When in Rome…

Rome is a place that I still just cannot decide on.

I spent a week in Rome in January of this year and for 4 of those days, I loved the city, but for the other 3 days, my memories are not quite so fond.

My first impressions of Rome were that it was dirtier than Florence, more touristy, rougher around the edges. I wandered around on my first day, and after I stumbled across the Colosseum, I remember being disappointed. I had devoured books about the Colosseum and ancient civilisations as a child, and it just wasn’t the same as I had imagined. I didn’t even end up going in on that first day, I was in such a foul mood that I walked away and continued to explore with no real goal in mind.

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After not too long, I stumbled across an old little chapel with beautiful burnt orange walls. Funny how such a simple thing can be the cure for a case of ‘travelitis’.

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The next day I woke up and for the first time in weeks, I could see the sun shining through the clouds and I felt re-energised again. I went back to the Colosseum, determined to try and see it in a different light. Finally, I saw something that I could marvel at, something that I could be bewildered by.

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The Roman Forum was also suitably beautiful, although the obvious signs of restoration were a little disappointing. I know why these ruins are being restored (long term planning), but I wish I could have seen them as they have truly aged.

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Since it seemed to be the day for hitting predictable tourist stops, the obvious next choice was the famous Trevi Fountain. No photographs can do this place justice. It is simply stunning.

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That evening I met up with Sanna, a kiwi friend I had made whilst in Florence. We ended up just wandering around looking for a non touristy ristorante where we could indulge. After wandering down Via Panisperna we came across Ai Tre Scalini. Such a good random find! The wine was excellent, the baked mozzarella with zucchini and prosciutto was delightful and the eggplant parmigiana was truly unbelievable. We stumbled out very full, moderately drunk and exceptionally cheerful.

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After a good nights sleep we met up at the Spanish Steps to make our way to The Vatican City. It rained on us pretty relentlessly, but it was a great day nonetheless. The Sistine Chapel was especially gorgeous, but the best part was watching every single person attempt to take a photograph without getting detected and suffer the consequent reprimanding. I partook in this tradition, however half-heartedly.

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We spent the rest of the day walking around and ended up at a little place called Donkey Punch. The name may be ridiculous but I dare you to find a better sandwich. I still sometimes have dreams about the pork crackling.

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The next day I met up with Sanna again to make the day trip from Rome to Pompeii via Naples. We travelled via train to Napoli with one goal in mind.

Pizza!

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After we had eaten yet another indulgent meal, it was on to Pompeii! Although this was of course when the sky decided to open up and weep like I do during the last 30 minutes of Titanic. We forewent booking a tour and instead spent the afternoon exploring on our own.

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The next day I hit a bit of a travel rut. All I wanted to do was download horror movies on my phone and eat my body weight in Kinder chocolate. At the time I thought I had gotten sick of travelling, I thought I had become ready to go home. But that wasn’t it at all.

I had simply become ready to leave Rome.

I did have fun in Rome, but it is definitely not a place I could imagine myself staying long term.

To finish this post I will leave you with a picture of me getting far too excited about a calendar full of hot priests.

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What do you like/loathe about Rome?

Posted by

20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

38 thoughts on “When in Rome…

  1. I HATED THE CROWDS IN ROME! I went in July (my first ever “tourist trip”- because of the time) and it was insane! My husband and I pretty much despised the Vatican because it was like a herd of cows inside and you were trapped for the entire way through it! But St Peter’s Basilica blew my mind! I could have stayed there for an entire day! I don’t even know why the Sistine Chapel is famous when such an amazing place is right next door! I also loved Pompeii! I thought the whole place was amazing and thankfully, not nearly as crowded as Rome!

    1. Me too!!! I think because I was there in Winter that it probably wasn’t so bad for me- but yep I agree
      And Pompeii was almost deserted on the day I visited, which is always nice 😊

      1. Wwellend, first of all I love your articles. I’m here sitting in my office and after reading through your posts I just want to leave.

        So I’ve planned 4 days in Rome but only 2 1/2 days in Venice, will I regret my decision?

  2. I’ve been to Rome 3 times but always for only a couple of days in late autumn/early winter and I loved it. The crowds are bearable, the weather is a hit or miss but there is a good chance to getting some nice warm sun rays on your face. Anyways, it is a perfect spot for a city break, I can’t imagine myself spending there a week, especially in the summer when it’s so hot and nowhere to cool down. The Colosseum area is a different story – a bit out of town, same Termini – doggy and depressing. But I love wandering around the small cobbled street near di Trevi and Spanish Steps enjoying gelato and sipping wine in the evening.

  3. Love your photos!! Agree with you in that I found Rome dirtier than what I expected… Outside of the tourist spots, I didn’t really like the city as compared to Florence or Venice..

  4. I like everything about Rome except the high prices!
    The point you make about restoration is an interesting one. I used to agree with you but after considering the issue I think I agree with Henry Miller who (writing about Knossos on the island of Crete) wrote in the β€˜Colossus of Rhodes: β€œThere has been much controversy about the aesthetics of Sir Arthur Evans’s work of restoration. I find myself unable to come to any conclusion about it; I accepted it as a fact. However Knossos may have looked in the past, however it may look in the future, this one which Evans has created is the only one I shall ever know. I am grateful to him for what he did…” Some of these places would be in a really sorry state without restoration.
    Anyway, good post, good site!

