I missed this week’s episode of “Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover,” but I know that he did Rome, Italy. Its been a while since I’ve been to the “Eternal City,” but you can live vicariously through my friend Dan who’s been there earlier this year.
You must know that my first trip to Rome was fantastic although the thing that stood out in my mind was the graffiti on train ride from the Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) to the city. Also, despite my two tries, I’ve not yet seen Vatican City, which is its own country, but on my next visit, I will make it my point to do so. I am however one degree of separation from the Pope as I have two friends who’ve met him in person in the Vatican.
My very vivid memory of Rome is the traffic and how difficult it was to traverse the streets. Italy, Ireland and Jamaica are three of the countries that American Express does not cover you for car insurance due to the accident rates. So watch out for the drivers when you go.
Here’s Dan’s story.
I just went to Rome a few months ago I don’t really remember where we stayed but I remember the sites pretty well.
- The Colosseum
- Palatine Hill
- Vatican City
- St. Peter’s Cathedral
- Sistine Chapel
- Several Piazzas and Fountains all over the city
The Colosseum is definitely worth seeing but don’t spend too much time there. Make it a quick stop before you visit Palatine Hill. Avoid tour guides for the Colosseum that promise line skipping and such, there were no significant lines and there is not a whole lot to see. There is a lot of historical information posted about if you want to take the time to read it.
Palatine Hill is a very nice site, lots of things to see and really nice grounds to walk around. A guide here might be nice if you want more information, a good tour book will cover most of the pertinent information as well though.
There are many piazzas and fountains to visit; Trevi Fountain is probably the most well known. It will be CROWDED, but it’s worth a quick visit. It is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you are ensured to return to Rome, so don’t forget to do that!
The Spanish Steps are a nice place to visit, sit around and enjoy the atmosphere, or you can climb the steps if you’re not too tired. It’s nice at night, it could be a good way to finish off your full day of walking around.
For the Vatican City, you want to get there EARLY, before it opens. Avoid the tour groups. One strategy is to skip EVERYTHING and move through the entire museum as quickly as possible so you can reach the Sistine Chapel before the other groups populate it. We didn’t do this and once we got there, there were hundreds of people inside. You are asked to be quiet and not take any pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but when we were there it sounded like a cafeteria, and everyone was snapping photos. Everyone was practically shoulder to shoulder inside.
It almost ruined the experience. It was a lot like people being herded through as fast as possible. However, if you do go straight to the Sistine Chapel, make sure to go back and see everything you skipped. Except the modern art section as it’s miserable and a horrible way to cap off the great things you see along the way.
St Peter’s Cathedral and Square are unbelievable. There will be a huge line to get inside, but don’t miss out. It is truly awe inspiring. The enormity of the cathedral cannot be fathomed until you step inside.
The Pantheon is a must see. There will be restaurants and gelaterias around the fountains and piazzas and Pantheon. Find a good menu and enjoy a nice Italian dinner. Make sure to get gelato after dinner. Real gelato is served with a spatula, not a scoop, so be sure you get the real stuff.
The metro system is good, but be sure to check for any line closures. One of the main lines was closed for the weekend and we did a lot of walking because were not aware ahead of time. There are many water fountains all across Rome that are fed by an aquifer and flow constantly. The water is clean and drinkable. We filled our water bottles and drank freely from them throughout the day with no problems whatsoever.
So what was your visit like? Please leave a facebook comment or non-facebook comment below and LIKE and share this post with your friends.