Rome – The city of just-about-everything

A so-called-conference brought me to Rome.

It was a chilly mid-February and we had completely underestimated the weather. Further, I had never been close to this land on the globe so was clueless in any sense of direction. I was advised to carry heavy woollens along with caps, muffler, gloves and the works. And I kept thinking – what the heck, so what if I feel a little more cold, I’ll just live through it. Boy! I was wrong!

Amidst the chill and coastal winds that hover above the city, we managed to cover the most of it. Rome, or (rrrr)Roma – as they call it in Italy, is a city with many facets. The city of love, the city of ROMAnce, the city of water, the city of architecture, the city of history, the city of food, the city of art, the Eternal City, the Open City, the city of you-name-it!



Rome, a city dating back almost 3,000 years, has been Europe’s most ancient urban centers – much ahead of its time – where the present is the key to the past; and the past is present (this line was picked up from the Time Elevator – refer later). It houses troves of world’s architectural masterpieces, such as the massive Colosseum. Once there, you see an unparalleled concentration of art oozing out from all corners. The grander ones are Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain and the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican City (the Catholic Church’s independent city-state, which is home to the Pope).

The Sistine Chapel

The Last Judgement

The whole tour is a visual treat and an overwhelming experience. Each monument has a detailed history to it, the records of which are available everywhere. So to compare it with other historical cities, especially in Asia, Rome particularly has far less mythology and a grand deal of History.

Basilica of St. Peter

Language is a barrier, to the extent that people sound rude most of the times. Indians are used to high standards of hospitality, living the phrase ‘Atithi Devo Bhav‘, that after a while we tend to feel intimidated by a certain level of arrogance. It is only much later that you realize that Romans are actually good-humored beings, who love to eat, drink wine, talk about soccer and juggle multiple careers. Period.

For those who live to eat, Roma is the paradise. On every street you would come across restaurants, trattorie, osterie, pizzerie, enoteche, cafés, bars, and gelaterie; it becomes hard to stop after a while. But I’d suggest not to count calories, especially if you’re a tourist. For two reasons : You may not come to Rome again for a long time, so why regret later (like I did); and more importantly, as a tourist you walk so much that you anyway end up losing weight. So, binge!

In and around Rome, there are many a Piazza – meaning a public square or Plaza. The most famous being Piazza Navona, is one of premier gathering points. Within this elliptical open space, there are three fountains around which there are many artists selling art. For those who have interest, there is very fine work in water colors on paper, oil on canvas, pencil, caricatures, sketches that can be taken back home as souvenirs.

A busy evening at Piazza Navona

Fountain at the Piazza. Don’t miss the building-wrap in the back!

The most important places in Rome are The Vatican City and the Colosseum. Both of these require at least a half-day to visit and should not be missed. There are many more places but I guess that can be chalked out suiting your duration of stay.

The Colosseum from our coach

The arch of Constantine

To shop, there are some great lanes near Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Steps where you can find almost all designer brands and other stores. There is also Porta Portese – a flea market, on Sunday mornings in the quarter of Trastevere near the Via Portuense. We missed it but it is supposed to be Italy’s most colorful and biggest ‘chor bazaars‘. Things to buy from Rome are definitely the herbs, oils (olive, truffle, flavored), interesting mementos of the collosseum, the David and other monuments. Leather is also of a very high quality and if hunted well (pun unintended!), you can get some very well priced bags, belts, wallets in neat designs. Rome is also famous for glass jewellery, of which I have suspicion that it gets exported from India (!!), and of course, it being a city of fashion there is a grand variety of fancy apparels, shoes and accessories. Italy also, apparently, has a fixation for Pinocchio – I could not decipher why.

The hot-spot : Spanish Steps

Rome is notorious for petty crime, but that’s about it. You have to be very careful and would be asked to move in groups, so need to abide by that. Thieves are interested in money, yes; life, no.

Like Delhi, Rome is also circular and even has a ring road (called Autostrada) that is about 56 kms long. So travelling from one place to another takes a maximum of an hour in regular traffic. Cab fares begin from 4 Euros and for a single hop should not exceed 30.

Credit cards are accepted but you are advised to carry Euros, as at many places and sundry shops, they will only take cash. For those going from India, most debit cards work in regular ATM machines and you end up paying only about 3 Euro per transaction of a 100 bucks, as the surcharge. So if you do not want to carry cash, you may safely rely on ATMs around the corner.

One good thing we ended up doing was taking a ride on the “Time Elevator“. This a 45-minute 4-D show inside a special, small cinema hall that shows 3000 years of Roman history, from Romolus and Remus (the two bothers who built Rome) up to the present day. After being able to see most of the city and beginning to comprehend it, this was a great re-cap, complete with the effects (yes, the rain, the rats and the time-machine hovering over the city)

Before going there I was told that Rome is Delhi placed in Europe – monuments, great roads, mouth-watering food… yes, it did seem so.


