Not Your Typical Romantic City: London!

When people think of romantic European cities, those in countries such as France and Italy immediately jump to mind! Even Belgium’s Brugge and Czech Republic’s Prague are popular choices too. I’ll have to say that London is IT for me! For real! :D

St. James Park

St. James Park

Being in a city as vibrant as London, you’re never at a loss for choices. From a chill date to one that would have you going from one end of the city to the other to having a romantic, activity-filled or a geeky date, I say, London can cater to it all! You just have to know what you want. :)

A wonderful day would include some of these:

Colourful Notting Hill

Colourful Notting Hill

Going to one of the city’s numerous markets, one of which is in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road. The colourful houses make for such a nice backdrop to an area teeming with stalls that sell everything from cheeses to olives to pheasants and freshly baked breads; to antiquities and oddities and clothes and loads more! I love food and starting the day with a happy tummy goes a long way to buoying up my mood. ;)

Seeing the panoramic view of London from Greenwich Observatory either at daytime or night time. They both have their own charm!

London skyline by day

London skyline by day

London skyline as seen from Greenwich

London skyline by night

Music could help set up a romantic atmosphere. Whether be it watching a musical – Mamma Mia and Wicked (The Phantom of the Opera as well as Les Mis are both amazing but not exactly the mood we’re going for after all!)- or by listening to one of the many street performers play instruments and/or sing.

Watching Mamma Mia

Watching Mamma Mia

Somehow, one thing that I truly enjoy doing in this city is walking along the River Thames at night. I’d suggest starting from St. Katherine’s docks (Tower Bridge Station) where you could have dinner with your special someone while enjoying the view of  the many  varied yachts parked there. No rush, there’s no need to hurry. When you’re ready… head towards the riverside, walk by the Tower Bridge then cross over to the South Bank of the river from here. There would be a pedestrian lane that you could follow once there plus it’s more picturesque. The walk would take you past Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern Museum which is just near it. From Tate, I would suggest to cross the Millennium Bridge back to the other side of the river, well, you do have the option to continue walking along the South Bank. I say that the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the end of this bridge is just amazing and at night, the fact that there are hardly any tourist so you basically have the place for yourselves make it special.

IMG_0044

The pedestrian only Millennium Bridge by day

Millennium Bridge at night

Millennium Bridge at night

Most European cities are built around a river. It’s where life revolved around on. That’s why you’d see the most historical buildings and district along the riverbanks. One nice way of appreciating the city is to go on a river cruise. Having a romantic dinner while aboard one of those cruising boats sounds very inviting, isn’t it? :)

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

If you’re with somebody special, I don’t think what you two are doing nor where you both are would be such a big deal since being in each other’s company is all there is to it to be happy and content. Then again, exploring new places, trying out new things, and having memorable experiences together would make it all the more worth it romantic. :)

This is my entry to the February 2013 Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer with the theme “Most Romantic Places in Europe.”

Travel Wish List for 2013!

I’m bitten by the travel bug again! I feel so restless, there’s this need to wander!  To sort of placate myself, I’m writing a list of places I want to go to for this year. If you’d like to join me in any of the trip listed below, just send me a message or leave a comment. I’d welcome the company! :D

Morocco Marrakech

Medina alleyway. Photo by Sarah Reid

Medina alleyway. Photo by Sarah Reid

Flying here tomorrow! Woot! Booked a short trip here last year just to escape even for a few days London’s winter. And amazingly, it snowed the day before our flight! Looking forward to eating Moroccan foods, riding a camel and visiting the Sahara desert amongst others.  :D

PHILIPPINES Manila, Cavite, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan

El Nido's lovely islands

El Nido’s lovely islands

After more than a year, I’m coming back home for a vacation and I’m soooo excited about it that I think I’ll be able to keep myself travel free until after this trip. I am saving money for this one! haha

Hong Kong & Macau

HK's skyline early in the morning

HK’s skyline early in the morning

Sunny Macau!

Sunny Macau!

I’d like to take the whole family for a trip out of the country. My dad and brother haven’t been out of the country before. So does that mean I got my wanderlust from my mom? hahaha She’d totally deny it!

Singapore

A must when in Singapore: eat out with friends!!!

A must when in Singapore: eat out with friends!!!

