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Thinking of ROME? Really???

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Oct 8th, 2015, 08:14 AM
  #1
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Thinking of ROME? Really???

As I write this, I am sitting on my king size bed in my 5 Star luxury hotel in Rome, Italy. This hotel, which is "THE" best thing about this city, is pretty wonderful, if not quite expensive, but that's another story.

For those of you who live in a nice spot in the USA, without making any judgements, I would like to simply list some facts, as I have seen them, about this city:

1.. Virtually everyone smokes here and they never seem to stop. Standing in front of virtually every shop, is the clerk or proprietor, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. If you don't smoke, chances are you will find this quite annoying. All sidewalk cafes have ashtrays on the tables.

2. The traffic makes Manhattan traffic look slow and uncongested in comparison. The lane lines are absolutely meaningless and there appear to be ZERO traffic laws. Add to this the fact that there are at least as many motorcycles as there are cars and their whizzing, roaring sounds are incredibly annoying. Add to this an enormous quantity of gigantic sightseeing busses, spewing diesel fumes. The exhaust fumes from the motorcycles, cars & busses, combined with the cigarette smoke makes walking down the street reasonably uncomfortable, if not down right unhealthful.

3. Do you have a pretty good sense of direction? Well when an intersection has six streets coming together instead of two, you WILL get lost. No problem you say, I'll just jump into a taxi. Well, since you are lost, no matter where you are in relation to your destination, you will get there via the "scenic route," which will run the bill up to double or triple what it should be. THEN, get ready for the "old switcheroo" when you hand the driver a 20 Euro note and he "palms" it and magically shows that you only gave him a 10 Euro note. Go ahead, argue with him.

4. We are here in October, which is supposed to be the "off season," but the city is PACKED with tourists. Really, being here reminds me of being at Disneyland: Way too many tourists, waiting in lines that are way too long. Only Disneyland is clean, while Rome is generally filthy.

5. You are accosted on the streets by panhandlers, immigrants hawking all kinds of junk and in-your-face shysters trying to sell you Vatican or tour bus tickets.

In short, we spent a small fortune on this trip, but if next year, we were offered free first class travel and a free week in the Presidential Suite at our wonderful hotel, I would say thanks, but NO THANKS.

Tomorrow, we are off to Tuscany and then Florence. Those places MUST be better than Rome. They are, right?
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Oct 8th, 2015, 08:32 AM
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Streamliner, I am so sorry that your experience of Rome is so poor. Is this, perhaps, your first visit to Italy? I'd been to Italy over half a dozen times before I made it to Rome and I fell in love immediately. Perhaps you need to work up gradually to a state wherein you can look past the chaos and see the glory.

how to spend your last night in Rome? please don't just stay in the hotel - such a waste.

Have you seen the Pantheon yet? gorgeous when it's lit up in the evening [it's free and open until 7pm]. Why not ask your concierge to book you a nice table at a restaurant near there, see the Pantheon, go for a walk round the Piazza Navona, then have supper and return to your hotel. sadly you'll need to use buses/taxis as your hotel [the St Regis?] is quite a long way from the Pantheon, but armed with some €10 and some change, you should be ok. someone here had the hotel call them a cab when they wanted to go back to the hotel from wherever they were - that might be a good method of not getting scammed.

where are you going in Tuscany? I looked at your planning thread and didn't see where you had decided to stay. if it's out in the countryside you should not have many, if any of the problems you have had in Rome.

As for Florence, you are staying at the 4 Seasons so you are already in an oasis of calm, albeit in a slightly OTT ambiance. lovely staff and a position slightly out of the centre, which is about 10 mins walk away from the hotel. Sadly the traffic in Florence is pretty bad, it would be silly of me to tell you otherwise, but there are so many beautiful things to see that it's worth the hassle. and far fewer hawkers than Rome [though I have to say that I've never experienced the problems that you describe - which is not to say that they didn't happen, but perhaps I don't notice them as much as you do]

Good luck with the rest of your trip!
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Oct 8th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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Sadly, you seem to have encountered every possible negative aspect of Rome. I have been one lucky girl because over several trips adding up to about two months in Rome I've been spared these downers.

