A City In a City - The Vatican

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Contributor:
Aadam

Nationality:
South African

Social Links:
Instagram: @teaandtravels1922

Age Group:
 

Gender:
Male

Travel Style:
Couple travel

 

Destination: Vatican City

What do we say about this country within a city? What words can we use to justly describe this place? 

The Vatican is a city state surrounded by Rome, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and I have to admit that when we planned our trip to Italy, the Vatican wasn’t high up on my list of must sees, mainly due to people telling us that crowds inside are crazy all the time and you get pushed and shoved through without being able to admire much. 

So imagine our surprise when we get there to discover that it was the total opposite, we were the last group for the day so other than us it was empty, like literally, they were closing doors behind us once we’d taken our time to view the majesty of each room, every turn more awe inspiring than the last!

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From tapestries entwined with gold, to life like sculptures and not forgetting the masterpiece that is the Sistine Chapel, housing frescos done by Perugino, Ghirlandaio & Botticelli as well as the ceiling Frescos depicting the last judgement by Michelangelo.

My advice for anyone visiting the Vatican is to go with a tour guide. There are hundreds of guides offering tours in a vast number of languages and they’re a fountain of knowledge for you to quench your thirst at. 

What we did intend to do and sadly missed out on was to climb up the spiral staircase inside St Peters Basilica, the architecture and views are supposed to leave one stunned. So please do give it a go if you’re heading there and we can read your travel hub reviews on it.

 

 

Rome, Italy - 14 Secret and Unusual Rome Places That You Should know

 
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Get to know some of the lesser known hidden gems of Rome! Francesco from online and app travel company "Blinktravel.guide" takes us through some of the secret spots that you don't always find out about until after you've been. This is a must read for anyone visiting Rome!

 

Contributor:
Francesco

Nationality:
Italian

Social Links:
www.blinktravel.guide

Age Group:
 

Gender:
Male

Travel Style:
Casual
Sightseeing, photography

 

Destination: Rome, Italy

Who doesn't know Rome? Who doesn't know its most iconic landmarks? The Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, Piazza di Spagna and the Trevi Fountain are famous all over the world and are visited by millions of tourists all year long.

Nonetheless the capital of Italy has a few hidden gems to offer: unusual corners, often not widely known to Romans themselves. Quieter, more intimate places which will enrich your idea of the Eternal City.

Here is a careful and fun selection of the 14 most charming yet little known places in Rome:

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1. Sciarra Gallery

Built in 1880 by prince Matteo Sciarra, it is the finest Art Nouveau building in Rome today. The Gallery is located in a side street of Via del Corso (the main street of the city) and almost manages to hide its beauty.

The leading role in the decorations is played by the Woman, portrayed in various scenes of daily life in her roles of bride, mother and “angel at the hearth”.

The upper layer shows more figures of women, representing the feminine virtues of fidelity, humility and justness.

You'll be left staring up at this jaw-dropping wonder for quite some time.

 
Ceiling of the Sciarra Gallery

Ceiling of the Sciarra Gallery

 

2. Magic Door (map)

In Rome (the very capital of Christianity) you can find one of the few monuments in the world dedicated to medieval magic: the “Magic Door” is all that remains of the ancient Villa Palombara. The marquis of Pietraforte, an alchemy and esotericism enthusiast, had the villa built in the second half of the 17th century.

In origin the monument was one among five external entryways to the Villa.

Legend has it that a mysterious pilgrim, hosted in the marquis' villa, tried to transmute various materials into gold.

One day he was seen disappearing through the door, leaving behind a speck of gold and some magic formulas, which are now engraved on the perimeter of the door.

3. Casina delle Civette (map)

Between 1910 and 1925, at the height of the Art Nouveau artistic movement (known in Italy as Stile Liberty), a small group of artists turned an ancient chalet into the current Museo della Vetrata Liberty (Art Nouveau Stained Glass Museum).  

Its peculiar shape, peaked roofs and its huge and colorful stained glasses confer to the place an almost magical atmosphere. Like a real life rendition of Hansel and Gretel's house!

 
Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette

 
A decorated glass inside of Casina Delle Civette

A decorated glass inside of Casina Delle Civette

4. Casino Nobile (map)

Only a short walk away from Casina delle Civette you can find the Casino Nobile, Mussolini's residence between 1925 and 1943; he also had a gas-proof bunker and a bomb shelter be built here.  

Inside, beside the collection of statues, you can see the majestic ballroom, a beautiful garden and the wonderful terrace.

5.  Angelica Library (map)

Inaugurated in 1604, Biblioteca Angelica is the oldest public library in Italy and the second in Europe after Oxford.  

The library houses more than 200,000 volumes, with 2,700 ancient manuscripts dating from Greek and Latin times among them. 

Its position makes it even more fascinating, as it is located in downtown Rome and it represents one of the few corners of calm and quiet in the popular and chaotic Italian capital.

Statue inside the Angelica Library

Statue inside the Angelica Library

6.  District Coppedè (map)

District Coppedè is an amazing mixture of Art Nouveau and Art Deco with flashes of other art styles, such as Greek, Gothic, Baroque and even medieval.  

