Rome Stories and Tips

Arrivederci, Roma

St Peter's Dome Photo, Rome, Italy

A couple of notes:

"Prego" is a word you will hear a lot. It seems to be a multi purpose word. You may hear someone behind a ticket desk or the hotel desk use it to summon the next person waiting. You could hear it used as a "your welcome" if you say thank you or grazie. It is almost always the word used to answer the telephone as well. Quite handy to know!

Of course there are homeless people in Rome, just like anywhere else. There are people begging on the streets but we didn't notice anyone sleeping in doorways and even most of the main piazzas where the tourists are seemed free of beggars but we did see them. Some had disabilities and were unable to walk. They were perched or lying on low to the ground wheeled platforms, their disability sometimes displayed (i.e. twisted feet) and a cup in their hand. We also saw what appeared to be older women, wearing long full robes and a hood, on their hands and knees prostrated on the ground, forehead nearly touching the ground and holding a cup in front of them.

You couldn't imagine a more emotionally wrenching style of begging, could you? Except Graham noticed one of the "old" women stand up and he could tell it was clearly a young woman but some of the disabled people certainly weren't faking.

We say goodbye to Rome today and are to fly back to Manchester this afternoon, changing again in Gatwick and arriving in Manchester about 9:30 tonight.

We decided to book a car to the airport rather than drag our bags around train stations. A private car was only a couple of euro more than a taxi and infinitely more comfortable. It's yet another sunny day and the driver seemed to have taken us around some back streets and drove us around the Colosseum as well to get out of the city so it was nice to have a last look. At one point, though, he drove us down this little uninhabited lane and we both worried a bit that he was taking us to some field somewhere to murder us and fit us with cement shoes. Not really, but we were concerned until we realized he was taking a very odd approach to a motorway. Must have been an on-ramp that locals know about but isn't a formal one or something.

We had spectacular weather all week. I enjoyed most of the food though Graham only enjoyed a few meals we had. We did walk ourselves into comas a few days , or at least it felt like it. We always do. We saw a lot of the major sights and things on our "bucket" list even if we didn't make it to the Forums or the Gladiator school/barracks ruins. Those were probably the only things we didn't see that we wanted to but we were so tired that we probably wouldn't have enjoyed it at that point.

We saw the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel via tours and I think it was the right way to go. As always, I loved seeing the Pieta and the Pantheon. We had a bit of cross communication sometimes with waiters and shop staff but mostly we did ok with the few words of Italian I could remember. The hotel staff were all really good to us anytime we asked for anything. The only points the hotel loses is that though the breakfast did have eggs, they weren't very good and the coffee wasn't good either though you could ask for a cappuccino and it would be made fresh for you. It also loses points for the juices which were basically just sugary coloured water.

We used taxis a few times when we were too tired to fuss with busses and they were fine, obviously more expensive than taking a bus or metro, but always efficient even though the traffic was manic and you didn't always want to watch! Yes, the traffic. Insane really. No concept of lanes, especially with the million or so scooters. They did more or less stop at traffic lights which is an improvement. The bus and the metro were easy to use and there weren't too many steps in the metro stations we used. If you're going to use them a lot, get a day or week pass.

We tried to check in at a British Airways kiosk but it only printed one of the four boarding passes we needed. We asked at the BA desk and were directed to a shorter line at the check in area and got that sorted.

My god/dess it's a pain in the arse getting around in airports and planes and such! We passed through security at Fiumincino and headed in the general direction of the gate but stopped at a cafe for lunch. We already knew what our gate was so went directly there after. This is another very large airport!

The gate area for our group of gates was quite nice with all the designer shops. The plane arriving was late so we were then late getting away, nearly an hour by the time it pulled away from the gate. Luckily, though the plane was full, apparently the one empty seat across the aisle from us was next to the wife of the guy sitting on the aisle in our row so he moved over and we had the row to ourselves. Good thing! That made it more comfortable at least.

Getting off was the usual hurry up and wait and then there's the long walk through to passport control where there's 500 people in the EU (European citizen) line (Graham's) and about 2 dozen in the "other" passports line (mine). The EU line moved very quickly. Mine did not. There were maybe 3 agents dealing with our line. One of them had the same two women almost the whole time I stood there. I kept expecting them to be taken away at gunpoint or something. I don't know what the holdup was. Another agent took off to deal with people arriving on the gocart. *sigh* Finally once the other queue cleared completely, the people in my line were ushered to the other agents.

I was asked if I was traveling with anyone and when I said I was and he was in the other line and now waiting for me, she told me since we had been traveling together, I could have gone with him!!! Agggh! How were we supposed to know?

We had to exit the whole works and go back through check in, meaning more security. This time there was hardly anyone there so we sailed through. We then came into the lounge and found a restaurant and had a meal. Graham finally had the full English breakfast he'd been dreaming of all week!

Thankfully we had lots of time between flights so the late arrival and long queue in Passport control didn't really worry me. On the ground in Manchester, we catch a shuttle bus to a new car rental "village" and then picked up a few groceries for the next dayat a 24 hour Tesco before going home.

Rome was great. Will we go back? Probably not but we would like to go to Florence some day.

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