When in Rome…

The capital of Italy is home to one of the world’s most romantic and inspiring cities.

It was also the first stop in our whirlwind summer vacation going from Italy to France then finally Spain.

From Manila, Philippines, we took a night flight on Emirates Airlines with one stop in Dubai and changed aircraft to an A380 (double decker) for our flight from Dubai to Rome, Italy.

All flights from Manila were on a 777-300.  Unlike the lounges in Manila, the Emirates lounges in Dubai were sprawling.  And the upper deck of the A380 had its own access during boarding.  It was an experience on its own.  Food was good, amenities were great, entertainment was non-stop, and yes, this plane had a bar on its own for its first and business class passengers. Emirates is also the first airline to offer limousine service for passengers flying on biz or first class to and from the airport, to your final destination on arrival (in our case, our hotel).

Sofitel Hotel Villa Borghese was home to us for the next few days.  While it may not seem too fancy, it was comfortable enough because of its accessibility on foot to many of Rome’s quaint destinations. The Hermés bath amenities were two thumbs up!

For a country that is deeply rich in history and artistry, a trip to Rome is about living dolce vita lifestyle and embracing the arts and culture, people watching, sitting by the cafes and watching people drift by.  Oh, and yes, for the tourists like us, from the Fontana of Trevi to the Colosseum to the Pantheon, appreciating Rome on foot was an exhilarating experience.

It’s a great reminder that in the midst of the grandeur of Rome, lies a grander city, the Vatican City, where the seat of the Catholic Church lies.  St. Peter’s Basilica is the Vatican’s epic showpiece of Renaissance architecture. Take one whole day to appreciate the Vatican City (which is a country in itself with the Pope as its titular head of state) and immerse yourself with the history and feel of being at the pulpit of Catholic religion.  A guided tour is a must in order to appreciate your trip here.

A few tips from me.  Don’t eat in any crappy sidewalk cafe.  It’s really not worth it.  We had dinner of one pizza and one pasta for 50euros for two on our first night. Insanely, it was horrible food.  In short, don’t short change yourself with a lousy meal by eating on the roadside cafes.  Never again. Second, be careful of gypsies.  They’re all over.  They will distract you, and before you know it, your things are gone.  And they’re good.  Very very good. And that is part of the story of this European trip. Finally, make sure you have great walking shoes.  Rome is a small city.  And transportation is most efficient by taxi…or walking.

When in Rome…don’t look and act like a tourist.  When in Italy, be uber careful with your belongings.  And no matter how careful you get, here’s one country where you can’t get much help with the police.  Know the address and contact number of your embassy.  Believe me when I say that this will come in handy…in Italy.

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