Drive-by shooting: Rome

This will the first of many “picture book” travel stories of places I was/will be lucky enough to visit. Aboard a train, boat or hop-on-hop-off bus or whatever mode of transportation that’ll provide photo-worthy snaps, I will freeze the moment in pixels because there will be (plenty) of times when the chance to stop, wander and explore will be unavailable due to differing circumstances—lack of time, not on the itinerary, or I’m just hitching a ride. This is the “drive-by shooting” (of the good kind) tales of JeepneyJinggoy.

The hop on, hop off bus is the best way to check out a city’s popular attractions

Rome, an ancient city filled with wonders that should be explored. It will take a lifetime to go through the list of must-sees. However with limited time in the area, only the main attractions can be “stop, look and listen” points. The rest will have to be admired in its superficiality.

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman empire & one of Rome’s most visited attractions. Colosseum bus stop.

The most asked questions I receive about the places I have visited would be, “What are the best places to visit?” I would always reply with, “Take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour, an open tour that allows you to see the city at your own pace. It will be the most economical.”

Tenny & I at the upper deck of the Hop On, Hop Off bus.

There are different companies offering this service at varying price and itineraries, and will list the top sites to see with an audio guide on board to give a brief history of the attraction it passes by. In a few hours, you would have seen it all (the popular ones, at least) and know its history in brief (if your memory can retain the information). From the list, choose the sites you wish to see extensively, get off the bus and explore! This will also give you the chance to venture into the streets where more attractions are, those that can’t be seen from the main roads.

Fountain of the Naiads in the Piazza della Repubblica. Viminal Hill.

If there’s a hop-on, hop off bus stop near your hotel, you’re lucky. In our case, we stayed in Barbareni and just around the corner is Piazza Barberini, one of the designated stops in the map. This was where my tour (and drive-by shooting) of Rome commenced.

Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e del Martiri, once an imperial Roman bath. Viminal Hill.

From hopping on, these were the bus stops that followed and some points of interests of each. At the summit of the Viminal Hill next to the Termini Station— the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, built in the remains of Rome’s grandest public bath, the Baths of Diocletian; Fountain of the Naiads in the Piazza della Repubblica; and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni which opened in 1883.

Palazzo delle Esposizioni. Via Nacional.

Quirinale—The Torre delle Milizie aka Nero’s Tower from which Emperor Nero watched the Great Fire of Rome; the Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli; Quirinale Obelisk in front of Palazzo Del Quirinale, the official residence of the president of the Italian Republic.

The Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli & the Torre delle Milizie aka Nero’s Tower (right). Quirinale.
Quirinale Obelisk in front of Palazzo Del Quirinale.

The Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre of the Roman empire. Piazza Venezia— the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali & the 16th century church of Santa Maria di Loreto; Vitorio Emanuele II Monument or the Altare della Patria built in honor of the first king of a unified Italy; The Trajan’s Forum and the Trajan Column, the last of the imperial fora to be constructed in ancient Rome; the Roman Forum, which for centuries the center of Roman public life; Piazza del Campidgolio, Michaelangelo’s trapezoidal piazza with the cordonata leading to it. St. Peters in the Vatican City.

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali & the 16th century church of Santa Maria di Loreto. Piazza Venezia bus stop.
The Trajan’s Forum. Piazza Venezia bus stop.
The Roman Forum. Piazza Venezia bus stop.
Vitorio Emanuele II Monument. Piazza Venezia bus stop.
Piazza del Campidgolio. Piazza Venezia  bus stop.

We hopped off a few stops that took us to the spots we wanted to see up close— Colosseum; St. Peter’s where the Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Cathedral are, Piazza Venezia to see Piazza Navona and the Castel Sant’Angelo. The Fontana Trevi and the Spanish Steps, and stopping for gelatos along the way for some sugar boosting and cooling off.

Hop on the bus and see a city. That’s always my first tip to my fellow world wanderers.

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For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 12, 2014.

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