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Travel With Me To Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

By Sandra Elzie

I almost feel guilty about last week’s picture challenge.  After all, there’s a McDonald’s on every corner (almost) in every country of the world…almost.

Deciding to take this trip began one February morning when I got a call from a friend who asked if hubby & I would like to join her & her hubs on a two-week Mediterranean cruise.  Well, duh…do crows fly?   Of course I’d love to go.  There was only one hitch.  We had to make up our minds & call the travel agent with a deposit by midnight that very day.   (Why can’t life be simple?)

So, a quick discussion with hubby and we committed.   My goodness…who can refuse a Senior discounted, fill-the-ship-at-the-last-minute special?  Of course, that was before we added up the cost of shore excursions in the various countries and before I booked airfare from Atlanta to Rome that cost more than the two-week cruise.  Guess we forgot to check out a few pesky little details before calling the agent. But, in the end, it was worth every Euro inflated dollar.

In Rome we hired a private cab driver to pick us up at the airport and then tour us around the city.  I’d been told that all the group, bus-type tours rush you too much to be able to adequately see the sights…especially St Peter’s Basilica, so a private tour was perfect.  We gave him a list of the things that we most wanted to see and he took care of the rest.  It cost us only $285.00 per couple including tip and we were with him for seven hours.  Great deal.

The architecture is gorgeous in Rome and I can guarantee you that spending only one day in that ancient city was not enough.  There’s history and photo opportunities around every curve in the road and we barely touched the tip of the iceberg.  Think about it this way.  America has been a developing country for just over two hundred years compared to Rome that has been there for several thousand years.

The top point of interest for us was St Peter’s Basilica.   Needless to say, St Peter’s Basilica is the best-known, Catholic church in the world.  It took many years to complete…1506 – 1626 and was built in the Late Renaissance style.  According to Catholic tradition, the basilica was built on top of the apostle Peter’s burial site.

I was also fascinated by the Vatican Museums which house an extensive collection of religious art, sculptures and artifacts, accumulated over the past 600 years.  The beauty…and the wealth…is almost overwhelming.  Also, we enjoyed seeing the Sistine Chapel with it’s beautifully painted walls and ceilings. 


Another attraction…one that particularly interested my husband…was the Roman Colosseum.  This marvel of design & engineering was a symbol of power and majesty for the Roman Empire.  The Colosseum was started late in the 1st century by Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son, Emperor Titus.  Sadly, it was used primarily for the violent amusement and entertainment of the Roman citizens…such as putting Christians and lions in the arena…but if you can put all that aside, it was a very impressive structure.


Just driving through the streets of this old city was a treat.  There were more fountains than you can imagine.  My favorite, of course, was the Trevi Fountain.  The fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730 and built by Nicola Salvi.  It was completed in 1762.

When the tour was over, our driver took us to the hotel where we’d stayed.  Near the hotel was the McDonalds…and I’ve got to stop here a moment to tell you about that experience.  As you can see,  this is unlike any McDonalds in America.  There was the usual counter to order meals, but there was also a separate coffee and dessert counter where they served Triple Chocolate cake (my personal fav), cheesecake, scones, Tarimasu and about a dozen other fancy pastries. The coffee was made to order with fresh-ground beans and had a drink menu that put Starbucks in second place.  All I can say is that it’s a good thing that the ones here don’t offer these things since it would really make dieting a much more difficult challenge.

The next day, at the port city of Civitavecchia, Italy, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Sea for two glorious weeks. 

     SHIP AHOY!!!     Next week we’ll be stopping for a quick visit to Naples, Italy and Ephesus, Turkey.       Hope to see you then!


Pam Asberry - February 8, 2013 - 12:06 am

I have been to Italy but didn’t make it to Rome. Thank you for letting me see it through your eyes!

Laura Russell - February 8, 2013 - 1:37 am

Your day in Rome sounds fabulous. Your comments on the desserts at McDonald’s in Rome reminded me of a burger chain in Ravenna- had fries etc but also beer. Much more fun than soda pop.

