Rome Itinerary

Why I failed to fall in love with Rome

It’s one of the world’s most dreamed about destinations, but Rome & I have never quite seen eye to eye.

Despite the promises of la dolce vita, I find it hard to relax in Rome.

I imagined myself strolling through sun-dappled piazzas with a gelato in hand as vespas whizz by. I daydreamed about stumbling along remnants of ancient history around every corner.

I’ve visited twice now. My experience has always been of a dirty, chaotic and sprawling city where I’m often lost, with no intuitive sense of where to go.

Rome has not been an easy city to wander, my favourite mode of transport. I find myself trekking along worn-down streets and past chain stores in search of something worth stopping for. Or at least a Metro stop, so I can zip to another part of town. I’ve found it difficult to stumble upon something memorable in Rome.

Colosseum, Rome | www.thewanderbug.com

Surprise Colosseum sightings aside, I’ve always found Rome to be difficult.

No doubt, one problem has to be that I’m never staying in a convenient part of town. Both times in Rome, I’ve been on a tour, which usually means a hotel at least 20 minutes out of the centre.

I can’t even remember what no man’s land I stayed in the first time I visited. The well-heeled Parioli neighbourhood was an improvement on my second visit.
Unfortunately, it’s distance from the centre still leaves you at the mercy of the unreliable Roman metro.

Thanks to the inefficiencies of the Roman metro, I spent a lot of time sweating in stationery trains and being stuck in Parioli.

Difficult isn’t always a bad thing, but it hasn’t made it easy to fall in love with the Italian capital.

Unfortunately for my bank account, when it comes to travel, I’m not a quitter.

Streets of Rome Italy

As I was explaining to my uncle Thomas last week that I just didn’t “get” Rome yet, he suggested that maybe I just didn’t like Rome.

“You don’t have to like Rome. You don’t have to go back and try again.”

He’s totally right, of course. You don’t have to love everywhere you visit, and you don’t have to try, try and try again. But for some reason, I feel like the third time might be a charm. I’ve seen just enough to suggest that there is something in Rome that I’ll really love.

Next time, I’ll get a better lay of the land beforehand. I’ll book a room in the heart of the action – not in the crowded historic centre, but in the Trastevere neighbourhood. I’ll avoid the madness that is the Colosseum and the area around the Roman Forum, except to admire the magnificent Altare della Patria.

Traffic in RomeEating pizza in Rome Italy

I’ll definitely return to the fountains in the Piazza Navona, to hear the stories of these beautiful buildings, statues and fountains all over again. For this Contiki tour, we had a local guide, Maite, and she made all the difference on an evening walking tour. Passionate about her city’s history and a wonderful storyteller, she had me hanging off every word.

Rome | www.thewanderbug.com
    Rome | www.thewanderbug.com

The history of Rome is fascinating, so more walking tours or food tours would be high on my agenda, before peeling off on my own for a few days to wander and discover different pockets of Rome for myself.

In the meantime, these photos remind me of how beautiful Rome is, and why I think it’s worth giving another more shot.

Spanish Steps in Rome

Rome | www.thewanderbug.com

Colosseum, Rome | www.thewanderbug.com

There are cities I’m not rushing back to, and Rome is one of them. I’ve got a lot more to see in the world before I give a city a third shot. However, there are also cities I’ve visited, that I’d easily skip, even if I had the chance or was in the area. Despite it’s challenges, Rome is not one of them.

Have you visited a city and got off on the wrong foot? Have you ever been back to a city and found it completely different to how you remembered? 

7 thoughts on “Why I failed to fall in love with Rome

  1. Hi there! Nice blog…I fell in love with Rome on my first visit and I think it largely had to do with where i was staying…I recommend staying right in the middle of town (the old part) to get a great experience…I loved wandering the little cobbled streets of old rome and finding shortcuts etc…Can I recommend for your next trip, stay at the cheap and cheerful Hotel Navona (right near the beautiful Piazza Navona) – you won’t be sorry….nothing fancy, but moments to to the pantheon, trevi and a multitude of hidden little bars and eateries….

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for your tip! I think that’s exactly what I need to do, I’d really like to go again and stay somewhere more central, and ambient haha. Appreciate your advice 🙂

  2. Two cities come to mind that I didn’t love initially, and Rome is one of them for me too. The other is London. London I have since changed my tune, and while I don’t get the same goosebumps and “oh my goodness I’m really here!” feeling I do when I’m in Paris, London has grown on me.
    Rome though…I don’t know. I haven’t given it a second chance yet, because like you I found it just chaotic and dirty etc. But one day I know I’ll be back as my boyfriend hasn’t been yet and really wants to see it. I’ll do my research like you’re suggesting and maybe it’ll be better. Or maybe it’ll forever be one of those cities that just didn’t do it for me.

    1. That’s so interesting, I haven’t loved being in London either! It’s definitely been down to not having enough time or being organised enough with what I want to see/transport though, it’s always been a quick, un-planned trip – which London doesn’t really lend itself to like cities such as Paris, Florence, etc!

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