When in Rome ... shop?

DATE: Monday 10 July, 1995

PLACE: London to Rome


REMARKS: Early start to the day. Bathed, dressed, breakfasted and packed by 0800. Then wait for Bryce to finish getting organized. He has decided to take the day off again, so takes us to the airport. We all squeeze into the car again (and we have left a bag behind for our return) and race to Heathrow.

Check-in is noisy but less intense than LAX. Shopping (cigarettes and camera) completed, we board. Kids menus are good, but no travel pack for them this time. Jayne is kept amused by a walkman and story tapes.

Rome is visible in the distance under a haze as the plane lands. Again we seem to take forever to get off - that's what comes of sitting down the back, in the smoking section! Getting through customs is a flick of the passport. Getting the luggage however takes an age - and there are no trolleys around. Once with luggage and exited, we find the trolleys, all at departures! Then we face the task of locating and getting to the rental car counter. It transpires this is actually in another building. So escalators must be used - trolley and all. I guess that's why they have brakes. But taking a loaded luggage trolley up and down escalators is a daunting task and not without excitement as it tips forward or runs back onto me or refuses to come off at the top!

Collecting the car is a breeze; getting to Rome anything but! We have directions, but still miss the first turnoff from the autostrada. Immediately we are on what looks like a heavily used country road, and the only rule seems to be: keep right, more or less! Then we have to get petrol. The attendant fills the tank and takes what I hope is the correct money (plus tip).

We manage to return to the Ring Road (the Reccordo Annulare) and pointed in the right direction. Speeds are anywhere from flat-out to even flatter-out! or so it seems. Actually anywhere between 60 and 120 kph. And we are on the right-hand side of the road, in a left-hand drive car. It takes some getting used to.

We eventually find the turnoff we want and that only makes matters worse. Obviously parking areas are wherever a driver decides to stop; keeping to a lane is a polite fiction borrowed from other countries.

Intersections are a cross between chess and Russian Roulette -with loaded lanes!

We get lost; try again; get found; change maps; get located; get directed; and then, despite the one-way street system, find the Hotel Alimandi.

It looks good; it's cool; they are expecting us; and will park the car. What more could we ask for? A swimming pool according to Jayne - but, hey, you can't have everything? And we are only one block from the Vatican Museum. How's that for central?

Rome's buildings, on first (& very brief) acquaintance are every thing one expects: 3-5 stories, close-packed, over-looking the streets, shuttered windows, relatively unadorned, sheltering cool and curiosity-inducing courtyards, and a mix of colours.

Desiree is immediately taken by the shops on a brief pre-prandial stroll and decides she needs new clothes (or is this a long-harboured and withheld secret?) - who am I to argue? Certainly the shops/clothes/jewelry/shoes are lovely and many prices look good at Lire 1,000 = $1.

Dinner in a sidewalk pizzeria (did they see us coming?) turns expensive.

Sleep is difficult with no air-conditioning, temperatures high, and constant traffic noise. Romans certainly seem to live either 'on the street' or 'on the road', and the noise is loud and incessant. Maybe we just haven't adjusted to their timetables?






All the photos in one place!



Vatican Museums

Hotel Alimandi

Maps & Aerial Photos

Our thanks to all & sundry