Nettuno, Italy, Day Trip From Rome

OK, you have been visiting in Rome for some time; you think you have seen everything the city has to offer. The Coliseum was awe inspiring, the Vatican took your breath away, yet you are ready for a change, or just would like to explore a little more of Italy. Sitting in your hotel or Rome apartments you pull out your travel book and map and wonder where to next?

Sea Town of Nettuno, Lazio, ItalyThe city of Nettuno is a beautiful beachside destination, located along the Tyrrhenian Sea. With a Meditterean climate, a stunning harbor and plenty of attractions, restaurants and shops, it makes the ideal day trip location. A mere 60 kilometers south of Rome means it is easily accessible as well. Here is guide to what to do in Nettuno, and some of the best attractions and recommendations.

Getting There: Nettuno is a very short distance from the capital city of Rome, so it can easily be visited in a day if needed, although there is certainly enough to keep visitors occupied for several days if you have the time. Traveling from Rome is simple. Since it is 60 kilometers away, you will need to purchase a train ticket, which is purchased by distance. Simply ask for a 60 kilometer ticket, and hop on one of the very frequent trains. You can also take a bus, which requires a direct ticket. This is cheaper, but can take a bit longer than the train. Of course, if you are traveling with your car the journey is easily signposted along the way.

Historical Landmarks: Nettuno was founded in the 9th century AD, and has much of the original infrastructure from that time period and early medieval eras as well. Stroll through the Borgo Medievale, the old quarter of town, and enjoy the traditional narrow streets and impressive buildings from centuries past. The Forte Sangallo Castle was built in 1503 and still stands in its entirety today, and can be toured if booked beforehand. Americans might be interested in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial, where nearly 8,000 American soldiers who died in World War II are buried. Walls surround the city, and once acted as protection against invading forces. These can be seen from many places and are fascinating to explore.

Nettuno beach, Lazio, ItalyBeach and Harbor Attractions: Although the population of Nettuno is only 46,000, there are nearly 1,000 boats that call the harbor their home. It is a focal point of tourism in the town, and certainly worth a visit. The yacht club is impressive and serves delicious local fare, but is exclusive and generally not accessible without a boat or a membership connection. Visitors can relax on the sandy shores and bask in the warmth, or swim in the blue waters, a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike.

Cuisine: It should come as no surprise that nearly every restaurant found in Nettuno serves up Italian cuisine. Many of the restaurants offer al fresco dining with views of the harbor, and seafood is a popular choice on many menus. For a truly special meal, head to favorites like the Satricvm, Cacciatori or Romolo, who all offer formal dining and quality fresh ingredients. More casual fare for offerings like traditional pizzas and pasta can be found dotting the beach, and are welcoming and often provide English menus if necessary.

So if you are in need of getting out of your hotel or apartments in Rome, whether just for the day or the weekend, Nettuno will make for a great destination. Thanks to its beautiful location, historical landmarks and exciting attractions, the town of Nettuno makes an ideal day trip from the nearby capital city of Rome.


Top Tips and Suggestions for Traveling in Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Leaning Tower of Pisa, ItalyWhether traveling in Italy for the first time, or a return visit, there are some important things to remember that can make your travel experience a little less stressful.  These things aren’t always easily remembered or recognized if this is your first trip.  It is the little differences in processes, procedures, and culture that can make things uncomfortable if you aren’t aware.

1.            Learn some Italian words.  There are many English speaking Italians, and generally the language barrier is not a problem if you are in the larger cities.  Traveling to small towns can prove to be more of a challenge when it comes to language.  Italians are friendly, generous, and welcoming so a few words go a long way.  Take the time to learn “please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, and Where is the bathroom?” at a minimum.

2.            When you go into a bar (this is a coffee shop, sandwich shop or cocktails) in Italy, always pay first before you order.  Take your receipt to the counter for ordering.  Remember that the prices are different if you sit at a table rather than stand at the bar.  It costs more to sit down, even if you order at the bar and take it to a table.

