Continuing the occasional series based on our recent Italian trip, today’s post features our first full day of sight-seeing in Rome. Before getting into the details, though, a brief aside to praise our Rome hotel, the Trilussa Palace in Trastavere. To be honest, the hotel itself (the physical location, dining room, accommodation) was good but not really exceptional. It was immaculately clean, the buffet breakfast provided a wide range of good quality options, and the rooms were well appointed and very comfortable. What set the place apart, though, was the incredibly high standards of service delivered by every single member of staff that we came into contact with during our five night stay. It started at check-in where the Receptionist welcomed us as if we were long-lost family, and proceeded to give us a ‘virtual tour’ of the city using a tourist map to show where all the key sites were in relation to the hotel, and the most appropriate means of getting to them by public transport. From that point on, nothing was too much trouble : from the staff serving at breakfast or on the roof-top terrace, to the reception staff printing off our e-tickets for visits to the Vatican and Colosseum, to the housekeeping staff who quietly and efficiently made up our room each day. Every single person was a credit to the hotel. If you are in Rome and need somewhere to stay, we can’t recommend the place highly enough! Anyway – advert over!!
Our first full day as visitors to Rome was Saturday 30th August, and we set off after a leisurely breakfast to seek out the Trevi Fountain, Nicola Salvi’s Baroque masterpiece. The location of the fountain – in the Piazza di Trevi – is actually quite tucked away and is accessed from one of three winding, narrow streets that are lined with a variety of more or less ‘tacky’ tourist shops, restaurants and ice-cream parlours. It is one of the most iconic venues in Rome, having featured in various films (including that most Italian of all major movies, La Dolce Vitae) and novels. It was with an initial sense of sadness, therefore, that we walked into the square to be greeted by this :
The Trevi Fountain is undergoing a massive renovation, and will remain encased in scaffolding until at least October 2015. Funnily enough, though, initial disappointment was soon replaced by a feeling that – well, we’re here anyway, let’s make the most of it – which seemed to be the mood of the many hundreds of other tourists who were also milling around the square. Consequently, we queued patiently to make our way across the scaffolding walkway that ran across the top of what would have been the fountain’s pools, and we took photos of one another in front of the scaffolding as if the artistry of Salvi’s marble masterpiece was visible in all its 17th Century splendour.
Leaving the Trevi behind, we set off towards the Spanish Steps, the steep flight of stairs linking the Piazza di Spagna (at the bottom) to the Piazza dei Monti (at the top). The Spanish Steps evokes the spirit of Paris’ Montmartre, and the walk up towards the Sacre Coeur, with the added attraction (usually) of Bernini Snr’s Fontana della Barcaccia at the foot of the steps. I say usually, because – and you may spot a theme emerging here – the ‘ugly boat’ fountain (as it’s fondly known by the Romans) was also shrouded in scaffolding and undergoing restoration while we were there!
Having looked in at the Keat’s museum at the foot of the Steps, and contemplated briefly taking out a second mortgage to have afternoon tea at Babington’s Tea Rooms, we eventually settled for some serious window shopping in the designer boutiques of the via dei Condotti and the via Borgognona. Amazingly, I made it out of there with wallet intact; although, little did I know that there would be a later impulse purchase that would lead us to the Stadio Olimpico and AS Roma’s first league match of the season against Fiorentina later that evening. You can read all about that here : –