They say all roads lead to Rome, so it was apt that this was where our last stop for both the Topdeck Tour and our whole trip. What I mean by that is our Topdeck Tour’s last stop was Rome, but after that we went on to other places in Italy but eventually came back to Rome before flying from Italy to reality. 😁
After lunch in Florence, we checked out of our hostel, jumped aboard our tour bus, and drove to Rome, arriving at around 4 pm to hit the ground running – or rather, walking, on a walking tour.
We started at the Piazza de Popolo, where we were shown the Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto churches. Fun fact: they look like twins, but they’re actually not.
The next interesting stop I remember is the Fontana della Barcaccia which is found at the base of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna. Even though its name means “fountain of the ugly boat,” I don’t think it’s ugly at all!
The Spanish Steps, meanwhile, is a familiar sight because I’ve seen it in movies. Apparently in the olden days, it was a popular spot for artists and painters, so beautiful women liked to sit on the steps, hoping they would be taken as models.
We climbed its 135 steps and went on our way to another famous location seen in many movies – the Trevi Fountain.
Unfortunately for us, the Trevi Fountain was closed for restoration. A canvas print of the fountain was erected on a platform with a small amount of water where you can still your coins, so of course I still had to do that. That’s what the Trevi Fountain is famous for, right?
Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain. The original legend says that if you stand with your back to the fountain, then with your right hand over your left shoulder, throw a coin which lands in the water – that will ensure a return to Rome. But a film called “Three Coins in the Fountain” says throwing one coin means a return to Rome, a second coin leads to a new romance, and a third coin leads to marriage.
I threw three coins at once and can’t remember how many landed in the water!
Another worthwhile stop was the beautifully preserved Pantheon.
While trying to take a group picture outside the building, a passing stranger offered to take our picture. I was wary of handing over my camera lest she ran away with it, but I gave it to her anyway, and luckily she just took a great photo and returned my camera! 😅
Later on, my tourmate Emma said they all had their eyes on my camera, ready to sprint after the lady if she runs away. So I wasn’t the only paranoid one after all! Thanks, mates! 😄
We also managed to walk inside and it was gorgeous.
After that we had some pasta and pizza for dinner at a random restaurant. Then our tour guide said we could have free gelato for dessert (it wasn’t really free, but paid for in our package). He led us to this gelato place with over a hundred flavors.
We realized that the sales guy behind the counter was a Filipino, so we asked him to help recommend the best flavors. Not only did he do that, but he also gave us twice the amount of gelato that he gave to everyone else. It’s really fun to discover kababayans. 😆
After that, we walked around some more, and my feet were in so much pain from four hours of walking that I was angry and wanted to cry.
Okay, so maybe I don’t look it in this picture.
Or in this.
But I was. Really. I just don’t want to ruin pictures hence the fake smiles. 😅
Our tour guide should have chosen quality over quantity. We went to so many locations, including to that awful museum of bones or something, which we had to pay a ticket to enter and which was really something I would not recommend.
What I would recommend, however, is what he saved for last: the Colosseum.
By the time we reached there, we were oily and sweaty and disheveled, and the light was not ideal for pictorials anymore.
We should have skipped all those other not-so-great places and spent more time here!!! 😡😡😡
But don’t worry, guys, we did manage to come back. Not the very next day, because we did the Vatican City Tour then, but a few days later after our trip to Cinque Terre (separate blog soon to follow).
On our second to the last day in Europe, we were back in Rome, checked in at one of the hotels in Italy, and made our way back to the Colosseum to see it during the light of day.
I’m so glad we did, because I managed to snap this postcard-perfect photo!
We bought a ticket from the ticket booth for the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, which had a way shorter queue compared to the main entrance (10 minutes vs 2 hour wait).
The inside was quite amazing! We could not help but take a lot of pictures. 😁
The only problem was that Rome was freaking hot. So hot, that at one point Drew complained: “Why does it feel like the sun is just beside us?!?” The heat sapped us of our energy quickly, which we all noticed and voiced out.
But I don’t regret coming to Rome, though. I expected to hate it because of a friend who had negative reviews about it because she thought it was dirty and all that, but I honestly didn’t think it was that bad! I really loved its architecture. The whole place was steeped in character, so different from the modern new buildings and streets of Singapore.
You have to be careful when you’re there, though, because a friend got pickpocketed there, and a few people attempted to victimize us a couple of times. One guy tried to “help” us when we were trying to withdraw cash at an ATM, and then another woman suddenly approached us when we arrived at the train station, took our tickets, then tried to lead us somewhere.
But then a couple of policemen drove by in a cart, so she gave us our ticket back and quickly left. The policemen looked at us and said, “Why were you talking to her? That was a gypsy! Did she scam you?” We quickly checked all our possessions and noted that we had not lost anything. Whew!
Despite the heat, exhaustion, and risk, I still say that it’s worth the trip, though! Definitely glad I had a chance to go!