. Temperatures were mostly 28C/82-83F, dry on our first day and more humid with a couple of brief, but heavy afternoon rain showers.
Proximity of so many major city attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum ruins, Markets of Trajan, Alter of the Fatherland, the Pantheon and Vatican City and many other attractions along a 3 or 4 mile route make any walk across the city an historical education opportunity.
Cheap public transportation at 1.50eur for bus or Metro makes Rome an easy city to travel place to place. Walk or ride to a place you want to visit and then walk or ride towards other attractions along a route back to your hotel.
Walk when the weather is good and pick up public transportation when the weather is not. Jump on the Metro or a bus when you want to be somewhere else or get back to your lodging neighborhood quickly.
Even more surprising about Rome to me is Kelley has said several times over the past two weeks how much she enjoyed being in Rome to finish off our June 2018 Europe trip. Despite the summer heat and summer crowds this trip, she wants to return again to Rome when the weather is cooler.
I want to return to Rome again when World Cup plus heat of day does not have us seeking a bar TV for hours at a time during the day to watch a game, drink a beer or two, while out of the sun, hopefully feeling a cooling air conditioner.
Watching World Cup soccer in Europe was a blast with so many international connections made. In Rome we saw Germany-Sweden World Cup qualifying match played Saturday night in The Good Fellas Pub, where we ate dinner seated adjacent to a couple of German women, both totally stunned by a 95th minute Germany win. On Saturday we spent two hours talking with Karen and Graham during the England game. In Lithuania we talked with a former Russian soldier during the first World Cup match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. In Poland, we watched Nigeria-Iceland while talking travel and politics with a British expat living in Norway.
Baltic Exchange for Rome
I changed our travel itinerary from Tallinn, Estonia to Rome for our last three nights in Europe to allow sightseeing for a couple of days in a city Kelley had never seen. My wife is a reluctant traveler and a cheap airline ticket back to San Francisco departing from Rome FCO was the only way I got her to Rome for this visit after some serious attempts to plan a trip to Italy over the past 20 years.
Pope Francis is an inspirational magnet for her.
Over two days we reached most of the big city sights by foot, even though we used our unlimited Metro 48 hour pass as much as we wanted.
The distance to St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City is about 4.5km from where we stayed at Best Western Hotel Artdeco, about 15 minutes walk from Termini Station, Rome’s main city center transportation hub.
We took the Metro to Vatican City on Sunday morning to see the Pope address the crowd at noon (in Italian) on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Over the course of seven hours we walked back to the hotel in a southerly route, where we saw Castel Sant Angelo, the Pantheon, Altare della Patria (Alter of the Fatherland), Trajan’s Column and Markets of Trajan, the Roman Forum ruins and the Colosseum. We took the Metro B line from Colosseum Station 3 stops to Castro Pretorio in our hotel area.
The temperature in the low 80s was hot in the sun. Fortunately Rome’s nasoni, 2,500+ public water fountains provided plenty of wet opportunities to soak my cap and cool my head.
Pantheon Rome is a Roman temple built 113-125AD. The space is now a church and freely accessible to the public. The Pantheon receives over 6 million visitors annually. So many people were inside the space during our visit that a woman over a loudspeaker told visitors to quiet down and reminded us the space is a church.
Altare della Patria – Alter of the Fatherland – Il Vittoriano
Altare della Patria (1885-1925) is a monument to modern Italy’s first king Vittorio Emanuele II – Victor Emmanuel II. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed here in 1921 with an eternal flame.
Walking around Rome I simply took photos of old stuff without necessarily knowing the significance of what I was seeing. Adjacent to Altare della Patria is a large excavated area with a tall 98 ft. column.
Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan is an example of a space I walked by and snapped a few photos of objects that appeared to be old Roman Rome. Trajan’s Column has a 190 meter spiral bas relief depicting scenes from the Roman victory in the Dacian Wars (101-106AD) in present day Romania.
Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117AD) reigned over the Roman Empire at the time of its greatest territorial control.
Markets of Trajan
The Markets of Trajan (113 AD) were the Roman era version of a mega-mall.
Roman Forum – Forum Romanum
The Roman Forum is architectural park land with many of the most important structures of ancient Rome situated along the 1km stretch between Altare della Patria and the Colosseum.
Admission to the Coloseum is 5eur and 1eur for an audio guide.
The Colosseum was built in 70-80 AD and is the largest amphitheater ever built.
Arch of Constantine
Standing beside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine (312-315 AD), the largest Roman triumphal arch commemorating Emperor Constantine. Under Constantine, the Edict of Milan in 313 made Christianity an officially tolerated religion in the Roman Empire.
All these sites were visited in an afternoon walk from St. Peter’s Square to the Colosseum, mostly without use of a map, except to find the Pantheon. Another path could have meant another walk through different points of Rome and Roman history. We only had one more day to sightseee and decided to make an effort to visit some popular sights we saw on postcards in the tourist shops like Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.
Rome is a grand city to walk around and feel its history.
Google Maps shows a walk between these points in Rome as 5.4km, but we did not walk the shortest route between most of these points.