Based on recommendations from almost everyone I’ve ever spoken to, I booked a trip to Rome, Roma, The Eternal City. Unfortunately I didn’t have eternity to explore, I only had 48 hours.
More than one person I’d spoken to described it as a museum turned inside out. History is everywhere. And yet it is easy to find the normality: day to day life carrying on despite the tourists and general wow. There are also plenty of places to escape – a shady garden or unremarkable piazza where you can stop awhile before planning your next move.
I like to get the feel of a city by walking. Rome has an efficient public transport system but I didn’t need to use it. Most of the “sights” are within a 40 minute walk and as long as you remember Rome has hills, it’s not too much trouble. And if you get lost (which I did on a number of occasions)? Turn around, take a different street or admire the wonderfulness that surrounds you.
On Day One, my walking tour included the Roman quarter: Colosseum, Forum, and Circus Maximus. I strolled in Borghese Park and hid for a while in the Orange Garden on Aventine Hill.
Day Two was focused around the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica with an overlong pause in the cafe at Castel Sant’Angelo.
I was amazed at how easy it was to feel at home, to get familiar with the roads, the traffic, the expectations. But that’s what’s so great about a city break – comfortable shoes and some coffee money will usually sort you out wherever you are.
My trip was in early July and hot. Not too busy, but more than a smattering of post-exam celebratory family trips. There’s more than enough to do, so don’t rush it. Remember to give yourself some time to absorb it all and for refreshment, drink the water. There are drinking fountains everywhere across the city and the water is good to drink. The fresh, cool water is more than necessary to compensate for the heat of the day.