Friday, September 28, 2012

All roads go to Rome

I'd been reluctant to see Rome for a long time. I’d find different excuses not to do so but finally a couple of years ago I did it. Wizz Air had just come to Bulgaria and offered prices it’d be a sin to miss. So we packed and hit the road (air in that case). It was February and the weather was great for sightseeing – sunny and warm. We spent 5 beautiful days there. We saw all that was recommended for newbies to see in Rome and still had time to drink wine in small restaurants in front of the Pantheon. The results were lots of great memories and a week of sore legs afterwards. Unfortunately I took just several pictures at that time.

 So I was waiting for an opportunity to go again. It appeared as a must-see conference this September and again I couldn't just miss it. It was an excellent possibility to see South Italy as well. It was time for another dream come true – seeing Naples and the area. We took 2 weeks off, kissed the dog goodbye and jumped into the car. You read the first part of the story here: To Venice and beyond

And here we are, entering the city from the north and trying to navigate to our rent apartment. Since we’d been in Italy for 2 days now, we learned several important things – (1) use GPS, (2) get the most recent GPS map (ours was 2 years old, and oh, we were reminded of that every few hours) and (3) get the best road map you can find for the area. Then sit tight and do not let your boyfriend to take decisions on his own following the GPS advices. Try not to fight the GPS lady, your driver or the road signs. Accept it’s Italy and all the roads lead to Rome. You will get in the question is how you’ll get out. The best advice I could give you is to go to, fill in your starting and ending point and get detailed directions. It was better than all tools mentioned above.

  Fontana di Trevi and people who come to see it below. 

We found our place – a lovely apartment in a living area near the central part and the station Julia’s Domus – Angel’s suite. It had a huge terrace with barbecue and dining table, perfect for lazy nights with wine and cheese. There were easy connections to Termini station (a tram) and old part of the city (a bus). So here we were, fully equipped with a guide, detailed plans for taking pictures and 3 days ahead.  What I hadn't thought about was the weather. September is rainy in Rome, make sure you check your weather information before visiting. So despite my big efforts in organizing the perfect photo trip, it was pouring a lot! Again, I didn’t get the pictures I wanted. What I got though was 3 days of rest, great places to see (my top destinations were Pantheon, the Forum, Coliseum, the Vatican museums, Campo del Fiori, and Trastevere), lots of red wine and buffalo mozzarella. They say food in Rome is nothing special but don’t believe everything you read in the guides. If you take your time and follow the locals and not the tourists, you’ll have excellent meals every time. You will see more cafes and restaurants in Rome than anywhere else but even here you need to go to Trastevere to get the best food. It is a magic place. Lots of places around the city offer happy hour – when you order a drink, you get some food with it. It can be a several small pieces of junk food or a big plate of cooked meals, it all depends on where you sit. I’d recommend Friends Art Cafe at Trastevere, Piazza Trilussa, 34. It is self-service with great food and drinks. Imagine my surprise when I asked for a coffee and they said there's no coffee served!

A bar in Trastevere. 

Lost in the streets. 


If you want to see most of Rome you may consider buying Roma pass – it allows you 2 free entries of museums or archaeological sites, chosen from a list; lower prices for the museums afterwards, free use of city’s public transport, including bus, tram and metro, note that connections from/to the airports are not included; and additional goodies. For 30 euros you get a lot! Otherwise the single ticket costs 1.50 euro and you have other various options – one-day, 3-days, one-week tickets. The ticket has to be validated the first time you get onto the vehicle and is valid for the period of time mentioned above. The single ticket is valid for 100 minutes for all kinds of transportation but you can get into the metro only once. The metro is the fastest option and you have stops near the most famous sights. Old city is rather compact and may be seen by foot, just have comfortable shoes and a hat if you go there during the summer, and umbrella in other seasons. If you prefer to do “as Romans do” and ride a Vespa, you can easily find many places to rent one. Keep in mind that the traffic is terrible, bikers rarely follow any rules and you can see them everywhere. Rome is one of the worst places to drive a bike, as one of my local friends said while trying to predict the intentions of the biker on the right side of our car. ‘Of course, it cannot be compared to Napoli, she said, but is still awful’.

Rome has 2 airports nearby –  Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) – the main one, and Ciampino which is mostly for charters and budget companies. During the day Fiumicino is well-connected to the city with trains and buses. The ride is approximately 30-40 minutes long and gets you to Termini station. At the station you can get any kind of city transport – bus, tram, metro to reach your final destination.

You can’t explain Rome with a few words, there is much more to be seen, smelled, admired, found. We spent 4 nights in this vibrant city and we had to continue our trip. But this visit left us longing for more. I hope I’ll go back again soon but for now it was Napoli waiting for us. 

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