Rome – Part 3

Saturday – later

Today I’ve seen the colosseum. It’s huge, and impressive. Sadly also the busiest place we’ve been yet, and I found it maybe a bit too tourist-geared. There was fences everywhere spoiling the look of it (and presumably stopping people getting in without paying), and modern-looking metal rails to stop you falling off bits.

The tickets were €12 each, but do include access to the nearby Roman Forum. Weirdly there was an additional charge of €5 for a human guide, or €5.50 for the pleasure of renting an electronic audio guide. You also had to leave ID, in order to get the audio guide. Bizarre. I’ve never known that before.
We opted for no guide at all, and to just wander around admiring the look of it, and reading the signs on the walls, etc.
Tip: Buy your ticket at the nearby Roman Forum, instead. There was no queue (compared to the enormous queue for the colosseum), and it’s valid for both places.
The Roman Forum is enormous, and has ruins from loads of different parts of history. It’s nice to walk around, has some nice views of the city, plants, trees, and birds.
It’s also somewhere nice to have a picnic lunch, as it has benches, but it’s ticketed which keeps the tramps out, and it’s not nearly as busy as the colosseum – so was quite quiet. Well, compared to the rest of central Rome, anyway.
I’d probably try and not do both the same day (like we did) though. They both involve a lot of walking on uneven Roman crazy paving.

Travel kettle
(See previous post for my talk of tiny products at breakfast.)

This is what my girlfriend called “cute!”
(I should mention it is a slightly larger than normal-sized apple, but the rest is the size you would expect.)
It was a last minute purchase from Argos, before we left the UK. It holds 400ml of water which is just about enough for two cups of tea. It comes with mugs the size of egg cups which fit inside the kettle. They’re tiny and useless for tea, but handy for putting your used teabags in.
It’s only 600w, and has switchable power (110/240v) so will work in all of Europe and America. It also packs into a box only a tiny bit bigger than it, and will fit in any suitcase. A bargain at only £10.
We’ve bought fresh milk we’re keeping cold in our in-room mini-bar, but this might be more of an issue in hotels without this facility.

Toilet seats

My girlfriend has requested that I mention this next bit.
There are no toilet seats in any public toilets in Rome, it seems. At the airport, she thought they were missing, but there aren’t any at other public toilets either. Not even at the Vatican. Odd. Uncomfortable.


Our hotel by the way – is quite good. Hotel Regno is right in the centre near everything. It includes breakfast in the price, has a room safe, and wifi which works flawlessly despite the age of the building/thickness of walls, etc.
The shower over tiny bath has a slope/step in the middle and a glass screen so big its difficult to get in and out of, but at least the toilet has a seat on it, so it’s not all bad in the bathroom areas.
The staff are helpful and friendly, and even carried our bags to our room, and didn’t ask/expect a tip.

If I had a criticism, it’s a shame there are so few English channels on the tv. There are only CNN, Russia Today and BBC World news, in English. We’re not clubbers, so after we’ve eaten and before bed, it’s nice to relax and put the TV on. But constant news is a bit depressing. There are French and German (and Italian, obviously) entertainment channels showing comedy and drama, so shame that the English channels are all news.

Saturday evening

After last night’s piss-poor attempt at eating, tonight we looked on Tripadvisor first. Searched for restaurants near the Trevi Fountain, in the cheapest or second cheapest categories. Found the review of a place called Piccolo Buco. Apparently this is good food, good value, nice people, etc.
Food was a bit of an issue. Basically I had cheese for lunch, and I’m likely to have it again tomorrow lunchtime (although am going to attempt to find a nice bakery tomorrow) so didn’t want pizza. As mentioned in the Rome Part 1 post, there is a starter, first course, second course, dessert. First courses were all pasta, and second courses all meat. My girlfriend has bruschetta starter, followed by something described as being for first course – spinach and ricotta ravioli with a mushroom and parsley sauce. I don’t typically eat red meat, but as my (second course only) choice was between veal, beef, pork or lamb, I went for beef.
Not to be caught out again, I asked if it came with vegetables or anything. No. I ordered a side of potatoes to go with it.

I’ll remind you, apparently you’re meant to have starter, first course, second course, AND dessert. Given that, do you think you could eat bruschetta, followed by:

Followed by

With a side of


And followed up with either:



Could you? I couldn’t.
I couldn’t eat that much beef, never mind another course before it.

Dessert options were only tiramisu, pannacotta, or creme caramel.
I tried a bit of my girlfriend’s tiramisu, but it still tasted too much of coffee for my likening.
Creme caramel is an interesting one I’ve never had before. To me, it seemed like a cold, more solid (and not nearly as nice) creme brûlée, covered in some sauce. I think France have this round won, Italy.

This being a good value place (according to Tripadvisor), meant that this meal plus a drink each came to just €53.
It’s a long way from what I’d call good value but my girlfriend enjoyed her pasta and tiramisu a lot, so that’s good.
I’m going to enjoy spending next week when I’m back in the UK indulging myself in adding things like green beans, peas and carrots, to every meal, to make up for the enormous quantity of salt and cheese that is on/in everything here, and the apparent lack of the five-a-day aim.

After dinner

It’d be nice to have a cup of tea. But we’re out of milk. We went to a DeSpar (it’s the Spar shop – for some reason called DeSpar in Italy. It isn’t in other places in Europe we’ve seen.). DeSpar shops collectively have the most rude, dismissive, bored staff of anywhere we’ve been since we arrived. They do the absolute minimum to help, and you don’t get so much as a smile from anyone in there. I’ve always found Spar shops quite pleasant in other places. They were brilliant when we were in Ibiza, offering local information and all sorts.
Anyway, it’s like 9:58pm, and they shut at 10. We dash in to buy some milk, get to the chiller area, and get immediately asked to leave. And not just us – there were other people in there finishing their shopping, and they all got asked to leave. And not in a “please take your purchases to the till” sort of way. In quite a rude manner.
And annoyingly, milk is quite hard to come by elsewhere. Shops that have chillers and sell soft drinks, don’t sell it. Newsagents don’t sell it. Snack food stands don’t sell it. Souvenir shops that also sell food/drinks, don’t sell it.
As a last resort my girlfriend had the frankly brilliant idea of seeing if we could buy a child-size cup of milk from McDonalds. And we could. Very expensive way to buy milk, but a cup of bloody tea was in our sights.

And so to bed (after a much needed Tetley).