When in Rome do what the romans do
Rome. Straight roads, ancient architecture and empires come to mind. The capital of Italy is impressive and definitely worth a visit! This summer, we couldn’t hit Venice and Florence without going to Rome!
There were a lot of things that I loved and found to be unique about Rome:
- Hundreds of sites to see!
- A good range of restaurant types – in other Italian cities you are restricted to Italian restaurants alone.
- There is a brilliant contrast between ancient and modern architecture, educational museums/art galleries and family friendly attractions.
However, some things to be aware of are:
- Metro Tubes and Buses get VERY busy and are rather claustrophobic.
- It’s difficult to find somewhere inexpensive to eat unless you go out into the suburbs.
Sites and attractions
You can’t go to Rome and not see the Colosseum! The largest amphitheatre ever built is one of Italy’s most renowned attractions and built beside the Forum and Palatine, makes an exciting day out.
On Palatine Hill you get some incredible views of the city and the forum ruins!
You can buy a combined ticket that grants a pre-selected, timed entry into the Colosseum and then also one entry into the Forum and Palatine. This ticket lasts two days to enable you to take your time in each since the Forum takes up a vast expanse of landscape itself.
However, don’t be fooled! Whilst the ticket is a two day entry, you can only go in once – no return. We discovered this when we came back a day later to finish seeing the Palatine, not realising that the Forum and Palatine Hill don’t have separate entries. Thankfully we managed to persuade the staff to let us in as the ticket was not very clear.
The Pantheon was built as a roman temple to the gods. It has no windows and it’s only light source is a huge hole in the top of the domed roof. Apparently it does rain into the Pantheon but the floors are designed to allow the water run straight off towards the edges of the building.
Now the Pantheon is used as a church so you get free entry. Whilst statues of the roman gods have now been removed, the interiors are still very royal.
The fountain makes for a pleasant place to sit for a little while but I wouldn’t allow too much time there. It’s a very busy site and whilst beautiful, takes time to find and there’s not much else there! But if you fancy an ice cream, then why not?
The Spanish steps connect Piazza di Spagna with the upper Piazza Trinita dei Monti, and are considered to be Rome’s most romantic spot. They were built to represent peace between France and Spain. From the top you get some lovely views of the city. The place seems to come to life during the evening where most people congregate to enjoy the fountain after dinner.
The Vatican is the state belonging the the Pope and technically the smallest country in the world. Here you can visit the Vatican Museum, St.Peter’s Basilica and the famous Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo’s incredible works can be found on the ceiling.
We didn’t get chance to go into any of these sites because we didn’t prebook fast enough – the earliest tickets (unless you want to waste 4 hours queuing in the sun) were for two weeks after our trip! However if you know you’re heading to Rome, I would definitely recommend the Sistine Chapel. Why? You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside and it holds some of the world’s greatest paintings – they are a must see and you won’t find any pictures of them online!
Bioparco Di Roma
A day out to a zoo always goes down well with the family! We find that it’s a relaxing break from site-seeing and something that all of us can enjoy. Bioparco is easy to get to on the bus and the animals are really well cared for. Every hour they have scheduled feedings, including hippo feeding! Tickets are €16 per adult which is amazing value and the park offers some good, valuable food choices too.
Why you don’t need an organised tour
So many people these days opt in for organised tours – you see offers everywhere! It’s almost as if people aren’t willing to ‘risk’ it and try to see the city themselves…
This is why you don’t need one:
- They are extremely expensive (€50-80)!
- Long and awkward hours: often tours last all day but start as early as 7am and finish at 5pm. This means you are up early and doing most of the tour in midday heat. Most places in Rome open late so it’s a lot better to go in the evening when it’s cooler.
- Large groups: I mean why do you want to be carted round in a group of forty, camera-clicking tourists? I’ve been there, done that and I can tell you that it’s one of the most stressful things ever!
Are the benefits actually benefits?
- “You get to skip the queues.” Perhaps it’s satisfying to skip the queue and not worry about handling tickets but you pay a fortune to do so. The best way to skip queues is to prebook tickets because you just pay a standard price.
- “It’s easy to use the hop on and hop off buses.” This is ridiculous! These sorts of buses charge a premium when you can buy a Rome day ticket for the metro and bus. You can buy a 24 hour pass for €7 or a 72 hour pass if you stay longer.
- “The audio guide provides all the information you need.” Most museums and sites will either sell a paper guide or have a free audio guide app – so you really don’t need a personal tour guide! Or save even more and buy a good Rome travel book!
