Rome’s most iconic sights

The Colosseum and Roman Forum are undoubtedly two of the most popular attractions in Rome, for great reason. They are marvelous, archaic and absolutely spectacular. Built in A.D. 70-72 the iconic ruin epitomises Italy, the magnetic pull bringing culture and historical enthusiasts together. It acts as some sort of beacon for those who want to ground themselves in the historical “centre” of Europe.  The Colosseum has lived a difficult life, from gladiatorial combats to animal fights; history is etched in its bones- quite literally. There are seats within the Colosseum that have Senators names etched into the back of them, preserving their seats forever in time. Left to almost ruin after the fun and games the Colosseum remains as a stoic icon of the tumultuous Roman history that surrounds.

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The Roman Forum is an important archaeological site, fortunately preserved so we can see into what was once the centre of the city. The Forum is full of  imposing ruins that leave their mark on the valley it’s situated in. The  beauty of Rome is the eclectic mix of modernity and archaic ruin and when you are among the true heart of the Roman Forum you feel as though you are miles, if not centuries away from the modern world. So large you can get lost in the immersion, the only thing pulling you out of it is the call of pizza and wine.

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As we visited Rome during winter I did not expect many queues, but forgot that we were arriving just before the sales and the Epiphany celebrations for Christmas. It felt like every single person who was in Rome was visiting the Colosseum that day. The line was ridiculously long but I imagine it would be a lot worse during summer.If you pre-purchase a ticket you will be able to save yourself some time (any time saved waiting in lines in Italy is more time to drink wine I say!) you will also be able to gain access to the underground and third tier tours, which they limit the amount of visitors per day. You can find tickets here. With the ticket you are also granted access to the Roman Forum.

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Enjoy x

Europe in winter

Visiting Europe in winter is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is incredibly cheap. Hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are all off-peak prices. So if you are contemplating a European  holiday on a budget; winter is the best time for you. Secondly, snow. Enough said. Who doesn’t love a White Christmas?!  For people watchers and atmosphere addicts, a trip to Europe during winter will have you hooked, you will never want to visit during any other season again.

Here are some of the best places in Europe to visit during winter.

Berlin, Germany.

No one does Christmas better than Germany, with historic markets full of gluhwein (mulled wine), German sausages, gingerbread, pretzels, and candied nuts on almost every corner. The most famous being Gendarmenmarkt. A 1 Euro entry fee will offer sit-in restaurants, bars and entertainment. Eating (and for that matter drinking) at the markets is incredibly cheap. You can eat lunch and dinner on the go, leaving lot’s of money for gluhwein (the perfect way to keep warm), hot chocolate, or beer. It’s the best way to take in the cheerful atmosphere and magical winter wonderland that is around you.

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Prague, Czech Republic.

Home to possibly the best Christmas tree you will ever see Prague also has Christmas markets that will give Germany a run for its money. Trdelník is a traditional pastry cooked over hot coals, covered in cinnamon sugar and sometimes Nutella. This will become a staple of your diet in Prague, I promise. Prague is generally a cheap tourist destination in Europe and Christmas time, although certainly very busy, is no exception. Food portions are huge, beer is cheap and the baroque rooftops are beautifully contrasted against grey skies.

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Winter in Amsterdam is quiet, there are almost no crowds and this is due partly in fact to the freezing temperatures it reaches. Cold air drifts off the canals and there is no escaping it. The locals are used it, still riding their bikes absolutely everywhere. Rug up and huddle in some tea shops to keep warm. Wandering the streets admiring the beauty of the city and the Dutch architecture is also a great way to keep warm.

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Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh has this old historic charm about it that undoubtedly makes it an underrated European destination. There are a so many things to do which make exploring this sleepy, snowy town so much more charismatic. Edinburgh has a dark history full of filth and violence, it is truly fascinating and visiting during winter brings that history to life.

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Rome, Italy.

The best time to visit Rome is during winter. Fountains freeze over and there are little to no crowds, which means you can get more out of your day by eliminating wait time in lines. Accommodation costs are at a minimum and you get a greater sense of Roman life as the stresses of summer (crowds, tourists and the heat) all but disappear. Not to mention the dappled light and sun spurs make for some spectacular shots.

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Europe is beautiful. No one can deny that and winter offers a great excuse to head indoors and absorb the culture of a city. Be it museum, galleries or a local craft shop. Sometimes it is so cold outside you find a cosy spot in a warm café or bar and simply watch the snow fall and the world go by.

Roman food safari!

It has been a lifelong dream to walk the streets of Italy and eat my body weight in Italian delights. After 28 long years of waiting it finally came true, and boy did Rome deliver! I had heard many stories of how Rome was overpriced (we actually found Rome to be incredibly cheap) and the food less than average, but we did not find this to be true. If the food is less than average in Rome I don’t think my taste buds will be able to handle what is considered good food in Italy. Every single meal, except one, was perfection! The secret…get off the main streets, don’t be afraid of going down a little side street or alley way. Anything on the main streets, and especially those near tourist attractions will be overpriced and below average. Don’t waste your time.

You will want to walk everywhere in Rome, not because you will eat so much (trust me you will!) but because it is so beautiful! So don’t be afraid to wander. You will discover some beautiful architecture and some amazing food while you are at it. We preferred to eat on the go throughout the day and sharing our food meant that we could try twice as much. Rome, although not the birthplace of pizza, has an abundance of little pizza shops where you can buy by the slice or indulge in some arancini on the go. This laneway, near the Pantheon, satisfied our taste buds greatly.

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We stumbled across a family run restaurant on our way back from Castel Saint Angelo- Fattoincasa (or Fatto in Casa to help you remember) on Via del Governo Vecchio . The owners greeted us and all their patrons like family, it was full of Italians (always a plus) and the owners were so helpful and carefree about the odd broken glass and didn’t seem to mind that we wanted to sit there for hours (it was just so cold outside!). After we asked for the bill we were served Limoncello and were sent out the door with chocolate in hand. We had such a positive experience that by the end of the night we felt like family too and went back several times over our stay. The food was to die for with big serving sizes too.

Be adventurous, you won’t be disappointed. Trust me. Just don’t forget to leave room for Gelato though!

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Enjoy x