Enroute back to London, why not drop by this small but cool city and meet up with the many friends I have from the Philippines now living here and get together again with the locals I met here on my first solo trip out of the country! The fact that they have an amazing food culture is a plus too! :)

Malaysia

Petronas from Google

KL’s Petronas Tower

I am yet to visit this neighbouring country of Singapore so I’d like to see the Petronas towers and  visit the UNESCO Heritage Site town that is Malacca and do other sidetrips as well. :)

Germany Berlin and Munich

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

I’ve been to so many European countries last year and yet, I haven’t been here. Hmm… Maybe because I was too often in Italy? hehe From partying to trying out ice skating to visiting their Christmas markets and seeing.. ah.. uhmm.. Disney’s castle! lol Well, they say that’s the castle that Walt Disney got the inspiration from! ;)

Greece  Athens and Santorini

Santorini's white washed villas. Photo by Mr. R. Decena

Santorini’s white washed villas. Photo by Mr. R. Decena

I love history. Ergo, Athens. Do I need to give a reason as to why I even want to go to Santorini??? ;)

Slovakia Bratislava

Bratislava at night

Bratislava at night

Just because I wanna go somewhere new! I’ll know more about the place as days pass by.

Hungary Budapest

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

They say it’s one of, if not THE nicest city in Eastern Europe.

Poland Krakow

Krakow

Krakow

To visit my friend Ania! Woot! And it’s cooler here than Warsaw as I was told. *cough* haha

Iceland

To see an aurora borealis would be a dream come true!♥

To see an aurora borealis would be a dream come true!♥

Aurora borealis!!!!♥♥♥

The list is very much open to suggestions and can be subject to change! :D

blogcarnival

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Blogger’s Blog Carnival for  January 2013  hosted by Roj Braga of The Adventures of AdventuRoj! with the theme “New Beginnings.”

Related Posts:
Where Have You Been in 2013?
2012: Exploring Europe
Must See Travel Movies
Songs and Travels. My Travel Playlist!
Morocco in Pictures
DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe

Songs and Travels. My Travel Playlist!

Every now and then, some friends would be asking what kind of music I listen to when I’m on the road. I love almost all kind of music but mostly…

I love songs that just plain exude positive vibes
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield is a definite favourite of mine!
or those that could wake you up when you’re feeling sleepy,
Jay Sean’s 2012 is sure to get me up and about!
or calm you down when you’re anxious.
The beach comes to mind whenever I hear All Saint’s Pure Shores

Songs sang in a different language especially if it’s the place I plan to go to
Garry Schyman’s Praan

or songs that remind me of places I’ve been to
Paris comes to mind whenever I hear La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong!
plus songs that reminds me of home! Manila! *sigh*
Manila by Amber

I also always listen to songs that somehow makes me feel part of a bigger world. ;)
U2’s Beautiful Day

And I enjoy watching videos that makes me want to go out there and experience what this world has to offer!

Happy new year and more travels everyone!!!♥

Related Posts:
Must See Travel Movies
Where Have You Been in 2013?
Travel Wishlist for 2013
2012: Exploring Europe

2012: Exploring Europe

2012 is coming to an end. Many were even saying that the world is literally going to end but December 21 had gone and passed us by with the world still intact *whew* and here’s another end-of-the-year post to celebrate the year that was!

November 2011. The most amazing gift that I’ve received was the fact that I was finally able to relocate to UK, the country where I wanted to go to since I was a little girl. And live in London at that! 3months after, I got my Schengen visa which made visiting European countries not just a dream but a reality for me! :D

Here are the list of places that I’ve been to in this small but delightful and utterly charming continent ;)

1. France
Paris, Nice and Cannes
March, November

First stop is our neighboring country, France. Everyone encouraged me to apply for a Schengen here. According to friends they are most likely to give you a multiple entry for several months. Well, I was given a 3months multiple entry for my first application and a one year multiple entry for my second! :D

I totally enjoyed it here. I got to see famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral just to name a few. I made lots of new friends! I was hosted by a CSer that I met back home. He was plain great! He hosted me for 8 days, you see. ;) I like French foods and they know how to have fun. Would love to go back again and again here!

IMG_1504

With Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower :D

Versailles' vast garden!

