ROME 2007 – TRIP REPORT
Stayed from May 20th – May 26th 2007
This was my first visit to Rome.
I am a male of 41 years and went alone.
I flew with Jet2.com form Manchester, UK to Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) airport and then to Rome Termini via the ‘Leonardo Express’ train.
I stayed for 6 nights (giving me 5 full days) at the Hotel Miami on Via Nazionale, about 100 yards from the Repubblica square near the Termini station.
The temperature throughout was an average, very hot 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!
My plan was to be near the main centre and walk to most of the main spots (yeah right!) and also take a day or two out to Ostia, Tivoli and/or Pompeii (more later).
You won’t find much in the way of places to eat, drinking coffee, shop or nightlife on my report.
I wasn’t too up on dining out on my own so on the whole it was quick, cheap eats and dare I say it even McDonalds three times!
I arrived at the Hotel (10 min walked it from Termini) and finally got settled around 10.00pm.
I’ll do a separate detailed review of the (2 star) Hotel Miami, but briefly I will say it is an excellent hotel, in a great location, great staff etc and at a very reasonable price £75 per night for a very small single room.
I’ll start with Day 1 being the first full day (Mon May 21st) to Day 5 (Fri May 25th) and a ‘WOW’ indicates one of those jaw dropping, WOW moments!
I decided to go with what most guide books say and start on Capitoline Hill (how right they were!).
Out about 9.30 am and headed off in that direction. Wasn’t quite prepared for the Monument Altare della Patria and the sheer size of it (It doesn’t get much coverage in the guide books and I think it’s not very popular with the locals, who refer to it as the ‘typewriter’ because of its shape). Unfortunately the front had scaffolding on it which was covered by a large white covering. (WOW1)
Anyway I finally find the approach to Capitoline Hill, which is just to the back and right of the monument. Up the steps to the very impressive Michelangelo's Piazza Campidoglio and then took the right hand exit onto a viewing area overlooking the Roman Forum with the Colosseum in the background This was one of life’s BIG WOW moments, I was in complete awe of it all. My jaw was on the floor. (WOW2)
It’s easy to see why the guide books tell you to start your visit to Rome here.
The whole walk from the monument, up the steps, through the square and then onto the view of the forum must have been one of the best 10-15 minutes walks I have ever made and one I repeated a couple of more times during my stay.
I can’t stress enough to any newcomers to Rome…START HERE!
OK, picked my jaw up from the floor, went over to the left side to get a few more photos and then down through the forum. Found the ticket office for the Colossuem/Palatine Hill combo ticket (It’s right at the bottom of the entrance to Palatine Hill and not to be confused with the information kiosk a few yards before, which I thought!). The cost was 11 euros and there were only about 3 families in the queue compared to the HUGE queues for tickets at the Colosseum later. The Palatine Hill is well worth a look with some excellent ruins and views.
There is also a museum which I used to cool off more than anything else.
Next to the Colossuem (WOW3) which from the outside is very impressive and walked straight in and past the LONG queue for tickets. It was quite crowded inside with lots of tour groups around.
Sometimes I had to be quick and get to a good viewpoint as one group left and another was about to come in. On the whole it was an impressive sight but didn’t realise how little is left and how ‘skeletal’ it looks.
By now its mid afternoon and time for my first taste of Italian food. Be warned that there is no where selling food from the start of the Piazza Campidoglio, Forum, Palatine Hill or even inside the Colosseum. There are a few VERY expensive places outside the Colosseum but I decided to stick to the golden rule of avoid eating at the main spots and head down some of the back streets for a cheaper option (something I stuck to throughout the duration).
And I must stress that you don’t have to go to far off the beaten trail to find prices drop pretty quickly. Can’t remember the name of the place but near the main ‘front’ end of the Colosseum I went up a ramp and there were two expensive cafe/bars on the left and what looked like a park on my right. I just walked in between, turned a corner and came to a small piazza and got a pizza, coke & cappuccino all for 8.5 euros (about £5.80), which I thought was pretty good considering the location, although the can of Coke was not quite full size and the cup for the cappuccino was quite small (as they all seemed to be in Rome!).
Walked it back to the Hotel but via the back streets, which is something I love doing when away, just wandering through the back streets on a ‘mission of discovery’ with map in hand.
In the evening I walked down to the Trevi Fountain which was VERY crowded. The square it’s in is actually very small but the fountain is very impressive although not quite a ‘WOW’ moment. Then onto the Pantheon which is WOW4. Now this is something, it’s HUGE and opposite to the Colosseum which was smaller than I expected, the Pantheon is MUCH bigger than I expected, an incredible sight, an intact Roman building slap bang in a more recent (probably Renaissance) Piazza. Alas it was closed in the eveninhg but I was definitely going to return to see it in daylight. Then onto the Piazza Novona, a very lively and entertaining place.
Unfortunately the middle fountain was half boarded up as there was some restoration/cleaning work being done.
One regret I have is not spending more evenings around this area.
Now it’s getting late (well midnight for me is these days!) and I make my first mistake of the holiday. I naiively thought that with staying in the main centre then everything would be within easy walking distance….IT ISN’T.
I’m the wrong side of 40, not the fittest person in the world, it’s been a long HOT day, I’ve done a LOT of walking and Rome’s hard, cobbled streets and hills all take their toll. Remember Rome isn’t flat and even some of the streets and main roads can be a bit of an ascent! I also had my not as comfy ‘evening shoes’ and jeans on in the evening which didn’t help and both of which would never see the streets of Rome again!
TIP: When In Rome dress comfy to suit you and the conditions and NOT as the Romans do, who do dress to impress (which they do!). You will not get refused any restaurants and you certainly will NOT look out of place.
So it was time to try out the buses. I found the bus stop and the bus number to catch (those bus stops with all the stops listed really are excellent and fairly easy to get to grips with).
BUT I didn’t have a ticket and there was no where open nearby or any machines so I didn’t want to risk a fine so had to walk back to the hotel (Navona to the top end of Via Nazionale!)
The only flaw in an otherwise excellent public transport system is that unless you’re prepared with a ticket beforehand then you could get stranded later on if you’re not near a metro or ATAC outlet to get a ticket.
I makes it back to the Hotel room, absolutely shattered to a well earned decent cup of tea.
One of the best things I brought with me was my travel kettle and own tea bags and coffee.
There was no tea & coffee facilities in the hotel room but they did have a handy mini bar fridge for the milk.
At this point I’d like to stress that I’m not a big coffee drinker in any country. I usually have one mid morning and then its tea all the way. I DO love my tea, I know it’s all very British, but that’s me, doesn’t matter how hot it is I MUST have a good few cups of tea each day.
And to TBH, I did sample the coffees, cappuccinos etc (NOT espressos which I cannot stand) but they didn’t taste any difference to what I’ve had in the high street chains in Manchester, just they were in much smaller cups, so when I did have a coffee I always had to order two.
Must admit hot drinks in most places were pretty cheap, which is more than can be said about cold drinks!
Day 2 to follow on a separate thread.