To celebrate our five year wedding anniversary my wife and I decided that we should mark it with a special mini break. We discussed many destinations but settled on Rome. Rome is a city I have been keen to visit since I first studied the Romans in Mr Mcarley’s year 3 class! The Romans have always fascinated me with an empire lasting 1000 years with ideas and technology ahead of their time. I knew this was going to be a trip to remember!
Now I am one of those people who like to know the ins and outs of where I am visiting before I go. Being fairly new to the world of blogging (including reading blogs) I begun to look up traveling blogs about visiting Rome. On hindsight a lot of these blogs contained false or exaggerated advice and information. In this post I plan to separate the ‘fact from the fiction’ offering a fresh look from a ‘realist’ point of view!
Airport to central Rome
I read that there were two train options. The first was to travel via the train the locals use, this cost €9 and makes a few stops and then stops on the outskirts of Rome. The second option is ‘The Leonardo Express’ this is slightly more expensive at €14 (This is because you can only buy first class tickets) but goes straight from the airport to Termini station right in the center of Rome (and coincidentally a 5 minute walk from our hotel) Majority of the blogs I read said that the extra €5 was not worth it, and that by taking the Leonardo Express you miss the changing landscape leading into the city of Rome. This is where the first reality check comes in. If you are looking for convenience, the extra money is most definitely worth it! And you do still see the changing landscape.
Choosing a Hotel…(Anywhere)
My next point applies to anywhere you may travel and is less a criticism of travel bloggers but more how people use trip advisor. I have been using trip advisor for years and have discovered a lot of people fancy themselves as ‘The Hotel Inspector’. No matter how good a place is people always find something to criticise.
We found The Hotel Regio through Hotels.com. I made sure to look it up on trip advisor before booking and this is what I found:
My top tip is that this is all the information that you need to know 32 good reviews, 10 bad and 17 in different. The reason for this is the quality of the bad reviews:
‘The room is dirty. They don’t change the bed sheets. I was itching all over my body and had rashes….TV does not work and no English channels’ – We had cleaners in everyday, and if your are in a foreign country rashes can appear for all kinds of reasons!… and why would you want to watch English tv in Italy…’When in Rome!’ (Not that you should have enough time for sleeping anyway!)
‘The beds were two uncomfortable singles pushed together that split…’ – This is true, but seems sensible to me and did not affect comfort.
‘Take care of your belongings in this hotel! I and several other guests lost laptops, ipads etc from our hotel rooms. According to hotel staff thieves broke into the rooms with a screwdriver. Not very likely!’ – I don’t get why you would trust the hotel with your belongings anyway…
‘Breakfast too poor – few kinds of dry cake, dry bread and few kinds of ham’ – Its a called a continental breakfast!
Basically I feel people will pick up on the littlest of things, however we were extremely happy with our stay based on my quick point of reference when looking at trip advisor.
How much does stuff cost?
Having been told that Rome was an expensive place, I again hit the blogs. There were a lot of examples of how much stuff cost. As a basic rule of thumb it is the same as in any other city. Many of the blogs stated that there were extortionate hidden costs when ‘dining in’ restaurants such as service charge. We visited a few restaurants and were not shocked by any hidden costs… I put this down to our observation of the menus where service charge is clearly stated! And at between 10-12% we did not find this extortionate! (To put this in money terms, if you spent €30 which bought us 2 pizzas in a pizzeria + drinks you would be looking at €3 service charge)
There was a lot! when I say a lot I mean A LOT! Selling everything from hats…to Roses. Again I had read this on a blog and thought ‘surely it’s not that bad’…it is! Every couple of meters you have a selfie stick shoved in your face. Luckily the word ‘No’ is universal and they seem to understand this.
Watch out for those offering ‘free roses’ as just after you take one they will say ‘ €2 please’ However I did see a couple of women walk off with the roses reminding him he had said they were free! So technically not theft!
Apparently you cannot get around on foot because Rome is too big, this is simply not true. Most major attractions are within a 30 minute walk. It all depends on how much time you have and how fit you are and your budget. Other options include the hop on hop off bus service and the metro system. But you can walk!
If you believe what you read in the media and internet, every other person in Rome is a mugger, I cannot imagine there are any more than any other city! Although there are many genius solutions to avoid being mugged my favorite is ‘don’t act like a tourist!’ How can you not act like a tourist if you are one?! I think it should read ‘Don’t act like a clueless tourist’
We took a rucksack and just padlocked it to deter thieves looking for a quick steal. We didn’t walk around with a map or phones out with google maps. Maybe we were lucky, who knows? But surely it’s common sense…who knows?
Rome is an amazing city and there are a lot of travel guides (as with any destination) my advice is take them with a pinch of salt and enjoy!