It was Christmas Eve.
Romans were littered around the streets in preparation for the following day. There were jolly men who decided to take extra swigs of alcohol to start the festivities. While there were women, trying to bargain their way into an affordable piece of clothing.
While three, unsuspecting, college students walked endlessly in search of the entrance to the Vatican. They had a long way to go from Via Condotti, lugging their heavy backpacks and empty stomachs.
Despite it all, they saw the city as something magical. From the Colosseum, to Fontana di Trevi, and later on to witness mass at the Vatican.
That was my mother’s story.
Fast forward to twenty years later, I come to find Rome in the Spring full of tourists, as advised by my mom. As someone who adored Roman mythology, I wanted my first stop in the ancient city to be the Colosseum.
Was it as fascinating as people said it would be?
Upon reaching the Colosseum, you’re greeted with tour guides waving their flags and tourists swarming around you like a school of fish.
Despite it all, you persevere because hell – you’re taking a trip of a lifetime!
Even when the tour you booked seems overpriced, and especially when you have to climb the stairs of the Colosseo. You get the sense of something that’s bigger than you.
Thousands of years bigger than you to be precise.
But the tourists, and the heat take a toll. And you have to walk up to Palatine Hill in your comfiest shoes or else you’ll have no good photo to show for it.
Like every other tourist.
Are you really interested in the history?
You need to ask yourself before booking a tour around Rome. Are you honestly so interested in our history, that you’re willing to go through 4 hours of fighting your way through the crowd?
To me, the answer came in a resounding yes.
For many others whom I met on the tour, comes a no.
Rome is this one city you need to visit. Simply because it’s Rome.
That accounts for maybe half of all the tourists who want to visit the eternal city during the Summer or Spring.
Would you be interested in Rome outside of the history?
You have gelato, leather goods, and lots of friendly people. I have yet to meet a person in Italy who has not been friendly or accommodating.
“If you hearing cars honking in the streets every minute, then you know you’re in Rome”, says the local server at a restaurant near my hotel. And how right he was.
Rome is magical at night. I have no doubt about it.
However, it can be noisy during the day while you’re trying to squeeze yourself in its small streets alongside a handful of other people going in different directions.
You’ll be graced with a new restaurant every step you take, and joyful men trying to convince you to dine in theirs.
You’ll get to casually walk by the Colosseum, Via Alessandrina, and maybe a small gelato place while you get lost in the madness.
There are so many places to explore in Rome.
But the question is: would you like it there?
I have to confess something. I was suppose to go to Italy (Florence and Rome) for a continuing degree in Fine Arts, as being in Italy has always been a dream.
However, right after visiting Rome, I changed my mind.
The same way that a friend of mine changed her mind about Paris when she went there.
Both these destinations are a “must-see” for many people. But you’ll be surprised at how not everyone will love a certain place.
It could the architecture, the food, or even the people.
There are really no “must-see” places in the world. There are only those experiences that shape your perception of a certain place.
We can’t expect everyone to like the same things as us.
I still remember heading to Fontana di Trevi, feeling so amazed to finally see it. But I also can’t help feeling disappointed at the view when I climbed the Spanish steps.
And that’s okay.