Italy is one of my favorite countries in Europe. Any country with great food, fantastic wine, and a musical language is always prone to be one my favorites.
When I visited Rome in the Spring of 2013 I was, however, disappointed.
The tourists, the weather, the not having the energy to visit everything the way I wanted.
I still haven’t given up Rome; it just wasn’t the right time for me to visit it.
Rome is a city you want to visit off the high season. Everything you see and visit is under such a hue of cliché that you won’t like what you get.
At the Trevi Fountain, everyone will be of course taking pictures of themselves throwing the coin in the water over their shoulder — and inevitably you’ll find the place to be small and unbearable.
At the Colosseum you will find that people resemble so much a horde of zombies, just maybe with a slightly faster pace (but not that overwhelmingly faster) — they are all going in one direction, looking up and down and to the sides, but I don’t think any of them will remember what they saw after they left.
At the Vatican, you will feel slightly outraged at how overpriced things are and how you find yourself being rushed continuously into the next room. When I was trying to quietly (yeah right, not gonna happen) embrace the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, I found myself being pushed out of the bench by people who sat and just kept sliding to the side until there was no space left. And the constant shouting of the Italian employees, demanding the tourists to please not take pictures. Painfully distracting.
I do miss the Trastevere quarter where we stayed, and the pizzeria just down the street where we had dinner every night, and the quiet walks by the river, and that day that rained and the city seemed so quiet and empty and all to ourselves. This memory is probably one of the few things that make me want to go back.
And Then There Was Florence
We were fed up with Rome.
I just wanted to pack and leave, but we still had one more day.
The fact that we were fed up wasn’t helping to plan our last day in the Italian capital.
And then on the Italian news on TV Florence came up — I don’t remember what the report was about. Florence came up and stayed on the back of my mind.
So far in the back of my mind that I started googling Florence without even realizing. Before I knew it, I was booking ourselves two return train tickets for the next day.
The fondest memory I have of that trip is my son’s excitement on the train ride and how beyond happy he was for having the chance to explore a new city — hey who wouldn’t want that? Two cities in a foreign country for the price of one.
I believe that was the very first time we enjoyed Italy that week.
Of course, it did help that for twenty-four hours I didn’t have any WiFi, therefore I couldn’t check the work email constantly.
The joy in his eyes as he was approaching the Santa Maria del Fiore church and the thrill of seeing the statue of David — priceless.
Besides, for the first time that week we took the time to soak everything in, not even feeling bothered by the slightly crowded Ponte Vecchio.
Have you been to Rome or Florence? Which one is your favorite?