ROME IN RUINS
A Walking Tour of Rome's Best Sights
Rome is a huge city and complex, just try to drive from one side of the Vatican to the other. Or sit in a five our jam of evening traffic around the Piazza Repubblica. So many things to do and see and so little time. Don’t try to see everything. It’s impossible in one trip. Arrive by train and find one of the many hotels around the Roma Termini (central train station), or dump the taxi from Da Vinci, Fiumicino or Ciampino airports, drop your bags and take an orientation excursion. A short ride on the subway takes you to the Spanish Steps where lovers and honeymooners gather to make out. A few steps from the steps takes you to the Trevi Fountain made famous by Marcello Mastroianni and a blonde on a Vespa. Toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain where Anita Ekberg cavorted and legend says you will return to Rome. But careful you don’t hit one of your fellow tourists, gathered shoulder to shoulder like pigeons. It is here you’ll know that Rome is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Continue on the subway or a take taxi out to the Vatican. Visit the crypt of St. Peter under the twisting marble alter of his massive Basilica. Snap a picture of the Pope’s bedroom window and gaze at the Cistene ceiling. Prepare for a very long line, maybe a second day. Lines are shorter after 2 or get a reservation (see below). Stop for lunch in the little quiet district to the south across the Porta Cavalleggeri (see Hotel Emmaus Vatican City). Watch the priests with briefcases and world traveling nuns pulling their travel totes. If Hollywood is a show business town, Rome is a God business city.
Then if you’re up to it, take a long casual stroll on foot back through 2,500 years of history. Be sure you have a good street map. All roads may lead to Rome, but once in town getting lost is easy. Cross the Tiber past the Castle Saint Angelo, stroll Vittorio Emannuel to the Piazza Venezia, then the down the steps of one of the seven hills and you find yourself in a valley of what was once the center of ancient Rome, the Forum. Admission is charged for the Forum now, but a ticket is good for the Colusseum as well, which will be undergoing a renovation in the next couple of years, though will remain open to visitors. 2 or 3 day passes are available. Artifacts and age old structures are being excavated and uncovered every day.
After studying the finer points of early Roman architecture, you’ll come out at the Colosseum. Modern day traffic whizzes around the ancient structure on Rome’s Imperial Way thoroughfare as if it were an inconvenient abandoned bus on the highway. Take a self-guided tour over the stands of the Colosseum where Roman citizens gathered daily to get their fill of Gladiator blood. Across from the Colosseum is a new 3D virtual world exhibit of life in Ancient Rome "Rewind Rome" (see Imperial Rome in 3D). Your feet may be pretty tired by this point. Take a taxi back to the hotel, or if you’re game, keep walking, you’re almost home. Cross the Imperiali, over the hill to the Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore. A few cautions in Rome - always keep close eye on your luggage, your pockets or purse - and when you need a snack, avoid the stands near the monuments, a block away you’ll discover the prices will be a fraction of the Roman tourist gouge. Snacking has been made illegal near several of the monuments for the high tourist season, anyway.
Rest your feet, take a nap and as the late sun sets at 8 or 9 o'clock, join your friends at one of the sidewalk restaurants off the Via Del Corso for people watching near the Piazza del Popolo with some Italian wine and the famous food. © Bargain Travel Europe
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