Earlier this month, I went to Rome for a long weekend. It was such a wonderful trip that I suggest anyone interested in art, history, and/or food try to recreate it as closely as possible.
- Visit in December. Obsessive readers of this blog might remember that I went to Venice last summer and hated it because of how overcrowded the city was. I’m happy to report that there is a huge difference between visiting Italy in December compared to August. There were definitely tourists and lines, but nothing too overwhelming.
- Include the first Sunday of the month. Many of the big attractions are free on the first Sunday of every month. We saved nearly €50 by accidentally going to Rome the first weekend of December.
- Stay somewhere close to Termini. There are a LOT of hotels in the area to choose from, and it’s perfectly situated for easy public transport use. The buses from the airports end there, so you don’t have to think while riding them. If you need to get somewhere early in the morning, you are right next to the metro and bus stops. And the Termini Station is full of cheap coffee shops, stores, and grocery stores, so you don’t have to go far for basic necessities.
- Walk more often than you use transport. When preparing for Rome, I had in my head that the city was massive. It’s not! We took about one public transport per day (either early in the morning to beat the lines or late at night when our feet were exhausted), and the rest of the time we walked. In addition to saving money, this allowed us to get a real feel for the city. I had such a fun time realizing that we were passing a building that led up stairs to a piazza that we walked to the day before. By the end of the weekend, I felt like I knew Rome in a way I never would have if I’d been stuck on buses or metros.
- Use audioguides. The sites are incredible, but without context the amazingness can blur together. At the Vatican Museum and Coliseum, I had an audioguide that made the experience MUCH more meaningful. I recommend an audioguide over a human guide because it allowed my friends and I to split up when necessary and focus on the displays that most interested us individually without worrying we were boring the others.
Interesting. Some of my experiences have been similar to yours. Off-season travel is always better, and usually cheaper as well. You get more attention because there are fewer of you. On several of our cruises I would break off from the guided group and go wandering. It was always pleasurable to watch and observe and try to put yourself into the local culture. That fellow taking a coffee break at the cafe…what does he do for a living? What does he eat for lunch? What is his day like? What does he read? If you speak some of his language you can even ask him and he will be delighted in your interest in him. You can fill your day with interesting thoughts and observations and deductions, and at the end you feel closer to the people. Buildings and places are interesting, yes, but the people even more so.
Tommy, your extroversion is showing. As an introvert, I can whole-heartedly affirm that buildings and places are far more interesting than strangers.
(People, maybe not, but definitely strangers.)
I guess I am an extrovert…Karon is more of an introvert and sometimes what I will say to someone will cause her to roll her eyes and tell me i am “full of it”. But I enjoy shmoozing with folks and complimenting them and making them feel good. Who was it who said that a stranger was only a friend you haven’t met yet? Just kidding you, Trish. I admire your insight into things and your ability to do things out of the box. You certainly lead an interesting life! And you write about it very well.
I’m glad people like you exist – you can chat with the lonely strangers that I don’t even notice. 🙂