3.            Most bars have restrooms, but they are for customers only.  Schedule these bathroom breaks around your coffee breaks to insure you are comfortable while you are sightseeing.

4.            When using the trains in Italy, Don’t forget to stamp your ticket before boarding the train.  There are bright yellow boxes that look like time card stamps located at the front of each track.  Insert your ticket to be stamped with the date and time.  This is true for all tickets that do not have an assigned seat, so the regional trains.Florence Italy

5.            Carry a scarf or shawl in your bag to wrap around your shoulders when you enter the churches.  In the summer if you have on shorts, or a short skirt or bare shoulders, entrance might be denied, unless you have something to cover.

6.            Remember that service in restaurants in Italy is different than in the USA.  It is more relaxed, and you must always ask for the check (Il conto, per favore!).   If you are in a hurry, do not go into a sit down restaurant.  In Italy, meal time is almost sacred and the kitchens and wait staff are not prepared to accommodate you in a short time frame.

7.            Sandwiches can be enjoyed in bars quickly if necessary, but won’t be available on restaurant menus.  Italians don’t eat butter with their bread, nor do they pour oil on plates and dip the bread into it……this is an American thing.  They will accommodate you if you ask for it, but it is not their custom.  Salads are served at the end of the meal.  House wines are available in almost all restaurants and are usually much less expensive, but delicious.  I recommend you try them!  Three courses are customary in Italy, but not required.  If you are eating pizza, the three course custom is not expected.  If you decide to try the Bistecca Fiorentina while in Florence, expect it to be served rare.  This is a very thick cut of meat and is customarily served this way.  Don’t be surprised if they are unhappy with your request to cook it longer.

8.            The use of ice in soft drinks and water is not customary in Italy.  If you want ice, you will need to ask for it.  When you do, don’t be surprised if you get only 3-4 cubes.  Ice is an ecological drain, because of the water usage and electricity for freezing as well as the space that it takes up.

9.            Be “ecologically aware”.  In Italy, most lights are on timers, escalators in airports on motion detectors, etc.  In hotels, you may need your key to be inserted near the door to work the lights.  Many places will not use air conditioning, and at certain times of the year, air conditioning may not be available in your hotel.

10.          Make time in your travels to sit in the piazzas and enjoy the culture.  Piazzas are one of the most important cultural aspects of Italy.  In your busy travels, it might be easy to overlook taking the time for this important activity.  Enjoy a beverage or picnic in the square while people watching.

For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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Rome’s Dining Experince

Rome has all the famous historical landmarks that we remember studying in school, yet there is another side to Rome, the food. Travelers will find besides many great ancient ruins, the city comes to life with its many restaurants and cafes offering international as well as famous Italian Cuisine. If you are staying in one of the many hotels or apartments in Rome, you will find yourself in easy reach of a fantastic dining experience to fit any budget.

Lo Stil Novo is an amazing restaurant in Rome. Situated in a downstairs basement of a quaint building, the ambiance is classy, quiet, cozy an intimate. The food is exquisite and the service is superb and attentive. A pianist provides lovely music to capture a serene energy while dining. Wine connoisseurs will love this place because of the large wine selection and quality.
Tre Scalini, street dining Rome, Italy
For a relaxing cup of coffee, visit Tazza D’Oro Coffee Shop. This is one of the most popular spots for the best espresso, cafe freddo, cappuccino or pastries around. Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, Tazza D’Oro cannot t be missed. They serve delectable hot chocolate too. Locals and tourists alike enjoy Tazza D’Oro and return many times throughout the week.

Outdoor cafe among cobble stone strrets, Rome ItalyWhen considering entertainment options, Rome has an abundance of options. Take a stroll along the cobble stoned streets in the Trastevere area near the Tiber River. Do not take the stroll without an ice cream or gelato in hand. Gelato shops are dispersed throughout Rome.

