10 things I loved about Rome (and 5 that I didn’t)

What We Loved

1. The Food
It’s a tie between the wine and the food for the best thing about Rome.  There was one day where we ate pizza 3 times, as SNACKS! The pasta there was better than I’ve ever had anywhere before.  I don’t usually eat much pasta, but my goodness this stuff was amazing!  We tried some true Roman dishes while there; Gnocchi, Bucatini alla Amatriciana and Ravioli and then of course we had Lasagna! Even the garlic bread was delicious there!!!

2. The Wine
We had at least a glass of red wine at every meal and usually a bottle (or two) with supper. We had a few different types but it seems the Chianti was our default and it served us well!

3. The Coffee
Being Canadian, my favorite coffee is Tim Hortons coffee!  It doesn’t hurt that I won a car on their “Roll Up The Rim To Win” contest a few years ago!  I haven’t really found a lot of GREAT coffee here in London (not saying that Timmies is GREAT, but I like it!), but I’ve found some half decent stuff.  While in Rome I had a coffee after most meals and I have to say, it was spectacular!

4. The Colosseum
I don’t even know what to say about this place.  There was one point where I just needed to stop and soak it all in because to think of everything, everyone and all that ever happened there was mind blowing and I needed a few minutes to just absorb all of that!

5. The Palatine Hill
The Palatine wasn’t even on our list of places to visit and no one had recommended it to us.  We just so happen to walk by it after the Colosseum and it was included in our purchased ticket from there, so we popped in to see what it was.  It had some of the nicest views of Rome that we had seen and the ruins that were there were absolutely amazing!

6. The Sistine Chapel
I wasn’t too excited to see or go to Vatican City for my own personal reasons but I really wanted to see the Sistine Chapel because I’ve studied a lot of art and it’s one of the most amazing stories and pieces in the world.  To stand in the middle of the small room and look up at what Michelangelo painted on the ceiling and to know the story of why and how he did it was awesome. Not to mention he was my favorite Ninja Turtle!  You aren’t allowed to take pictures in the chapel so what you see is the halway to the chapel and one I snuck at the entrance.

7. The Trevi Fountain
To be honest, I knew nothing about the fountain until Gina told me about.  She really wanted to go and that’s all I needed to hear to be convinced to go and I’m very glad we went.  The sculptures and the fountain are absolutely gorgeous!

8. The Spanish Steps
There’s not much to say about the Spanish Steps except the view is very nice and it’s somewhere you must see.  It’s 138 steps (the longest and widest in Europe) and there really isn’t much to them, but they were very inspirational for some reason!

9. The Gran Caffé : Our little café that we found
This place was incredible! The food was spectacular, the service amazing and the atmosphere was how you would picture a small restaurant in Rome to be!  We actually went here 3 times.  We would go somewhere else, order a glass of wine or an app to start and if we didn’t like it, we’d leave.  We only left two places and one of those two times brought us back to this café!  If you’re ever there, look for it!

10. One nice old Italian lady
On our first day in Rome we stopped in to a very small jewelry store so Gina could buy some handmade Roman jewelry and the woman that owned the store and made and designed all of the jewelry was the nicest person we met the whole trip!  She couldn’t really speak English, I can’t speak very much Italian but I speak fluently in French and her French wasn’t too bad either so it was a pretty cool conversation that switched back and forth between three languages at any given time.  It ended up she LOVES Canada and Canadians (who doesn’t?) and so we had a 20 minute conversation about Italy and Canada while switching back and forth between three languages.  Quite cool!

What We Didn’t Like

1. It was very dirty
Rome is a dirty dirty city!  There’s graffiti EVERYWHERE and it seems like they don’t clean the streets at all!  The only clean areas were the touristy areas, but besides that, it was filthy!

2. They didn’t take credit card anywhere
I found it odd that no one mentioned this to us.  When we travel we don’t usually care more than a 20 of whatever currency that country is in and we charge everything on our “travel credit card”.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the case in Rome.  Anywhere we went we heard “no card”.  It was quite frustrating!

3. The Rain
This isn’t really Rome’s fault.  It rained 3 of the 4 days we were there. And when I say it rained I mean it poured!  We still had an amazing time but it would have been nice if we weren’t soaked for ¾ of our trip!

4. The service in restaurants, hotel and anywhere touristy
The service in restaurants is bad in Europe in general because they aren’t working for tips like they do back home, but in Rome it was by far the worst that we’ve seen so far.  At one point one server actually tossed a plate of food to us.  The other places we’ve been in Europe had good service in the hotels and tourist attractions but again, not so much here. 

5. The language barrier
Again, not Rome’s fault because it is another country and it IS Italian, but I was surprised as to how much of a language barrier there was.  A few people could speak broken English here and there but for the most part there was a lot of pointing to things and grunting when communicating with people.

All in all, Rome was a remarkable trip and we saw and did things that we may not again, but it’s not a place we would go back to. We did the tourist stuff that we wanted to, got the food and wine experience we were hoping for, but if we were to return to Italy, it wouldn’t be to Rome… Maybe we’ll go to Florence or Tuscany next time.

Simon Winchester Author Reading

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