It’s hard to say how many times we had already visited Rome, but without trying to show off, we can say that every time you visit Rome, you can discover something new in this city. Due to certain circumstances, the New year trip was in question, and the issue was resolved positively only a week before the new year. It was not possible to find any special offers these dates, and we decided to start from air tickets-if we find a decent price (it is New Year after all!), we will go there. So we found good tickets to Rome. Neither was it easy with the hotels during this season, but thanks to the aggregator website with the best deals HotelHunter we found a very good place to stay, although the booking was made last minute, just a couple of days in advance, during holiday season.
The city greeted us with very cool weather, how could I even doubt packing a winter down jacket. Taking it was a good idea, and I wore it the whole trip, even despite the fact that in this “southern region” the weather was supposed to be around +12 degrees centigrade – in the shade it became unbearable cold, and the stone finishing of the streets, houses, fences, paths did its job, and methodically created the effect of highly artistic refrigerator. We were lucky with the hotel – it had heating, but our friends were not as lucky and, complained that it was impossible to feel warm in the room, and the hotel management ignored all the complains saying “we are in a Southern country, it’s warm here”.
The whole trip was planned for a couple of days during the New year week, but we did not expect the trick with the celebration of the New year’s eve itself. Already on the spot we started calling all the popular places in the around based on TripAdvisor rating, and, to our surprise, all of them were fully booked for New Year’s eve. The only places that had tables available were Michelin restaurants, where the cost of the menu for one person reached thousands of euros. So we found an excellent solution at a neighboring hotel that offered entertainment and an impressive menu at a decent price. We did not regret for a minute – live music, delicious food for a few hours and free flowing Pinot Grigio made our night.
As we have already taken guided tours in our past visits to Rome, this time we have “quickly run” through the landmarks – the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and other charms, just to refresh the memory. An interesting observation about restaurants (from previous trips) – if you want to eat tasty, there is little chance to find a decent place in the tourist area. Basically, places of mass tourism serve reheated processed foods (like Bolognese sauce from a can over overcooked spaghetti), pizza or focaccia are not always so good. And it makes sense – in the cities, crowded with tourists, in places of their congestion there is no sense to try –people come and go, and noone cares if you do not enjoy the food… To eat something decent, we used TripAdvisor rating, however, often had to book in advance, everything is busy everywhere. The funny thing is that the cost of the dishes will be roughly the same- whether it is a touristy place, or a “gourmet” restaurant, the question is only in the quality of food.
A funny thing happened about the shopping trip. On this trip to Rome we did not rent a car, because we did not plan to travel outside of Rome. Although the offers of rental cars at this time were really good, thanks to the aggregator Booking Car. We took advantage of the outlet’s option to go there by bus and the pick up point (just the address on the map) was next to our hotel. So we were walking there, early in the morning, there wason the street no one, and only a handful of Russian tourists standing at the designated place and talking in whispers. And we were walking and cheerfully discussing the plan for the day in Russian. After noticing (and having heard!) us, a bunch of Russian tourists synchronously became silent, expecting that “these Russians” will pass further on the road, notnoticing them. But we happily stopped nearby and continued to discuss our things. After a brief pause, our “brethren” and continued the conversation. In Russian, of course. This, of course, is a special phenomenon – the reluctance of Russians to cross with their countrymen (or Russian speaking people) abroad. But perhaps there are reasons for that. So many times on vacation (especially, organised through a travel company) we had to deal with Intrusive behavior, impudence, sometimes even rudeness. And when you cannot escape from the hotel (or from an excursion), such a neighborhood can seriously ruin the entire holiday experience. I think that each independent tourist had such an experience in the past, and more than once. Therefore, I do not judge my fellow countrymen that turn quiet.
To get to the Vatican in the festive season I had to use a life hack is to book a guided tour in a small group (we only had 5 people, two of us and three other travelers). Excursions in Vatican are extremely popular all the year round, so it is good to have an option how to cease the queue 😉 Coming up to the main entrance, we realized what a big advantage we had – as estimated, we would otherwise have to wait in a long queue for an hour and a half. Moreover, we had access to enter the Basilica and a number of areas constrained visit without queues – thanks to the guide. And, actually, the story of the guide was good as well – passed the main places, heard the necessary minimum of information, did not get very tired and, in general, were satisfied with the visit. From the variety of artifacts and art exhibits we were especially impressed by “timeless standards” – the statues of Apollo and Venus. It seemed to me personally that Apollo is too fragile for a man , and Venus is somehow large for a woman…
It makes no sense to mention the power of social media. This time the rule was confirmed and we found friends who spend new year holidays in our scenario, and we spent a few evenings together. The guys were foodies, and they were the ones to choose the restaurants for us. And if one of them was a treasure – historical trattoria in the city Center – La Campana, with incredibly tasty lasagna and pasta cooked according to old recipes, the other one – Osteria Fernanda, raised questions. The questions were not about the quality of food… but its complexity. The menu had several courses, and it was almost impossible to determine what the dishes were made of without reading the ingredients (I remember the garlic dessert especially well). In any case, it was a pleasure to join the world of gourmets, and to spend time good people. In the end, this unplanned trip to Rome was quite a memorable trip, that reminded us once againa that independent travel gives huge advantages – freedom of choice and flexibility of planning.
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