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  • Wendy Byard

All Roads Lead to Rome

I love all things travel; that's why I worked in the industry for so long. Whenever I get the opportunity, I'm off exploring new and not so new destinations for myself and my retreats. I absolutely love it.

Last week it was the eternal city. Rome. The perfect destination for a long weekend. In just 3 hours, across the mountains by coach, I was right there in the centre of things.

Wendy Byard - Life in Italy

It's been a few years since I was last here, but thankfully nothing much has changed. The Colosseum, Forum and St Peter's are still there, unaware of all the people who've travelled thousands of miles to see them, the touts are still there trying to sell 'skip the line tickets, but it's still absolutely magical.

There have been a few changes though. You can't just rock up at the Colosseum and buy tickets these days; you have to buy online. Not great if you want to see what the weather is like BEFORE you decide which day to visit.

As you might guess, that's what I had decided to do. So, I had two choices. Check online for the next available entry time, which means entry really really late in the day, or join a guided tour for an additional €15 per person.

I agreed begrudgingly. I'm not a fan of guided tours, my companions even less so. So, with a sticker attached to my chest and one of those headphoney things around my neck, I traipsed after a lovely lady who used a refuse bin shaped like the Colosseum to talk about it. Hmmm, grumpier and grummpier.

Now, I do understand the timed entry thing because there were waaaaay too many people bumping into us as it was, pushing and generally not looking where they were going. Tourists can be very ..... [Fill in the blank.]

However, after about 15 minutes, we really had had enough, so we stopped the guide (at an appropriate as not to be rude) and took our ticket and ditched her....what a relief. Freedom to explore at last!

And in true tourist style, we visited all the sights.

But a visit to Rome isn't just about all the famous sights. One of the great pleasures is to stroll, which we did quite a lot of as well — strolling, stopping for a drink or something to eat and then strolling some more. One piece of advice, if you're hungry or thirsty, you might want to avoid the restaurants around the famous piazzas like Navona, Campo Dei Fiori and Spagna. Much as they look romantic and photogenic, you might have a long and expensive wait. Those people you see looking out into space and dreaming aren't admiring the view; they're wondering how much longer they'll have to wait for their order. Better, if you can, to find a smaller place off the main street which is much better value and better quality. But as they say, 'when in Rome', it's ok to be a tourist, that's what holidays are for.

You know you've picked the perfect accommodation when your name is sprayed on the wall spooky is that, and no, it wasn't me.

Trastevere is an authentic place to stay. The old part of the city and very close to all the attractions. Walking distance to most of them (if you don't mind walking about 42 km in 3 days). It's full of great restaurants, buzzing at night, ideal if you've had a long day and don't want to go too far for food. It can get busy and noisy at the weekend, but that's only to be expected and part of the experience.

So, where to next, you might be asking?..... Oooooh well, I'm off on a mission to Lake Garda in a few weeks, and I really can't wait to share that with you. Hopefully, there will be a few surprises from there too!


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