Rome City Focus
Where do I start with Rome - what amazing sights to see here!!! How on earth did they make all these massive structures years ago out of marble with no help from the machinery we have today? Every corner you turn there is something else amazing to stand and stare in awe at – we saw all the following - Popes residence, Vatican and Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica, Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Pantheon – all of which are just as amazing as the next. The Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel were pretty phenomenal with all the art including mosaics on ceiling, all kinds of paintings (including Michelangelo’s ceiling painting) and statues depicting the history and story of Rome. The colossuem was pretty spectacular to see where the gladiators fought and where the animals were kept. We did the traditional coin throw with you right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain to ensure our return to Rome (as all roads lead to Rome)… I am actually finding it hard to explain in words just what it is like, but I have loads of photos and willing to share with anyone interested.
As we were on the bus most of this time to get around the city and did not have to navigate it ourselves on public transport, I found it quite hard to get my bearings and also we did not have a map of Rome given to us.
The first night in Italy/Rome was our welcome dinner at a small typically Italian restaurant called ‘Mino’ and we had a 5 course dinner, which was very nice. There was also live music playing – 2 guys who played instruments and sang moved around the restaurant during the course of the night to entertain the guests. First course was crusty bread with tomato salsa, rock melon and proscuitto, second course of the most delicious mushroom pasta, third course was a typical Italian lasagne (a little different to what I would make, the pasta was quite soggy and it didn’t have cheese sauce, but this must be the proper way to make it?), fourth course pork with potato rostiis and gravy and fifth course gelato.
There are a lot of homeless people, beggers and gypsies in Rome (and a lot of Europe to be honest) so you do have to be very careful of your belongings in the main tourist areas. Have your valuables in a bag you can carry close to yourself (I had a backpack which I carried on my front, instead of back) so that it cannot be cut away or stolen. Another good idea if you don’t want to carry bulky items around and risk getting snatched is to have some type of money belt (not so much the large ones you wear on the outside of your clothes) but I ended up buying a small one at London Heathrow Airport which could just fit my passport, money and credit cards in and it sat inside your clothing without anyone knowing. This also meant it could not be unclipped from the outside. It made me feel a lot safer knowing the important things were safe. It is quite an eye opener to see the homeless, they are everywhere, so be prepared for this, and do not give them money.
I was expecting to be eating pizza and pasta the whole time in Italy (which are two of my favourites and would have suited me perfectly fine) but I was quite wrong. If you have a 2, 3 or 5 course meal in Italy then usually the first course is pasta however apart from that it almost seemed you had to go out of your way to find Pizza and Pasta.
To give you an idea of the cost of meals etc we had lunch at a small pizzeria by the Trevi Fountain which had a lunch special on which consisted of a bottle of water, starter of crusty bread with a tomato salsa (once again so must be the norm here), a large standard pizza (lots of different flavours to choose from) and tea or coffee and this was EUR13.50 (approx NZD$22.00) but was very nice and filling.
I definitely think you need more time in Rome to explore properly and slow things down a bit to enjoy the amazing architecture and history of such an ancient town.