In an effort to escape the Munich cold and get a much needed break from the day to day drudgery of traveling around Europe, we decided to head to Rome for a few days. After all, it’s just an hour away by plane and we’d never been. We stayed centrally on the Via Veneto and mapped out some usual sight seeing and tours. Let me say up front that I love Italy and Rome is my new favorite city. The history, the sights, the food, the people – all fantastic. (Sadly, we didn’t bring Enzo – with so much touring planned we didn’t think it’d be fun for him in the hotel room.)
The highlights are too many to list and I think one could spend a week in Rome with plenty to do and enjoy. It’s a great walking city and fairly compact. The shopping and fashion is very good – no surprise there. Seasons on the outer edges of summer or even winter is a good time to visit. The locals said winter is a good time because it’s much too hot in the summer and full of tourists. We lucked out with almost no rain and of course very few tourists – many of them seemed to be Italians. No visit is complete without spending a day seeing the Colosseum and strolling the ruins and Forum area in the center of town. I am always enthralled whenever I see and experience something that I’ve heard about my entire life – the Colosseum, the Kremlin, the Great Wall, the Statue of Liberty, the Sistine Chapel, blue M&Ms.
We also did a day of two tours of the Vatican City museums and basilicas through Viator.com. We don’t normally book many tours because we chafe at the structure and traveling in a pack. But I did want to get more out of the day than just wandering through, plus the tours skip the lines and take care of the tickets and so on. Our tours just had the same four of us all day with an art historian and archaeologist as guides – I’ll definitely use Viator again. St Peter’s Basilica is amazingly large and the Sistine Chapel is more intimate and personal than I imagined. And this may sound strange, but I thought much of the decoration in the Vatican rooms and St Peter’s was nicely restrained compared with the psychedelic rococo fantasies we see in northern European churches and palaces – I guess Italians have always had naturally good taste. Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Basilica of St Paul, Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica of St John Lateran, Galleria Borghese, Modern Art Museum, countless churches and piazzas, and that still leaves plenty for the next trip.