The district, built between 1913 and 1926, consists of 26 apartment houses and 17 villas and owes its name to its designer, Gino Coppedè.  

In the center of the district is a small square in which stands the “Fountain of the Frogs” (“Fontana delle Rane”); the Beatles once dove fully dressed in the fountain after a concert held at the nearby disco Piper, making the monument famous worldwide.

7.     Borghese gallery (map)

Located inside Villa Borghese, the Romans' favorite public park, it represents a true treasure chest, housing the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The man had the villa built in 1600 for this specific purpose.

The most famous works kept here are Lorenzo Bernini's sculptures and Caravaggio's masterpieces. Thanks to its position and its works of art it can be considered among the world's finest museums.

P.S. If you want enter the gallery we recommend you to book your visit about three months in advance.

 
A statue inside The Borghese Gallery

A statue inside The Borghese Gallery

 
 
The ceiling inside The Borghese Gallery

The ceiling inside The Borghese Gallery

 
 
The garden of Borghese Gallery

The garden of Borghese Gallery

 

8.  The Catacombs of Rome

Experts deem the six Catacombs of Rome to be among the finest in the world; the best-known and most visited of them is the Catacomb of St. Callixtus, which stands out as the most beautiful and imposing.

It represents the first burial site of early Christians and it houses the graves of the first sixteen popes and various saints.

Roman Catacombs

Roman Catacombs

9.  The Jewish Ghetto (map)

Built in 1555, the Jewish Ghetto of Rome is one of the oldest in the world.

Strolling through the small streets of the district it will look like time has frozen in the '40s: as a matter of fact the Ghetto holds its authenticity intact, despite the influence of mass tourism. The majestic Synagogue and the Portico of Octavia are landmarks of major importance to be found in the district.

A view of Synagogue inside the Jewish Ghetto

A view of Synagogue inside the Jewish Ghetto

The Roman ruins inside the Jewish Ghetto

The Roman ruins inside the Jewish Ghetto

10.  The Janiculum (map)

The Janiculum (Gianicolo) is one of the best observation points of Rome, with Monte Mario and the Pincian Hill (Pincio), offering a wonderful view over the roofs, ancient ruins and baroque cupolas of the city.

Fun fact: from 1847, as ordered by Pope Pius IX, a cannon fires blanks daily at midday sharp. In doing so the Pope wanted to set a standard for all the churches in Rome to ring their bells in unison.

A view from Gianicolo

A view from Gianicolo

The walk inside Gianicolo

The walk inside Gianicolo

11.  The Japanese Garden (map)

As odd as it may sound, in the center of Rome, the very cradle of Christianity and the heart of the western world, we can find a small Japanese garden designed by famous architect Ken Nakajima.

Regardless of its small area, the Garden contains all the elements of a traditional Japanese garden: a pond, a waterfall, rocks, small islands, a small bridge and the stone lantern called tōrō.

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12. Roseto sull’Aventino (map)

At the foot of the Aventine Hill (Aventino), one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome, lies one of the most romantic locations of the city: the Rose Garden.

Already blessed by the beauty of nature and its position, granting a wonderful viewpoint over the Circo Massimo and the Palatine Hill at a safe distance from the city traffic, the Garden gets even more amazing in May, when 1100 species of roses blossom in a triumph of colors and fragrances.

Such a wonderful place will leave you with your mouth wide open!

 
A view from above of Roseto sull’Aventino

A view from above of Roseto sull’Aventino

 

13.  Little London (map)

Inside one of the historic districts of Rome we can find a pleasant architectonic oddity: Little London.

It consists of a pedestrian-only private street with the typical London-style small houses in bright colors, the same you'd expect to find in Hotting Hill.

Mayor Ernesto Nathan, of English origin, fathered the idea of an “English” district in 1907. His intent was to build less expensive houses away from downtown in behalf of the common people. Nowadays, as one could easily expect, these houses have extremely high costs, exactly as in London.

 
The small but cool little London in Rome

The small but cool little London in Rome

 

14.  Dolls' Hospital (map)

Walking through downtown Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, it is hard to miss the unique window of the ancient workshop Restauri Artistici Squatriti, also known as the Dolls' Hospital.

The small workshop is crowded with heads, limbs and bodies of ancient dolls, waiting to be accurately “cured” by the expert artisans of the shop.

As you can see Rome is amazing, we tried to make a list of the 14 secret places but, if you go to Rome, I recommend you to wandering around and speak with the locals because every angle and every history is unique.


If you can't go to Rome (or Sicily, New York, London etc. ) we do that for you. We created blinktravel.guide, a site (and an iphone app) through which you can discover the authentic spots of the most beautiful city in the world.

 

 

 

Rome, Italy - Where ancient meets modern

 
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It was almost a year ago when I first went to Rome, the capital of my lovely Italy, with my camera. It was not the first time, I’ve already been there, but I was too young to remember anything. These photos were taken in some beautiful days in December 2016 (quite cold but sunny) and in April 2017. In a few days I’ve had the opportunity to see and explore many places in the city and I’ll come back soon, at the end of September.

