“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions and the city of yearning.” – Giotto De Bondone
Rome, what can I say. From the outstanding food and wine (and limoncello!), to incredible history and architecture, to shopping and vibrant nightlife, Rome has it all.
Rome is one of those cities that hits you, as in you can feel that you are somewhere special the first time you enter the city. You can literally feel thousands of years of history and culture enveloping you. It’s all around you, it’s almost suffocating but equally amazing at the same time.
Rome is a place where you are looking for somewhere to eat and happen to stumble across 2000 year old ruins without looking for them. There are not many major cities in the world that are built around ancient ruins like Rome is. Throw in a few thousand Vespa scooters and little cars chaotically darting all over the place; countless Italians rapidly conversing with each other on every corner and you’ve got a pretty unique place. It’s a juxtaposition of everything moving fast whilst also feeling relaxed at the same time. This is what makes Rome so unique.
My wife and I travelled to Rome with friends last year, and fell in love with the place.
People may think that the whole food thing is all hype in Italy, but the pizza and pasta is even BETTER than you would imagine. The famous Italian liqueur Limoncello is amazingly refreshing after a hearty Roman meal as well!
What I love about eating out in Rome is that all of vendors and restaurant owners come out onto the footpaths and compete for your business. Everyone is hustling and offering you free wine, bread, or Limoncello with every meal to tempt you in! The food is extremely well priced and I don’t remember spending more than 10 euro for a decent sized meal during our trip.
We visited all of the usual expected tourist hot spots from the Colosseum to the Vatican. Whilst these places are awesome, they are also equally hectic and flooded with thousands of tourists, especially the Vatican. A word of advice, if the Vatican is on your list, get there two hours earlier than whatever time you planned to and be prepared to line up for a long time! Once inside you will find thousands of people shuffling shoulder to shoulder through its halls. The Colosseum is a lot easier to get into and navigate, and is a must do. Parts where under repair when we visited but it was still worth the trip.
The colosseum is one of those places where you just stand there and reflect on history; what it must have been like in the days of the gladiators and how much we’ve changed. People where literally killed there for entertainment, it was the ancient Roman version of going to a football match today. Thankfully, human life is viewed as a little more important these days.
The thing that really surprised us about Italy was the heat. Although I love everywhere I’ve been in Europe, I must admit that old European cities do not handle heat very well. Most places are not air conditioned, and even if they are, the air conditioners almost inevitably never work. Chances are even a 5 star hotel will still feel like a furnace during summer and it will probably have a broken bed to boot. Oddly enough it’s all part of the charm of Rome. The locals never seem to see these types of things as a problem and it’s better not to waste your energy worrying about it. We just made sure we spent most of our time out and about eating, drinking, partying and exploring instead of in the room!
The nightlife in Rome was interesting to say the least. One night we found ourselves in an Irish bar, with actual Irish bartenders, dancing all night to Italian DJ’s in the middle of the old city. It didn’t make sense but didn’t need to! It was all part of the fun. We ended up hanging out with a couple from the United States and a group of Dutch girls. That’s the sort of stuff that makes Europe great though. There are people visiting from all over the world, on their own unique journeys exploring for a multitude different reasons.
It may sound strange, but one of the other great things about a place like Rome (and most of Europe for that matter) is the feeling of being treated like an adult. You can walk the streets with a Peroni (beer) in your hand, and it’s not unusual for people to be out until the early hours of the morning. And, there is no judgement! Italians don’t stress about the types of things people do in Australia. You want a beer, you have a beer! You want to sit down and do nothing, you sit down and do nothing! You want to wake up late, you wake up late! It’s all very easy going.
The best part about Rome in my opinion though: the people. It sounds cliche’ but Romans really are a very passionate. They are passionate about their city; they are passionate about their food and they are willing to talk to anyone. Although my Italian is broken and probably terrible, it is one of the languages I picked up the fastest while travelling in Europe. If you are polite and try to string a few words together the Romans will definitely work with you and give you the time of day.
Rome is a must do if you find yourself in Europe. Do the touristy things, but make sure you also get out and just spend time with the locals. You won’t be disappointed.