More tips on how to make your trip to Rome more wonderful.

Carpe Diem

I woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to seize the day. Hotel Giuliana I found was staffed by young people of different nationalities who manned the front desk in shifts. Unlike the earlier front deskers, this person was Indian but like all Indians abroad, flatly refused to acknowledge a fellow compatriot. However, he did oblige me with a cup of coffee that  was part of his duty. The Breakfast part of the hotel was really like what I have at home – a buttered toast – but for those who look forward to a hearty morning meal – go back to bed and dream on…….

Anyway, since I wanted to seize the day, I made my way to Roma Termini to get onto the Hop On Hop Off Bus which is my preferred way to see a city.  Moreso if I’m doing it alone and have absolutely no idea of where things are and what I’d like to see. I reached the Bus stand too early it seems to seize the day as the tours begin operating from 9 am. But that gave me enough time to figure out which bus I wanted to catch and what sights I’d like to see.

Hopping on and hopping off – Red or Green or may be Blue?

Roma Cristiana Rome Hop On Hop Off Open Top Sightseeing BusCity Sightseeing Rome Hop On Hop Off Open Top Sightseeing Bus
Ciao Roma Rome Hop On Hop Off Open Top Sightseeing BusCity Sightseeing Rome Hop On Hop Off Open Top Sightseeing BusWith the early morning sun peeping from behind an overcast sky, the HoHo bus seemed the best choice. There are several HoHo bus companies and as the ticket seller explained to me, the only difference between the green bus which was the cheapest and the red bus (which at 20 Euros for the day was 2 Euros more expensive) was that I could use the Red Roma Sightseeing Bus pass for all of 24 hours. The other bus, Roma Christina offered two more stops but its slant was more on the sights of religious significance. There were several other buses too, some with open to sky seating on the top, others with a sun roof. I got onto the red Roma sightseeing bus simply because I’ve used that service in other cities before. Well equipped with my head phones, I clambered up to the top of the bus from its starting point on the other side of the Termini at via Marsala and sat through the entire 90 minute journey savouring the sights of ancient Rome.

Ancient Rome in Modern Times

The good thing about an early start was that the streets were relatively clear of traffic. I could thus see the whole city from my vantage point. As we sped past the Colosseum, the Piazza Venezia and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, I couldn’t help but marvel at all the ancient glories that I’d just heard of and was actually seeing.  I got off at the Colosseum only to find that there was an hour long queue which I could have avoided had I bought the Roma Pass but which I didn’t since I was not intending using public transport and was in the city for just about two nights. So unwilling to wait and do the trudge, fearful of missing my step since it was really very wet, I went back to the stop to wait for the very next bus.

I got off at the Piazza Venezia with the intention of crossing the bridge to Trastevere a once seedy district now revived and boasting of several good eateries. However, I got lost along the way and didn’t find the bridge so I plodded on to the Pantheon and followed the trail to the Fountain of Trevi, tossed a coin and moved ahead to the Spanish Steps. While walking along a trail which had signs in Braille at either end of the street, I picked up a panini and an overpriced gelato to slake my thirst which the salesman assured me was decidedly overpriced simply because it was sold in a place which was strategically located……..

While I was awestruck by the Pantheon and the Piazza Venezia, pleasantly amused by the joyous crowds at the Fountain of Trevi, I was terribly disappointed to see fake flowers flank the Spanish Steps. So put off was I by this discovery that I didn’t step inside the Museum dedicated to Keats & Shelley just beside the steps though  I had oft dreamt of going there.

So I returned back to the hotel happy . A bit disappointed, though,  that all the sights were not quite what I’d imagined them to be and decided to pick up my sagging spirits with a bit of retail therapy.

Retail Therapy

Because Italy is known for its fashion I decided to actually try out some stuff. I chose a small shop right near the hotel simply because I knew that the  big ones were totally beyond my wallet. And what an experience it was! There were three people dancing attendance on me !  One gave me piles of clothes to try on. Another explained the pros and cons of each style . And a third actually critically analysed each garment and me me feel like a million bucks. But a fool and his money are soon parted and I was not willing to play the fool . I  steeled my heart and walked away from those absolutely hard to resist lines like ” Madam this is just you!”  Or, “This fashion is meant for real women like you” which made me feel good about my burgeoning midriff and flappy upper arms.
I had a quiet meal in another restaurant  decidedly touristy, this time,  in the street across the hotel. I paid off my bill and hunkered down for the night before my early morning train ride to Florence.

TIPS

So now here’s the run down
  • Rome is entirely doable in two days for a quick whistle stop tour
  • Half a day for the Vatican is more than enough but book your visit online and take a guide or at least read up the great stuff before entering the Museum
  • Buy a Roma Pass if you want to use public transport and skip the lines at the Colosseum
  • Plan a meal at Trastevere but zoom in on the restaurant you want to visit
  • The walk from Trevi to the Spanish Steps is doable but keep a map on hand
  • You can visit Rome entirely on your own. There are lots of on line resources to tap before you make that first step.

Ciao Roma!

Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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