I wanted to send some postcards home, yet the post office closed at 12noon, so asking at the ‘Tabacci’ shops I was told one stamp was going to cost me 2euro. No way! That is extortion – equal to about $2.50 back home. Come on, it cost €0.67 per stamp to send postcards from Malta, so they can’t cost €2 per stamp in Italy. Other places I asked said €1.60 which I still wasn’t going to pay, but just proved my point that ROME = Rip Off Merchant Extraordinaires! I wanted to go to the post office to ask, but twice when I went there the line was out the door and I didn’t feel like wasting half a day waiting.
The food was another issue. Advertised prices were often only for take away, as soon as you sat down you were charged more for using the table, plus a ‘service’ fee. Food that didn’t have a price on it was often weighed and you paid per weight, which of course wasn’t explained. If it was, I’d have asked for half as much because I didn’t eat it all anyway. I just took what they served and figured it was a set price, but alas, it was not. A serving of eggplant lasagne plus two pieces of zucchini cooked with tomato and cheese on top cost me €8.90. Everyone raves about the pizza in Naples but I have to say, I was unimpressed. Luckily I found one small shop in Rome where the guy made the pizza in front of you, and it only cost €5, however the Capriccosa pizza I ordered came out with a few slices of mushroom, three whole olives, tomato and oregano and an egg in the middle. It was fresh and tasted good, but seemed to be a rare find as most of the food I’ve seen that is reasonably priced is drenched in olive oil.
The sights in Rome were nice, although a little underwhelming. Mike and I wandered around and saw a fair bit, as Rome is pretty small so you can basically walk everywhere. I think the Colosseum was more impressive from the outside than from the inside, and I got some great pictures of it on a clear sunny day. I am amazed that people live in this city where there are so many old monuments and such history, since Australia has so little. The main road that leads to the Colosseum would be a route for many people to and from work I’m sure, yet I guess if you lived there you wouldn’t notice it after a while.
The Trevi fountain had a hundred or so people surrounding it even at 8pm so I didn’t stay long, and the lines for the Vatican were ridiculous so I didn’t go in there either. I did go into a number of other Churches and Basilica’s, and one free museum I found, along with the Roman Forum and Archaeological site adjacent to the Colosseum. I walked to most of the Piazza’s (public squares) in Rome, photographed most of their Obelisk’s (tall structures usually in the middle of a Piazza and obstructing your view of the building behind), and saw the Pantheon. My favourite place in Rome was Piazza Navona because I arrived to find a musical ensemble playing lively songs; I didn’t get hassled to buy anything although there were numerous stalls selling artwork throughout the Piazza; and the fountain there was nicer than the Trevi fountain! It was the first place in Rome I really enjoyed, and for anyone going to Rome I’d say that has to be a first stop. Restaurants were setting up and I imagine it would be a nice spot for dinner too, although I was a bit early for that. The other place I heard was nice but didn’t get to visit was Trastevere.