This will be a fairly short article, at least for me.  In 2016 my sister and I took a walking tour of Tuscany (see Thoughts on choosing a tour group, airline or place to stayMontecatini Terme and Siena to St. Gimignano  posts,) that covered a number of towns from Montecatini Terme, to Siena and Cortona.

Our walking tour ended in Rome and since my sister and I had not been there before, we decided to add an extra night and day before heading to Lucca.  Knowing that we could only see a tiny fraction of what Rome has to offer, I bought a National Geographic travel book, Walking Rome, which I highly recommend.  It gives suggested walking tours of the various areas of Rome from ancient Rome to the Quirinale.  Plus it gives restaurant and shopping suggestions for each neighborhood.  I spent the summer reading it from cover to cover and sketching out where we might want to go, given where we were staying and our limited time.

I suggested to my sister that we see the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill in the morning since our hotel was only a few blocks from the Colosseum.  (As an aside our tour group booked us into the Best Western President which may be the grimmest hotel I’ve ever stayed in but is obviously popular with tour groups.)   Walking Rome strongly suggested buying advance tickets online at unless you want to spend hours in line or take a guided tour.  We found that to be the perfect option.

I was also eager to see the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and after browsing around on the web found several options for Rome by Night tours.  We picked the one with City Wonders and it could not have been better.

So here’s my journal entry for our crazy day in Rome:

We went to the colosseum first where my ‘coop’ tickets worked like a charm and we got in with a minimal wait.  It’s difficult to find words to describe it except to say that the blue, blue sky behind the ancient arches was spectacular.  [Hopefully the gallery below does it justice.]  We walked from one end to the other of each level although we had a hard time finding the way to level 2, finally going up the down staircase.

From there we went through the forum and Palatine Hill which was beautiful but confusing and crowded, then to the Campidoglio, and on to Isola Tiberina.  We ate at a little trattoria where I had a wonderful tuna and tomato salad and a beer.  We strolled back along the Tiber, then found our way back to the hotel where we cleaned up and rested until time to head to the Rome by Night tour.

Later that night I wrote:  We didn’t have too much trouble catching a bus or getting off at the right stop but I felt sweaty and ratty looking after the hot crowded bus.

We found our way to the Spanish Steps which are gorgeous at night, and then hooked up with a group of about 12.  Our guide was fantastic and we strolled from the Steps to the Trevi Fountain stopping at iconic sites including several of the obelisks as well as places where movies were filmed.

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers

After walking from the Trevi to the Pantheon we stopped at this great little restaurant (Ristorante di Rienzo I think)    where we each had a drink of our choice plus sandwiches, slices of pizza, fried cheese that was divine, various other munchies, while chatting and resting our feet.   

the Pantheon
the Pantheon

       We were there for almost an hour then walked to Piazza Navona where our guide walked us around the Fountain of the Four Rivers, describing each of the ‘scenes.’ 

 After that we walked over to the main street south of the piazza and picked up the bus the concierge told us to take, beginning the longest scariest ride ever.  It took us over the Tiber into a residential neighborhood, where it sat for a half hour then came back to where we picked it up originally and finally back to the street near our hotel where we had a prosecco to calm our nerves.

The Trevi Fountain was recently restored at a cost of more than $2 million; see the article at

About our only negative experience (other than the scary bus ride and crummy hotel) was the taxi to the main train station the next morning.  The hotel was less than a mile away and the concierge said it should be about 10-12 euros.  But the taxi driver took a roundabout way, getting us stuck in horrific traffic, and running the bill up to 20 euros.  We’ve had similar experiences in Firenze, including a cab driver who gave my sister the wrong change,  and I’m not sure how you control that.


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