Ah Rome...the Eternal City of ancient ruins, rich history, and an overwhelming amount of tourists. Ever since I watched Audrey Hepburn's romantic adventure in Roman Holiday, I've dreamed of my own wild escapade. Eating gelato on the Spanish steps, riding a scooter through a piazza...you know, just you're average Italian fantasies.
So the first time I went was during my study abroad semester in Florence. We took a day trip to Rome on a sweltering day in June during peak season. Needless to say, there were quite a few tourists. If I thought the crowds in Florence and Venice were bad, Rome is on another level.
Literally every site was so congested with tourists, I realized, as I scrolled through my past photos, that I didn't bother taking any except for the Colosseum:
My first trip in Rome was spent navigating around cobble-stoned streets drenched in sweat and fighting my way through crowds just to get a glimpse at Rome's most iconic sites. Yes, it was amazing walking down the same Spanish steps Audrey once did and standing in front of the Colosseum in complete awe, but at the end of the day, I was happy to retreat back to my little corner in Florence.
While I wasn't completely enamored with Rome, I did only spend a day there, and you simply can not get to know a city as big as Rome in a mere 8 hours. So it was only fair that I gave Rome a second chance!
On my most recent trip to Italy, I went back for another day trip. But as soon as I stepped out of the train station, I knew it was going to be me versus the throngs of tourists round 2. It wasn't exactly peak season either. We went on a Monday...in January...in the dead of winter. God bless the locals who stick around to deal with the endless stream of tourists year-round...
I mean, I didn't expect the whole Vatican museum to myself, but I felt like we were a herd of cattle, prodded on from one room to the next. It's kind of hard to enjoy the great works of Raphael and Michelangelo when everyone is waving their selfie sticks around...
My gripe isn't only with the amount of tourists that were there. It felt like Rome was reduced to a list of landmarks to check off. People were going from one site to the next just so they could say, "Been there, done that". Remember, it doesn't hurt to put the selfie stick down every once in a while and really appreciate your surroundings!
Despite my complicated relationship with Rome, I can't deny that there are some truly incredible sites.
I completely get why millions of people flock to Rome. I too swooned when I saw the Trevi Fountain, and I can only imagine how grand life once was when the ancient ruins were intact and gladiators were strutting around. There's so much beauty and culture that I think everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
But honestly, I think I've gotten my dose of Rome, and now we need a break. It's not you, Rome, it's me.