Versailles’ vast garden!

2. Belgium
Namur, Brussels and Antwerp
March

Whilst in France, I was invited by my friend to visit him and his wife in Belgium. I accepted his invitation coz it’s always nice to meet/ catch up with friends! It was nonstop waffles, chocolates and beer (well, not much beers for me hehe). Mmm! It was interesting how the southern part speaks just French and that the more north we go, they speak more Dutch (and thankfully, English too).

Belgian beers. ;)

Belgian beers. ;)

3. Netherlands
Amsterdam
April

Browsing around the CS London thread, somebody mentioned that Megabus has a £1 one-way offer to Amsterdam and that it was going to be their Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) weekend. I was kinda in a party mood then and I thought it’d be great to go to Amsterdam so even though I knew no one there, I booked the tickets and had a wonderful time with other travellers! I never really liked the colour orange but seeing the whole city awashed in it was pretty cool!

IMG_3274

The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

4. Sweden
Gavle and Stockholm
June

Scandinavian countries aren’t high on the list of my places to go to for two reasons the cold climate and the high expenses. But for a friend, maybe I’ll give it a try. Well, she did say she’ll host and take care of me there. No complaints on that one! ;) haha I went there during their midsummer festival. The fact that it was around 21 hours of daytime was a nice experience.

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Traditional Swedish foods :)

Traditional Swedish foods :)

5. Spain
Madrid, Salamanca, Montserrat and Barcelona
July, November

The first time I went to Spain was to join a travel buddy of mine in touring Madrid and to be hosted by him in Salamanca where he was studying Spanish. It was crazy the day I got to Madrid. Some austerity measures had just been passed into law. On my way back to the hostel in the middle of the city, was a riot in protest of the austerity package. I almost got caught in the middle where it not for the kind waiter who pulled me inside their restaurant before barring their doors. Salamanca on the other hand is a big party place. It has many Spanish schools and people from all over go there to study the language. Clubs everywhere, they do not ask for IDs, no entrance fees and shots cost a euro! That’s the reason why the Spanish phrase I was thought there was “estoy borracho.” lol

Second time was for my birthday celebration. To sum up how varied my interests could be: on the morning of my special day, we went up to the mountains of Montserrat to visit a monastery and a sacred site then an aquarium early in the evening and partied after dinner! :D

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Madrid's Palacio de Cristal

Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

6. Austria
Vienna
September

Mozart. Classical music. Schnitzel. Sachertorte. Some of my favourite things in this charming city! It’s true that I didn’t expect much but I was very happy to be proven otherwise. I had such a wonderful time in Vienna with my good friend and host, Diana, that I would come back for sure! :D

IMG_0350

Schönbrunn Palace

Must do: attend a concert!

Must do: attend a concert!

7. Czech Republic
Prague
September

A question that  was a bit confusing for our host in Prague is when he’d ask me and my friend where we’re from and how we met, why we’re travelling together. Our answer?
My friend: I’m from Romania but I’m Austrian. I live in Vienna.
Me: I live in London but I’m originally form Manila, Philippines.
Us: We met in Bangkok. When Cat was still living in the Philippines. She visited me in Vienna from London. Then I joined her on this trip to Prague.
Everyone I know had been telling me that Prague is their absolute favourite European city so that kinda built up the expectation that unfortunately wasn’t met. I can’t say if it was because of the rainy weather. I was cold because I was (more) prepared for a warm climate since I was headed straight to sunny Italy. Oh well. I’ll give it another chance for sure! :)

IMG_1464

IMG_1626

8. Monaco
Monte Carlo
October

A quick sidetrip to Monaco was in order when a friend and I went to Nice. The one place that we went to here is the casino since I was too sick to actually explore around. This place is a billionaire’s playground. You’ll see it in the expensive cars being driven as well as the high end stores everywhere!