 

Contributor:
Giorgia

Nationality:
Italian

Social Links:
Instagram: @gi.throughthelens
                  @mainormale

Age Group:
19 - 30

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Tourism
Discovery
Exploring

 

Destination: Rome Italy

Inspiration:

I went there because my boyfriend lives in Albano Laziale, in the so called area of “Castelli Romani”, at about 25km south of the city centre. In that occasion, I could also visit the Capital and its marvellous pieces of history, like the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, Villa Borghese and its gardens etc.

Getting There:

If you live in Italy, the easiest way to reach Rome is surely by train. With high speed trains as Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca or Italo Treno, you’ll reach it in few hours. Obviously you can use your car, but it’s easier moving around the city using subway, bus or tram. If you live in another country I recommend to come by plane to the airport of Roma Fiumicino or Roma Ciampino and then to use public transport.

Local Knowledge:

Not all knows that Rome was built on seven hills: Aventino, Palatino, Esquilino, Quirinale, Viminale, Celio and Campidoglio. There’s another one city in Europe built on seven hills: Lisbon. Lisbon was part of Lusitania after the punic wars and there’s a clear recall to the structure of Rome right because of its position over the hills.

What To Do:

As many others did before me, I like defining Rome an open air museum. This city has unique characteristics you cannot find anywhere. It’s a special mix of ancient and modern. Here are some of my favourite places:

- The Colosseum
This monumental ancient roman theatre is a “must see” in Rome. Take a look around it, and be sure you have booked tickets to enter and visit it some days before you’ll be there (if you want to come during summer, it’s better book them some weeks before your visit). Once inside, you’ll be totally transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere and you can usually walk inside at all levels and different heights. Be prepare to make some stairs!

 
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- The Imperial Forums
As yet said for the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums are something magical if you want to be transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere. You can walk through the ruins, and imagine how was life during the period of Roman Empire. Somewhere you can see the rests of a little temple, or some columns and the majestic Arch of Septimius Severus. Then I recommend to make some stairs and reach the top of Palatino hill inside this archeological area: there you’ll find a terrace with a stunning view over all the Imperial Forums. The best moment of the day to come here is when the sun is almost down and all the ruins around have some special golden shades.

- Giardino degli Aranci (The Orange Garden)
This little public garden over the Aventino hill is a beautiful place for couples and generally for all the people who want to see Rome by an unconventional point of view. From the terrace over the river Tiber you can take a look over the rooftops of the Capital and see the giant St Peter’s Basilica’s dome, the white walls of Altare della Patria with its rampant horses on the top, and many others domes (Rome is famous for its domes, everywhere you look for you’ll find at least one of them. It’s something incredible!). This place has a special atmosphere at the sunset, it’s really romantic.

- St. Peter’s Basilica
It is formally part of Vatican City, but it’s another “must see” when you’ll come and visit the eternal city. This is the heart of Catholic Church, where all the Popes are buried. I like defining it as a precious jewel made by the genius of many important italian architects: my favourite one is Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who designed the square in order to embrace people. His circular colonades are one of my favourite pieces of art (you can find many other works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini all over the city, one of my favourite is the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona). You can enter the church for free but you always have to wait in a queue (sometimes your wait may be very long, especially during the festivities and summer) to undergo a security check: as it’s usual in the airports, you have to pass your bags o backpacks to X-rays so pay attention at what you bring with you! Glass bottles and any kind of weapon are severely forbidden.
Once passed this security check you can choose what you prefer to visit for first: I strongly recommend to visit the dome before the church. There’s a secondary entrance on the right of the basilica where you can have access at the stairs to go on the dome. This experience is not recommended if you have some kind of heart or respiratory disease because you’ll have to make nearly 350 steps if you use the elevator for the first part, and nearly 600 if you don’t. It’s not free, you’ll have to pay a ticket but it’s not expensive. Personally I want to assure you that you’ll arrive on the top tired but happy: some parts of the stairs are really difficult and tight but the stunning panorama will be a great satisfaction for you. From this special place you can see the entire city: starting from the wonderful St. Peter’s square and Via della Conciliazione, you’ll see Castel Sant’Angelo, river Tiber, the greatest gardens of Doria Pamphili, Vatican Gardens, Monte Mario and all the magnitude of this wonderful city.
Then you’ll come down and visit the basilica. It’ll be the greatest church you’ll ever see: all the things in it are big and majestic. There’s gold almost everywhere and works of art of immense valour. Stunning.

- Last but not least, the Trastevere district
This district is the centre of the roman movida and during the summer is populated by young people who want to have fun and eat together. These streets are the most characteristics of all Rome. I have loved to spend my summer nights here.

Eating:

When in Rome, It’s important to choose as well as possible the places to eat. Generally I prefer pubs or taverns because you find the real recipes of the tradition and friendly people. My favourite recipes are “Pasta alla carbonara”, “Spaghetti cacio e pepe” and “Supplì”.

Must Do:

Every traveller should go to Trevi's Fountain and throw a coin in the water. The legend say if you do that and don't see where the coin fall, you'll surely come back to Rome one day. So throw the coin behind your back!

Must See:

Maybe I should be banal, but I would pick a photograph of Colosseum.