After bombarding you with two ramblings of our Roman adventure in quick succesion last week, I thought I’d better give you a break and wait until this week before subjecting you to more! You’ll be pleased to know that there is only one more post on Rome after this one.
So, where did I get up to?
Aah now I remember, day two. The gales and rain of the previous day had blown through and the sky above the city was clear and blue. It was perfect walking and exploring weather. The centre of Rome isn’t very big and in reality you can easily walk to all the main sites and area without needing to take public transport. Vatican City may be the exception, although it’s certainly do-able. Comfy walking shoes is a must. I did rather wonder what possessed a woman to wear the highest designer shoes possible to climb the Spanish Steps. All 138 of them!
There’s no getting away from the fact that Rome is a magnet for visitors and it will be busy especially around the most well known sites. Late October though was a good time to go. There are still sunny days that are warm enough to sit outside in cafes and restaurants, although there is always the chance it might rain as we discovered. Also the crowds of summer have diminished to a level that is quite tolerable. The biggest crowds we encountered away from the Colosseum, Forum and Vatican was at the Trevi fountain, but even there we had no problem finding a spot to throw our coin over our shoulder into the fountain and therefore guarenteeing us a return trip to Rome one day. The Trevi fountain is pretty impressive, as are the Spanish steps leading up from the Piazza Di Spagna but for me it was the Pantheon that really blew my breathe away. A complete Roman temple that is now a church, it has the most awe inspiring domed interior.The dome was once the world’s biggest and the hole at the top, the oculus provides the only natural light to the interior. It was only when we were going in that it dawned on me that Mr R was wearing shorts, which was breaking the dress code for entering a church. He took his chances though and slipped in. Fortunately nobody kicked him out as he would have missed seeing inside such a beautiful church.
As in any tourist hot spot you will be hasseled by hawkers.Having not really encountered hawkers before , they are few and far between in Cornwall and North Norfolk, we were a little naive and got drawn in by one particular man of African origin. Somehow we got our wires crossed and we ended up keeping the leather bracelet he claimed initially was as a gift, but was obviously no such thing. I bet he’s learnt his lesson never to approach two middle aged visitors in anoraks from Swindon again!
The centre of Rome is a maze of roads often no wider than a Fiat 500 and around nearly every corner is a beautiful church or square. It just oozes history. There’s no shortage of places to eat, but choose a restaurant in one of the squares and you’ll pay a premium. We got stung for five euros for a tiny glass of Coke when we stopped to eat in a smaller square. I hate to think what they charge in beautiful Piazza Navona.
Mr R decided at one point that he wanted to see the Tiber river. If Rome could disappoint at all it’s the river that runs through it. Don’t expect the likes of the Seine or the Thames. I don’t know it was because of the heavy rain the day before but the water was definitely murky. The walkways at river level looked uncared for and there was a lot of graffiti. Maybe we are doing the river a disservice, and we weren’t seeing it at its best late in Autumn. Probaby one of the most well know bridges crossing the river is the pedestrian only is the Ponte Sant’Dangelo, an ancient Roman bridge lined with statues of angels that leads to the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is the mausoleum of Hadrian. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit, but not to worry, we will pop it on our ‘must see next time’ list.
Before I leave you, what top tips can I give you so far if you ever visit Rome.
- Don’t assume it’s safe to cross at a crossing just because there’s a green man flashing. Have your whits about you at all times!
- Take out good travel insurance if you take a taxi from the airport. Buckle up, ignore the fact that the driver is paying more attention to his phone and not the road. Don’t be alarmed if he takes short cuts down dark lanes.
- Hawkers will never give you something for nothing despite what they say initially.
- Play safe and wear trousers and not shorts if you want to be guarenteed being let into churches. To be honest you do look a bit out of place wearing them in late October. (Mr R I hope that you are reading this)
- Roman cafes cannot afford toilet seats. Don’t plan to park your bum for long.
- Remind husbands, boyfriends etc, that you can’t just walk into the likes of Prada, Dolce and Gebanna and Dior on the Via Condotti for a browse with only a hundred euros in your wallet, especially if wearing shorts and an anorak.
- Don’t eat and drink in squares near the Via Condotti if you don’t want to make a big dent in your holiday budget.
- Don’t get so engrossed with the beauty of the city and forget to buy gelato. How could we forget to eat gelato!
- Remember that they speak Italian in Rome, and not French. Mr R didn’t remember this, but nobody got cross with him. The Italians are very nice people and let him off this time.
So, lovely readers, that’s all for now. Well done and thank you if you’ve read this far. You certainly have stamina. Now go and make yourself a cuppa. Ciao for now. xx