IMG_0307

9. Italy
Rome, Florence, Venice, Sardinia, Naples, Procida Island, Pompeii, and Amalfi Coast
June, August, September, October

Italy is my definite favourite country that I’ve been to here in Europe and the one that I kept going back to and would definitely visit again! I’ve dreamt of going there since I was young. I love pizzas and pastas, renaissance, architecture and history and they have it all and much more in overflowing abundance! The first time I was there, I did the typical route of Rome-Florence-Venice, I didn’t make it to Milan coz I had no time.
The second was when I went to the island of Sardinia. It was a week’s worth of beach hopping! The water was amazing but I’d have to say that it doesn’t come close to the beaches that we have in the Philippines and this is me trying to be objective. ;)
The third time around, I headed south. Rome-Naples-Amalfi Coast was the route that made me fall in love with this country more! Pizza in Napoli is just mmmmm! When I got back to Rome, the pizza there that I liked a lot before became just alright for me. haha And Amalfi Coast? It is truly deserving of its UNESCO world heritage site title, I would have to say that it’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to so far in this continent!♥
My last trip was a quick one to Rome. I went to attend the canonization of the Philippines’ second saint, Pedro Calungsod and heard the mass that was presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. :)

IMG_1358

Breath taking view of Positano ♥

Breath taking view of Positano ♥

San Pedro Calungsod's canonization at the Vatican

San Pedro Calungsod’s canonization at the Vatican

It was a pretty busy year full of wonderful sights and amazing experiences. I’ve been to 9 countries and even returned to some of them several times! I’m definitely lucky! I was corrected by a friend once and was told that… we’re not lucky, we’re blessed. I couldn’t agree more!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Cheers 2012! You’ve been way awesome and nice to me. Looking forward to 2013! :D

blogcarnival

This is my entry for Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for the month of December with the theme ‘2012: This Year in Travel’ hosted by Gay Mitra-Emami of Pinay Travel Junkie and Regine Camille Garcia of Between Coordinates.

Le French Riviera

Somehow, thinking of the French Riviera brings to (my) mind luxury chalets and villas, famous celebrities  and a glamorous lifestyle. Well, it is that but it is also possible to go there and not burn a hole in your wallet. :)

Nice – Monacco – Cannes

That was where my friend and I spent our quick getaway trip to this popular French Coast. It was just unfortunate that I was sick during the trip. At least that gives me another reason to go back, right? ;)

Here are some pictures from this trip. Enjoy!

NICE:

Nice International Airport

Bright and sunny Nice International Airport :D

At the train station

At the train station

Pictures taken in MONACO:

Luxury cars abound!

High end stores are everywhere too!

High end stores are everywhere too!

Yes. It is really a Billionaire's lounge!

Yes. It is really a billionaire’s lounge! But ladies, they’re mostly married. This last bit coming from a  millionaire we talked with. haha

IMG_0307

Monaco’s famous casino. Entrance fee is 20euros.

Few pictures from CANNES:

Walking along Cannes' promenade :)

Walking along Cannes’ promenade :)

IMG_0420

IMG_0437

IMG_0386

Amongst the 3 places we’ve been to, Cannes has the nicest sands. Time to hit the beach! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe
Practical Tips for Paris
Paris: Must See(s)
Inside: Louvre Museum

Amalfi Coast

My cousin and I were planning to go on a month long backpacking trip in Europe. Our list of places to visit was so long, I could feel myself getting a headache just thinking of what route we’re going to take while taking into consideration the budget. We did agree on two things: we will be going to Vienna to visit a good friend AND go to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately for my cousin, she wasn’t able to join me because of work. I still managed to go on a trip and do those two but with different companions.

Amalfi is beautiful!

As I’m typing this, I would have to say that Amalfi Coast is the most beautiful place I’ve seen here in Europe. To get there, you could either catch a flight to Rome then take a train to Naples then Amalfi OR fly to Naples then go to Amalfi OR you could also book a Mediterranean cruise. While over there, there were several cruise ships around the coast. But it still wasn’t as crowded with tourists as the rest of Italy. Probably since it was already early fall (mid-September)?

Breathtaking Positano!♥

Amalfi Coast is a 50km stretch of coastline along the province of Salerno in Southern Italy.  It is composed of 13 municipalities. Around 7 of which we have seen: Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, Maiori, Minori, Scala and Vietri sul Mare. The rest being Tramonti, Atrani, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Praiano, and Cetara. It’s said that Amalfi Coast is also known as “the land of the Sirens,” referring to Homer’s epic “Odysseus.” It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site as a cultural landscape because of its unique scenery as well as its indisputable beauty: jagged cliffs bordered by crystal clear waters of the sea; whitewashed (sometimes colorful) villas built on mountain slopes; flowers abloom and trees (mostly of lemon) abundant; and clear skies all combine for a spectacular view!