Of course you want to know where to stay and eat…
We actually stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in the suburb of San Giovanni. It only took 15 minutes on the metro and since it was a more residential area, we found a brilliant pizza restaurant and bistro. It was a lot cheaper than central restaurants and greater quality too – we actually ate there twice after trying two not so great places in the centre.
over and out
That’s it for Rome! There are so many more museums and galleries that we could have visited but we didn’t quite have time. I would definitely recommend Rome if you are looking for a city break or holiday.
Our Italy blog ends here too. Of all the countries I’ve visited, Italy definitely wins for transport – the trains are irreplaceable! It makes touring the country easy, quick and affordable. If I were to pick a single destination, it would have to be Rome simply because of the range of sites to see – Venice is beautiful but at the end of the day, it is just canals and art galleries!
I definitely recommend splitting your flights and using the trains. We flew to Pisa, then went Florence, Venice and flew back from Rome. However there isn’t a great deal in Pisa besides the leaning tower so it might be worth flying to Venice first and passing through Florence on the way to Rome!
I hope you have found all the information and inspiration you need to hit Italy yourself!
Is there anything else you would like me to write about?
Got your coffee? Great lets go!
Whilst all previous Coffee Times have incorporated lessons learned from books, as we step into September I want to discuss visual media also. Over the past month I have encountered and experienced so many influential things however there was one spectacular and inspiring moment that stands above it all… Kynren.
Kynren is a 90 minute outdoor show directed by the Olympic ceremonies veteran, Steve Boyd engineering a cast and crew of 1500 volunteers to tell the story of the history of England, with a particular emphasis focusing upon the surroundings of County Durham. Starting at sunset, you are immersed in a timeline of tales complete with scenery, live animals, music and fireworks. It’s incredible and certainly indescribable. So indescribable that the best I can do to explain is link to the trailer, here.
But what was so inspiring? Kynren not only contains amazing visuals but also incredible lessons. First of all, stories and scenes transition fluently, all linking with the aid of large props and stage sets, hidden under a water reservoir ready to be elevated in time. Although I previously studied history, I have always struggled to piece together the whole time line of British History and the 29 scenes for me were that final Eureka moment. I found my mind was able to process all stories from monks, saxons, vikings… up until the first and second world war.
There was a valuable message amongst all of this. The show follows a young boy called Arthur, who travels in time through all of these generations and grows older as he transitions throughout them. He comes into contact with “the old Arthur” early on whilst still young and as he moves throughout history, he is counselled. The message? To learn from previous generations of leaders, lead your in present generation and make way for the new generation of strong leaders to come. The fundamental in all of this, is simply: let generations inspire you!
There have been some incredible forces of change in our country including Saint Cuthbert, Julius Ceasar, Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill… All of these people we admire – but may we dig deep. Let us research them, read their stories and think about the things that they brought about. From this, may we hold onto the influences that we find, allowing them to raise us up as great leaders also. All historical figures came from ordinary backgrounds. Likewise, new generations will rise up – and we can be a part of that! Yet all generations must also step down – may we gracefully make way for the new, younger Arthur…
With this I ask, is there a historical figure that you admire? Why? How can they influence your decisions and actions? Or perhaps, could you learn something by digging in and being curious about a figure you’ve never really listened to?
Kynren is an old word meaning “generations.” So lets learn from Kynren this September!
We are back again for the third edition of Coffee Time! By now you should know what to do: grab a coffee and let’s get started!This month I had to choose Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. Whilst I’ve read other books this month as well, sometimes you can’t beat a good novel – especially when it hits number one bestseller! Besides, within this book you’ll find challenge, memory, fairy tale and a very important lesson to learn.
The book is incredibly easy to read and makes the perfect Summer novel – I couldn’t put it down. The main character is Robin Wilde who is a single mum to Lyla Blue. She starts out in a phase of sadness, insecurity and loneliness that she calls “the emptiness,” but gradually overcomes this by focusing on the happiness of her child. She goes on dates that fall, and lives in the fear that she isn’t a good enough mum, that Lyla is emotionally scarred from the parent break up and that all the “posh school mums,” are all secretly looking down on her.
