Roma, ohhhh Roma. Just the thought of you makes me think of romance, history, religion, and Lizzie McGuire. My mom (and sister) came to visit me in Europe last month, and when I asked her (my mom) where she wanted to go (other than Germany) she immediately said: “Rome.”
My mom is a devout catholic, and Rome is to a catholic like Disneyland is to a small child.
Rome wasn’t high on my list of “must see’s,” but I was happy to oblige her desires, so I did all the dirty work to plan for our trip to Rome. Everything went smoothly…until it didn’t. My mom’s flight was canceled into Germany and she had to spend a night in Dublin, putting us behind half a day. Then when I picked up our rental car, I was given a boat instead of a compact.
Did I mention I was driving to Rome? Where the streets are narrow and the drivers are intense?
I drove my boat and myself to the Munich airport to pick up my mom the morning we were to drive to Rome (which is about 11 hours from Munich) and I waited an hour and a half to change the car. It was worth every minute’s wait, and I ended up getting an Audi A3 Limo style.
I fell deeply in love with that car. Much better for an 11 hour drive.
Driving to Rome was…interesting. The drive was surprisingly smoother than I anticipated, and my anxiety about the Autostrade tolls was unnecessary. The tolls were simple, you just get onto the Autostrade – get a ticket – and pay when you exit. I only paid once getting off in Rome. I felt like a local in no time.
Arriving in Rome was another story. I hoped because we were arriving late (around 11pm) the roads would be less…populated. I was wrong. The streets at night are just as crazy as the streets in the day, and Italians are just as aggressive as they say when it comes to driving. Finding our Air B & B was an adventure.
It took an hour to find, and I had to call the host at midnight.
We couldn’t find parking despite the Air B & B listing stating they had parking (which is why I booked it) so I parked on the street a bit away from the place, which was annoying. After all the hoops were jumped through, the car was parked, and we were inside our apartment, we went to bed to prepare for our first full day in Rome. We’d made it, we’d arrived, it was time to breathe.
We arrived on a Saturday, which meant we were able to attend Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The weather was perfect, and arriving for mass at 9am allowed us to beat some of the crowds. On Sunday’s the Vatican Museums are closed, so the entire Vatican City is less chaotic. Did you know that the Vatican City is considered its own separate country? Although I had already been to Italy before this trip, I can still count this as a new country visited thanks to this fun fact.
Mass was beautiful, as was the inside of the Basilica. My mom claimed this was the highlight of the trip for her (other than seeing me of course.) That alone made all the hoops jumped through worth it. Helping facilitate this visit for my mom was very rewarding.
Mass is held multiple days a week at the Basilica, but I was happy we made it for Sunday mass.
After mass we ventured off to get some lunch. We quickly learned that tourist traps are everywhere, and we ate at a restaurant that charged us $60 for a kitten sized portion of pasta, and a medium pizza. Prices aside the food tasted like cardboard and we didn’t make the same mistake twice.
While sitting there eating, a man walked by playing music. After he finished he stuck his hat out expecting money from us, to which I declined. I am all for paying street artists if I feel inclined, but this is another example of how touristy this city is…locals expect and receive money from people who don’t know any better.
After we ate, we took a tour of the city on the Hop on Hop off (HOHO) bus.
Rome is a large city, and a lot of the attractions are spaced far apart. It’s not a driving friendly city, so in order to get the full taste of everything it’s advisable to be in good walking shape. My poor mom hurt her knee pretty badly before she came, making her trip a bit difficult to enjoy at times. Rome is also not nearly as romantic as I originally assumed.
Rome is dirty, it smells, there are tons of tourists, tourist traps, pushy street vendors, and despite it being September it was HOT.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we went, but I don’t feel the need to go back anytime soon. Aside from all that, there were plenty of beautiful buildings and statues to gawk at. The HOHO bus took us towards a handful of attractions, but there were a few we skipped out on like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. I guess I do need to go back after all.
After a full first day, we decided to try again with dining out. We found a slightly touristy place, which was still moderately expensive, but the food was AMAZING. Worth it. I let my hair down and ordered pesto pasta, which set the tone for the rest of the trip.
After dinner we walked back to our Air B & B in Vatican City to prepare for the following days adventure. Stay tuned for our visit to the Vatican Museums, and the traumatizing sight I saw with a homeless man and a pigeon.
Q: Do you like big cities?