We’ve recently got home from a lovely short break in Rome. Lots of stuff worked out well for us, but some of it wasn’t quite as good. Here are our Rome fails…
The Vatican City
When I asked the boys what they wanted to visit in Rome, my eldest said the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. This surprised me as we’re not Catholic, but I soon realised EVERYONE visits the Vatican when they’re in Rome. I asked the boys to research it a bit and they told me it was closed on Sundays. So we went on Saturday.
I’ve never seen crowds like it. It was like a massive stadium concert. And if one person who ‘wasn’t trying to sell anything’ (they totally were) told us the ‘church was closed until 1pm’, a hundred people told us. The younger kids were stressed by the crowds and the people hassling us. We wanted to stay to see the Sistine Chapel and then we decided that it really wasn’t worth it. It was horrendous there. Yes, we should probably have done our research a bit better. It was a shame to miss the Sistine Chapel, but I have no regrets about walking away.
There aren’t any. I didn’t see a single public toilet block in the whole of Rome. Toilets can only be found in restaurants. And there’s only ever one cubicle. The queues are horrendous. I did 23 minutes in McDonalds and 27 minutes in a shop in the Vatican (yet another reason I was desperate to leave the place).
Daughter losing a butterfly clip off an earring
Following the Vatican incident, my daughter lost a butterfly clip off her favourite earrings. Her reaction was not dissimilar to how I would expect someone to react if they lost their iPhone. I would not recommend losing a child’s butterfly clip to anyone.
They make no sense. Not to us, they don’t. They have endless lanes. They have policemen in the middle blowing whistles. And the cars don’t stop when there’s a green man. I feared for our lives every time we crossed a road.
Everywhere we went, there was someone trying to sell us something – tours, information, food, bits of tat… It was constant. I know they have to make a living and Rome thrives on the tourist trade, but it gets really tiresome. Especially as my husband hates it even more than I do and it just makes him really grumpy. And they’re cunning – they know the kids aren’t as switched-on as us, so they engage with them. ‘But the man said it’s only €4’ ‘But the man said it’s quicker to take a tour’ ‘But they’ve got really nice pizzas in here’ etc etc.
The one time we ventured into the city in the evening it was even worse and my kids found it quite threatening. Our plans to walk back to the hotel went out of the window and we opted for the safety of a taxi.
I hate smoking. I’ve always hated smoking. But in Britain, it doesn’t really affect me. You forget how far we’ve come with the smoking ban and so many people giving up. In Italy, there is smoke EVERYWHERE. People don’t smoke inside, but it doesn’t make any difference. Because everyone smokes and they do it right outside buildings, it just gets trapped inside the tourist attractions, restaurants and shops. The smell is often worse inside than outside. It was a relief to get back home for some fresh air.
We’re not big shoppers, but we wanted to spend a little bit of time in the shops looking for presents for family and maybe even pick up a souvenir for ourselves. But we couldn’t actually find the shops! Rome has a sprawling city centre, with no central shopping area, and we walked round and round in circles, becoming increasingly irritated (the toilet issue didn’t help our moods) to find there was just a lot of tat shops and a handful of department stores and not a lot else.
If you think it was all bad in Rome, it really wasn’t! Read about the good bits here…