Grand European Tour Rome

Grand European Tour Rome, Italy

“Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life… Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome.

Possibly more than anywhere else in the world, Rome is a true mix of old and new. It’s a city that proudly flaunts its ancient history while it continues to evolve. It’s a living and breathing city, which means it’s crowded, dirty, noisy, full of kamikaze scooter drivers, and is a little rough around the edges. It’s also beautiful and its narrow side streets and ancient ruins are certainly romantic and magical, so despite its shortfalls, Rome continues to be many people’s favorite city in the world.

Rome is a large city with plenty of things to do and see, especially if you’re a history buff. Luckily, a lot of the main sites are fairly close to each other, so you can see a lot in a small amount of time.

Imagine you’ve been around for over two thousand years and people still come from all over the world to see you and take your picture. That’s what happens with the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and Rome. Unlike its counterparts from the ancient world however, Italy‘s capital city is still crammed full of inhabitants who are busy getting on with their contemporary lives, taking the (packed and slow) bus to work every day, whilst crumbling ruins and millennia-old monuments rise up at the side of the road at every corner. Like all modern metropolises Rome has plenty to offer in terms of restaurants, nightlife and entertainment, but there are very few cities in the world where the sense of history, of world-changing events, bloody spectacles and political intrigue are so palpable that the visitor’s imagination can’t help but stir.

There are a few Roman attractions that require an entire day’s perusal, such as the Vatican Museums, which host centuries of artistic and historical treasures. Admission is free on the last Sunday of every month, when of course the queue is massive and the museum closes at noon, so set the alarm clock and be prepared.

Rome is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift. We arrived late afternoon and wandered the streets starting a Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is a charming area with three beautiful fountains, Fontana dei Quattro Fimi, Fontana de Moro, Fontana del Nettuno and imposing buildings which look onto the square are the Church of Sant’Agness in Agone and the Palazzo Pamphilj. The square is surrounded by restaurants and terraces giving Piazza Navona a lively and delightful atmosphere during the day. Here, visitors can enjoy performances by street artists like magicians and dancers.

Walking a little further we pasted The Pantheon, which was one of my favourite buildings in Rome. Its original incarnation was even older than the Coliseum, although that was destroyed by fire. It is particularly remarkable for its enormous dome like ceiling, famous for having a hole known as the oculus at its apex, through which the building is lit. In the interior of the Pantheon the tombs of numerous Italian kings and a multitude of art works are found. The best-known person who can be found buried in the Pantheon is without doubt the painter and Renaissance architect Raphael. The outskirts of the Pantheon are usually full of people at all hours, either photographing the imposing building or having a traditional supper in some of the terraces of the Piazza della Rotonda while they enjoy the shows put on by different street artists.


A little further we stumbled upon The Trevi Fountain (which is unfortunately under construction at the moment). The Trevi Fountain would normally be the most beautiful fountain in Rome. Measuring some 20 meters in width by 26 meters in height, Trevi Fountain is also the largest fountain in the city.

The myth of the Trevi Fountain originating in 1954 with the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain," goes like this:

If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.

If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.

If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.

In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.


Italy is a country defined by food, and Rome is no exception. You shouldn’t have to eat badly in this city. Sadly, many unscrupulous restaurants are more interested in gaining a quick buck than making their customers sigh with culinary content. Unfortunately we witness this poor food and rude service first hand on our group dinner. The number one tip for ensuring you don’t have a bad meal in Rome is to steer clear of the restaurants near tourist attractions and in tourist hotels.

The next day the group visited the Vatican City in central Rome, which is one of those places that you really can’t visit Rome without seeing. As well as being the seat of Christianity, this place is home to some of mankind’s most famous pieces of art, including Michelangelo's David, and the Sistine Chapel.  St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples for Christendom and one of the largest churches in the world. Besides, it is where the Pope presides many liturgies all year round. St. Peter's Square is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. It is located in Vatican City, at the feet of St. Peter's Basilica. 

From St. Peter's Square we headed down Via della Conciliazione, a long street that ends at Castel Sant'Angelo. Known as Hadrian's Tomb, the Castel Sant'Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber, a short distance from the Vatican City. The Castel Sant'Angelo is split into five floors which can be reached by a spiral ramp that first reaches the chamber of ashes and subsequently the cells in which a number of historical figures were incarcerated.

Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above. You'll need a day to fully check out this magnificent castle, full of history. Take your time and read the descriptions. You'll come out of the castle knowing more about the history of Rome.

We then walked over the Sant’Angelo Bridge, which is the most beautiful bridge in the world even nowadays because it is symmetrical, regular, open to light, and has a perfect distance between water and arches. The bridge connects Rome to Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Nevertheless, the main feature of the construction is in the charming statues of the angels. Also, the bridge’s three central arches are originals from the ancient Roman era.

We then headed to the coliseum guided tour. There is perhaps no more recognisable Italian structure in the world than the coliseum, where early Christians were thrown to the lions, and gladiators battled to the sound of crowds baying for blood. People talk about the place holding a great sense of history and the smell of fear. The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire. At present the Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. Each year 6 million tourists visit it. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

The biggest pet peeve of our trip to Rome was the seemingly omnipresent salesmen on the street, offering umbrellas, scarves, knockoff purses, parasols, and the biggest scam, “free roses.” They can be quite insistent; one man even put a rose in Kim’s bag and then tried to charge me for it. (Let’s just say he was smart removing it quickly and walking away) Just avoid direct eye contact, say no, and keep walking.



Marvel at the architecture of the Pantheon – Built over 2,000 years ago, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings and is the largest unreinforced concrete dome built to this day.


Make a visit to Vatican City – Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a population of 1,000 residents (1/8 the size of Central Park). The Vatican issues their own passports, license plates, stamps and even mints their own euros. The Vatican museums stretch over 9 miles long and hold one of the largest collections of art in the world. If you spent 1 minute admiring every painting in this city, it would take you 4 years to view it all!


Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain – The Trevi fountain is Rome’s largest and probably most well-known fountain in Italy. Legend says that throwing one coin into the fountain will ensure a return trip to the eternal city, two coins will help you find love, and three coins will help put a wedding ring on your finger. The coins tossed into the fountain are donated to a charity that serves families throughout Rome.


Speed through Rome on a Vespa – Join a vespa tour throughout the city to see an entire days’ worth of sites and experience Rome like an Italian in just a few hours!

People watch at the Spanish Steps – A perfect meeting place or spot to rest your feet and people watch.

“Roam” through Piazza Navona – Arguably the most beautiful square in Rome due to its elegant fountains, grand sculptures, and colorful paintings by street artists. Although touristy, it’s worth enjoying a dinner or glass of wine in this square to take in all of its glory.


Go back in time to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Paletine Hill – Explore the ancient roman lifestyle in the Roman Forum, climb Palatine hill for views of Circus Maximus, and tour the Colosseum, and Rome’s largest amphitheater.


Take refuge at Villa Borghese – The largest public park in Rome and the perfect place to escape the bustling city for a few hours. Whether you want to view the art in several museums or sit outside among the natural beauty, it’s the perfect break from a long day of sightseeing.


Marvel at Michaelangelo’s Masterpiece – Michaelangelo was already a famous sculptor and artist when commissioned by the Pope to paint frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He was paid 3,000 ducats which at the time was a crazy amount of money to complete the project, but most would say it was worth every penny today.

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