If people watching is your forte then feel free to grab a table at a café that overlook Camp De Fiori. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine here. Testaccio has many dance hot spots to satisfy your desire to dance or mingle with others in a club atmosphere.

Staying for any length of time in the city, you might want to venture a little farther from your Rome apartments,  Consider going to San Lorenzo which is the university scene with a high population of students. Here you could encounter plenty of pizzerias, pubs and wine bars, or Ostia, which is the beach town just 20 km from Rome. The entertainment possibilities in Rome are limitless.

If you are the artistic type that loves to take in an opera or live show, then Rome will please you immensely. Rome has small underground theatres as well as big plays such as Sistina. There are many dance festival, music events, and operas that take place in the summertime throughout Villa Ada Park, Baths of Caracalla, and the Roman theater of Ostia.

Via Del Corso street sign, Rome ItalyIf shopping is on your list of things to do while in Rome, you will be extremely pleased by the quantity and quality of shopping venues. Via del Corso is a great shopping venue and there are numerous flea markets that sell unique items that tourists will love to see.

Do not leave Rome without visiting the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. These are historic wonders that offer a tourist an unexplainable look into the history of Rome that can never be imagined by looking at a postcard or a picture. By experiencing first hand, one will take these memories on for a lifetime. These sites are genuinely a site not to miss and will put the finishing touch onto your Rome and Italian vacation.

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Seeing Rome by Walking

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

The streets of Rome are an amazing walk into the past. Yet for a city so steeped in the past Rome is one of the most vibrant and alive places on earth.  Each street is a new discovery. On one side you might see a modern apartment complex and on the other ancient ruins.

One of the best things about Rome is its walkablity. True you have the Metro for the longer treks, but the walks are what you will remember when you’re stuck at your desk in six months watching the rain fall outside. There is a freedom in Rome that comes from the fact that you can walk almost everywhere a visitor would want to go. There’s also the fact that a walk can sometimes take you where you never planned to go.

Driving in RomeWhen you’re driving somewhere, especially in a city like Rome, where traffic can be a bit scary, you have to concentrate on the road. Because of this, you tend to go where you planned with little deviation. Even if you happen to see something you’d like to explore further, it gets pushed to another time.

Driving a car, which gives you so much freedom when traveling in the Italian countryside, becomes excess baggage in a city like Rome.  After all finding a parking space takes time. Who knows if you could even find that thing you glimpsed out the window by the time you manage to stop and park. Plus once you’ve parked, you’re tied to where the car is. First you need make sure everything is locked up tight so nothing gets stolen.

Then once you leave the car behind, you still have to worry about it. Woe to the person who wanders too far a field and loses the car entirely. Try explaining that to the rental agent.  I don’t imagine it would be a fun conversation. As any couple who has misplaced their car, rental or otherwise, can tell you; it is always the other person’s fault and there is no scenario in which you aren’t the other person.

Even if you know exactly where you parked, the car could still be gone. It probably won’t get stolen, but I assume, like most large cities, Rome tows cars that are parked illegally. At the very least I’m sure they ticket them. And yes in case you’re wondering, you are responsible for those parking tickets. They don’t disappear because you crumpled them up and threw them away. The rental company has your credit card number and they are not going to pay your parking tickets to be nice.

Tourist in RomeTrust me; you don’t need that kind of stress. You’re on vacation, so toss the roadmap aside and wander around Rome on foot. Pretty soon you’ll feel like a local. Maybe some guy will even come up to you outside of the train station looking all frazzled and ask you for directions. It happened to me on my second day of walking around Rome, and I have to tell you, it makes a person feel very cosmopolitan. Now isn’t that better than extra parking ticket charges on your credit card bill when you get home?