I don’t want to give spoilers so I’ll skip past the middle and ending. Rather I want to share a very important lesson I’ve learnt by reading Wilde Like Me…
People are too busy thinking about themselves, to care about you. What Louise Pentland means by writing this is that often, we may think that somebody has a very low view of us, but in reality they actually look up to you. Rather than judging others they are too busy judging themselves. We all do it. Therefore we ought to have more confidence. In the book Robin Wilde spends so long feeling like a nobody when actually the school mums were admiring her the whole time! This truth is fundamental. Perhaps you often worry that your friends don’t really like you, that you aren’t good enough or that being different means social failure – wrong. It’s time we all said no to this voice inside us and held our heads high!
Power of Positive Thinking. Throughout the novel, Robin Wilde is portrayed as a motivated woman, battling with optimism. After bad days she starts afresh with a lot of positive thinking. What stands out the most is how she declares optimism: “today will be a good day,” “I can do this,” “This is a new day.” Even in her emptiness, Robin Wilde battles to climb up out of it. Whilst reading this novel, I had a bit of a bad day myself and inspired by this lesson, I put the power of positive thinking into practise. All day I told myself, “today is a good day,” and it completely changed my attitude – in fact I had one of the best days ever!
Wilde Like Me is such a wonderful novel! I can’t help but feel proud of the main character Robin Wilde and I have learnt some incredible, much needed lessons. In my opinion, everyone should give it a read! If you find yourself in the same boat as Robin, feel a bit stuck in your current phase of life, or not, it’s a great eye-opener into the struggles of a single mum as well as a kick-ass pick me up full of motivation and encouragement!
Have you read Wilde Like Me? What have you learnt in your own reading?
P.S. Buy Wilde Like Me here
Say hello to a brand new series on Distinctivemode! Previous to relaunching this blog, something I was never able to share was my love for reading. Yet it’s reading and learning that has been a major influence upon journeying with Distinctivemode, as well as developing my character. One of the first things that I did when I sat down to think about what I wanted to change, was find a way to incorporate these influences and affairs.
I came up with “Coffee Time.” Coffee time is a monthly opportunity to sit down, grab a coffee, and discuss what we have been learning. Personally, this will be a chance to review the books that I have read, the world affairs that have perhaps taught some valuable lessons or simply words that have inspired. It’s a time set aside to reflect upon the things that have captivated us, shaped us and enlightened us. For learning is valuable – discussing what we have learnt in forums even more so! It’s a chance to celebrate our influences!
Grab a coffee and let’s get started!
This month I have journeyed through the awesome, inspiring and intellectual autobiography by Chris Hadfield titled, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.” To this day I have never read anything so informative, intriguing and influential (aside from the bible of course!). In summary the book walks us through Hadfield’s career as an astronaut: his first tip toe steps, his setbacks, space flights, and small neutral moments.
I want to share three points from this book that stand out completely as inspirational:
- Dream’s are possible. This seems like such a cliche but immediately I can reassure that this in no such thing. Hadfield starts his book with a flashback to his childhood, 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. From that moment, 9 year old Chris Hadfield set his heart upon becoming an astronaut. However from day one he knew that it wouldn’t be easy – he never spoke a word about this dream to anyone knowing that he wouldn’t be taken seriously at such a young age. Instead he set his mind upon doing whatever he thought may prepare him for space should the opportunity arise. This started small, by simply asking, “would an astronaut eat vegetables or potato chips? Sleep in late or get up early to read a book?” later leading to pilot training and a degree in mechanical engineering. He sweated the small stuff – just in case. When the opportunity did arrive, he was as prepared as he could be, providing him with the very best chances – and he made it! It took years of “just in-case” preparation, but he succeeded. Reading this has motivated me to never waste a moment, to constantly question and to always be looking to learn more! Then I may be ready to run at all the opportunities and adventures that present themselves in the future!
- Aim to be a zero. Throughout his book, Hadfield refers to a personality scale, centred around a neutral. Simply put, you can either be a -1, 0 or +1. The minus one is somebody who causes setbacks, brings negativity and who is simply no use to a task in hand. The plus one is everybody’s goal however in reality, those who make themselves known as a +1 genius, contributing massively and standing as most important, often end up being seen as a -1. Nobody likes a self-obsessed personality. Zero however, is completely neutral. They neither add to a situation nor detract. They balance the scales. For example in space, a zero astronaut neither mistakenly reduces progress, nor acts arrogantly, controlling all advances. Effectively a humble zero will be seen as a plus one – but only because they have aimed to be a zero. This lesson has humbled me to aim to be zero in all that I do.