Mary Preston - February 8, 2013 - 3:51 am

I will have to content myself with travelling to Rome vicariously for now.

A great idea to hire the taxi for the day to be your guide & transport.

Marilyn Baron - February 8, 2013 - 7:01 am


My husband and I are going to take a similar Mediterranean cruise this June. It was another case of here’s this free tour (we actually won it) but it doesn’t include airfare or excursions, but I can’t wait. It will go to Rome, and Florence, and Naples but also Barcelona, another Spanish island and a destination in southern France. Most of the places I’ve already been to but my husband hasn’t. I’m looking forward to the food in Italy. Your advice about hiring a cab driver to take you around the city is something I’m going to look into. I’ve always either done it with a cruise tour or visited Rome when I lived in Florence. So this will be a different experience. And we’ll be there with another couple so we can all go together.

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 7:06 am

Hi Pam,
Rome is a mixture of old…and older. But the architecture is stunning…the statues & fountains and…well, just the stories that we’ve read seem to truly fit in the ruins & mystique of this city.

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 7:08 am

LOL yes, the desserts. I only gained 10 pounds during that two weeks…so guess I was lucky. Food…great food….is everywhere. And bread. Oh my, the bread is to die for. Just the aroma of baking bread can add a pound. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 7:14 am

Good morning Mary,
We had planned to book a tour through our hotel, but then someone mentioned having gone with a private taxi and that sounded so much better. One of the things they’re not big on over there is air conditioning. The bus tours got a bit warm although they tried to not make it too cold or too hot since they were catering to Europeans as well as Americans. On a bus tour of the Amalfi Coast, the guide wore a light jacket & a scarf around the back of his neck because he got chilled with the air conditioner on.

I find the differences in countries very interesting.

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 7:21 am

Hi Marilyn,
Wow! A free trip. LOL LOL I loved the food in Rome. Like I said before, the breads…yum. And the pastries…double yum. Also, since I love a good cup of coffee, I was right at home there.

Hint: Exchange money to Euros…some of the places charged us as much as double when we ran out & used American dollars. Like the $3.00 Coke that cost me $6.00 in one place. The exchange rate was something like one dollar equals 1.6 Euro….but for easy figuring some places will just charge you double. Oh, and some of the smaller places wouldn’t even accept dollars.

Cheryl Hart - February 8, 2013 - 9:27 am

Thank you for the virtual trip through Rome. Love the photos. :)

Rome is incredible! I loved every second of my trip there two years ago. I can’t wait to return in October with my sister! I’ve got to say, I enjoyed Lucca even more than Rome. It’s an interesting walled city near Pisa. I could LIVE there. Gorgeous.

My only experience with a cab driver was a bad one, so I ended up walking–A LOT! It was great exercise, enabled me to eat gobs of scrumptious food, and I lost several pounds. haha Walking from Rome to The Vatican left me with blisters on both feet though. ;)

Tamara LeBlanc - February 8, 2013 - 11:49 am

Simply glorious!!
How fortunate you and your husband are to have taken such a fantastic trip.
I hope to one day follow in your footsteps :)

Thank you for sharing, Sandra!!
Have a great weekend,

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 2:52 pm

Oh Cheryl, sounds like you have some great memories…and some that aren’t so great. Sorry. We enjoyed the visit and the tour…but we were beat by the time we got to the hotel. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:00pm, so we walked down to a store & bought stuff for dinner in bed watching TV. Yogurt, fruit, cheese & bread. It was actually fun versus all the heavy eating we had been doing.

Hope you & your sister have a great time.

Sandy Elzie - February 8, 2013 - 2:53 pm

Hi Tamara,
I hope you get over there some day…I think you’d love it. There’s so much to see & do. Thanks for dropping by & commenting.

Maxine - February 8, 2013 - 3:20 pm

Sandy, Ahhh, Rome. That brought back some wonderful memories. Stayed there a week in 2009. It was fabulous and we still did not see everything. I do want to go back–this time with hubby.