The One’s Who Stayed in Italy – A Visit to the Sicily-Rome Cemetery and Memorial

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

Sicily-Rome Cemetery and Memorial, Italy

I’d been wandering through the field of crosses for about fifteen minutes, pausing here and there to read a name and a date. I knew that our soldiers had fought in Italy during World War Two, but for some reason it never occurred to me that they would have been buried here.  In retrospect it made sense, but I still felt a little sad for these soldiers whose families probably were never able to visit their young man’s final resting place.

As I looked out over the sea of marble, something caught my eye and drew me closer.  It was an inscription like on all the other crosses, but this one had no date and no name. Instead it said simply ‘A Soldier of the Second World War Known Only to God.’ I felt the tears well up in my eyes.

Here in this beautiful place, at a time when I’m sure it was not at all beautiful, a young man had lost his life. A mother had lost her son, maybe a sibling had lost their brother. Perhaps a young girl had lost her sweetheart. As I had walked through this World War Two cemetery, almost all of the stones had brought up this same thought. This was different though. All of those people at home; the mom, the dad, the sister, brother and sweetheart… They never knew what had happened to him.

That thought stayed with me long after I left the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery. The hardest thing to do in life, for me anyway, is accepting what it is that I don’t know. That’s what these graves of the unknown soldiers represent to me, the not knowing.

The mothers whose sons just never came home; a sweetheart who held out hope that maybe someday he would return to her…  World War Two may seem like ancient history to many of us but to those who lost someone and those who’s loved ones were MIA the pain remains. These young men paid the ultimate price for the cost of freedom. And yet because their identities were lost in battle, there is no one to visit their graves.

I know Italy is filled with historical sights. A list of places to see and things to do can easily outstrip the time you have to spend there. Still, maybe instead of spending an afternoon wine tasting, you can visit these lost boys. Take a moment to stand by their marker and say a prayer. Maybe it seems like it was all so long ago, and for many of us it was literally before our lifetime. Yet no matter how long ago it was, the life you live is the one you choose to live. Whether you realize it or not, the fact that you have that choice is an incredible gift. A gift that was given to you at least in part, by a young soldier of the second world war, known only to God. Is it really too much to ask that you take some time to say thanks?


More info can be found on the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and memorial at


Visiting Rome, Italy-The Eternal City

Rome is a beautiful city with something for everyone. It is the capital of Italy, and has existed for more than 2,500 years. Rome itself is a huge city, with nearly 3 million people living in the city itself, and more than 4 million living in the greater Rome area. Like any major city around the world,  you will find plenty of hotels and Rome apartments available that will put you right in the center of this historic city.

It is impossible to visit Rome without some historical sightseeing. For those that love history, this might just be heaven, since it at times feels like a living archaeology dig. For those that can take or leave history, the city offers chances to dip into the past easily, and not get overwhelmed by the monuments, historic buildings, and general sense of the past. You don't even need to visit a museum or monument to experience history, simply taking a walk down one of Rome's ancient streets is like stepping back in time.St Peter, Rome Italy

You are probably familiar with some of Rome's most famous attractions, as it is a popular setting for films. Possibly most famous are the Pantheon, Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain, which featured in the film "La Dolce Vita." Much of Rome is organized around Piazzas, plazas have existed for hundreds or thousands of years. They are urban squares and are the way that many tourists navigate around the city.

Shopping in Rome is notoriously good, with shops representing designers around the world. The area around the Spanish Steps is a particularly great shoppers' paradise, with boutiques and shops lining the streets at the bottom of the steps. You can find less expensive shops in the area of Via del Corso, Via Cola di Rienzo, and around the Pantheon.

