When in Rome 2016
Recently I headed to the Historic city of Rome to soak up the atmosphere and explore what the city had to offer.
The popular tourist destinations such as The Vatican, The Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum and The Pantheon are certainly must visit places when you go to Rome. The history behind each are fascinating and the architecture is truly something else!
It was my aim to explore highlights of Rome venturing into the heart of the city and learning about the cultural and historical aspects of the city.
The Roman Guy Driving & Walking Tour
When visiting any city as well as exploring tourist attractions it’s also important to discover some of the less known attractions to really delve deep into the culture.
The Roman Guy is a fantastic tour guide company offering intimate VIP tours of Rome.
We had the pleasure of going on the Best of Rome VIP Driving and Walking Tour which allows you to see some of Rome’s popular tourist spots and to also go off the beaten track. The private air conditioned vehicle provided is a great way to see many of the popular attractions and to explore other areas which aren’t in easy reach.
The tours groups are always small which allows for a much more intimate tour experience.
We were met by our tour guide Elaine who was exceedingly friendly and welcoming to our party of three and two other guests.
Our first stop was the exquisite Santa Maria sopra Minerva which is one of Rome’s hidden 19th Century Gothic churches. This exquisite church is located in the Piazza della Minerva. The church contains a stunning marble statue of Christ created by Michelangelo which was certainly a highlight, created to perfection!
The church also contains a beautiful statue of St John the Baptist created by Giuseppe Obici created in 1858 photographed directly above.
The Santa Maria sopra Minerva really was incredibly stunning, the gothic interiors really appealed to me and its uniqueness left visitors feeling in awe. It’s beautiful starry eyed blue ceilings were magnificent.
The Memorial to Maria Raggi by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1647–1653 (fourth photograph up) was very unique. The quirky black and gold shaped memorial creates such a bold statement.
In front of the church is one of the more curious monuments in Rome, The Pulcino della Minerva. The statue is of an Elephant and Obelisk created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Ercole Ferrata which makes up the base of Rome’s eleven Egyptian obelisks.
The Latin inscription on the statue according to Alexander VII said to say “a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge”.
The next stop our trip was The Pantheon built in 118–128 AD completed by emperor Hadrian in 126 AD and is one of Rome’s best preserved buildings in Ancient Rome.
The Pantheon has been used as a church since the 7th Century dedicated to St Mary.
The Dome is really quite something and the oculus is the main source of natural light to light the entire building but surprisingly light inside despite.
Next up it was time to cool down a little and sample some homemade tasty Italian Gelato. Elaine took us to a lovely family run Gelato shop which is popular as they slowly churn their gelato rather than whip it unlike many of the chain stores.
The gelato is created from fresh ingredients and tasted divine. A great way to spot high quality Gelato is to look out for flat containers rather than highly stacked containing more natural looking colours.
The Rosa and Chocolate flavours were delicious and very rich in flavour. Really tasty. Gelato is a must try when in Rome!
Our next spot was a stroll through The Piazza Navona which used to be an ancient Roman Stadium and a popular spot for movies such as The Roman Holiday’ starring Audrey Hepburn and ‘Angels and Demons’ starring Tom Hanks.
We took a drive through the marketplace of Campo De’ Fiori meaning ‘field of flowers’. In the middle ages used to be a meadow so very fitting to its name! It was great admiring the beautiful little streets surrounding the market place. The buildings are typically Italian and wonderful to gaze at with their pretty shutter windows and bustling cafes outside.
Our next stop was absolutely one of my favourite aspects of the tour. We jumped into the car and our driver took us on a very scenic route off the beaten track to the beautiful Aventine Hill.
This place truly is magical and one of the highlights of the tour for me. Rome is such a busy place and it’s truly wonderful to find such a peaceful place in such a bustling city! You cannot hear any car noise only the birds tweeting in the trees. Great to find a laid back side of Rome.
The absolute highlight on Aventine Hill is the view through one of the doors which quite literally takes your breathe away. The view through the Aventine keyhole is a must see, it’s one of Rome’s semi-secret spots. Through the keyhole you’ll see a magical view of St Peter’s with surrounding gardens in view-point.
The architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi created the optical effect in the second half of the 1700’s.
It was like peering at a magical live postcard from Rome.
A very special moment on the tour and people waiting patiently in line to see this memorable view. It was spectacular!
Our driver then took us to the Basilica of Saint Sabina which unlike other churches in Rome it is less decorative but actually I loved that aspect about it. Like the surrounding area it was very calm and peaceful.