Anna Doll - February 8, 2013 - 7:18 pm

I was there six years ago for our 30th wedding anniversary. Rome was beautiful and we spent four days walking and touring many of the same places you described.

Before Rome, however, I was in Cairo with a friend and my sister, who flew there from Texas to meet me. I loved Cairo and am saddened that it is in such a turmoil now.

But the reason I mentioned it is that I went through sticker shock coming from Cairo to Rome! The day I arrived, I’d had a breakfast sandwich in Cairo that cost 10 cents American. When I had a lunch of pasta and salad and Mike had a steak sandwich and fries in Rome, it was $65 dollars American.

Oh, my!

Hildie McQueen - February 8, 2013 - 9:23 pm

I’ve been to Italy twice but to Rome only once. The Hubs and I loved every inch of it. What a beautiful city. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

BJ-friend of Sandra's - February 8, 2013 - 10:20 pm

:-P sounds like you had a fantastic time, sort of envious, but I’ll take Hawaii anytime :-D

Sandy Elzie - February 9, 2013 - 7:13 am

You’re right about spending time in Rome & not being able to see enough. Besides, there’s so much to see outside the city that we didn’t have any time to venture out to. I think you’d need to spend a few months…and maybe live with a family so you could see the real Italy.

Sandy Elzie - February 9, 2013 - 7:18 am

Hi Anna,
Yep…we had a LOT of sticker-shock moments. (I know I keep harping on that $6.00 bottle of Coke, but….) There was a shop on Malina where they sell hand-blown glass…Malina Glass…and there was this vase…well, I just couldn’t justify that much money even though it was absolutely beautiful. Instead, I bought several little Christmas ornaments at 10 Euros each….$16.00 American.

Cairo had been on the schedule…including a camel ride out into the dessert to a pyramid, but the unrest took care of that.

Sandy Elzie - February 9, 2013 - 7:22 am

Rome is a fascinating city. Even as we were touring, there seemed to be some type of disturbance up ahead and our guide muttered an “Uh-oh.” and jerked the wheel to turn down an alley and avoid it. We asked what was going on but he gave us a very vague answer. We heard later that there was a demonstration but that the police had gotten it in hand quickly. Our beautiful world is having a lot of unrest…even in the seemingly peaceful countries. But we enjoyed every minute of our time there.

Sandy Elzie - February 9, 2013 - 7:25 am

Hi BJ,
Good to hear from you! Yes, I understand how a surfer guy from California would love Hawaii…after six trips there I’d leave tomorrow for another visit.

As to flying to Europe again? Well……I’d have to think long and hard about that one. The people in the shops seemed to only be interested in our money and otherwise they weren’t all that friendly. Well, except in the Malina glass shop. Those ladies were fantastic.

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

Carol Burnside - February 9, 2013 - 4:21 pm

Ah, Sandy, your tales of Rome brought back memories of Hubby and my 2010 anniversary trip. Fun times. (sigh!) It’s a good thing we don’t use real film anymore because after our stroll through the vatican museum, my backpack would’ve been too heavy to carry.

Sandy Elzie - February 10, 2013 - 6:03 am

Hi Carol,
I know just what you mean about the Vatican museum. We each had a camera and took a couple of hundred pictures…each. Even with the private tour guide not rushing us, I’m sure we could have spent another couple of hours in there if we hadn’t gotten so tired from walking.

Note to anyone planning a trip over there….I read just last week that the Vatican is no longer taking credit cards. You have to have Euros.

BTW, what a neat anniversary trip…one of a lifetime.

[…] hope you were with us last weekend when we briefly visited Rome, Italy, but if not, you might want to take a couple of minutes and check out last week’s article.  This […]

Sia Huff - February 20, 2013 - 9:07 am

Ahh Sandy,
What an awesome experience. Great idea about the taxi driver – on your time not someone elses. It all sounds so wonderful. Hubby and I are talking about going next year. I’d love to talk to you about what to do and not to do.

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