You have no reason to go hungry in Rome, as they have a tradition of amazing food. Most food is simply prepared using excellent ingredients, often at reasonable prices. Don't feel that you need to order 3 large meals a day, Romans traditionally sit down to a very large lunch and smaller breakfast and dinner. Many dishes might be familiar to you, since Rome has been perfecting its pasta and pizza dishes for centuries. Don't forget to save room for gelato, the dense frozen dessert that comes in a fascinating variety of colors and flavors, which you can take away to enjoy on your walk through the city.Evening at Rome Colosseum

Rome is a great choice for a vacation since it caters to both the bargain traveler and those looking for true luxury. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the Eternal City at least once, the city is sure to leave you with great memories. There are numerous apartments in Rome, as well as Inns and hotels that can fit every travelers budgets.

For more information on Rome and surrounding areas in Italy, check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures travel guides.

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Have you traveled to Rome? Visited other parts of Italy? Do you have any advice or recommendations for our readers?


Rome’s Unique Sense of Place

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

Stepping out of Piccadilly Circus tube station in Londonor Grand Central in New York a traveler can look around them and for just a moment feel as though they are in almost any major city in the world. A McDonalds on this corner a Starbucks across the street. It’s almost a bit of a disappointment to have come halfway around the world and see the same places you could find down the street from your house. As the world globalizes and in effect becomes smaller, we all start to see the same things and while that sameness brings us together, it also robs us of something.That something is uniqueness and a sense of place and Rome has managed to hold onto that for thousands of years. That said it is true that Rome has a two-story McDonalds which seems a little too modern at first but this is inevitably forgiven. Forgiveness usually comes when the visitor realizes that McDonalds has one of the few free and semi-clean restrooms in Rome. Still fancy McDonald’s aside Rome is still amazingly and uniquely Rome.

Roman Forum, ItalyNowhere in the city is Rome’s unique sense of place clearer than in the Roman Forum or Forum Romanum. In the modern day Forum people wander around much as the Romans and visitors to the city have done for 1000’s of years. This is Rome at its best and history at it’s most accessible. That’s not to say there aren’t some areas that are off limits but with so much to see these are hardly noticeable. Unlike at many other historical sites throughout Italy, visitors to the Forum are not forced to follow a prescribed route and instructed by signs what should be interesting to them.

When walking through the Forum a visitor doesn’t follow the well worn scuffs of a bored tourist’s feet nor are they forced to carefully remain between a rope on the left side and a fence on the right. In the Forum you can wander aimlessly for hours reading a guidebook or listening to the conversations rise and fall around you. You see the Rome you want to see whether that is the perfect Roman structures you envision

In its day the Forum had people from all walks of life; the rich and the poor the good and the bad. In addition to the shops that would allow the purchase of foods and household items there were places to view political discussions and hear news of the day. There were likely even some areas that a respectable young woman just did not visit.

Bridget's Thinking Rock, Roman Column, Forum Rome ItalyEvery generation thinks theirs is the first to be and do and feel. Yet as I sat on a rock in the shade of a low hanging tree, I could sense those people all around me. I could hear the noise of the ancient shopkeepers calling out their wares. Hear the patter of the Roman children’s feet as they went running all about. I could also hear, quite loudly, the modern day families trying to absorb the culture and beauty of this amazing place.

When I tired of the show, I stood up from my rock. Picked up the remains of my cheese sandwich and was in for quite a shock, that rock I had been sitting on for the last hour? An ancient Roman Column and I’ve got the picture to prove it.


Rome:You May Never Drink Cappuccino Again

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

When I was a child no more than eight or nine, we visited a cemetery in one of those old silver mining towns in Nevada. While wandering around on my own I saw one gravestone I never forgot. It said in part ‘Where you are now, so once was I, where I am now, you shall be, therefore prepare to follow me’. Those simple words gave me nightmares for weeks.

Santa Maria Della Cappuccini RomeSimilar words to these ‘What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be’  were translated into three different languages and put on a plaque in one of the chapels in the Capuchin Crypt located below Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins or in Italian “Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini” on the Via Veneto in Rome.  Those words are only one of the reasons why it is one of the creepiest places I have ever been.

