Constantine's Arch, 2007 photo

Arch of Constantine, 2007 photo

Arrival in Rome around 1 this afternoon and the blood pressure starts to go up along with the intense traffic. I’m always happy to be driving a van in the rough and tumble world of Roman driving. Seems like those behind the wheel of a Fiat are much less likely to cut in front of a big blue VW. Last night was calm and peaceful in Umbrian Orvieto, located just a couple of hours north of Rome. I’d found a little hotel not far from the town center for a bargain, only 60 Euros including breakfast. Then they had the gall to want a skyhigh premium of 3 Euros ($4) for 20 minutes of air time on their wireless internet system. I scoffed at that and walked down the street to a bar I know where they sell their internet access for only 1 Euro for half an hour. The fact that the system crashed repeatedly only meant that I wasn’t able to update my blog or read my e-mail, but hey, it was only a Euro! The wine was good, though. My dinner cost me a total of 6 Euro and consisted of some leftover and very tasty pepper ring things from a stop at an Autogrill the day before and a salami sandwich from the internet place. Yes, like Rick Steves, I can live on the cheap if I want to.

It’s beautiful in Rome in early May. The steamy temps of the summer are still a month or so away and the crush of the tourists is much less. Or, is it the economy? The magazine in my room states that Easter numbers were 30 – 40% down from last year. And, last year was 20% down from the year before. I certainly don’t mind less congestion in the city’s historical center.

Arriving at our favorite hotel on the Aventine Hill, I feel like an imposter as I settle into my room for a long siesta followed by a hot bath and a Peroni from the minibar. In the Eternal City for nearly five hours and I haven’t seen a toppled column or a statue fragment yet and I haven’t even taken my camera out of the bag. Well, this is my 7th or 8th time here, after all, I rationalize as I sit in the hotel lobby and check e-mail.

Posted in Private Tours in Europe.