There’s nothing better than a guide that has lived in a city and knows you and your taste. Not just your taste in food, but in activities, mode of transport and what you think is uproariously funny.
My guide was my baby brother, who has lived in Italy on and off for many years. A few years ago he lived in Rome. I remember him saying to my mother and I as we looked at a picture of the Coliseum, “I used to ride my bike past it every day on my way to work. You never get tired of seeing it”.
He met me at my hotel, and we we were off. First to find a mobile phone shop where I could buy a SIM to use in my phone while I was in Italy. I highly recommend getting a local SIM. It will keep you from worrying about how much expensive data you’re going to have to pay for when you return home.
Buying the SIM isn’t intuitive, and there’s no guarantee that the people in the shop will speak enough of your language to explain the process to you. Again, advantage ME, my brother is fluent and he negotiated the process from stop to finish.
I took two phones on the trip and only switched one SIM. Here’s a tip for new players: if your phone is your second factor authentication device for banking and other sensitive transactions, you shouldn’t switch out the SIM on that one.
Once that business was out of the way, we were off. Off to find a coffee. With caffeine in our systems we were ready to explore.
And off we went. We went to the Spanish Steps, down them and around, then back up. Wandering around Rome like locals on a scavenger hunt to see the most of Rome possible in a day. The plan was for us to roam in Rome. Then on the rest of my days I could revisit spots I wanted to see again, and we had one rule. If there was something we wanted to do or see, we were not, I repeat not, standing in a queue. For anything.
To be honest, I believe my brother would decline free money if it required standing in a queue. I’m not quite as impatient. However, it was stinking hot. And as it often is, the queues were invariably in full sun.
So we wandered, at a moderate clip. Talking and looking as we went. It was great to get first hand information about every neighbourhood we walked through mixed with stories about when my brother worked and lived in Rome.
We stopped for lunch after consulting reviews from locals on our phones. We ate at an undercover outside restaurant where I discovered that mozzarella di bufala, a sometimes treat in Australia is available almost everywhere in Italia.
That made my day. And the primo (first course) was selected. Secondo for both of us was pasta. We finished up with fruit and coffee with complimentary digestif. Beers with our primo and secondo topped by the digestif meant that we didn’t walk as quickly after lunch.
After a couple more hours of traipsing around Rome, spotting ancient artefacts everywhere I looked we went back to my hotel to have a few cocktails before my brother had to catch his train back to Firenze. I would be see him again in Tuscany in a couple of weeks, but for now I was ready to relax and review my photos. Dinner could wait. I was afterall in Europe.