I travelled with my friend Ania in Italy for 9days. Wanting to save some money, we stayed in a hostel that’s walking distance from Salerno’s train station. After a quick change of clothes, we got on a bus bound for Amalfi. We bought the €3 day ticket. It was a very zigzaggy route but it was soooo picturesque! The one hour trip passed by quickly since I was just enchanted with what I was looking at! It is a must to ride a bus when here!

My friend got a bit of motion sickness hehe

A map of the coast painted on ceramics :)

Amalfi town used to be a maritime superpower. During the 800s it was the capital of the Duchy of Amalfi, a maritime republic which was considered an economic powerhouse and an important trading power in the Mediterranean. Built in the 11th century, you can visit the Cathedral of St. Andrew where in its crypt are buried the remains of St. Andrew, the first disciple of Jesus.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral

Wanting to make the most of our day card, we decided to catch the sunset in Ravello, a scenic town that’s perched high up in the mountains, 350meteres above sea level. To get there, we just went back to where the buses were parked in Amalfi and caught the one that’s headed to Ravello. Up there, they were producing limoncello (you can have a sip which we thought was a good way of warming us up coz it was relatively cold up there) and ceramics with beautiful designs on it. When it got too cold for us (we were just wearing very light dresses), we headed back down to Amalfi and from there got on a bus to Salerno.

Catching the sunset in Ravello’s piazza

We wanted to start early the next day but we kinda overlsept so we were in a hurry to get to Amalfi. Once in Amalfi, we again rode a bus but this time, towards Positano. It may seem that we were spending too much time in buses whilst there but it was alright with us since it allowed us to see much of the coastline. Plus riding a bus there seems to be an adventure especially if you’re seated near the driver. The road is narrow (barely enough for two vehicles side by side) that when at curves, cars have to give way to each other! It’s a bit troublesome when we’re by a curve and if the oncoming cars were driven by visitors in the area because it seems that they’re so used to wide roads that they won’t really move to the side for fear of scratching their vehicles that it doesn’t give our bus much space to get by. What’s funny though is when our driver would shout instructions to them to say… move backward, turn more to the left (or the right) and close their side view mirror so that we could pass by. I found it totally entertaining! :D

Looking up at Positano :)

Amongst the towns we’ve seen in Amalfi Coast, Positano is our hands down favorite. It is enchanting! Bellissima!!! It’s beauty earned for it the title “the pearl of the divine coast.” However, it is also probably because of this beauty that’s why it’s the most expensive place there. It is the most visited place in the coast of Amalfi. The town is also known for its clothing and shoe production. I was going to buy a handswen sandals worth €70. Alas, I thought twice about it! Oh well, guess I’ll have to come back again for one! :D

Enjoying the summer (well, early autumn) sunshine! :D

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting Around in Europe
Bella Italia
Rome, the Eternal City!
Rome: Must See(s)
Inside: Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square

Rome: Must See(s)

Oh my! Four times in Rome and counting! Here are some of the must see places in this city. There’s quite a lot so be more than free to remind me if I missed something. I could write a part 2 if that’s the case! :D

Capitoline Hill

The Capitoline wolf: a bronze statue of a she-wolf suckling twins infants who then founded Rome

It is the smallest of Rome’s seven hills but was the religious and political center of ancient Rome. Many important temples once stood here, the most important of which was the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus Capitolinus, built in 509BC and was almost as large as the Parthenon of Athens. The temple and the hill served as the symbol of Rome as Caput Mundi (capital of the world). Located on top of the hill is Piazza del Campidoglio which was designed by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Once the site of ancient Rome’s political, religious and judicial buildings, they say that the Empire was planned and developed in this relatively small space. Being the center of Roman public life, this was where triumphant processions would pass by along the Via Sacra (Sacred Way), the main road, as well as where elections, trials and even gladiatorial matches were held. It was referred to as the Forum Magnum or simply the Forum. The best way to view the Forum as a whole would be atop the Capitoline Hill.

