Having a chance to visit Italia is quite a joy indeed. The food! The art! The history! The people! Does such immense beauty exist elsewhere? Of course it does, but you'd never know it while here. And Roma. Ah, Roma, when I leave, my heart (feet) will ache for thee!
Roma always seems to be a logical starting point for me. A classic beauty, this is a do not miss city on my list. And still, with it's chaotic energy and millions of things to do, eat and see, it can seem a bit overwhelming to be sure. Luckily, it is totally chic to drink wine most the day long, so have a glass (or bottle!) and relax. You couldn't possible see and do all this magical city has to offer and I find the sooner I come to this realization the better.
This is not to say one should come to this city without some semblance of a plan. It will be very comforting knowing before you arrive a few things you'd certainly like to do and to have a general idea of the city's setup. The nice thing is, just walking from place to place can be it's own reward. The architecture, cobbled streets, fountains, hidden alleyways and open air restaurants could keep you gawking all day long.
If, like me, you enjoy looking at never ending masterpieces until your feet fall off, you are in the right city. The first Sunday of any month will be your lucky day as a number of amazing sites and museums are free. You could, and should, dedicate many hours to museum hopping. There are other free days, too, and if you happen to have a student ID (or something that looks like one!) you may receive a discount.
Since I prefer to spend my money on food and drink, these free days suit me well. Many of the free first Sunday spaces are huge and can accommodate the hoards of people. I would suggest making a little walking tour for yourself and include some churches along the way which are always free, some of which house major works. This way if a spot seems too obscenely busy you can move on.
On previous visits to Rome, in March and April, the weather was a bit cooler, possible due to the fact there aren't twenty billion people warming the tiny streets. Aside from Easter week, visiting in the Spring can really give you some space to stretch out. Still, on this May visit, we were able to navigate through the crowds and enjoy ourselves. Staying a bit outside of the city can really help in restoring calm which visiting such a stimulating city may require. More on that in my next post.
Although I have been lucky to visit this amazing city a number of times, I still space out on some of the basics. Walking to endless numbers of closed churches before realizing they all close between 12:30 and 3pm will doubtless leave you a bit annoyed. Getting lost is a given and wherever you are going will likely not be as 'super close!' as you think. So wear comfortable shoes and try not to be grouchy when a short walk turns into an hour (or 3!). The main thing is, be sure to always enjoy the walk. Like the famous saying goes-no use crying over spilled sidra, you know?
I guess what I am trying to say is, enjoy Roma! Travel can be stressful and the bigger the city the higher the stakes. It certainly helps to have good travel partner and manageable expectations. When even a walk down the street blows your mind with unsurpassed beauty, you should be filled with good cheer. And a walk beside the Tiber River is always free and always stunning.
If you walk far enough along the river, you'll be starving! Good thing by the time you make it to the Testaccio bridge crossing you will stumble upon this stand.
Might as well grab a porchetta panino with roasted eggplant and chicory. Will this be the best porchetta of the trip? No, but it will undoubtedly be the best you have right now. Enjoy it! It is still pretty awesome. Plus, you'll feel like a local (until you whip out your camera!). You will probably want a beer, too.
On this trip, we neglected to remember that here and in many parts of Europe, May 1st is a holiday, which means most Museums are closed and there are (even more) millions of people flooding the streets. No matter! You are in Roma! Wander about and love your life. Here and always, keep your spirits high, OK?
Having a good attitude ensures that even if the magnificent Fontana di Trevi looks like this:
Instead of this:
You won't feel like this:
You'll feel like this:
Don't worry, dear ones, the fountain will reopen and be better than ever mid June, 2015. Ciao, ciao!