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Roma, Italy

“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.”
– Giotto Di Bondone

For the next stage of our journey, we opted for a train.  Our first experience with train travel in Europe was pretty great.  We had time to kill because our check out time was 10:00 am and our train didn’t leave until 1:00 pm, so we had lunch in the park and sat and waited in the sunshine.  It was a four-hour train ride from Bari to Rome and the train arrived only 10 minutes late.  Going from quiet Bari to one of the most used train stations in Europe was a bit of a shock, but we managed to find our way out and make our way to our next accommodation.

On the way to the Airbnb, we were splattered with something foul smelling.  Turns out people will throw ‘bird poop’ at tourists and then pick pocket them while they graciously try to help them clean up.  Luckily, Mike had read about this previously, so we just kept walking, while someone was trying to ‘help’ us.  Unfortunately, the liquid was green and smelled like mustard, vinegar, and something else, so we had to do laundry as soon as we arrived.  Most of it was on our luggage which wiped off easily.  Not the best intro to Rome, but a good reminder to keep your head up and always be aware of your surroundings in big centers. 

Our Airbnb was small, but had everything we needed and was the first ground floor unit we’ve stayed in.  It was nice to have a break from lugging our suitcases up multiple flights of stairs.  I highly recommend packing light if you’re travelling to Europe.  Most places are located in old buildings up narrow staircases and elevators are rare.  You also end up having to do laundry every 3 days minimum because the machines are so small, so you really don’t need to pack a lot.

What struck me first about Rome was the size of everything.  Yes, our apartment was miniscule, but the buildings are massive, the statues are massive, the churches and basilicas are massive…you get the idea.  The Romans did not build anything on a small scale.  The doors into the apartment buildings are so big that they have man doors built into them because opening the whole door is too much work.  The scale of everything we saw blew my mind.

We saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Baths of Caracalla and countless piazzas, obelisks, and ruins.  We hit all the highlights and we just wandered around stumbling over stunning Basilicas, grand architecture, and epic views.  It’s a very beautiful city and a week was barely long enough to take it all in.  We also visited Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Castel Sant’ Angelo.

Even in the off season I would recommend buying your tickets in advance.  There was plenty of availability, but the lines to buy tickets were still insane.  I cannot imagine visiting Rome in peak season.  We had a pretty laid-back visit, but there were still a lot of people around.  Around the main tourist sites there were individuals trying to sell scarves, bracelets, selfie sticks, and roses.  It’s best not to interact with these people at all; they are very friendly, but they just want your money.

Rome was incredible and definitely worth the trip, but now that we’ve seen it, we probably won’t be back.  We are more interested in seeing what else Italy has to offer in the future.  We’d like to spend more time exploring the more remote regions.  Large metropolitan centers aren’t our favourite, but when you’re traveling without a vehicle, they’re definitely easier.  I just find it tiring having to have my guard up every time we leave our accommodation.  It seems like everyone is out to take advantage of you in one way or another when you travel to tourist hot spots.  It does take away from the experience a bit when you are constantly on guard.  That being said, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to see all of these iconic sites for myself.  It was truly an amazing experience.


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