Piazza Venezia – Victor Emmanuel Monument

Victor Emmanuel Monument

Located at the foot of Capitoline Hill, the piazza got its name from Cardinal Venezia who built the nearby Palazzo Venezia.

Seeing part of the city atop the Victor Emmanuel building

The monument houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was built after World War 1 to honour soldiers who died and whose bodies were never found.  Many criticized the building of the big white marble building since it clashes with the general architecture of the area. It even garnered nicknames such as “the wedding cake” and “the typewriter.” Either way, the view from the top is really nice so don’t forget to check it out!

Largo di Torre Argentina

There are ruins of four temples in this site

Found in this site are the remains of four Republican Roman temples and the Theatre of Pompey. This was where Julius Caesar was stabbed by a group of senators on the steps of the Theatre of Pompey. Currently, people go there to see the hundreds of stray cats that made the ruins their home.

One of the cats that laze around in the ruins

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps: Europe’s widest staircase

Also known as Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti  in Italian. It was designed by Francesca de Sanctis at the request of Innocent XII during the 18th century, they are so called because the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See was once situated in the piazza. The Scalinata with its 138 steps is the widest staircase in Europe. At the base of the staircase are streets with lots of high end shops.

Fontana di Trevi

So called because it is at the junction of three roads in Rome’s Trevi district, this fountain stands 26metres high and 20metres wide and is one of the most popular in the world. The Trevi Fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732. It was completed in 1762. The central figure of the fountain is Oceanus, the divine personification of World Ocean, an enormous river encircling the world. He is flanked by two Triton. One is leading a docile animal while the other is struggling with a very unruly sea horse. These two symbolize the moods of the sea. Also found at the niches on either side of Oceanus are Abundance from which water spills from her urn and Salubrity holding a cup from which a snake drinks.

The many tourists visiting the famous fountain :)

They say that if you toss a coin over your shoulder with your back to the fountain, you will be back in Rome. Well, to be more precise, if you toss a coin using your right hand over your left shoulder. Others are adding that if you toss 2 coins, you will fall in love with an Italian and that if you toss three coins, you will marry that person. I don’t know about the last two but I’ve been to Rome 4x already and I haven’t exactly tossed the coins properly! :D

Fontana di Trevi by night

With the amount of people tossing coins here, the city is able to collect EUR 3,000 daily! The money is then distributed to various charities in the city. Also, it is illegal to frolic in the waters of the fountain!

The fountain is walking distance from Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is built on the site of Stadium of Domitain and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. During the 15th til the 19th century, they would flood the piazza and use it for aquatic games and would stage naval battles.

Piazza Navona has three fountains:

Bernini’s Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata)

Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain) was created by Bernini in the early 1650s is one of Rome’s most famous. It represents the four great rivers known at the time namely the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata. It created a controversy since bread tax was raised to cover the cost of its building.

Giacomo della Porto’s Fontana del Moro

Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor), located at the piazza’s southern end, was designed by Giacomo della Porto and built in 1575. The fountain has statues of four Tritons and the basin is made of special antique rose marble. In 1654, Bernini carved the central figure, a muscular Triton riding a dolphin, that resembles a “Moor”. Thus, the fountain is called the Fountain of the Moor. During a restoration in 1874, the original sculptures were moved to the Villa Borghese and substitute copies were made and are still on the fountain.

Fontana del Nettuno also by Giacomo della Porto

Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) on the otherhand is by the piazza’s northern end. Also designed by  Giacomo della Porto in 1574, it was completed by Antonio della Bitta in 1878 when he added the sculpture of Neptune fighting an octopus.

Also found in Piazza Navona is Sant’Angese in Agone Church which is right in front of the Four Rivers Fountain. It was designed by Bernini’s rival, Borromini. Locals say that 2 of the representation of the rivers are actually shielding their eyes due to the horrible design of the church while the statue of St. Agnes meanwhile is gazing out of the piazza so as to avoid looking at the fountain in front of her! :D

Pantheon

The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. It was destroyed by a fire in 80AD, that’s why it was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian. The present building can be dated back to 120AD. Despite its age, it is one of the most well preserved ancient Roman buildings owing to continuous usage. It was made a Roman Catholic church around the 7th century. They dedicated the church to St. Mary and the Martyrs and is locally known as Santa Maria della Rotonda.

