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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If You Find Yourself Dealing With A Broken Heart

How to get over a loved one

Recently, I ended a relationship with someone that held a big deal in my life for the past few years. This heartbreak was a wake up call for me. I realized that I should not let this affect other aspects of my life. I tried different remedies to focus on myself rather than on him, which eventually worked. So here are the top three things you can do to get over a break up:

1. Remove him on every single resource

Since social media plays such a great role in today’s society, it is so easy to be reminded of your former partner. For this reason, removing him on every single platform is important. If you also see him in person, avoid him and create distance.

2. Treat yourself

Like I said previously, the main focus should be on yourself. Go outside and do what makes you happy. For example, go to the nail salon, get a massage, or go shopping. Even better, go surround yourself with people that support you, like your friends or family. You deserve to treat and respect yourself.

3. Time heals all

This step is the hardest and will definitely take some time. You will never get over him, you will miss him time to time, and you will have the memories but do not turn back. Accept your negative emotions and let it out. Then, remind yourself that you are worth more and you will eventually find someone that treats you better.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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10 Places That Will Make Russia Your Next Vacation Destination

Explore the famous landmarks that play a vital role in Russia's history.

Russia...the underrated and often forgotten tourist destination. Places such as Italy (home to the Roman empire), France (the site of the Eiffel Tower), and England (the famous Big Ben and red telephone booths) are where millions flock to on their summer holidays. So how does some new inspiration for a vacation sound?

Picture this: Moscow, the city of golden domes visible from every street, with brick Kremlin fortress standing for almost a thousand years. St. Petersburg, the northern Venice of the former capital, home to the festival of White Nights, with the sun setting at 1 AM.

1. St. Basil's Cathedral

Built in 1555, St. Basil's is Russia's most famous church and the face of the country. Located on the Red Square in Moscow, its architecture and color scheme is unrivaled, as it was designed to resemble a flaming torch spiraling up to the sky. What makes it so unique is that it is actually nine churches in one, each chapel leading to another in a series of winding staircases and narrow hallways.

2. The Moscow Kremlin

Built at the end of the 1400s, the Moscow Kremlin serves as a fortress, surrounding five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Walls with their towers, the central one serving as a clock tower that faces the Red Square. It also serves as the official residence of Russia's president.

3. The Cathedral Square

The square of five cathedrals, the oldest one dating back to 1326, is located inside the Moscow Kremlin. The Cathedral Square has served as the site of coronations and funeral processions of all the Russian tsars of Moscow in history. Today, the inauguration ceremony of Russia's presidents take place in this famous place.

4. Moscow City

Looking for a break from a long day of touring? Head over to the modern business district of Moscow City. Home to offices, financial districts, and malls, it is home to the second tallest building in Europe and the unique spiraling Imperia Tower pictured above. The mall is the perfect place to try authentic Georgian cuisine, do some shopping and relax.

4. Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich

Built in 1667 and located outside of Moscow in Kolomonskoye, the palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich consists of 26 buildings attached through a maze of winding corridors. Without a doubt, the inside will leave you breathless.

5. The Kremlin in Izmailovo

Built in 2007, the Izamilovo Kremlin serves as a wooden complex consisting of a church and a cultural complex, modeled after fairytale descriptions of old Russia. Here you can have a laugh in museums dedicated to bread, folk art and even vodka, and watch multiple weddings take place here in one day.

6. Peterhof

Located outside of St. Petersburg, Peterhof sits on the Gulf of Finland. Laid out on Peter the Great's Orders, it is a complex of palaces, fountains, and gardens known as "The Russian Versailles". The grounds were the king's family's summer residence as to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city during that time of year. From its endless fountains to its perfect location on the gulf, Peterhof never fails to amaze visitors.

7. The State Hermitage Museum

Located inside St. Petersburg's Winter Palace complex, the State Hermitage Museum is a museum of endless hallways consisting of everything from one of Da Vinci's paintings, historical artifacts to an Orthodox chapel as well. Bring your walking shoes and be prepared to spend several hours walking through its breathtaking beauty.

8. The Splitting of the Drawbridges

One of the most famous features of St. Petersburg is the series of the opening of the several drawbridges, the first one beginning at 1 AM. Why so late, you ask? Up north, the sun sets very late in the summer, so therefore passengers begin their boat tours at midnight and take a cruise through the city to watch the different colored bridges open up before their eyes.

9. The Catherine Palace

Located in the town of Pushkino in the Tsarskoye Selo, the palace was built as a summer residence for Catherine I. The complex consists of sprawling land, gardens and a well-kept property, making it a popular tourist destination.

10. The Peter and Paul Fortress

Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the fortress was St. Petersburg's original citadel in the shape of a star. It is also a part of the St. Petersburg State Museum of History today. In the time of the Russian revolution, it also held prisoners. You can walk into their former cells and take a tour of their former living quarters, as well as the church in the other building.

Although 10 places could hardly capture the timeless and unique beauty of Russia, it gives tourists a new destination to add to their bucket list. The largest country in the world has much for its own people to explore as well.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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