I hope you were able to enjoy something while you're there. Maybe the incredible art and antiquities and the amazing food or the beautiful views from one of the high points in the city.

BTW, October hasn't been "off season" for at least 15 years. I'm sorry you were given incorrect advice on that point.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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I also like Rome and am sorry you are having such a bad time in a beautiful city.
But, it was the only place where a taxi driver pulled a " switch" on me :
it was years ago...I gave him a hundred thousand lira, he said it was ten thousand.
I was jet lagged , my Italian was not good then , so I let it go.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 09:07 AM
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Apparently there is a discrepancy between your expectations and the reality. Rome is, despite the hordes of tourists, not a theme park, but a living city and has been so for two and a half millennium.
It's chaotic, sure. They smoke, sure. The streets don't nicely follow a grid system (which, by the way, was a Roman invention). It's a popular destination for tens of thousands tourists, of which you are one. And many try to make a living out of all those tourists, for which they hardly can be blamed. You'll have to live with it.
Was there nothing you liked?
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Oct 8th, 2015, 09:14 AM
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Uh-oh, if you don't like crowds, Florence may disappoint. So sorry you have only seen the negative parts of visiting an amazing European city. Equally sorry you decided to share. Hope the rest of your trip is better. Me, I like Rome, in small doses perhaps since crowds, smoke and congestion are not my faves. But what a magnificent city - the history, the food, the wine, the gelato. We look forward to a few more nights there next spring.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 10:04 AM
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Well it appears that you have found that you don;t like Rome. And so you won;t have to go back. It sounds like you might like Switz much better - it's VERY clean and everyone follows all of the rules to a T.

As for smoking it is still much more popular in europe than in the US - and I don't know any way to avoid it if you are outdoors - I'm just happy it's not IN the restaurants.

We love Rome - warts and all - because of everything wonderful it offers that can't be found other places. (And we have maps so we don't get lost and have never had a taxi try to cheat up despite dozens of rides over many trips.)
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Oct 8th, 2015, 11:07 AM
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I was in Rome last week and Florence a week before. This time I preferred Rome over Florence.
I presume there has been rise in tourists all over Italy, but I felt that even more in Florence perhaps all the increase get packed into much compact area than in Rome. In each museum in Florence I visited before, I was chased by fast moving selfie stick toting tour groups. If I change the route, I still get chased by another group of selfie toting tour groups. There was no peace looking at art.

I found Rome to be more like I remembered as all my previous visits. It is vast and tourist are more spread across much larger area. This time, I concentrated in Trastevere and Testaccio area. One feels like tourists as if street hawkers don't exist in Rome. Innocenti cookies remained heavenly and nostalgic while I waited behind regulars exchanging daily gossips with the owner.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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Thanks for your trip report. It's a reality check for many.

By the way, since cigarettes have been banned inside restaurants, many guests go outside and smoke. This may be why you seem to be seeing more smokers than you're used to.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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I'm sorry you aren't enjoying your trip so far. I am taking the exact trip next week - Rome, Tuscany and Florence. I've never been to Italy and I hope my experience is not quite as disappointing.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:40 PM
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I've neen to Rome on three occasions, and although maybe not the easiest city to love, we do love it (although sometimes it's tough love). We were there for eight days at Christmas in 2009, and I do remember that smoking was more prevalent there than anywhere else we had been (until Paris 2014), but since we weren't eating at outdoor establishments it had no effect on us.

Yes there was traffic, but I did not find it annoying. It was kinda fun to cross those narrow streets to see if you could get across without being killed. As for crowds, we've been in the Fall with big crowds, but that's the way it is...we pre-purchased tickets for long wait paces like Vatican Museum...planning helps.