The oculus inside the Pantheon

Inside, very noticeable is the oculus, a central opening that opens to the sky. The Pantheon’s dome is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It lets natural light in and allows the sun to create striking patterns of light across the walls. The inlaid marble floors are original and hasn’t been changed since ancient Roman times! The church is also a burial ground of some illustrious Italians such as King Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I as well as the very famous Renaissance painter, Raphael.

Castel Sant’ Angelo (The Castle of Angels)

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9am-7:30pm; closed on Mondays, Dec25 & Jan1
Admission fee: €8.50

The Illuminati’s secret lair according to Dan Brown’s Angel and Demons novel, this building was initially commissioned as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. It was then used by popes as a fortress and castle. They had a covered passageway built to connect the Vatican and Castel Sant’ Angelo and used it as a means of escape in times of danger. Perched high up on the building is a statue of the Archangel St. Michael from which the building got its name. It dates back to when Pope Gregory the Great, during a procession to plead for the end of a plague, saw an angel standing on the top of the castle sheathing its sword. This was interpreted as being a heavenly sign that the plague was about to end. Henceforth, it became known as Castel Sant Angelo. A small chapel was built on top the castle at the spot where the angel was supposed to have appeared.

One of the angels at the bridge

Catacombs

Opening hours (San Callisto Catacombs): 9am-12pm; 2pm-5pm; closed on Wednesday
Admission fee: €8

Via Appia Antica, the oldest street in Rome

Beneath the city of Rome are catacombs that date back to as early as 2nd century AD. Back then, people were cremated upon dying but early Christians were against it since they believe in resurrection. To solve this problem, subterranean cemeteries were made. The Catacombs of San Callisto is the longest with around 12miles of tunnels. However, only 500 metres is open to the public. 19 popes, 50 martyrs were buried here along with hundreds of thousand other Christians. There are many other catacombs in the area.

To get here, either take a tour or do it on your own (this is what I almost always do on trips). Take the metro and get off at San Giovanni then take bus number 218. It will pass by the catacombs. OR take the metro to Ostiense station and take bus number 118. If you’re unsure of your stop, just let the driver know where you want to get off.

Colosseum

Opening hours: Daily (except Christmas and New Year) from 8:30am until 4:30-7:15pm (depending on the time of the year)
Admission fee: €15.50

The Colosseum. Pic courtesy of my friend Ania :)

Probably the most iconic building in Rome, it was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater and commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in 72AD. It is considered a structural and engineering marvel and one of ancient Rome’s greatest work. It could hold more than 50,000 spectators and people were seated according to rank. The Colosseum used to be made of marble. However, these were quarried and used for the constructions of the cathedrals of St. Peter and St. John Lateran as well as the Palazzo Venezia. What you can see now is actually the skeleton (inner walls) of the original building. It was the battleground for gladiators and used as a venue for mock naval battles, animal hunts and executions. Thus it came to represent not just the ancient Romans’ wealth and extravagance, but its cruelty.

Inside the Colosseum

Vatican City – St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square

*I will make a separate entry for the Vatican that’s why I won’t go into details about it here :)

St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City is recognized as the world’s smallest independent state in both size (44hectares) and population (800). Inside of which is St. Peter’s Basilica. It is officially known in Italian as Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano. The basilica is believed to be built on the spot where St. Peter, the first pope, was executed. Entrance here is free but everyone should be dressed appropriately (no bare knees nor shoulders). It is considered as one of Christendom’s holiest site and most renowned work of Renaissance architecture. St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) which is located in front of the basilica was designed by Bernini in such a way so that the Pope could give his blessing to as many people who could see as possible.

Looking down at Piazza San Pietro from atop the cupola of the Basilica

These are the definite must see places when in Rome though the sights are not just limited to them. I always take my time when visiting certain places and I try not to hurry. Enjoy the sights. Take a break: have a cup of espresso in Rome’s best coffee shop and roasting house a quick walking distance from the Pantheon, Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffe, while in one of the many piazza around. :)

Have a quick sip of Italian espresso! :)

Related posts:
DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting Around in Europe
Bella Italia
Rome, the Eternal City!
Amalfi Coast
Inside: Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 363 other followers