  • sonika says:

    Ah.. Rome.. My favorite city. But definitely not city of water. There’s just a river passing by and trust me Heat of Rome can almost kill you.
    You forgot to mention Spanish steps, pantheon & Roman Forum of course.
    Most of Rome can be navigated by walking and you happen to be bit lazy there’s always public transport.
    One thing everyone must eat there is home-made gelatos. They are absolutely delicious.
    Another thing to note.. Go to Vatican early in morning. There will be huge queues and you just might end standing there for 1 hour or so. Also, it closes in afternoon. Of course, short skirts, shorts, spaghetti straps are not allowed inside Vatican.

  • sonika says:

    another thing.. all glass in Italy & most of Europe comes from Venice, not exported from India.

  • smitadhall says:

    Thanks, Sonika, for you comments. City of water is what we were told in Rome – water, not in the form of river or sea but abundance in free flowing fountains and taps all over the city.

    Yes, I did not cover some places like the pantheon, Borghese palace since I myself visited them fleetingly. I spent a lot of time at the Spanish Steps (mentioned in the post) and that is the heart of modern Rome.

    And thanks for the source of glass. I was only suspicious since I see a lot of similar stuff back home.

  • Saravanan Dhanushkodi says:

    Wonderful Rome..ROMA.

    photographs are quite beautiful, they are a treat to the eyes.

    I have few questions ?

    How many days were you actually there ? and

    how many days did you spend on sight seeing and shopping ?

    What would be the ideal time to visit ?

  • Smita says:

    Hi Sarva, Thanks!

    I was there for 5 days and broadly you should be able to cover the entire city in that time – shopping as well as sight-seeing

    Ideal time is right now, since Rome weather is similar to Delhi, only more extreme. So avoid peak summers and peak winters.

  • John says:

    Damn right. Eat the food and work it off when you get back home

  • jha says:

    Great read.

    We also have this 4-D show in Noida. Not sure how it fares against the time machine one but as per the local promoter, its one of the best.

    After reading this piece and backpakker’s one some time back,suddenly Rome is not looking like a foreign land. I can almost imagine ,almost everything.

    Also write about Florence, Pisa etc.

  • Smita says:


    The 4-D show at Spice Mall in NOIDA is better.

    Yes, I’ll write about the other 2 cities I just visited as well.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Interesting Smita. Yet another beautiful post on Rome, though I still feel that Rome has good appetite to digest a few more.

    Pinnocchio – The names that end with o and a are generally Italian names. They are like aa & ee of Hindi. I googled and found the following:

    Pinocchio is a fictional character that first appeared in 1883, in The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and has since appeared in many adaptations of that story and others. Carved from a piece of pine by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a small Italian village, he was created as a puppet, but dreamt of becoming a real boy.

    The 4-D show at Spice Mall in NOIDA is better. – I have been to 4-D show at Spice and was little disappointed. I was comparing it with the show I saw in Disneyland Paris of the movie – Honey I shrunk the kids.

    In total I thoroughly enjoyed reading yet another beautiful post on Rome and also seeing the beautiful pictures.

    Looking forward to Florence and Pisa.

  • Cuckoo says:

    Good post on Rome, you reminded me of my days there. Haven’t posted about it till now but your pictures looked so very familiar and made me feel relive them all again.

    Yes, Sonika is right. All the glass articles come from Venice, I even saw a factory and brought some pieces for myself.
    Aah, time to write about these places. :-) Thanks for reminding.

  • bikerdude says:

    Hi Smita,

    I usually do not prefer travelling overseas as there is a lot to visit in our country… might as well spend the time and energy exploring and getting to know our country better. This arises not from the fear of being in a foreign land but from the sheer number of tourism resources available in our country. Once I have exhausted what is available locally would I look outwards.

    But this post has changed that mind-set. Truly well written and very well photographed.


  • Shreyasi Singh says:

    Hi. We were planning to go to London for a holiday this summer. But, your piece has made me want to go to….Rome! I hope the husband obliges!

  • nandanjha says:

    Assuming he has the choice :) to refuse.

  • kuba reisen says:

    Rome is really worth a trip if you are in Italy. I mean the Sistine Chapel alone will make your day.

  • Once in life time one should go to Rome..!

  • SilentSoul says:

    Looks like a very old post. Good coverage. If the size of fotos could be increased, they would look more beautiful and would show the beauty of the place

  • Nice Post. Though the Pictures are small yet we can see the beauty of Rome through them as they are very clear and beautifully captured.
    Thanks for re- sharing.

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    good post,very good photographs.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Smita,

    Lovely post about the city and the country everyone wants to visit for the amazing architecture, heritage, the cars, the fashion, the women and of course for giving us pizza and the mafia.

    After Rome it would be onwards to Florence, Venice, Milan and Corsica.

    Pinocchio is Italian because it has two Cs just like Nina Ricci!



  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Smita,

    Nice description about the visit to Roma.

    The continent, I would say, drips history which has been so well preserved (and displayed). This summer, we were driving around there and your post (language, food, etc. ) freshens up our memories.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


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