We roam about Rome, stopping to look and talk and eat along the way. My advice, get a local SIM and forget about exorbitant roaming charges.

Close up image of our primo (first course) of cured meats, cheese and flatbread

Our primo, cured meats, mozzarella di bufala, salted flat bread dressed with rosemary and olive oil.

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…

A map of Italy, with Rome highlighted

Rome, it's right in the middle, a great place to start.

Australia is a long way from everywhere. You don't realise how far it is until you're travelling somewhere else. Smart people break their trip half way to wherever they're going. I'm smart, but not smart enough and I'm always in a hurry to get where I'm going. A brief stop over in Abu Dhabi where I was reacquainted with the true but meaningless saying, 'Yes, but it's a dry heat'. When it's 43º C (110º F) hot is hot. Eventually I arrived in Rome. Not quite as hot, but hot enough. I had been studying Italian but discovered Italians don't speak slowly and enunciate with pauses between every word like the App training voices do. I had my instructions from my travel agent on how and where to get the train from the airport to central Rome. Yes, I still use a travel agent. I'll write about why in another post. I had already purchased my train ticket. Huge lines at the ticket

counter with a human interface made me try the ticket machine. They work well, but when it's hot and you're the only one who doesn't read Italian, it can be nerve wracking. But before I could get on the train I had to get out of the airport. Handsome Italian men in leather jackets wearing semi-automatic rifles with the insouciance only Italian men can muster were lounging near the exit. I had my bags. I had my train ticket. But could I leave? I had gone through a line where I told a customs officer that I was on holiday and visiting family. But no one asked if I was carrying any fruit or other edibles. I decided to approach the carefree Carabinieri, but as I approached they became less carefree. I had forgotten that Europe has been subject to terrorist style attacks for far longer than the rest of the world. They looked carefree but they were alert. They also…