  5. Loathe is easy… it was the pickpockets flooding the train stations. As for love, all that is ancient and great art. Great blog. As for your young priests… a touch of forbidden fruit, perhaps. πŸ™‚ –Curt

  6. “… when the sky decided to open up and weep like I do during the last 30 minutes of Titanic.” Hahah, that is such a good analogy!

    I’m so glad to have discovered this blog! There aren’t too many Indian women that travel solo, and I thought I was nuts when I took my first trip alone to Nepal. But when I did, I was delighted to meet quite a few women from other countries travelling solo. I’m curious to know if you’ve ever been to India alone, and if yes, what the experience was like.

    Keep writing! πŸ™‚

  7. Gorgeous pictures! I loved your honesty as well. Some people may say it’s blasphemous to say you don’t like parts of Rome, haha. I still would like to visit there someday, though, at least once. Great post!

  8. I did enjoy Rome, but I wouldn’t have spent more than a few days. I was lucky that I went during the summer so it was hot (albeit with a lot of tourists – but then, I was one of them). The only thing I was gutted about was that the Trevi Fountain was covered in scaffolding! Such a shame.

  9. I went to Rome last June and really enjoyed it! I think the summer sun does help a bit πŸ˜‰ I did lots of research before I went. We went to some great local bars to watch Italy play in the world cup with some locals, which despite me hating football, was lots of fun! I also got to visit the necropolis underneath the vatican, you have to email the vatican to apply in advance, and that was pretty amazing. We saw some extremely old pagan tombs, still full with colour, and the supposed bones of St. Peter, and the grave he was buried in. We also wandered around going in lots of old little churches which were fascinating!

  10. I spent 3 days in Rome last winter and having just visited the beautiful Amalfi Coast and Florence, I couldn’t see the beauty that everyone had raved about. I’m glad I went and experienced all those amazing sites but the commercialism was insane and I just wanted to be back in the countryside! Italy is definitely the most stunning in the quieter regions. Glad someone else understands!

  11. I totally agree with you! While I loved aspects of Rome – the Pantheon, St. Peter’s, the Sistine Ceiling – overall the city felt so big and crowded as to be unmanageable. Florence is so small and friendly and walkable in comparison (although also thronged with tourists). I’m glad I visited Rome (and I feel lucky I had the opportunity to go), but I don’t think I’m likely to return.

    Pompeii was also nearly deserted when I was there – perfect! Off-season travel rocks.

  12. I 100% agree with you! I enjoyed Florence far more than Rome… there is a dingy, over-touristy feeling to Rome… like all of the foreigners (including myself haha) have trampled the authenticity out of it. Not to mention, the Trevi fountain and Sistine Chapel were both so much smaller than I had anticipated…needless to say, I was slightly underwhelmed.

    When I spent my time in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice…) I was with a group of students, following a tour guide… maybe if I had gone off the beaten path, followed a local instead of someone paid to show the touristy sites, my trip would have been more interesting. But too late now πŸ˜‰

  13. I hate the crowds and masses on every corner of rome but in the same time i love the fact that behind the next corner there can be something awesome & stunning to blow your mind away. all over italy i loved the culinary surprised one can find daily and every where.

  14. Oh, Rome. I did a stop there while I was in the US Navy. I loved the history of the city, but not enough to suffer through the crowds. I despised the filthiness of the city. Absolutely neglected. Recently, I started pursuing my Masters degree in the Liberal Arts and reading about the ancient Roman Empire makes me want to visit again – purely for education… it’ll be a short trip :). Love your blog and love following your travels!

  15. I love Italy and have had some of the very best times of my life there. Counting the days until I return. And enjoy Rome. Having said all of that…I had some problems with the Colosseum too. For me it was in the knowing of the history of the place. I simply could not shake the creep of all the killing of people and animals that took place there for sport.

  16. I go to Roma every year on my way to Puglia and I love it. You will have to go back for all the good stuff you missed……the Pantheon, Centrale Montemartini, Palazzo Massimo, all of the free Caravaggio paintings, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Galleria Borghese, Trastevere, suppli….I could go on. Hope you get to go again soon! Cristina

  17. Great article! I’m headed to Rome at the end of this month and it’s nice to read about experiences outside of the usual things I hear. I’m trying to keep my expectations in check so that I don’t feel disappointed when I finally get to see it for myself. And Pompeii in the rain looked amazing!

  18. I wish I had more time exploring Rome, but the 4 days I was there was awesome! So many ancient stuff to see and the food was great! The dirtiness didn’t bother me as much. Next time i’m in Italy, I will definitely visit Verona. Safe Travels!

  19. I has the same experience in Rome. Expected so much more, although the architecture is beautiful. But even worse for me, the Trevi was under construction 😦 No water, covered by glass and construction tools. Your pictures of it give me a good idea of what it would’ve been like! XX

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