Monday, October 18, 2010

Slow travel

Mr. Rududu and I like to explore places in depth. This month we took that idea to its logical conclusion and stayed in Rome for over two weeks.
It was a vacation full of adventures with massive doses of history and art that left us wanting to go back.  I have enough photos to make anyone's eyes glaze over—including mine—and this week's project is to edit them mercilessly. Oddly, it's a lot easier to choose the best few photos of the Colosseum than to decide what to keep of many less famous places and things. I'm working on it...but I certainly need to keep this one.
The weather was ideal. The few days with rain predicted always had their predictions improved by the time they arrived; usually the weather was sunny and warm but not hot.
  That September and October may be the nicest months for visiting Rome is no secret judging by hoards of other tourists. If you are looking at something famous in Rome, you probably won't be alone. Here for example are the crowds approaching the Sistine Chapel. (Being in the chapel was better. Most people don't stay very long.)
We usually managed to find the crowds festive rather than annoying. We kept in mind that they were there out of a mutual interest. We alternated places that are on everyone's wish list with places that are not as well known. Museums and ruins that elsewhere would be on the top of lists are often quite uncrowded and having time to explore them is surely a major advantage of slow travel. Since we were on a more relaxed schedule than tourists with just a few days in Rome, we also found that letting tour groups pass us in museums was a good tactic. Instead of following along in a large noisy group, we often had rooms of fabulous art pieces all to ourselves.
  We rented two different Roman apartments through a site I just read about this summer: airbnb. It's a combination of B & B agency and social networking site. Renters rate the places they stay and owners also rate the guests. Some people rent just a room or even just a sofa and there can be back and forth communication setting up a rental. One pays in advance but the money is kept in escrow until 24 hours after arrival, providing some protection against scams or misrepresentations. We opted for entire apartments and loved both places that we stayed. One was near Trastevere and is owned by David, a very helpful guy that walked us around the neighborhood to orient us and gave us printed instructions for using the public transit system to get to all major tourist areas. The owner of the second place, Luca, was charming and his apartment was centrally located and very spacious. Here is a photo of its living and dining area.
I loved being able to cook and eat at "home" some days. We had a very happy experience renting through airbnb and will do it again. In fact, I find looking at places on the airbnb site and fantasizing about different trips quite addictive. (How about a castle in England for $2000 a night?) As I digest my Roman holiday and get my photos in order I will share a few other highlights of our trip. Arrivederci!

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