Oh, Rome. Where do I even begin? How about with full transparency. I think just about the only good thing Rome has to offer is its art and history, and pizza, obviously. But Rome as a city was one of the worst experiences I've ever had. Let me start at the beginning.
We trained into Rome from Assisi. Side note: validate your tickets for the train! It's not immediately obvious that this is required, as the validation stations are nowhere near where you purchase tickets, and we didn't speak Italian. We were almost kicked off the train, but instead forked over another $5 euro each to stay on. An experience to remember, but not one I'd recommend.
Anyway, we visited the Colosseum and Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient areas of the city, filled with all kinds of roman ruins. It's breathtaking and humbling to see structures, or pieces of a structure, that have been around since before Jesus. It's absolutely amazing.
We visited the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. On our way from Piazza Navona to the Pantheon we wandered into the Church of St. Louis of the French, where we saw the most beautiful Caravaggio paintings. There's something about old churches and cathedrals, there's a feeling in them that is unlike anywhere else I've ever experienced. Rome is full of that feeling.
We visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel and saw more beauty than I could even comprehend. In particular, Michelangelo's Pieta was my favorite piece of art we had the privilege of seeing. In the Vatican, inside St. Peter's Basilica, sits the Pieta. Mary holding Jesus after he was taken down from the cross. Michelangelo was only twenty three years old when he created it. And it brought me to immediate tears. I stood there weeping, and to this day I can't articulate what about the sculpture hit me so hard.
We ate the best pizza and pasta on earth and wandered the beautiful winding Italian streets. And yet. And yet.
Rome stressed me out. I can think of a few reasons for this. The first being there were six of us traveling Europe together, and Rome was the midway point of our trip. I think I was desperate for a bit of alone time. But more than that, I think it was the feeling Rome gave me. The infrastructure was awful, there were signs everywhere warning you of crime and pickpockets. And more than once we had trouble paying for things. Almost nowhere would accept credit cards, and a few places even refused to take our cash because they didn't want to give change back. It set me on edge and when we finally touched down in London, I cried from relief.
We were in Rome for four days, and that was plenty of time for me. I know I didn't get to see everything and I know I could have spent several more hours admiring the history of this iconic city, but it gave me too much anxiety. Everyone should see the grandeur of Rome, the unfathomable history it has to offer, but there are better cities out there.