OK so in the summer of 2009 we went on one of my 'dream' holidays. I have a fair old passion for Roman history, particularly of the ancient and Byzantine kind so a visit to the Eternal City itself was always a holiday destination I had wanted to do. Also a visit to the best preserved remains of them all at Pompeii and/or Herculaneum was something to throw into the mix.
Additionally I was vaguely familiar with Italy since I'd stayed there for three months back in 1995 as part of my PhD studies. It was in Verona in the North so I'd seen Venice, Verona and (briefly) Milan. Back then I'd intended to do both Florence and Rome but never made it as it was too far and I was unfortunately there to work.
How different could the mid to southern end of the country be right? Very it turned out.
So in late June 2009 we arrived in Rome after a flight from Heathrow and the train from Rome Fiumicino airport. By this point, having taken a coach from Cardiff to Heathrow and already having done a lot of travelling we decided against my original plan of walking from Rome Termini station to our hotel which was pretty close as I judged from my pre-bought map. This was our first mistake. We got charged 25 euros for a journey that would have been a 5 minute walk. We know because we were immediately suspicious about the distance to the station and walked it straight after freshening up. This was to be the first instance of watching our spending money disappear like it was going out of fashion. Rome is an expensive city even if you avoid getting ripped off and with the pound weak against the euro we suffered doubly. Still I wasn't there because of the exchange rate, I was there for the sights....
Colosseum (wow), Forum (wow), Julius Caesar's shrine (people still leave flowers!), palatine hill (Emperors' Palace - wow and spooky at times), Augustus's house (nutjob italian woman doing crowd control was excellent), Trevi fountain (Phil blown away - not what I was expecting), Vatican (amazing but like going to Ikea on Sunday afternoon), Piazza Navone (nice), Quattro Fontane (nice little crossroads down from our hotel), Augustus' memorial (got we in waterfall), Baths of Caracalla (met an italian con artist but managed to escape with wallet intact)/Diocletian (beautiful church very near our hotel), churches (mini St Peters' everywhere you go), Metro (no walking, yay!), Garibaldi monument (no Metro, walking Boo, and a hill too), walking, walking, more walking and walking and then some more walking! Need new feet. Michael Jackson dead on last night - will always remember where I was
Taxi rip off - rip off generally. But on reflection exchange rate was mostly culpable.
Beautiful town, obvious hoilday resort
Pompeii - missed brothel, get a map/guide if you go. New feet needed again. But generally amazing. Spooky as hell seeing the teeth and bones in the plaster casts of the victims...
not enough toilets - dead heat.
Capri beatiful, Positano stunning, Hotel destroyed our suitcase!