When in Rome

We hopped on a bus the morning of day 192 and headed to Rome.  Tiburtina bus/train/metro station was a 10-minute walk from our apartment, but we couldn’t figure out which way to go (this seemed to happen a lot throughout the trip).  We eventually linked up with our AirBnB host and settled in for a couple of weeks.  The location of the apartment made it easy to hit all of the sites on our list.  We even had time to grab a train for a day trip to Pompeii a few hours away.

There were areas where we spent most of our time, like Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps, lots of Bernini Baroque architecture, short walks to the Pantheon and dozens of churches), and the area of the Forum (Colosseum, fantastic pubic buildings, and ruins, ruins, ruins).  As mentioned in the Athens post, a pocket guide with pictures of how the area looked in its prime is super helpful.  Being Rome after all, there are thousands of years of beauty and history to soak up.  I will plug again any/all FREE walking tours that work for tips.  Throughout the trip, these guides worked hard for their money and delivered without fail.  Find them early, and take their advice on can’t miss items.

Concerning Rome, there is one thing I feel like I need to mention: K didn’t really enjoy it, and I’ll try to convey why.   First, we finally found the tourists.  It was Spring Break week, and I understand that Rome is a safe bet for many American and other international tourists, but it seemed absolutely full of non-Italians.  This was significantly different from most of our other stops.  Also, and I am not exaggerating here, Rome is NOT operated with all of these tourists in mind.  Poor signage and even worse management led to thousands of confused, lost, and delayed people.  No one knew how to find anything (unless it was so huge you couldn’t miss it),and even our tour guides were constantly apologizing for nonsensical hours-long lines at the major attractions.  Even with “skip the line” tickets, we raced around the Colosseum trying to find our scheduled tour group after waiting for nearly 2 hours to get through security.  Don’t even get me started about how we wandered around the massive archaeological site of Pompeii trying to find the Garden of Refugees.  En route we met several other tourists (several times each) and swapped usually unhelpful information about where we thought the ashen bodies might be.  Consistently amazed with the relics and history, we were honestly often too tired and frustrated to fully appreciate them.  Rome – in the off-season, with detailed maps and plans – may have to be visited again. – ALaff


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