Friday, August 05, 2011

By All Means, Go


Find yourself a good guidebook and please see as many things as possible, but don’t limit yourself to the tourist trail. Some of the most fascinating, memorable moments you will have on your trip will be those times you go into backstreets never ventured into by tour groups. Take along a map so you can feel free to get lost, but will have a means to be found. The Colosseum ( Coliseum) is one place you couldn’t miss if you tried because it dominates the landscape, but don’t linger there as it is a popular place for pick pockets as well as tourists. Piazza Navona is the place to people watch or sit for a drink, but its side streets are just as, if not more, interesting.


The Roman Forum can keep you busy for hours, but don’t miss the Monti neighborhood just to the east, an upscale quarter filled with lovely shops and restaurants, with some streets so narrow you can hardly get through them in a taxi. A walk down Via Madonna Del Monte or Via Serpenti will provide you with lots of things to see and do.

The Pantheon may satisfy your interest in architecture, but the restaurants in the neighborhood up the small side streets will do much more for your appetite. You can no longer tell a tourist restaurant by the number of languages on the menu, so follow your nose and walk away from monuments and museums to find restaurants filled with locals. If the windows are frosted, it’s probably filled with locals who frown on being gawked at by tourists while they are dining.

We have all seen countless photos of the Trevi Fountain, but definitely go to see it so you have a sense of scale about it. Life is not in Cinemascope and neither is the fountain. The first time I saw it in person I found it difficult to believe I was in the same piazza where Three Coins in the Fountain had been filmed. I have never seen it as it was portrayed in that film. And each time I return, it seems smaller and the crowds larger.

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