PHEWWWW! That’s the sound of me blowing the dust off this ole travel blog, as well as the sound of relief at FINALLY. TRAVELING. AGAIN!!!
Despite being a very planny-plan kinda gal, a week ago, I decided not to wait any longer to visit my favorite place on earth. Italy. Here in the U.S., they’ve been quite aggressive with the vaccines (my international friends are stunned that we are able to travel already) and Europe is clamoring for tourist dollars.
I took a quarantine-free flight (American) from Dallas to Rome. When we arrived in Rome, we had to wait for about an hour to take a COVID test (this, in addition to the one we had to take beforehand). But customs? A breeze. Not a soul in line. This is probably the only time in history the Rome airport has been so dead.
The Vibe in Rome
So, I have to admit: Rome hasn’t been on my list to visit, primarily because it’s such a touristy place. I hate crowds. But now? Now is the time to go.
While, yes, there are tourists, many are Italians from other parts of the country looking, like me, to capitalize on this opportunity to see one of the world’s capitals with a fraction of the tourists. There were relatively few Americans.
I can’t really compare a before/after, but I visited the Trevi Fountain, and a guy told me this was nothing compared to the hordes there normally are.
If you’ve seen the old film, 3 Coins in the Fountain, you know the legend: throw three coins into the Trevi Fountain turned around, and if they make it in, you’re destined to come back to Rome.
Apparently, I won’t be back. I only threw one Euro in (hey, three gets expensive!) and it didn’t make it.
Veni Vidi Vici…But I Didn’t See the Coliseum
I was so excited about the lack of crowds that I booked a ticket to the most touristy attraction there is, the Coliseum. (Oh, by the way, you have to buy a ticket to all the museums, as they’re limiting the number of people that are in an attraction at a given time).
I booked it for 11 am the day after I arrived, thinking that would be plenty of time for me to sleep in, get up, and saunter to the ole Coloseo.
So when I woke up at 11:30, you can imagine my horror. I’d slept 14 hours!! So jet-lagged.
Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me take another time slot. So I walked around the Coliseum and took pictures. I was permitted to visit the Roman Forum, and honestly, that was good enough for me. Seen one Roman ruin, seen ’em all (she did NOT just say that!).
Something I found remarkable about the Roman Forum is that in the Temple of the Vesta, which is where young girls were sent to become priestesses in honor of Vesta, the Goddess of the hearth, all but one of the priestess statues outside the temple had had their heads knocked off. What gives?
Still, it was a remarkable experience to walk among ruins that have survived millennia. I doubt our flimsy houses will be around even in pieces in 2,000 years.
Il Campo dei Fiori
I didn’t have much of agenda for my three days in post-COVID Rome, but I did want to hit the Campo dei Fiori. While this means “field of flowers,” it’s actually a flower and food market. Good people watching. I sat with a couple of Spritz Aperols (my go-to mid-afternoon drink) and people-watched.
Following in Audrey’s Footsteps
My all-time favorite Audrey Hepburn movie is Roman Holiday. There are so many quintessential scenes of Rome in the film, so naturally, I wanted to experience some of them.
Despite multiple attempts to try to find the Spanish Steps where she eats a gelato with her new haircut, I kept getting lost. Alas.
I did, however, take my chances with the Mouth of Truth. Legend says if you stick your hand in and you’re a liar, your hand will get eaten. I came out unscathed!
Tips for Traveling to Rome Right Now
While it’s not crowded, it is getting hot. Be aware that people are wearing their masks and wearing one all damn day while traipsing about the city is effing miserable. Bring several. By the end, I was pulling mine down. I saw people without theirs. If you’re comfortable, take your chances. There are no mask police.
Do things that are normally crowded, like the Coliseum or Trevi Fountain while you can.
This is good general advice, but don’t eat near either of those attractions. They’re touristy and expensive. Wander a few blocks away, and you’ll find 3 Euro prosecco and delicious 12 Euro pasta plates. Never, ever eat at a place with photos of the food! They cater to tourists. Go where the locals go.
Everyone is super friendly, especially post-COVID. They’re happy to have your tourist dollars. Strike up a conversation with your waiter about the best place for gelato. You’ll have a wonderful cultural experience and then amazing gelato. Win-win!