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The Highlights and Basics for a Fabulous Trip to Rome
By Kimberly Corey
It was my dream trip: Rome. After years of graduate school, moving twice, and catching up on various expenses, the opportunity to embark on this experience presented itself. We live once, and when this opportunity arose, I grabbed it. pic1
To prepare, I did everything from study maps and history of Rome to listen to a Berlitz tape and study Italian vocabulary on line to watch Roman Holiday and Under the Tuscan Sun. The vocabulary was the most useful; Roman Holiday was most entertaining. Locations on the map didn’t make sense until I was walking down the streets and finding my way to certain spots.
You can find your way to certain spots by a number of means. For this trip, I planned to walk a lot. I brought along two pair of sneakers and a pedometer. I enjoy seeing a city this way. I like to carry the map and find my way. It’s a way that I become familiar with a place quickly, plus, it builds my confidence. After I walk around and become familiar with the streets and set-up of the city, I feel comfortable. I feel as if I know the city. It makes me feel more in control and less at the mercy of public transportation. Plus, walking seemed safer than driving.
In Italy, the cars are tiny, drivers double-park on busy streets, mopeds weave in and out of traffic like they small fish darting away from a predator. An alternative to driving yourself is a taxi. This service certainly works, but I am always skeptical of this system. I expect the drivers to take advantage of me. As the cab jerks its way through winding streets and around double-parked cars, the phrase I kept repeating in my mind was, “It’s best not to look.” I kept my head low or looked out at the passing scenery instead of worrying about oncoming traffic and other drivers. The metro was not running to the sights I wanted to see, so I didn’t bother with it. Rome’s metro, in addition to being frequently late, does not run directly to many sights in the city.pic2
Regardless of how you arrive at them, the sights are breathtaking. It’s amazing what you’ll see just walking down the street. Rome is not a place where you have to pay to see something special. Seeing Bernini’s statues, walking along the Tiber and have St. Peter’s Cathedral come into view, gazing up at the dome in the Pantheon, or sliding your hand into La Bocca della Verita are all impressive and free of charge.
One of my favorite places is the Piazza del Popolo. It’s spacious and quiet compared the rest of the tourist attractions. There is also a little café to the left of the piazza that serves cappuccino, sandwiches, and great pastries. Another not-to-miss place is the Borghese gardens. This is a peaceful sanctuary amid the hustle and bustle of Rome. Just outside the garden entrance is an open-air market that sells great scarves and a variety of souvenirs for tourists.
Of course, you can tour places. Some of the tours are well worth the money and effort. I recommend climbing the steps to the dome of St. Peter’s, walking through the Colosseum and viewing the works in the Sistine Chapel and Vatican museums. The Museum of Modern Art is also worthy of note. It boasts an eclectic collection of classical and modern pieces. The Museum of Antique Art is for those who are interested in looking at ancient coins, mosaics, and statues.pic3
You know the saying, “when in Rome . . .” Italy in known for its gelato: so, indulge in a gelato! The café gelato has a strong but not bitter, coffee flavor and the hazelnut (nocciola) heavenly. It’s creamy, smooth and is a wonderful treat. In addition to being worth the money, it’s also worth the calories.
Last but not least when planning for a trip to Rome, study the language. Listening to tapes helped because it provided practice receiving messages and hearing the language. When I left the states, I knew how to say a few Italian words: please (per favore) thank you (grazie), I’m sorry (mi spaice) and excuse me (mi scusi). I studied vocabulary lists on line so I was ready to recognize important words as I traveled. I also knew a few numbers. I was glad I had even this tiny bit of knowledge.
Remember that speaking loudly, slowly, or losing patience will not help. You are guest. Be gracious and lighthearted and people will be happy to help you. Everyone knows what it’s like deal with a tourist; now is your opportunity to be one. Be one you would want to help.
Each day, when you get out of bed, you have the opportunity to create who you want to be and try new things. When you travel to another country, the opportunity is even greater. If the opportunity to take your dream trip arises, go for it. It’ll broaden your world, deepen your understanding, and raise your self-esteem. You’re going this way just once; make the most of it.

copyright © Kimberly Corey