Did anyone else find Rome a horror?

Mar 12th, 2003, 10:21 AM
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Did anyone else find Rome a horror?

I'm (finally 9 months later) writing up my trip report and reflecting... We've discussed it a few times between my husband and I, but I am just wondering if anyone else found Rome to be a let down? Don't yell at me yet... I had just expected wonderful mysterious remains of an ancient civilization and beautiful architecture, set somewhat off away from modern city life, but instead I got the Coliseum in a 6 lane traffic circle! It just was a huge let down. I did a lot of research for my trip and had a wonderful time in 4 other cities, I am just wondering if I missed something in Rome.

Perhaps I truly was there at a terrible time, last week of June. Yes,it was busy and we knew that it would be. But it was a city impossible to navigate on public transportation, was overcrowded, was as commercial as NYC...

Now don't get me wrong, the Trevi fountain, the Vatican and Piazza Navona were more amazing than I expected, I am just left with a bad taste in my mouth... anyone else?
KAMG is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:23 AM
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I'm already realizing my title will bring serious criticisms... I was all fired up when I wrote it and didn't change it as I rationalized! I am sure I will hear about it
KAMG is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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I don't think your message header is badly chosen, nor badly worded? It's provocative - - and I am going to agree with you - - at least a little bit.

It's one of the reasons that I so often throw out caveats as to how much time to plan for rome, whether to put it first thing off a plane, and use the expression "Rome is very, VERY intense".

I have had the experience of my wife's aunt and uncle almost not enjoy themselves with their first two days in Rome (we had two more days at the end of an eight day trip, and they liked it much better once they let Italy get in their bolood a bit more).

The problem is expectations - - yours failed to match your reality for a certain portion of your Rome experience - - and theirs did too.

It's not a city to be enjoyed by all, on one visit.

And now, after five times there, it's a place I want to go back to, more than ever.

It's a perfectly good thread, and I hope it generates plenty of contrasting opinions.

Best wishes,

[email protected]
rex is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:33 AM
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I loved it. I was expecting to dislike it, but just the reverse. I liked, to use Rex's term, the intensity of it. I loved the vim and vigor, the old and the new.
I can't wait to get back there.
JackOneill is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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I was in Rome in September. I loved it so much I'm going back next week. However, I'm a big city person. I live and work in Chicago so I didn't find Rome overly intense. I like the pace. I'm one of the rare people that didn't like Venice though. Different strokes.
Dori is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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I too hope we can generate some discussion...

I had wanted to love it and didn't think I had alloted enough time to such a grand city, but I ended up being glad we only had 3 days. I know our hotel being out of the way was part of it - the only bad one of hte trip, Hotel Oxford, billed as 'near the Spanish steps', a very relative term I assure you!.

What I am wondering if there is a better time of year? When is the best time to be in Rome?
KAMG is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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I find Rome large and hectic and very very noisy. As a New Yorker on the first visit I couldn't wait to get back to the "peace and quiet" of my home town. I think that the metro system leaves a lot to be desired (stops too few, and too widely spaced). I am a dedicated walker while traveling, but I found myself taking many more taxis in Rome than I usually do on average on my trips, because some distances bwtween sights were quite long, the long walks took too much time (and weren't all that interesting in some cases), the metro wasn't as convenient, and the buses seemed slow.

BUT: the historical sites are amazing, the churches literally awesome and almost countless, the art breathtaking, the food excellent, the juxtaposition of the ancient right next door to the new, unique. And there is a local energy that makes me smile.

I absolutely agree with Rex that it is a city that may be hard to appreciate in just two or three days. I know that's all the time that some people have, and I hope that they can like Rome in spite of the shortness of time, but I suspect that for some, enjoyment may be inversely proportion to the number of days. I luckily had almost six days on my first visit, and I had put Rome off while having already visited other places in Italy on previous trips.

I can't wait to go back again.
elaine is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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I enjoy Rome in the "off-season"...winter. I came back at the end of last month & am headed back there at the end of this month. But I'm the type of person who has a kind of a difficult time relaxing in somewhat traditional ways, like going to a beach; I've always needed a lot of intellectual stimulation, and Rome has a more than ample supply for me.

"per ogni uccello, suo nido e bello"
(each bird finds his/her own nest beautiful)

bookchick is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:46 AM
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I was there in Sept of 2001 with a tour group and only spent 2 days there...I cannot wait to get back....it was the hightlight of my trip throughout Western Europe. The history, the sights, the food...I cannot wait to get back there this May with my husband!

jamikins is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:47 AM
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I meant to respond to the previous question
I most often do my European traveling
in late Sept- early October. Rome has been among those trips.
elaine is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:48 AM
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from the lowlife albanian cab driver trying to rob us, to the gypsies swarming us at the train station, rome is definetly
a place that that would take getting used to, escpecially if you expect quaint. same goes for florence, nothing laid back about either of them.
richardsonsnm is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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I actually love the fact that this vibrant, modern city has grown up around bits of ruins here and there - for me, those contrasts are part of what makes it exciting.