I can't remember ever being lost, and we've been known to do that a lot. We walked virtually everywhere, and if we were of by a street or two...no big deal...sometimes the fun places you see you never knew existed.

In none of my trips have I ever been "accosted" by panhandlers or anyone else.
Even after three trips, there are still a number of things I would like to return to see.

My adage, which some consider trite, might serve you well..."Enjoy The Journey...Attitude Is Everything!"

It seems you might need an attitude adjustment to enjoy the rest of your trip.

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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:47 PM
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Dear OP,

The best way to combat disappointment is to find a delightful rooftop terrace, order some drinks and enjoy the evening. If you can't find the magic even after that, then hopefully you'll have better experiences at your other destinations.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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Everybody does not like the same thing. It is good to know what you like and don't like. Someone mentioned Switzerland. You might enjoy it very much. My DD2 lived in Switzerland for four years and absolutely loved it. She does not like Italy.

I found Switzerland a bit boring and I love Italy, Spain and Turkey. I even love Naples. If you don't like Rome, be sure to skip Naples. Even Florence and Venice can be terribly crowded with some/all of the same issues as Rome.

I do hope the rest of your trip is good.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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5. You are accosted on the streets by panhandlers, immigrants hawking all kinds of junk and in-your-face shysters trying to sell you Vatican or tour bus tickets.>

didn't rain did it? When I've been in Rome with the first drop an army of umbrella sellers materializes - pushing them in everyone's face without one.

Be careful using 'immigrant' when I did this recently I got lots of criticism from Italians - but calling a spade a spade I guess.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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Puglife,
I don't know where you are from. If you are looking for experiences like what you get at home, you will come home disappointed.

For those who want mostly familiar environment, such as a cruise boat cabin, and venture out sometimes during a part of a day such as in group shore excursions surrounded by mostly people from your country to visit famous places, visiting Italy on their own can present a whole different experiences.

Some go to Italy because of the difference, while others want to keep as many as things familiar. What you get out depends on your expectations and what you put in, e.g. studying how things work in Italy, visiting process to avoid waiting in line - I don't wait in lines, how to move around in cities which is unlikely to be same as at home, etc.

I was staying at a small inn in Siena two weeks ago and talked to an American couple heading to Florence next. They had no idea what they would do in Florence, never heard of Uffizi or Accademia - and unlikely to be aware of the ticket queues. Invest less, get out less and come home disappointed.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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It seems one ether loves Rome or hates it. I am in the first camp -- but I am glad the other exists. Can you imagine how crowded it would be if everyone loved it?
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:33 PM
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didn't rain did it? When I've been in Rome with the first drop an army of umbrella sellers materializes - pushing them in everyone's face without one>>

I love the way those umbrella sellers appear as if by magic - and where do they store the umbrellas?
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:35 PM
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I love to travel, because every experience is different and NO PLACE is ever just like home. If it were, I'd just stay home!

Yes, other cultures are different, other people are different, and other places are different. You can choose to look at the bad. Some go to India and say "everything was filthy". Others go and return to say "it was simply magical". Two viewpoints although both saw the same place.

I personally love ROME. If it weren't crowded and if the people weren't so loud and boisterous (and yes, even smoke) I'd probably like it less -- just less colorful. God, how dreary if everyone there was just like the people at home! And if I didn't get lost, I'd be missing half the fun! (This goes double for Venice, by the way).
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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And I wouldn't say Florence and Tuscany are better or worse -- although generally I've found Florence even more crowded than Rome -- but each place is different. I never try to decide which place I like more -- I just like each one differently.

Sorry you're not enjoying yourself. Surely there must be somewhere you can go and things to see that you will enjoy?
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:39 PM
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»I hope my experience is not quite as disappointing.«
Of course not. It is attitude, as someone correctly commented. If one wants it to be as at home, but with a different decor, almost every place in this world will be a disappointment.
But you can also enjoy the differences, get to appreciate them or at least learn to cope with them. And most of the annoying things can be avoided by being just a little bit streetwise.
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