We’ve been to Rome twice before. The first was a short two days after we extended our stay in Positano. Another was two years ago with Rob & Laura, when we rented an apartment on Piazza Navona for 3 days. This time we had about 5 hours, but it was action packed.
I had already arranged for a private guide to take us through the Forum and the Colosseum for 3 hours. We planned to find a taxi in the port of Cittivecchia, which is where the cruise ships dock and is a bit more than an hour away. After making the long walk out of the secure port area, I flagged down Max who agreed to take us to Rome on the meter, so no price haggling was needed. When we were almost there, he offered to wait and take us back when we were ready to return for a discount. He also offered to include driving us around Rome to some other sites before returning. We agreed.
I had been through the Forum a couple of times, but never with a guide. And I had never been inside the Colosseum. Our guide turned out to be an energetic Englishman with bad allergies to periodically fell into sneezing fits, talked at an extremely fast pace, had encyclopediac knowledge and was overall very helpful. As expected, the Forum and Colosseum both involved a great deal of walking. I really enjoyed it; the guide’s archeology background gave me an understanding of both sites that I didn’t have before. Perhaps some of it will stick. More likely, I’ll remember disconnected factoids to astonish my friends with.
After leaving our guide and eating lunch, we met up with Max and he took us around Rome to a few more sites. The first was the Spanish Steps, which I don’t find particularly interesting. But everyone is there because it’s the place to be. And when I say everyone, I mean that not only were the steps themselves crowded (as is normal) but the surrounding streets were packed as if people were gathered for a political rally.
We made two more stops which were also pretty crowded. The first was the Trevi Fountain, which is an ornate structure that collects much money as people throw coins into the fountain. The crowds were deep all around the fountain, especially on the lower level. We looked on from the upper tier and to the side.
The last stop was Piazza Navona, which brought back fond memories of our stay and an opportunity for gelato. Then we got back into the car with Max and headed out to the ship. It turns out that Max has a licensed taxi for metropolitan Rome, which is a large area that extends to the port and hour away. It also turns out that he has license 01, which was first issued to his grandfather in 1921. Pretty cool!
All in, I have to say this brief visit to Rome exceeded my expectations despite the crowds. Hooking up with Max really made a difference in the day, and our guide at the sights was more interesting than I expected.