I was aware of it’s reputation but I had my reasons for visiting, flimsy though they may have been. I had first heard of the chapels when I read about them in a book based in Rome. I knew it wasn’t quite my scene, but it sounded cool and hip in the blurb in my travel guide. Still the main force that propelled me down those stairs was the idea that travel lets you be anybody you want to.

When you are surrounded by people who think they know all there is to know about you, it makes you think you already know all there is to know about yourself. Travel allows you to find something new about yourself. Or, sometimes you just end up with a great story of a time you NEVER want to repeat again. Either way it’s a win/win.

That said, I don’t regret my visit at all. However if you’re going to make a visit yourself you should know this. No matter how many pictures you see or descriptions you read about the crypt itself; No matter how many website articles or reviews like this one you read, nothing can prepare you for that first step across the threshold.

On the day I visited the crypt, Rome was an uncomfortable 90 degrees. Still no matter how warm the day, the crypt is cold and instantly your skin feels clammy. It  is as though one hundred people walked across your grave all at once. The stairway down isn’t long, but you feel as though you have been transported deep underground. Your voice seems to give out on you and when you speak the words sound like those of someone recovering from a bad cold.

Photos are not permitted in the chapels which makes them feel less like a tourist destination that most places in Rome. Although, the day I visited, a disrespectful tourist tried to take some. A fellow visito, told him to stop. “Have some respect,” he said. That interaction, more than anything else, brought it home to me that I was in a tomb and that these bones had belonged to real once living people.

It is a confusing place though in that it does seem incredibly disrespectful in some ways. One being the idea that they would place the bones of their brethren on the walls as decoration.  Even if part of their reason was a need to make some space since they had way more remains than room.

Crypt Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Rome ItalyOf course, looking upon their history, space was not the only reason the monks chose to display the bones. As with the Memento Mori on the wall of the chapel, the bones were just a reminder. They were the monks’ way of remembering that life is short and that we must all prepare for what comes next. We should better ourselves and prepare for heaven and that was the message they received from the presence of the bones. The present is fleeting; eternity is forever Although in all honesty, it’s pretty unlikely that this is what you’ll be thinking about when you see the chandelier made entirely of human bones.

This site is one of those places you visit to have visited. Possibly because of the idea behind it and possibly because it makes you uncomfortable. Travel is about seeing great places and having the time of your life, but sometimes it should also be about going beyond your boundaries. Stepping out of your comfort zone and going to a place that makes you think about the past and the future. Even if it also makes you want to rush back to the hostel and take a shower.

For more information on Rome or other destinations through out Italy check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures.

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Lost and Found:Santa Cecila in Trastevere Rome, Italy

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

There is a very beautiful and well known church in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome called Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere or Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. At least I hear it’s very beautiful; see I’ve never been there. I wanted to go there. I even planned to go there. In fact I set out from my hostel with every intention of visiting Santa Maria di Trastevere it just didn’t turn out that way.

The night before my last day in Rome, I got into a discussion with John, a fellow traveler who was living at my hostel while working for a well known travel guide.  John had raved about Santa Maria. According to him it was the most amazing place in the entire city and leaving Rome without seeing Santa Maria would be a vacation crime on par with never having visited Rome at all.  So on my last full day in Rome, not wanting to invite bad travel karma, I set out to see this sight above all sights.

Three hours later I was still looking. I had asked directions of no less than seven people. All of whom were very nice and none of whom spoke English. In all fairness to them I’m pretty sure I got girare a sinistra (turn left) confused with girare a destra (turn right). Needless to say I never got to Santa Maria di Trastevere. I did however find many other amazing things, that were well worth my time.

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Rome, ItalyOne turn led me to a cute little tratorria with outside seatting where I had a delious snack and did some great people watching. Another girare a sinistra took me up a grassy path that was calm and quiet and led up hilll.  At the top I had the chance to rest and think over my time in Rome.

