Rome — Week One

Monument Vittorio Emmanuele II from the Via dei Fori Imperiali

Today is officially our seventh day in Rome. It’s just amazing how fast it goes. I can’t imagine trying to visit the city in three or four days. The line-ups at most of the main attractions are long, sometimes hours long, so if you’re not with a tour, you have to factor these waiting times into your itinerary.

Yesterday, we walked over 10 km and that did the trick. I now sport a blister on my right foot. We’ve been walking almost everywhere. Even though we have a good idea of the layout of the city, we’ve been getting lost in the small vie (streets) that wind around so much you have no idea where you are, unless you end up on a major artery. We’ve been concentrating our exploration around the Vittorio Emmanuele II monument for now, although we have plans to go further out. In a few days, I’ll write a post about out-of-the-way exploration, not necessarily because they’re far from the centro but because they’re not as visited as the “must-see” places of Rome like the Colosseum or St-Peter, but they have incredible treasures and very few people get to see them.

A viale in el centro

However, if you’re in Rome for only three or four days, there are two ways you can enhance your visit:

  1. Take a hop-on/hop-off bus tour. Many companies offer, for around 30 euros, a tour of the city; you can climb off and on anywhere the bus stops for the entire day. You get to see all the major attractions from a seated position (most of these buses are double-deckers) then decide what you want to see that day and the next.
  2. If you don’t mind taking public transportation, the city of Rome has a three day bus-metro-tram ticket that includes entry to two major museums. It’s quite a bit cheaper than the bus tour and may make you feel more part of the bustle of the town. We love taking public transportation and the bus system in Rome is super easy. Buy yourself a map that also indicates the bus and metro routes and you’re in business.

Tevere at Isola Tiberina

Despite our taking public transport, the best way to explore Rome, to get a feel for the city, is on foot. The centre of Rome is only a few square kilometres, if you discount the Vatican (which isn’t in Rome, anyway, but on the other side of the Tevere), and you can easily walk from the Colosseum –which means the colossal, rather than coliseum—to the Monument Vittorio Emmanuele to the Panthon to the Spanish Steps to the Trevi fountain; it’s a trip of about four or five kilometres.

It’s worth the walk but make sure you take water with you. The roads in the centro are made of black stones and the sidewalks of some kind of asphalt. The sun does pound and you can get overheated. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to fall in love with those beautiful pine trees against this blue, blue sky.

We’ve had pretty good weather so far but today they’re forecasting thunderstorms. Another adventure awaits.

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5 Responses to Rome — Week One

  1. Tom Finnegan says:

    Eager to read your posts on “out-of-the-way explorations”!

    You say “We love taking public transportation.” Tell us more, please. For many American readers, public transportation is not necessarily an inviting or appealing mode of movement. But as you’ve discovered and are sharing, it can be an integral part of the experience–far different from something to be endured to get to some destination. The trains, the buses CAN BE the destination in foreign travel.

    Enjoy it all!

    • M. D. Benoit says:

      Tom,

      I’ll definitely have one particular post on the Rome transport system. It’s worth dedicating time to talk about the way transport is organized here. Between, bus, tram, train and metro, you can pretty much go everywhere…on little more than a buck. More later.

  2. Tom Finnegan says:

    Make that “For many American, and Canadian ha ha, and other readers for whom cars are cocoons. . . .”

    There’s a whole different experience of place, people, and exchanges once we break out of the chrysalis and take wing (or foot).

  3. Jim Luce says:

    Just tagging along for the ride, or walk. I’ll be in the back of the crowd, satisfied with just listening and learning.

  4. Jim Luce says:

    Oops, didn’t post right. The comment above, attributed to Dominique was actually mine. Let’s see if I can do it right this time.
    I’ll be just tagging along for the ride, or walk. I’ll be in the back of the crowd, satisfied with just listening and learning.

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