- Coming down the ladder – reading this book unleashed such a passion and interest into space exploration! There is a whole universe out there full of stars, galaxies and wonder. Reading about Hadfield’s experiences and the small quirky changes to life in the ISS fascinated me greatly. So much so that I found myself dreaming of going to space myself – as a British Woman with poor eyesight and no flying skills/scientific degree what so ever, I have extremely slim chances! But as he concludes his autobiography, Hadfield discusses his retirement. As an astronaut he found his job roles changing often, and more often than not, this involved climbing down the ladder, rather than up. Something Hadfield mentioned towards the end of his book, is that he had to learn that his time in space was over and that he had now accomplished his dream. But that didn’t mean that he should be fearing, “what if that was all there is?” It really made me think – we may not have the same once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as everybody else, but there is always joy in the small things! I will never get to space myself but I can still fuel such an interest through books, research and artistic exploration! One day like Hadfield, I’ll unknowingly experience the best of my days. That doesn’t mean the rest of my life will no longer be valuable – every moment is precious!
I cannot recommend this book enough! If you want a little motivation to run at your dreams, some tips on achieving success or simply an insight into what life in space is really like – from toilets, to research, to spacewalks – then this book is definitely for you! You wont be disappointed!
I hope you enjoyed the first of our Coffee Time explorations.
What have you been reading, learning or thinking about this month? Let’s discuss below!
Things have been rather quiet here over on the gallery page. That’s because between March and June I was actually working on a secret illustration contract with group magazine. I can’t explain how desperately I wanted to share my work with you nor how time consuming it was! As my first paper publication, it was a learning experience and I loved every second of it!
About the project: I was comissioned (along with a team of US student artists) to illustrate a new youth new testament bible called Pierced. Each book within the bible has it’s own book cover, designed and illustrated by one of the ten artists. We were asked to “put our own interpretation and testimony” into the artworks. I was given Ephesians, Philemon, and 2 Peter for which I used a range of mixed media. My favourite would be Ephesians – here I layered a self portrait painting over some photography. It relates to Ephesians 3:14-19 that talks about being filled with the fullness of Christ.
The bible itself contains journalling margins for your own notes, as well as printed handwritten notes on each page to provoke thought and guide you through quiet times. These notes have been produced by another team of student writers. The books of the new testament have also been rearranged, placing each gospel at the front of four groups that consist of closely related books. It aims to provide 4 witnesses to the story of Christ. I find this layout interesting and really helpful – no more “I wonder what to read now.” Simply start with one of the gospels and follow through the group! Finally, it’s 6×9″ in size which for me is perfect – I was struggling to read my smaller bible!
The pierced bible can be purchased online from Amazon. If from the UK, you can still purchase the product from the american site – it works out at around £20 (although last time I checked it was on sale for less) once you’ve added shipping costs!
P.S. Although I cannot recommend this bible enough, I in no way intend to pressure people into purchasing. I was not paid to write a review and also suggest that if purchasing, you use this bible alongside a full bible. The Pierced Bible is only a New Testament resource and therefore shouldn’t be relied upon alone.
Last week, I visited the Safari Zoo in the Lake District – I had such a great day! The enclosures gave great access to the animals, and I was able to get right up close to tigers, jaguars, giraffes, lemurs, kangaroos… My creativity jumped at the chance to shoot! Even if I did end up freezing and numbly sipping a coffee post 6 hours outdoors!
Enjoy the shots as much as I did!
Over the past month, I’ve been reading (little by little) Simply Tuesday, by Emily Freeman. In short, Emily is a Christian writer who has gracefully poured her heart out, into her fourth book… Not only are the words gracious, but they are also life-changing! Looking back over my life, before the book and after, I cannot recommend a better book to read – or to add to a Christmas list!
Freeman discusses many things in her latest book, but most importantly, she discusses how it’s in our worldly culture to dream big, live big, and build even bigger – we have an assumption that ‘being small’ is a negative thing… Simply Tuesday spins this perception around, teaching the reader about faith, grace, disappointment, patience and going slow. About dealing with today’s busy schedule, high demand, and boring moments, whilst resting in the knowledge that all these winter moments are chosen… How God is with us in these moments, and we are to take them as they come.
I cannot tell you everything, without simply giving you a copy of the book – every page gives a new, beautiful, and understandable lesson that really does impact the way that you live. I am extremely passionate about what I’ve learnt and I so desperately wish for you all to go and read it! As I’ve journeyed through the book, I’ve developed as an individual, become happier, and found ways to encounter God in the small, everyday!
So pick up a copy, and let these gracious words fall upon your heart!