We visited Rome in August
It was hot.
It was verrrry hot.
We flew into Rome’s Leonardo di Vinci-Fiumicino airport after a rather bumpy flight from London. Unlike most other airports the plane parked at a satellite terminal and after we disembarked we had to catch a train to the main terminal.
The most notable memory of this airport was my daughter’s discovery of a salami shop.
We had booked a transfer to take us to the hotel the Roma Corso Trieste Mercure in Via Gradisca from the airport. It was a white air conditioned van and so far we had avoided the heat.
One of the rooms had a faulty air conditioning an absolute must as the rooms were very hot without it and necessitated a room change which was done quickly and efficiently.
The hotel was in the suburbs and without a car we were dependent on public transport. According to the reception staff there was a bus stop nearby, and a longer walk to the tram or light railway. The bus seemed to be the best option as it would take us to the central terminal near the railway station, where all tour buses also operated from, and particularly the open top buses that went to all the major tourist attractions.
That first day basically given over to travelling, arriving by plane and settling into the hotel, thus we didn’t get to feel the force of the heat. That came the next day.
After a walk around the hotel precinct to get our bearings and see what shops and restaurants were available, on returning to the hotel we were faced with the limited choices of room service or to go out for dinner.
My daughter and l go for a long walk up Via Nomentana to find several shops and a restaurant. We went into the restaurant and sat down. We waited for 10 minutes and got no service nor did anyone come and ask us if we wanted to order food so instead we left somewhat disappointed and go next door to what seems to be the Italian version of a delicatessen and order sandwiches and beer. I bought a half dozen cans of Moretti beer two of which I drank on the way home.
It was still very hot even at eight at night and the sandwiches are delicious. It just might be by that time we were starving and anything would have tasted great.
The next morning we are up and ready to chance the weather and some history. Breakfast at the hotel is limited but very good.
We were going to use public transport and I’d studied up on the Internet.
Travelling on the bus required pre purchase of tickets which could be bought in certain shops and locally when exploring the area near the hotel, l found a tobacconist.
Next we needed to understand how to use the tickets. There was no one on the bus who could help so when l tried to scan the tickets and it failed, l gave up. We had the same issue each day and in the end the tickets never got used.
The trip to central Rome by bus took about 15 minutes. In the morning it was reasonably cool and showed us a little of suburban Rome. We also saw the trams but we would not be able to use them because our hotel not on a direct route.
That first full day we decided to go and see the Vatican.
Not understanding buses and which one we needed to get to the Vatican, we took a taxi.
Wow. It was the metaphorical equivalent of driving over the edge of a cliff with a daredevil. It was quite literally terrifying.
Or maybe we just didn’t know that this was probably the way people drove in Rome.
Shaken but delivered in one piece we found ourselves in the square opposite St Peters Basilica.
The square is impressive, with the statues atop a circular colonnaded walkway. The church is incredible, and took a few hours to take in, and to top off the day we did a tour of the Vatican museum which took the rest of the afternoon.
Then it was back to the delicatessen for more sandwiches and beer, and an interesting discussion with several elderly Italian ladies, of which I did not understand one word.
The second full day we decided to use one of the open top bus tours and eventually decided on the hop on hop off tour simply because the bus was at the central transport terminal for trains and buses and it was getting hotter.
Our first stop was the colosseum. There were other monuments nearby, such as the Arch of Constantine, but as the heat factor increased we joined the queue to go into the colosseum and gladly welcomed the shade once we got inside.
The queue was long and the wait equally so, but it was worth the wait. It would be more interesting if they could restore part of it to its former glory so we could get a sense of the place as it once was. But alas that may never happen, but even so, it is still magnificent as a ruin.
Outside in the heat it was off to the ruins which was a longish walk from the colosseum, taking Via Sacra, not far from the Arch of Constantine. This day in the walkway there were a number of illegal vendors, selling knockoff goods such as handbags and watches, and who, at the first sight of the police, packed up their wares in a blanket and ran.
Included in these ruins were, The Roman Forum, or just a few columns remaining, the Palatine Hill, Imperial Fori, including the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Caesar, and more specifically the Forum of Trajan. It was, unfortunately very hot and dusty in the ruins the day we visited.
We walked all the way to the Foro Romano and the Septimus Severo Arch at the other end of the ruins, past the Temple of Caesar. I found it very difficult to picture what it was like when the buildings were intact, so I bought a guide to the ruins which showed the buildings as ruins and an overlay of how they would have looked. The buildings, then, would be as amazing as the colosseum, and it would have been interesting to have lived back then, though perhaps not as a Christian.
I lost count of the number of bottles of water we bought, but the word ‘frizzante’ was ringing in my ears by the end of the day. Fortunately water did not cost a lot to buy.
At the end of the day, we caught the hop on hop off bus at the colosseum and decided not to get off and see any more monuments but observe them from the bus. The only one I remember seeing was Circo Massimo. Perhaps if we’d know it was going to be twice as hot on the bus, yes, there was no air-conditioning; we may have chosen another form of transport to get back to the hotel.
The third and last day in Rome we decide to go to the Trevi Fountain, see the pantheon and walk up the Spanish Steps. We spent most of the morning in the cool of a café watching the tourists at the fountain. By the time we reached the top of the Spanish Steps, we were finished.
It was time to move on to Paris.