I even found a church. This one was called Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, dedicated to St Cecilia, who was 2nd century Roman martyr and is a patron saint of musicians. I will admit, that at the time I did think I had actually found Santa Maria, but even once I realized my mistake, I didn’t care. See, thousands of visitors each year go to Santa Maria in Trastevere, but I bet only a small number of people get the chance to see Santa Cecila in Trastevere. More people should though because it is a beautiful church.

That’s not to say that Santa Maria isn’t worth seeing or that I will never visit it. In fact I hope to find it on my next trip to Rome. The point is that I didn’t let the destination, or my inability to find it, get in the way of the journey. When you’re traveling it is the traveling that matters. Not to go all Zen on you or anything, but sometimes when we allow ourselves to become consumed with what we’re supposed to see or where we’re supposed to go, we completely lose touch with the joy of the journey.

There are places you must see in Rome and one should definitely make time to the Piazza Navona or the Coliseum, but that said, following an agenda that doesn’t allow for surprises takes away from what you can find if you let yourself just go with what life throws at you. Even if that means you girare a sinistra when you were supposed to girare a destra.

For more information on Rome or other destinations through out Italy check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures.

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Step Down into Rome’s Past at Basilica di San Clemente

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

One of the reasons building anything underground in Rome is really difficult is because whenever they dig they find something already there. Apparently the ancient Romans were like a kid with a messy room, they didn’t like cleaning things up. When something wasn’t working anymore, they would just fill it in and build on top of the land.

At first thought this seems a little insane, but it is also amazingly lucky. If they had torn everything down and built from the ground up, Rome would probably be much closer to sea level. It also wouldn’t be Rome. If they had been obsessive cleaners we wouldn’t have the chance to pay our 5 Euros and walk down into the past. Walking down into the past is exactly what you can do at The Basilica of San Clemente or Basilica di San Clemente in ItalianBasilica di San Clemente, Rome, Italy, which is basically the same thing.

Rome has a lot of churches, so even though it is beautiful the real draw of San Clemente is the excavations beneath. Wandering through the rooms where literally thousands of years ago people walked and worshiped is powerful. Taking in the cool dampness all around you almost feel as if you have entered some sort of dark ancient time. It seems as though you could pass a Mithraic Priestess in the corridor.

As strange as it sounds, no one ever realized that the church had ruins underneath it. In fact, until 1857 When Fr Joseph Mullooly, O.P began the excavations it was commonly believed that the church that stood on the spot was in fact the same one mentioned by St Jerome 392 AD when he wrote ‘a church in Rome preserves the memory of St Clement to this day’. Instead, the church visited by St. Jerome was actually the first level of the present day excavations that are open for the public.

This 4th century church was decided to be unsafe somewhere around 1100 so at that time, rather that fix it, they filled it in and built the new church on top of it. Over time what was beneath was forgotten, just as the 2nd century Mithraic temple along with another structure that was filled in to build the original church had been forgotten. It would seem that the ancient Romans were great believers in progress, literally onward and upward.

Since this was such a common practice, it would seem as though Rome has lots of underground attractions. This is likely true, but the really neat thing about the underground ruins at Basilica di San Clemente is that they are easily accessible for most people. Even someone with mild claustrophobia can enjoy the history and beauty without panic. One piece of advice; If you go right before they close for a two-hour lunch, when you’re worn out from walking all around Rome, don’t fall asleep on the bench in the room with the waterfall running behind the wall because you might wake up in a panic thinking you’ll be locked in.

The excavations at the Basilica di San Clemente are open to visitors Monday to Saturday, 09:0-12:30 & 3:00-6:00 with the last entrance allowed at 12:10 and 5:40 respectively.

Sundays and State Holidays they are open from 12:00-6:00 with no break and the last entrance is at 5:40pm
Admission to the excavations is €5 except for students under 26, with I.D. who pay €3,50

The excavations are fitted with closed circuit security cameras, and personal photography is not allowed anywhere in the excavation.

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