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A Week in Italy

By William on Sat, Jun 6th 09 at 03:11AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

I have very mixed feelings about the latest big city on our travels. It was at the same time the best and worst city I have been to in my life.

As a rule, I do not like big cities. Sure, they usually have at least something interesting, and I do love a good public transportation system, but in general I have not enjoyed the time I've spent in big cities. The exception to this would be Auckland, but it doesn't really feel like a big city at all.

In big cities it takes forever to get anywhere, it's crowded, noisy, dirty and I feel completely cut off from nature, where I truly feel at home. Rome is no different. In fact, it was probably worse in these aspects than anywhere I have been. There are almost no parks within the city, graffiti and trash are everywhere and I've never seen so many tourists in my life. Plus food and accommodation are absurdly expensive.

But despite all these drawbacks, I really enjoyed visiting Rome. Why? Because it's worth it. I have never seen anything man-made that is more impressive than the buildings of ancient Rome. It is truly awe inspiring to stand inside something like the Colosseum. Constructed with ancient but revolutionary building techniques, it has endured 2000 years or neglect, vandalism, weather and war and still it is standing. You can truly feel the history surrounding you as you stand within the walls. Just be prepared to spend 15 euros to experience it. And the Colosseum is just one of countless ancient buildings in the city. The Vatican. The Pantheon. The Sistine Chapel. These are just the well known ones. Walk down nearly any random street in central Rome and you will most likely see something centuries older than the oldest building in the US. Getting to see these places up close is truly worth the fight with crowds, exorbitant prices for everything and all the other discomforts of the big city.

Pisa was equally impressive. It's not quite as old as the buildings of ancient Rome, but standing there staring at the Leaning Tower is just... weird. You really can't understand from just looking at a photograph what this building is like. For one thing, it is much bigger than I ever pictured it. I had always thought it was a pretty small tower to be able to lean so much and not fall, but it looked huge up close. Plus, it's quite hilarious to watch all the people there. Everyone has to get a picture pretending to hold up the tower. Literally every direction you look there is someone posing with their hands in the air, and someone with a camera trying to line up the classic shot.

All in all, I immensely enjoyed my time in these 2 cities in Italy. Would I ever want to live there? Definitely not. Even spending a few weeks there would probably drive me insane, but to spend a several days exploring these ancient buildings with great friends was truly an experience I will never forget.

Comments

Nomadic Matt wrote on June 7th 09 at 04:53AM
rome is a city i love to hate to love. i get what you are saying. if you are still there, try to make it out to Trastevre. amazing local area.

when in florenca, stay at ostello archi rossi. cheap and you get a proper breakfast (american style!)
lesley bonney wrote on June 8th 09 at 12:14AM
Read about the blog in Writers' News (July issue). Well done and have fun!
Megan wrote on June 10th 09 at 06:12AM
hey, i hope you guys are doing well. i posted your site on my site!
Jean - OurExplorer Tour Guide wrote on June 14th 09 at 02:21AM
Think big cities share something in general - trying to impress people. They are, with all the good and bad things. Rome is on my dream-destination list as well. Sounds great from your post. :)
MJ wrote on July 1st 09 at 09:30PM
hey! i just come across your blog. great site! more power to both of you :D
Vishall wrote on July 5th 09 at 07:22PM
u guys been to Mumbai, India?
Shawn wrote on July 11th 09 at 07:05AM
Are You guys heading to Bulgaria?
ana wrote on July 13th 09 at 03:29AM
Rome is beautiful, would like to see more of Italy and eat great, Italian food;)Great blog:=) By the way: You should take a trip to beautiful Norway
Benny the Irish polyglot wrote on July 15th 09 at 01:46AM
You can't take Rome too seriously ;) I lived there for 3 months and came back so many times. It's the "eternal city" so you have to expect tourists. Once you get into the feeling and rhythm (and especially if you speak Italian) you see that the locals are really nice!
If you ever get the chance to go back to Italy, you can get to see all the beautiful buildings with MUCH less tourists outside of the summer!! It's a different magical place then. If you liked the Colosseum, then go to Pompeii some day (close to Naples in the south). They have a fully intact one, that I actually found much more impressive than the one in Rome. You can walk in and see what the gladiators themselves would have seen... Did you see the video I just made in Rome? :P
Enjoying your blog!!
Jamie Powers wrote on July 17th 09 at 03:11AM
I love your description and getting to experience it a little bit, through you. love and miss you
World nomad wrote on September 15th 09 at 06:14PM
You should have visited Milan also, one of my favorite big cities in Italy.
josephromo wrote on September 27th 09 at 10:30AM
Man, i really wish i could visit Italy. It soo rich in culture and history. www.blogtoilet.com
Lindsey wrote on October 4th 09 at 07:48PM
I totally know what you mean about hating and liking Rome at the same time. How can you actually hate it for good? I think it's impossible. Still, I think the northern regions of Italy are way underestimated. My favorite parts of Italy are the Lake Como region and Alto Adige. People are nice and the food is awesome!

That's not what I wanted to ask you though...

After all of this time, how is your house? Any rental problems that you know of? We need to rent our condo while we travel, and I'm a bit nervous about it.
Greenhousecarol wrote on October 26th 09 at 07:31PM
I am enjoying this site. Anyways, we travelled all around Sicily, and a couple of highlights were Cefalu,(beautiful) and Palermo (interesting) .
Shawn wrote on October 27th 09 at 02:28AM
So not a word from you two guys in almost five months.
bettina wrote on October 29th 09 at 09:33PM
Florenz is my favorite city in Italy.
Oisin wrote on October 30th 09 at 03:14PM
I would love to see Rome and all the ancient architecture Im sure it makes up for any other drawbacks in the city but I am shocked that the city is covered in graffiti and uncomfortable to be in I never would have thought that.
KeyVacationRent wrote on November 8th 09 at 04:40PM
We are planning a trip to Rome this summer. Honestly the main reason we are planning it is because of Dan Brown's book 'Angels & Demons'. The place just seems amazingly historical. Can't wait and thanks for this inoformative post.
blogrimini_it wrote on December 2nd 09 at 02:45PM
Wow guys!
Seems that you're having fun!
Once you decide to come in Rimini you will be welcome
MartaRTW wrote on December 3rd 09 at 06:30AM
after being in so many places on our rtw trip, so far away from my home country, i am starting appreciate more the unique beauty and fascinating history of Italy with no exclusion of place such as Rome; when I was there it felt like walking through an ancient city, it's really beautiful.
www.atravelaroundtheworld.com
sushil345 wrote on February 21st 10 at 04:07PM
you should give a try to delhi, mumbai in india... if you havn't already visited.

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