Alright. So I know it was only two months ago that I went to Ghana amidst laments of how expensive the flight was and how broke I am, but, I once again am faced with a week of holidays and I intend to make full use of it.
No I’m not swimming in money, but I have already paid off my Ghana expenses (yay! me) and am confident I can do so again with the right budgeting. Besides, money comes and goes, but can I really make up lost time? No!
So, once again I’m off and away!
I am truly excited. I have thought long and hard about what I’m going to do with my 7 days of holidays. I quickly ruled out American locales – I need to leave for a breather! – and considered the Caribbean, S. America, and Europe and before I knew it ROME was calling my name like a lighthouse to a lost ship.
The Eternal City. The City of Seven Hills. The City of Love. The City of Fountains. The City of the Soul.
When you are crazy about history like I am, why wouldn’t you want to go to Rome? Granted, I don’t speak a word of Italian, don’t know a single person there, and actually haven’t developed a love for Italian food but how can one pass up on almost three thousand years of history, a major center of Western civilization, the home of Roman Catholicism, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a major center of the Renaissance? How?
I tried to resist but once the seed had been planted it took root. I went to bed dreaming of the Colosseum, kept finding myself gravitating to websites about Rome, and daydreaming about walking the cobblestones of Rome and discovering something no-one else has. Fat chance I know especially as Mark Twain wrote in The Innocents Abroad (1869)
“What is there in Rome for me to see that others have not seen before me? What is there for me to touch that others have not touched? What is there for me to feel, to learn, to hear, to know, that shall thrill me before it pass to others? What can I discover? Nothing. Nothing whatsoever.”
So fine, I am unlikely to discover anything but everything will be an exhilarating discovery to me.
I think what really sealed the deal for me was the ability to visit the excavations below St. Peter’s Basilica. I had never heard of the Vatican necropolis. It holds the original grave of Saint Peter and to which a visit is “a privilege accorded to visitors” as only 200 people are allowed in each day. St. Peter the rock, the apostolic foundation of the Catholic Church. I had heard of this tour, also known as the Scavi Tour, on TripAdvisor which is mostly to blame for exponentially feeding my yearn to go to Rome, and sent in my request for a reservation. I was verily surprised to receive an affirmative response a week later, and that was just that. How could I not go to Rome when I had this amazing opportunity denied to millions of other people?
So I built my 7 day trip around the Scavi Tour. I bought the cheapest air ticket that I could find which happened to be on AirOne, a private Italian company whose US partner is United Airlines which is not a favourite! I found the most affordable yet safe accommodations in a bed & breakfast not in historic Rome but in Trastevere where I could mingle with true Romans and not other tourists. And I researched and researched and researched.
So, essentially my 7 day itinerary includes the following in no particular order:
Vatican museums including the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica including the Doumo & the necropolis, a Wednesday Papal audience (ticket through the Church of Santa Susanna), maybe a Sunday Papal blessing if it is in Rome, the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums, the Pantheon, Galleria Borghese, the Appian Way, Ostia Antica and countless churches, fountains, gelato stores, and aimless walks!
But the best part is that I have actually managed to budget all of this to be less than the cost of the single air flight to Ghana this summer, food not included but then again I don’t expect to dine like a Queen all by my lonesome self. Score!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain