"My Roma" Rome by sirgaw
Rome Travel Guide: 11,939 reviews and 26,463 photos
We arrived at Termini (main rail station for Rome and Italy too) mid afternoon and thought we'd be OK to get to our pre-booked private apartment accommodation by 6 pm - seemed easy enough, except we didn't have a map of Rome, nor enough ready cash to pay up-front for our pre-booked apartment accommodation.
Termini was a seething mass of humanity and we had trouble finding an ATM that worked. Finally a cleaner helped us and we got what we needed. Then we tried to find the tourist information office to get a map and information to actually get to the accommodation - after a long search, we gave up and decided to get the metro for the one station ride to Cavour - we knew at least this was the correct station based on e mail discussions with the apartment owner.
Have you ever arrived in a strange city without a clue on how to get the next stage - well that's how we felt. A lot of question asking and finally we lucked in with a friendly railway police officer - who found out for us and sent us gratefully on our way. Seemed easy enough until we found ourselves at the foot of a 2 story high set of broken steps that we had to try an navigate with our larger suitcases - I let out a few more swear words and managed to reach the top of the steps, while leaving my wife at the bottom of the steps - at least I could go and try and find the number of the street. Lucked in and it was sort of like a gold miner striking it rich - Eureka and well worth the effort with a great couple who managed their sons apartment.
Great apartment - 2 rooms, 2 small bathrooms and a small kitchen - all mod cons and a great find.
After a short "get-to-know-the-neighbourhood" stroll, including a visit to a local smallish supermarket for provisions for breakfast, we went almost next door to a restaurant - and it was one of the worst meals of our trip - so bad I totally refused to pay the entire bill. Maybe it was the restaurants bad hair day, which was a pity because of the decor and the convenience - we would have returned it it had been better.
Day 1 in Rome we just had to go the Colosseum - it was only 10 minutes walk from our apartment and we were gob smacked at the scene of what is left of the world famous building. We were approached by a tout for a tour company doing tours of the Colosseum and were promised that we'd be in almost straight away rather than waiting in a queue for maybe 2 hours - and yes we'd seem the long snaking queue. We agreed to part with 21 Euro each and the tour included a side trip to the Palatino. When in the Colosseum we saw there was an exhibition of art objects and wanted to go back and see them - glad we did. Mostly 2,500 year old statues and porcelains from Greece.
After spending about 5 hours walking around the Colosseum and Palatino time to head home and so we retraced our steps back to the apartment - only to take a wrong turn and spent an further hour walking before we checked a map and saw we were 2 train lines away from Cavour metro station. It meant having to go back through Termini, but we were so tired. Finally staggered back into the apartment, made a quick pasta meal and then hit the hay.
Day 2 started off with the housekeeping that is one of the down sides of renting an apartment. If its a hotel they do it all for you. We wanted to do an open top bus tour of Rome with guided commentary and there are at least 3 different companies to choose from. We probably made a mistake on the choice we made, but these things happen. Mostly stuck in traffic, but in some ways that is good as there is more time to try and get better photos. We were in awe at almost the first stop - the Piazza Venezia and the huge monument to King Victoria Emmanuelle 2. We put that structure on the must-do list for later in our stay. The bus wound its way around Rome and headed to St Peters Basicalla and The Vatican - another on our list of to-do's. By the time we reached the Castel Santo Angelo I was developing sore spots from sitting in the cramped conditions of the bus and had to get off. We walked across a pedestrian only bridge and decided to enter the castel (separate tip to come) and enjoy the history of the former Popes residence. Back onto the double decker bus for more sights and decided we had to get off at the Piazza Venezia. We saw the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solider and then walked along the Via Fori Impereli and marvelled at the ruins of the forum. It was getting late, so a quick meal in a nearby not-too-fast eatery and then home.
Day 3 - I'd heard of an amazing place - the cemetery of the Capuchin Brothers and had the address. Unfortunately the address did not seem to correspond with anything on the maps. I tried to made phone calls to tourism offices, but phone numbers I had been given all seemed to be wrong or not answering. In desperation I set off to Termini where I knew there was as hidden away tourism office - and yes it was very difficult to find. Got directions and then went back to our apartment where Sandra was busy on clothes washing. A quick lunch and then we set off to find dem bones (separate tip). Yes we found them and yes it was one of the most amazing places I've ever visited. After that off to the Trevi fountain - just wish the beggars and people selling trash would leave us alone. Also wish the city authorities could somehow organise things a bit better at places like the Trevi Fountain.
We decided to do a bit of window shopping before heading home on the metro.
That evening we were strolling along looking for somewhere to eat and my wife spotted a "restauratore," so went looking for the usual menu outside - there wasn't one. We went inside and saw a magnificent array of classy lounge room furniture beautifully upholstered - but no tables, then the owner came out and greeted us in Italian. "Non parla Italiano," I said and then hopefully, "Do you speak English?" He answered with the customary 'Si' and then asked if he could help us. "Yes are you serving meals yet?" He looked puzzled, so as we walked outside with him following, we pointed to the 'Restauratore' sign. He burst out laughing and said the English word for his business is 'restorer' - he restores furniture. He showed us a nearby establishment with the word 'Ristorante' on the front of the business and as we walked in search of a meal I'm sure he was muttering in Italian, "Damn tourists."
Day 4 went to the Santa Maria Major - one of the 4 big churches in Rome and some say better than St Peters - yes it was spectacular. Hunger overtook us and we headed to a nearby cafe for a late lunch - and nearly ended up in a brawl with a waiter. Then we found the 'Casa Del Rosario' (see tip), which was a great find. We were close to our apartment so decided to go to the supermarket we had somehow found a few days earlier - no luck in the finding department - ah well, the smaller shops will get out business.
Day 5 was the day chosen for an early start to go to St Peters Basilica and the Vatican Museum (see Vatican City page).
Day 6. We walked to The Colosseum and then along the Via Fori Impereli to the Piazza Venezia (see tip) and the building was even more amazing from inside. After a long look we wandered back 'home' and decided our last dinner would be at the restaurant 'Da Silvio Alla Suburra' where we eaten a few days earlier (see tip)
Last day and it was time to clean up the apartment, have lunch and then get to Termini for the last train ride - The Leonardo Express - to Rome's international airport and a ciao to Roma and Europe as we headed to Dubai on the way back to Australia.
The Castel Santa Angelo sits beside the Tiber and is the burial place of Hadrian, however it was the Palace of the Popes... more travel advice
It would have to be one of the most macabre sites in the world. More at home in Draculas castle or a Nazi concentration... more travel advice
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