Written by IainB

Thursday, 26 November 2009

image for Travel Guide: Rome Woth a visit, but go early

All roads lead to Rome they say. And when the Romans ruled the world, this was possibly true, these days however, all roads in Rome lead to catastrophe.

To the newly arrived visitor at Termini station there are only two pieces advice that need to be heeded:

1. Do not use the underground; it is inhabited by nefarious characters who will rob you blind.
2. Do not cross any roads.

The rules of the roads in Rome need to be explained, for at first glance it will look like there are none. Road markings are unimportant to the drivers, as are one way signs and traffic lights. Should you absolutely definitely need to cross a road, find a zebra crossing and wait at the side of the road for an Italian who also wants to cross. Sometimes this can take several minutes. When one arrives, step out at EXACTLY the same time as them. You will note that they will not even look to see if there is a car coming. This is because all Roman drivers have a braking distance of three centimetres due to survival of the fittest weeding out those who cannot stop in such a distance. Walk quickly, without looking, for if you look you will freeze in fright as three hundred Vespa scooters weave around you as you cross. Never try this where there is no zebra crossing as being knocked down on a road where there is no crossing is the fault of the pedestrian, not the driver.

Unlike in the UK where the licence plate indicates the age of the car, in Italy, it is the number of dents. Five dents per year is typical.

With the roads mastered, it is time to go sightseeing.

There are obvious destination choices, such as the Vatican, the Travelli fountain, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. These are all beautiful structures, and well worth seeing. St Peter's Cathedral at the Vatican is the most marvellous building in the world, and has the claim as being the only cathedral in which a jumbo jet can be stored, although nobody has tried this, so it is mere conjecture. The Pantheon is one of the oldest buildings in Rome that still has a roof, but is basically boring. Avoid this one. The Colosseum is the most touristy of all destinations in Rome, and is a good place to pick up souvenirs, ladies of the night and a couple of rare diseases, it is worth a visit, but leave it to the last day and do not buy water from the travelling vendors. The Travelli fountain is a very large fountain that takes up most of the space in Travelli Piazza. Made famous by the movie Two Coins in the Fountain, it is a good place to pick up loose change, or specci in Italian, due to the number of people who throw their coins into it.

For the more dedicated tourist there are less well visited places that can attract the eye. The Cappuccino monastery is one such destination. Set on a pleasant tree lined street it does not do the best cappuccino in Rome, as the name suggests, but instead they have filled their crypt with a work of art made from the bones of five hundred dead monks. It is creepy and wondrous at the same time. In addition, there is a pleasant cafe opposite where one can remove the chills from one's spine with a real cappuccino.

All tourists to Rome have the need to see the Sistine Chapel. True, it is a beautiful work of art, but the hushers are annoying and will spoil the experience. If you absolutely must see it, arrive at 7:30 am, and wait patiently for it to open at 9am. This way you will not have to endure the two hour queue that forms very rapidly. Do not go on a Wednesday, it is closed.

Eating in Rome is easy. Every other building is a ristorante or pizzeria. It is traditional to eat all one's food in one sitting in the evening, and not to eat at all during the rest of the day. All restaurants offer the normal seven course meals, and it is rude not to have all seven courses. Most restaurants will have a resident guitarist who have the job of separating tourists from money. The following phrase will prove useful:

"Non sono uno/a touristo/a," depending on gender, women use the 'a', men the 'o'. "Adesso, fotti via, per favore."

This usually has the effect of making them go away.

There is no night-life to speak of in Rome. Tourists are encouraged not to frequent the nightclubs, although they are welcome at the bars until 11pm. American tourists should take note that Italian beer has alcohol in it, and will make you drunk.

On a final note, when walking the streets of Rome to travel from one wondrous sight to another, stick to wide roads, or corsa. Do not attempt to take a short cut down the narrow streets. The cabiniari (the department of the police populated by scary spotty youths with guns, attitude and hormones) do not patrol down these for good reason. Always keep your money in your underwear and if you need a drink of water, buy it from a shop, not a little truck.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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Topics: rome, travel
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