One of the less advertised gems of Rome is it's beautiful park, in the north of the city just behind the Spanish Steps.
After staring at it from the window from our room for the first few days, seeing the tall, dark trees peeking over the wall which separated it from us, we decided to spend the late afternoon exploring. We located a potentially nice lake on our map, headed off in that direction, and were thrilled to find not only a beautifully peaceful and quiet expanse of water, with a mini temple sitting in the middle, but also a row boat hire dock. An hour messing about on the river? Absolutely!
And it was gorgeous. For just a few euros, we floated alongside the ducks, spreading weeds, drooping willows and friendly terrapins. Yes, that’s right, terrapins. Although I'm not sure how they got there, we saw many, their small heads peeking out of the water and completely unfazed by the three of us trying to steer in the right direction.
The park is vast, and due to time restraints we were only able to see a very small part of it, but if I ever have the chance to return to Rome it will be one of my first stops – it doesn’t have huge ancient beauties, modern religion or bulging plates of pasta (unfortunately…), but it is a quiet, reflective place that we all agreed we’d liked to have seen more of.
With just one final morning left, we started a quick exploration of the part of Rome in which the main train station is situated (not much to see there). After leaving our luggage, we walked back south, past the Circo Massimo to a leafy residential area where our guidebook had suggested we would find another hidden gem.
Climbing slightly up one of Rome’s small hills - Aventine, we reached a priory, whose cool grove boasted a gorgeous view across to the Vatican. Moving further on still (with a lot of confusion – it’s not easy to find – just keep walking!) we finally located a great little sight – a keyhole in a large priory gateway (the headquarters of The Knights of Malta), perfectly positioned so when you peer through, a grove of trees frames St.Peter’s Basilica. with this perfect final snapshot, we headed back to the station, and onto the airport for our flight home.