Friday, May 22, 2015

Rome | Italy




Rome… the city where dreams go to die!

I think it is important for me to first disclose that I visited Rome in early July, which is prime tourist season. This meant there were herds of people everywhere, at every point throughout the day. I hate herds of people. I also didn’t have a tour guide and I am certain that were I with somebody who knew Rome extremely well, more glorious parts of the city would have been discovered.

Regardless, when I reminisce over my time travelling through Italy, my heart skips a beat. When my mind wanders through to our last stop in Rome, that racing heart turns to complete disappointment. Rome was certainly not what I had in mind.

The city was made the last stop on our Italian adventure, firstly, because it was the most southern city and secondly, because I truly believed it would be the best part of the trip. There was something about Rome that sent my imagination wild. I envisioned majestic architecture and medieval buildings in the middle of a quaint and beautiful city. Scenes from Eat Pray Love were playing in my mind as we jumped on the train from Florence, I was going to be immersed in Italian culture and embark on the biggest history lesson of my life.

The moment I stepped off the train, I felt all my hopes and dreams for the city slowly diminish. I can only describe the view as East London with grand historical ruins and monuments scattered randomly throughout. There was no magic, certainly no upkeep, and instead just an array of hungry tourists in your face at every corner.

The historical sites in the city were majestic, the Colosseum being a personal favourite of mine, but each sight required a battle of will in order to actually see what you came to see. Every photo you snap will contain a section of Rome, above the heads of John, Kate and their five children. We failed to find a single corner of the city that wasn’t filled with camera snapping people.

The city had nothing on Florence, in terms of beauty and the simple upkeep of the streets. Florence was quaint, beautiful, and meticulously clean. Rome however, was extremely messy, and as we made our way through the litter filled streets, the image of a pristine and majestic city that I’d built up in my mind was systematically dismantled.

On our first night, we stayed in the Mandarin Guesthouse, opposite the main train station. A Chinese family, who at first seemed extremely frightening by their impatient demeanor, ran the place and were actually very helpful. Before the evening had even begun, the two friends I was travelling with received some bother by the locals congregating outside the guesthouse and decided to spend the night elsewhere. Jake and myself remained where we were, undeterred by what we joked was like being back at home. In the end, the Mandarin Guesthouse turned out to be one of the nicer places we stayed at, considering we spent every other night of the trip in a tent.

Day two was spent walking across the entire city to our new accommodation for the next two nights. Every mile or so while walking through the disheveled ‘East London,’ we stumbled across something beautiful but nothing beat the Colosseum for me. I could only make out the top of the Pantheon; sadly it was impossible to get any nearer. Castel sant'angelo was a similar situation and the Trevi Fountain was broken. Capitoline hill was beautiful and we hit the jackpot because it was fairly quiet. After a whole day of walking, an exhausted Hollie and Jacob grabbed some food and collapsed for the evening.

Our accommodation was Camping Roma, situated outside the city centre, requiring public transport to get almost anywhere. To uplift spirits and not be controlled by the disappointment, a trip to the Vatican City was arranged and the morning before our last we awoke early and headed to the headquarters of the Catholic Church. I will try not to be too critical of a location that means so much to so many, but all circumstances included, this came to be an extremely dire day. Firstly, Jake and myself being the silly human beings that we are did not even think about dressing appropriately and chucked on any clothes we could find in the top of our rucksacks. I had on a strappy dress and Jake a sleeveless top – this did not go down well! Secondly, the Vatican is expensive, extremely expensive. So when one dresses inappropriately, they are forced to buy a scarf to cover up and scarfs cost over 100euro. We settled for a tablecloth, which cost significantly less, but the panicked start certainly lowered the tone for the rest of the day.

The Vatican in early July is basically one long line. You queue for a couple of hours to get in (we got the earliest bus possible to get there), and then you follow that queue all the way round. It is hard to admire the artwork on every wall, when you are being herded around like cattle.

Disclaimer: I am a philistine where art is concerned and can only apologise for what I am about to write.

We walked for what seemed like hours, up and down stairs, along corridors and hallways, to the famous Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s ceiling looked EXACTLY THE SAME as every ceiling that we saw on the five-hour walk to the chapel. In fact, the most exciting thing was watching a young man be removed from the premises for taking a sneaky photo. We stayed as long as we could handle before returning only to realize we had to wait three hours for the next bus back. A dire day was had, mostly for reasons that were no fault of Rome’s, but ruined the experience nonetheless. Looking back, a day of eating ice cream would probably have been better than Vatican City for me.

Our last day was spent at our accommodation, (which was very similar to Centreparcs, for those of you that live in Britain) where we lounged by the pool and caught a tan. The city of Rome was pretty bleak and I don’t think I could have faced another day attempting to explore.


The thought of ever going back gravely upsets me, but I can’t help ponder why so many people love the city so much. I can only come to the conclusion I missed something, and maybe a different time of year would help Rome to redeem itself. Until then, it remains the city that broke my heart. 

Most of the photo's I took were bad, so instead I aimed for tops of buildings and blank walls which didn't attract the tourists, here are my favourites... Enjoy ♥












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