Ah, Rome, I love the history of this city, my Ancient History teacher would be both surprised and pleased that I enjoy visiting the ancient ruins of Italy and Greece. The fact that the buildings are still standing amazes me. For all the magnificence that Rome has to offer the visitor I’m also well aware of Rome’s reputation as a haven for pickpockets. I do my best, whichever country I’m visiting, to make sure my belongings are secure even whilst I’m staring wide-mouthed at some historical building or statue. There are a few unscrupulous Roman taxi drivers who will also try their best to rob you, by charging you double the fare. Even if you manage to negotiate the fare before getting in there’s every possibility of a heated argument at the destination when the fare has suddenly changed. However we didn’t have that problem our driver would be waiting for us.
Stepping out of the airport terminal into the heat of the morning I heard the unmistakable sounds of excitable Italian women talking in the top decibel range. Groups of noisy conversations with much hand waving as they talked over one another to get their point across.
It was all coming back, nothing had changed since my last visit – although there was one thing – this ancient city, bearing so much history and so many wonderful monuments had become a drawing board for disgusting graffiti scrawlers. Unfortunately this lack of respect for property and surroundings is a worldwide problem. That’s my soap box moment…back to my travel prattle.
As we left the airport, in our prearranged car, our driver very kindly took us on a mini tour and gave a running commentary as we drove to our hotel on the via Nazionale. He pointed out ancient landmarks, roads, anything he thought might be of interest, including a field where we saw several large tents representing a medieval fair of sorts. Hiring a car to pick us up at the arrivals hall and deliver us to our hotel certainly beats haggling (and losing once you reach your destination) with taxi drivers or struggling with our luggage on buses or trains. We chose Romecabs to pick us up and we were very happy with their service.
After a wake up shower and breakfast at the hotel it was time to whizz Ty around the many tourist hotspots and allow him as many photo opportunities as possible within a limited period of time. I did allow him an extended visit to the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain on day one. Sounds mean doesn’t it but Rome was a stopover before picking up our car and heading to the north of Italy and the little cottage we had rented.
I decided the hop on hop off bus would enable us to get around as efficiently as possible….anyone think it sounds like I wanted to get out of Rome as soon as possible?? You’re right there, Rome has many historical sights to visit but, for me, I was eager to get to our little cottage. Ahh, relaxing by the pool in a peaceful setting for a couple of weeks.
Oh, just my luck, by lunchtime I felt the signs of a sore throat coming on. No, not now, it’s the start of my holiday….not happy Jan!
After visiting Vatican City and the Colosseum we hopped off the bus near the Trevi Fountain. There were wall to wall people around the Trevi Fountain. Trying to get close to the edge of the fountain was a feat in itself, trying to squeeze between people and to duck around others taking photos. I’d never seen so many people crammed into a small area before. The fountain was quite beautiful, a backdrop of white marble statues looking over the sparkling light blue water, the bright sunshine made the marble even whiter. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, just a magnificent blue canopy over head.
We had lunch at a little restaurant in a side street, not so good for people watching but it was shady. As we were paying the bill the waiter queried the euro notes. We had put in two 20 euro notes, I couldn’t understand what his problem was – both notes were blue, I could see the 20 in the corner of both… Ty laughed and told me to take a second look at the notes. Oh my goodness, how did I do that….one was a euro note and the other was a Hong Kong $20. I had forgotten to remove the HK currency from my wallet. I was obviously jet lagged…..so embarrassed.
By the next morning my sore throat had expanded to include runny eyes, nose and stuffy head…..great start to a holiday and a fabulous look as well!!! Soldiered on with whatever concoctions the Farmacia could offer. Ty was out wandering the streets looking for a Farmacia at 3am and (doing his Captain Caveman routine, undies on his head, dun dun daaah), he managed to find one and returned to the hotel with various tablets, lozenges and medicine. Very pleased with himself.
Along with the Colosseum, Pantheon, the Forum the Spanish Steps were also a must see landmark. Our goal was to get to the Spanish Steps before the tour groups to, hopefully, take a couple of photos of the area without too many people in them. Luckily the Steps were only a 15 minute walk from our hotel. We arrived at the base of the Steps around 8am and there was three other people there. How lucky we were, there are crowds everywhere in Rome, I was very impressed that we had managed to elude them. One of the three was a flower-seller with a very bad memory because he came up to us at least 3 times pressuring us to buy one of his flowers.
On the third day our driver from RomeCabs collected us and delivered us to the car rental company at the airport. We completed all the necessary paperwork, jumped in our Golf and headed for the hills of Tuscany……three of us left Rome that day. Yes, 3, Ty, me and my new companion, the flu or whatever virus I had managed to pick up in the days before we left Sydney.
GPS is set to our destination and we’re off – so it’s goodbye to Rome…..and next episode we’ll be saying hello to Piazza al Serchio.