I find Rome fascinating, but somewhat exhausting. For this reason, I prefer to start my trip in Rome while I am excited and motivated to push on and see things, then move on to a different city where I can slow my pace a bit.

You're correct that public transportation is not all that good, and things are fairly spread out. Just crossing the street at some locations can be a bit of a challenge, and it can be physically tiring to walk everywhere, especially if it's at all hot and/or humid (which can certainly be the case.)

There are other Italian cities I love more, but Rome is filled with so many worthwhile things to see and do that I'll definitely be returning on future trips.
Lesli is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:51 AM
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Hi. I had low expectations the first time I visited. It was only a several hour visit at the end of a short vacation in Tuscany. My second trip was only for two nights, so I am still a novice.
I was surprised that I liked it as well as I did. BUT. I think it is a misconception to tell everyone that you can walk everywhere very easily. This is a comment I have heard more than once.
For example, it is a pretty good hike from the Borghese gardens to the Campo de Fiori. And the walk from the Coliseum to the Vatican is a hefty hike. Something that someone may not be prepared for since the general advice makes Rome seem like everything is very close together.
The traffic on those streets can be horrendous. And we had difficulty finding our way at times from point A to B given that some of the streets curve. And we could not seem to get the hang of the bus system. We also felt that taxis were expensive.
Also, Rome can be horrible when the weather is very warm. So, the end of June may not be a good time.
I say. Different strokes and all that.
I must say I liked it more than my husband.
You are certainly allowed a negative opinion.
Sher is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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I have to admit, I was a little daunted by Rome on my first day there. I had been warned though by years of looking at National Geographic magazines, especially the famous timed photo of traffic rushing around the Colusium.
After I got over my jet lag, had a good night's sleep I was ready to take on Roma! It was exciting, exhilarting and mentally stimulating as Book Chick mentions.

I live in So. Calif. where we dont have a central city any more, so I really like to be able to walk out of the hotel in right into the thick of the action. But I also like to balance my trips to Italy with days of leisure in Tuscany, Umbria or Campania.
Natalia is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:06 AM
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Did not expect to like Rome but ended up loving it. Going back in September. We found it very easy to walk to all the sights if you are staying in a central location. The bus system also works fairly well once you get the hang of it. Taxis were expensive but no more than other large cities. Rome is a great place to just walk and walk - every turn of the corner brings a new surprise. A great blend of new and ancient. Plenty of cafes to relax and unwind if the pace gets too hectic. Piazza Navona is an especially great place to chill out with a cocktail, just watching all the people walk by.
BoulderCO is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:19 AM
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BC, so beautifully put!

"per ogni uccello, suo nido e bello"
(each bird finds his/her own nest beautiful)

Scarlett is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:23 AM
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I was in Rome for five nights the end of January - I had been there for 3 days on a three-city Italy trip 6 years ago. So this time I did not go back to the Vatican, the Borghese Museum, Coliseum and concentrated on "lesser" sites (actually did a few of the same things Bookchick mentioned in her recent posting) plus a trip to Ostia Antica and the hop-off hop-on Archeobus. Despite some chilly rainy weather and a pickpocket attempt in Termini, I thought Rome was great and hope to go back and see the myriad of things I haven't got to yet. I live in NYC and can't really see Rome described as commerical like NYC. Possibly you might try again off season.
Mara is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:28 AM
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I had to read and respond to this thread just because it has to do with Rome. I LOVED Rome! My husband and I went for our first time last year. I have to agree with Dori. We weren't taken over with Venice like so many people are. Glad to see we're not the only ones with those feelings about Venice.

We went last year at the end of April. We had great weather. We loved the food, people, art, history...everything! We are from Los Angeles so maybe we can appreciate big cities better. We landed in Rome and stayed 6 days before going to Venice. We can't wait to go back! Hopefully in 2004 we'll make it to Rome again.

Part of it may be that we didn't "over plan" our trip. Yes we read guide books (and took many of them with us), but we didn't have every minute planned out. Also, we got a personal guide for the Vatican and the Coliseum which really made them come to life for us.
TerryLFred is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:30 AM
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I'm sorry you were let down regarding Rome. It just did not meet your expectations. We went with the expectations of gyspy children robbing us and the dirt of a big city. Instead we experienced positive surprises on every street corner. All of the history mixed with today's world was just a marvel for us. It's the history that took us in and makes us want to go back.
cd is offline  
Mar 12th, 2003, 11:31 AM
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My first visit to Rome was in 1969 when I was eight years old. I spent three days there with my parents, hating every second. I whined about not wanting to see any more "old bricks". Well, over thirty visits to Italy later, I long to walk around those old bricks every moment that I'm away. Rome grows on you if you are fortunate enough to be able to spend enough time there and immerse yourself in "dolce far niente"--the sweetness of doing nothing. Two years ago, my husband and I brought our two little daughters to Italy (Venice Florence and Rome). I am very happy that they were far more open minded travelers than I was on my first visit and are anxiously awaiting our return to Rome next month. Rome and only Rome for nine days-bliss.
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