To us, my sister and I, taking a stroll through the Via dei Fori Imperiali brought us to Il Colosseo. I must mention that we did not have an itinerary to follow whatsoever, as we had an idea of what to do and see, but we would first and foremost, go with the flow.
In short, our visit to this new wonder of the modern world was short as we merely walked around the outside of it. Why? Well, we arrived there a bit after 3:30pm and the ticket booth was closed. Nonetheless, Il Colosseo left us awe-stricken!
A seagull's view of Il Foro Romano
Il Foro Romano was yet another location we didn't visit; let's say it was due to time constraints and poor planning that otherwise would have allowed us extra time to go frolicking around this location.
Instead, we took a detour at the Altare della Patria also known as Il Vitorriano.
To the right of this emblematic building/sanctuary [do check out their change of guard in front of the tomb of the unknown Italian soldier], you will pass some small ruins and then come across to a set of stairs.
These stairs will lead you to the Capitoline Hill (previously one of the seven hills of Roma). At the top you will encounter the Piazza del Campidoglio - a master design credited to Michelangelo.
My sister and I raced up the stairs, absorbed its magnificence and tried to envision Michelangelo's piazza (engraved here by Etienne Dupérec) while also admiring the replica statue of Marcus Aurelius as well as that of some of the statues of pagan gods that are said to have been donated by a Pope to rid the Vatican of such idols.
Next stop ... Il Altare della Patria
For some amazing views from above, continue to the nearby Basilica di Santa María in Ara Coeli, enter and as you go through, admire it, check out the relics they safe keep and then exit to then line up patiently to pay €7 to take the lift/glass elevator up to admire great views of the Roman Forum, il Colosseo, Piazza Venezia as well as the rest of Roma.
The vistas from above:
Il Vaticano in Christmastime!
December 2015 marks the beginning of the Anno Santo della Misericordia. Although we were not part of any pilgrimage, we did attend mass on St. Peter's Square on Christmas eve.
We didn't see the Pope other than by means of the Jumbotron but I was completely ecstatic to had been able to get into the square.
We later on found out that some yellow-card invitations were handed out earlier if you wanted to enter the Basilica itself during the Christmas eve mass. So do check in advance or ask for these invitations if you are in the Vatican City during this time of the year.
That same night we were told that the Pope makes an appearance the following day around noon to bless those who are in attendance. Therefore, we came to the square one more time to get a closer look at the Pope!
La Bocca della Verità
One day, as my sister and I were having lunch at a restaurant near the Piazza di Spagna, we met a young couple from Bilbao, Spain who amongst their recommendations to us, told us not to miss this site. Although my sister was not keenly interested (mainly due to an hour wait in the cold), I did queue and finally got this photo. Beware: You will only be allowed one photo per person.
Legend has it that this Mouth of Truth is a lie detector and will bite off your hand if you dare so introduce it in its mouth.
Later on as I did my research on this site, I did find out that it had been made popular by means of Hollywood's movie Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Moreover, the church which hosts the Mouth of Truth - Basilica di Santa María in Cosmedin - also hosts as a relic, the skull of St. Valentine as well as one of Roma's oldest Medieval chapels, sacristy and oratory plus the tallest medieval tower bell of Roma.
The Pantheon & Bernini
The famous Pantheon is highly regarded as the best preserved building from the Roman era. Other than the burial site of Italy's two first kings; moreover, the sarcophagus containing the bones and ashes of the famous artist Raphael.
What did intrigue me were the following:
As you continue your way within the vicinity and just a few meters beyond the Pantheon, you will encounter the Piazza della Minerva.
At this piazza, you will see its most famous landmark; that is, Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk.
My fascination with this sculpture has to do with how Dalí used it as reference for some of his paintings.
A trip to Rome is not complete without visiting the piazzas.
In this section, I did not take a picture of the Piazza di Spagna as the staircases were currently been repaired and thus, not worthy of a photo. The same would go for many other piazzas which I did not photographed.
... but here, to your left Piazza Navona and to your right, the Fontana di Trevi - the world's most famous fountain - was recently (Nov. 2015) reopened after some major restoration. We were very lucky to have visited in Dec. 2015!