Arrival in Rome
Part of: The Great European Road Trip
Our two days in Rome were a whirlwind! We walked about nine hours each day and took about a gazillion photos of churches and ancient ruins. Most of the walking was actually more like hiking - the "seven hills of Rome" isn't just an expression! It was exhausting, but also fabulous. There really is nothing like Rome and the amount of interesting sights is incredible. We significantly enhanced our photo archive and had a lot of fun, too. Happily, this time we didn't get pickpocketed and the temperature was much more comfortable than during our July 2006 visit!
Since we had a car this time, we had little choice but to stay at a business hotel outside the city, just off the freeway. The traffic in Rome is insane, as are the drivers, and very few central hotels have any parking. But it worked pretty well for us, especially for only two days. The Novotel runs a free shuttle bus into town every morning and evening, which didn't go as often as we would have liked but it was still better than attempting to drive in the city ourselves.
We really liked our hotel, which is big and modern and efficient. We stayed in a Novotel in Hildesheim too, and so far they seem reliably good. Our room was spacious and clean. Internet was not free but at least it was reliable, and David found a free parking spot, saving us from paying the hotel's normal fees.
View from our window. Central Rome is somewhere off to the left. Evidently this field is swampy, as a sign on the window warned us not to open it or the room would become "invaded by mosquitoes and inhabitable." But we opened it a couple times and remained mosquito-free; must still be early enough in the spring.
We arrived around noon but the next shuttle bus into the city wasn't until 5:30pm and it was raining heavily anyway, so we just hung out at the hotel for the rest of the day. It was a good chance to get some things done and relax a bit. We had a decent lunch in the hotel restaurant and David found stairs to the roof, from where we could see the silhouette of St. Peter's in the distant smog.
Later, David made an even more interesting discovery - there's a brand-new shopping mall near the hotel that just opened a year ago called Roma Est. It included a huge grocery store called Panorama where we could stock up on a few snacks, so we drove right on over. We had so much fun! The mall was huge and we had such fun wandering in the shops and watching the teenagers hanging out. We had a delicious gelato and foccacia bread pizza for dinner (in that order). It was fun to do as the Romans do for an evening before joining the tourists the following day.