It's hard to know where to start with Rome so I figured I'd just post some of the highlights then do a part 2.
Rome - it was shitty hot,full of old stuff and not quite what I was expecting. Do not believe everything you read about Rome. a few times I went places because they were touted as the happening areas of Rome. They were dead.
Lots of expat bloggers also raved about the stylishness of Roman woman. Full on fangirl ravings -
they are so stylish, no matter what you wear or how much money you spend, you'll never be as stylish as Italian women.
No offence to Italian women, but I saw none of that. Most people I saw wore H&M t-shirt and leggings type outfits and shorts (seriously, every blog I read said not to wear shorts in Italy). I'm not saying women have to be stylish, especially in the summer heat. But some of these bloggers could turn it down a notch or two!
Maybe too, Rome is a completely different experience at other times of the year. In August a lot of people leave the city for their summer holidays so places are shut and people are gone.
That's not to say I didn't love Rome. Sure, it's got some not so great sides to it but mostly, it was awesome. I probably won't go back because I didn't throw coins in the Trevi fountain - it was being renovated - but maybe I will just to prove that wrong.
Anyway, the highlights:
Staying out of the city centre
I stayed in an area out of the centre called Tor Pignattara. The street I stayed in, and the little square, were an amazing escape from the tourist madness and had a really tight community feel. Now, that might not always be a good thing - especially if they don't like outsiders - but the people in the area were so lovely. After I met someone once, they'd regret me like a friend the next time they saw me. The ladies in the little coffee bar grinned and knew my order.
I'm so glad I stayed there because Rome, especially around the tourist areas, can be a bit rude and unwelcoming. If I'd stayed somewhere touristy, I think I'd have been a lot more cranky and negative about the city but, being able to get out of all that made a huge difference.
The place I stayed, through AirBnB again, was an old bakery that had been converted into a studio so pretty much a big, open space with a loft bed built in over the bathroom and basic cooking facilities. It had a double doors opening out onto the street with a heavy, industrial shutter that I had to pull down every night (that was a bit of a pain but hey, total security).
The only downside to all this was that I had to catch the bus into the city, a horrible bus that was also so overcrowded that the air conditioning was taxed to the point of being non-existent. Man, I hated that bus. There was a little old tram as well but that didn't go all the way.
Colosseum at Night Tour
I know people who've been to Rome and not gone to the Colosseum but really, do you want to travel all that way and then not see the main attractions? I'm so over all that 'I'm a traveller not a tourist' wank and, if I wanted to spend my days lolling around in a coffee shop people watching, I'd have stayed in Melbourne. Plenty of that to do here.
On the other hand, I hate people a lot. And people in crowds drive me batty. As does heat and being outside in the sun. So I figured doing a night tour of the Colosseum would be perfect.
I hadn't realised until I got to the tour that we'd do a whole circuit around the really old stuff part of the city so I got to learn a whole heap of history and see a lot before we even hit the Colosseum. The most interesting part of that, for me, was seeing how various buildings had evolved over the centuries - early Pagan temples with Christian bits add on top then converted to some other functionality a few centuries later. Just layers of history.
When we got to the Colosseum, there was a bit of waiting around which was good because they really do try to rigidly ensure that there is only tour group in an area at a time. We nearly did have a gladiator battle of our own when another tour leader cut into our time. That would've been freaken hilarious.
We went all over, from the main arena to underneath then up to the stands. The amazing thing about the Colosseum is it's familiarity. You can go see old buildings and learn stuff about them but sometimes it's hard to imagine but the Colosseum is a stadium and, even though it's really old, the layout is not that much different to any stadium in your own town.
I did my tour through City Wonders but there are a few companies that do the night tours and I'm sure they are all pretty similar. I think the night tours only run in summer.
I went to the Opera -- and I loved it!
When I planned my holiday, I found out you could go to the Baths of Caracalla and see the opera. I was all over that shit. Opera in the ruins of the ancient baths - you don't get to see that every day.
I went online and got tickets. The ticket buying site was in Italian but it wasn't too bad to use - much easier than doing things in Japanese (for starters, they took international credit cards).
Then I realised, I'm not into opera. I've never been to the opera before and figured it was stuffy old folk. And hey, I won't even understand the story. My mum told me to get the book thing (there is a fancy word for the books that have opera stories in them) and read it but I didn't want spoilers and, I told her, since it was the Barber of Seville and I'd seen the Bugs Bunny version, I'd be fine...LOL me.
So, on the day, I got all gussied up. I mean, it's the opera, you dress fancy. Then got to the Baths. OMG total fashion fail! Most of the women were in tights and t-shirts. There were a few in dresses but mainly sun dresses not full-on dressy shit.
Too fancy for the opera and what is going on with my face -- but hey, I used the timer on my camera!
Still, it meant I got more than one wear out of the dress I'd lugged over for my friend's wedding. There was one woman in a full length gown with opera gloves and she looked sensational. I got something to eat from the food vans outside which seemed to be the thing to do and was pretty reasonably priced then went inside, found my seat and got a mojito from the bar. Which was pricey and I did not see her put the alcohol in it. I saw her pick up the bottle then put it down but I didn't see her pour it. Bad form.
I found my seat and waited it for it start then a weird thing happened! They announced the opera was starting and everyone rushed forward to grab the empty seats at the front. I don't think that's a normal opera thing but hey, I paid for the cheapest seat and ended up sitting four rows from the front so I'm not complaining.
Then the opera started. I figured I'd be bored but I could check out the costumes and all that stuff. Hell no. It was awesome.
There was a screen at the sides with subtitles in Italian and English which made it really easy to follow the story. And the whole staging was awesome - they did it in the style of old Hollywood movies including this Esther Williams style swim scene. It was hilarious.
I totally recommend going to the opera. It was super fun and not nearly as snotty as I thought. Bravo, opera.