Santa Sabina is one of the early Christian churches in Rome dated from the 5th Century. It’s original style is preserved with natural light pouring through the windows.
The Door Panels on the outside of Saint Sabina are incredibly interesting. On the wooden panels are the earliest depictions of Christ’s crucifixion engraved by Saint Sabina herself.
Even though the church was generally less decorative there was one aspect which was more vivid, the rest of the church was very light and airy without very much decoration.
The contrast merged created an interesting feel to the church which I really enjoyed. It was beautiful.
Right next door to the Saint Sabina’s church are the picturesque Aventine Hill Orange Gardens designed Raffaele De Vico in 1932. The gardens are so relaxing and the scent of the orange trees are lovely! One of those smells you want to bottle up and take home with you 🙂
Overlooking the gardens you have fantastic panoramic views of Rome which are spectacular and truly wonderful to take in the scenery from a relaxed point of view.
After the magical Orange Garden our driver took us to Circus Maximus which is the largest stadium built in Rome which used to hold up to 250,000 people! It’s now used as a public park.
Our driver then took us to Capitoline Hill where the stairway was designed by Michelangelo himself, I saw a fashion shoot happening and managed to capture a photograph of the shoot!
We were also able to capture some excellent shots of The Roman Forum which for centuries was used for Roman public life. Many of the oldest structures of the ancient city are situated inside and surrounding the forum which you could explore for hours!
Our tour ended by visiting the famous Trevi Fountain which is just beautiful to see during both the daytime and the night.
Included is another shot captured at night, it’s quite magical to sit on the steps nearby to the fountain listening to water and watching the world go by.
Overall our Rome tour was impressive, a fantastic way to explore some of Rome’s famous attractions and going off the beaten track in an air conditioned car.
Q&A with The Roman Guy
1/ What inspired you to start The Roman Guy?
A love and passion for travel and particularly a love for Italy. My approach as a Roman Guy was to do things differently taking people to restricted areas at sights to make sure they feel like a VIP on their Roman Holiday. I became a licensed tour guide in Rome and my clients started asking me if I could not only take them to explore Rome, but also if I could organise other aspects of their trips like hotel bookings, private car transfers, restaurant bookings. The Roman Guy Tours & Vacations was born.
2/What makes a Roman Guy Tour unique?
We add value to each tour to make sure there is something special in there that will make your tour stand out form the crowd. We want everyone to feel like a VIP. We also avoid as many lines as possible. We like to call The Roman Guy experiences as seeing “Italy Without the Crowds”
3/How to you ensure to give your customers a positive customer experience?
Our Travel experts are all fully trained and vetted before working with us to ensure they provide amazing tour experiences for our clients whilst demonstrating The Roman Guy’s core values.
4/What are your favourite aspects of Rome?
The food and the history. There is no place better for either of these aspects than the Eternal City.
5/What do you enjoy the most about The Driving and Walking Tour?
That you can visit places where a walking tour just can’t take you. For example the Aventine Hill. With a walking tour it’s just too far away. Also, by the end of the tour, nobody is tired, and everyone has thrown their coin in the Trevi Fountain, gone inside the Pantheon and tried one of the best gelato in Rome.
6/What do you enjoy the most about working for The Roman Guy?
We get to provide people with unforgettable experiences in Italy. We are an enthusiastic and energetic team constantly searching for new experiences to offer people. People work hard all year to afford time and money for a vacation. Seeing clients smiling form ear-to-ear is so rewarding.
7/Where do you see the future of The Roman Guy?
The Roman Guy is growing as an Italy Tour & Vacation provider. Innovation means we are constantly striving to find new places to offer to tourists when they come to Italy. The sky is the limit!
8/Describe The Roman Guy in a sentence?
A group of like-minded individuals whose goal is to give tourists an unforgettable experience in Italy.
9/Why Book with The Roman Guy?
So that you can see Italy as a traveller and not a tourist.
My overall impression of The Roman Guy was an incredibly positive one. The personalised experience was wonderful and The Driving and Walking tour was a wonderful way to see Rome’s highlights and hidden gems in the city.
Rome is a wonderful place to visit, it’s full of history and culture and full of interesting places to explore.
Certainly visit the tourist attractions but do go off the beaten track when in Rome whilst you’re there. It’s such an incredible city!
What do you think of the sounds of the Driving and Walking tour with The Roman Guy judging from the photographs and review? Have you visited Rome before?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you so much for reading 🙂