How To Make The Most Of A Week In Rome

How To Make The Most Of A Week In Rome

Seven days can last a lifetime, if you do them right.

Rome offers so much that trying to cram it all into a trip even as long as a week can be a challenge. My sister came to visit me this past week and, knowing that it was unlikely she would be back in the Eternal City any time soon, I wanted to make sure she saw everything she wanted to.

Throughout the week, I started to realize that making the most of a short time in Rome is completely reliant on letting your curiosity and sense of adventure carry you throughout. If you're visiting Rome, go ahead and make a schedule, sure, but don't be afraid to stray from it. Every part of Rome wants to be seen, and denying yourself an extra moment of serenity in an empty part of the Palatine Hill or the chance to explore the city's hidden streets and secret histories simply because you want to make it to dinner at a certain hour won't just force you to miss seeing parts of the city, but will leave you feeling rushed and irritable.

Instead, give up a schedule for a list. Give yourself priorities, until you have created a group of sites and things to do that you feel you have to hit in order to feel satisfied by the time you leave. If you do choose to opt for a list, be sure to include some of what was on ours:

Make sure your first meal is a good one.

In Rome, it can be easy to fall into a tourist trap when you're near the city center. Across the Tiber, Trastevere offers a better selection. Its restaurants may be far from the sights, but that means its food is normally more authentic. Get pizza at a place like Dar Poeta or a take-out place like La Boccaccia, or find pasta and live music at Ombre Rosse. Walk Trastevere's maze of side streets with a full stomach, and sit on the steps of the in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. Let your first moments in Rome be a colorful introduction apart from the crowds in the city center.

When you do go to the center, do not rush.

Piazza Venezia can easily become a throughway toward the Roman Forum, especially because the Forum and Colosseum are in sight as soon as you enter the piazza. Take a moment to stand at the foot of the Altare della Patira (AKA "The Wedding Cake") and look up at the stark white columns, so tall that they can be seen from almost every one of the seven hills. Climb the 124 steps to Santa Maria in Ara Coeli and gape at the difference between the brick exterior and the decor inside. Stand on the top balconies of the Wedding Cake and count the domes of churches, scattered throughout the city and turning the sky to a series of cloud-patterned triumphal arches.

The Colosseum has its home amid hundreds of ruins.

They lead you straight to its doors. Do not ignore them. Take every moment to admire them as you walk. Once inside, circle the bottom level first. Rest on fallen columns and climb what steps aren't blocked off on the flattened remains of staircases. Go to the upper balcony only when you are satisfied that you have seen everything below. A bird's eye view of the inner tunnels accompanies exhibits filled with bones and decrepit pillars and a view of the Forum, blazing bright white against the deeps greens of the surrounding hills and trees. The view changes as you glance under each arch in the Colosseum's side, each becoming more beautiful than the last.

Do not ignore the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Your ticket to the Colosseum includes two consecutive days in the ruins adjacent to it, and an entire day could easily be dedicated to the vast amount of temples, arches, and homes that have been left behind. Reconstruct the Forum in your mind and then climb the Palatine Hill. Make an unnecessary amount of Emperor Palpatine jokes, and search every nook, crevice, and cave in the ancient architecture until the sun sets and the grounds close. Swear you missed something, no matter how long you spent inside.

Spend a rainy Thursday at the Vatican Museums, when the crowds are scarce.

The rainier the better. Keep your eyes distant as you pass another man trying to sell you an umbrella. Start with the Pinacoteca and come face to face with paintings by Raphael and the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in Rome. Loop through every museum. Do not dismiss anything. Just before you need to leave, give in to the signs for the Sistine Chapel. Stand beneath "The Creation of Adam" and study the ceiling until its frescoes seem to move on their own and your neck starts to hurt.

Most importantly, explore Rome every night.

That magical, romantic version of Rome you come expecting is best seen under moonlight. Watch the sunset over Rome from the top of the Spanish Steps, then watch the way blueberry ripples change the faces of the statues on the Trevi Fountain. Toss three coins into the fountain now that the crowds are gone: one to return to Rome, a second to find true love, the last to ensure a happy marriage. Go to the Pantheon before it closes and stare up at the stars through the oculus. Imagine a world of gods looking down on you. Get gelato at Giolitti around the corner, and walk toward the Colosseum while its melts into the crevices of your fingers. Sit on the stone wall that loops on one side of the Colosseum, and let your legs dangle over the steep slope below. Race down Via dei Fori Imperiali after midnight, when the Roman Forum is spotlit and empty, and the Colosseum's golden eyes illuminate the track at your back. Let Rome take you where it likes, no matter the hour, because though Rome is a city built on ruins, they will come back to life for you at night.

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.


"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hor air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

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Photo Album: A trip Round Europe, From London To Paris

It all started five years ago in the corner of a sea food restaurant.


It all started five years ago in the corner of a sea food restaurant. I sat around the table with my grandfather and my cousin, looking out onto the marshes of Hilton Head Island.

"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" my grandfather questioned us.

With no real interest in traveling to a large city or anywhere specific, I replied with my usual answer of "I don't know."

My cousin, on the other hand, almost always knows exactly what he wants. So he quickly rattled off a list of European cities that he wanted to travel to. Then my grandfather struck us a deal. If we could finish high school with a scholarship offer, he would take us to London and Paris. This past week I returned from that trip, and I decided to share some photos of the incredible cities of Europe.

The Tower Bridge from the River Thames

When we took a boat tour on the River Thames, I managed to snap a great picture of the Tower Bridge. The bridge lifts up in the middle in order for larger boats to pass underneath and access ports further in. Our guide mentioned a story about a time when the gate for cars on the bridge was delayed in closing and a tour bus ended up on the bridge as it was being raised. Unable to back up safely, the bus driver accelerated and jumped the gap!

The main entrance to the London Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museums are my favorite because of my interests in science, and the London Museum of Natural History did not disappoint. This museum has everything from a room filled with life size replicas of the largest mammals on earth, to a gallery of rare gems and jewelry collected by English scientists. In my opinion, the greatest the display shown at this museum is the collection of fossils found by Mary Anning. Despite growing up in a poor family and being a woman in a time when science was a predominantly male field, she discovered a number of new aquatic dinosaur fossils!

True Love ring overlooking Tower Bridge

Buckingham Palace

The home of the Queen for most of the year. While it's still incredibly fancy, I figured it would stick out a lot more compared to everything around it. The building itself looked very similar to many other buildings except for a large fence with a lot of security and an extremely elaborate gold fountain in the center of a traffic circle out front.

Pont Alexandre III

While the Pont Alexandre III bridge is extremely beautiful and probably the prettiest bridge in Paris, I wanted to photograph it to recreate a black and white drawing I have hung in my home. I saw the picture fairly often but never knew where it was from. However, when I saw the Pont Alexandre III I knew it was the same bridge! Built for World Fair of 1900, the bridge was constructed to show of the architectural and industrial advancements that the French had undergone.

Eiffel Tower

Of course you cannot have a photo album of Europe and not include the Eiffel Tower. This incredible structure was originally going to be removed after the world fair it was constructed for because most citizens thought it was an eyesore to the city. Little did those people know the Eiffel Tower would come to represent Paris to people all over the world!

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