• How I took Rome for granted (and why you probably shouldn’t)

I have been meaning to write a post about Rome for a while.

I can’t claim to have visited all the places worth visiting in the world, far from it. In fact, until two years ago, along with many far-away, exotic places, Rome stood out in the list of cities I’d never been to.

It was a glaring omission, an almost inexplicable one. After all, I’ve lived within short flying distance (barely 2 hours) from Rome most of my life.

Souvenir stall with Arch of Constantine in background

So what had kept me from ever making that trip?

It was mainly two reasons. First of all, I feared it was going to be tourist central. And let’s be honest, it is. But that hadn’t stopped me in the past from going several times to other great cities in the world like London, Paris or New York. Or even Florence, also in Italy and arguably even more besieged by tourists than Rome.

Fontana di Trevi, Rome

That just leaves one other reason I can think of: I was taking Rome for granted before even getting to know her. After all, Rome is “The Eternal City”, right? It had been there almost forever, it wasn’t going anywhere, and it was reasonably close to home. So I would get there some day, eventually. What was the rush?

Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome

When I finally went to Rome two years ago, I discovered I’d been terribly wrong in postponing my visit for so long.

It actually was everything I imagined and more, mainly in a good way. That included the big crowds of tourists, but I didn’t mind.

Fountain in front of Pantheon, Rome

Rome grabs you instantly in so many ways. It’s not just its history, reflected in the astonishingly beautiful architecture and the innumerable masterpieces displayed in its museums.

Detail of the Pantheon's portico

Inside of the Pantheon's dome, Rome

Façade in Piazza Navona, Rome

It’s not just the food. Nor the impossibly elegant Romans, sophisticated and classy without being aloof. It’s also the amazing discovery (to me, at least) that traffic is nowhere near as chaotic or unbearable as I’d always heard. And the fact that in many ways central Rome has a small city feel and atmosphere to it, which is quite a feat for a big European capital that receives so many visitors.

Giordano Bruno statue in Campo di Fiori

Quiet street corner in Rome

In fact, Rome is a very walkable city and you can see most of its main sights in a day’s walk. Sure, if you want to go into some of the major attractions, like the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum, you really must book in advance or be prepared for long queues.

View of Colosseum, Rome

In my first (and so far only) visit to Rome I was so instantly hooked by the look and vibe of its streets that I decided to forgo some of the “must-see” attractions, like the Colosseum. I did go to the site and admire it from the outside, but I just couldn’t face the mile-long queue to get in.

Staircase near Piazza di Spagna, Rome

Fontana del Nettuno, Piazza Navona

Truth be told, I’ve never been one to cram as many sights as I can when I go to a new city. I’d rather wander around with my camera and breathe the city in (I know, kind of unhealthy nowadays with so much pollution) than spend half a day in a queue and a museum. I also keep telling myself that leaving some sights out on a first visit will give me a good reason to come back, but that’s probably just wishful thinking, cause, who knows what the future holds?

Painting seller in Piazza Navona

Fontana del Moro, Piazza Navona

In this trip I only brought my 35mm fixed lens camera (the truly amazing Fujifilm X100), so no swapping lenses or setting focal lengths for each shot. Sometimes this felt slightly limiting, but on the whole it was very liberating, as I’ve never liked being encumbered by too much photo gear. Now that I’ve finally got round to writing this post and editing my photos from the trip, I’m thinking I should show you some more, so keep your eyes peeled for a very likely part two to this post!

What about you? Have been to Rome? Or have you been postponing it forever like I was? Let me know in the comments!

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