My wife and I flew into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, 16 miles southwest of Rome, and took the efficient Leonardo Express rail shuttle, that runs every half hour, to the Termini station in the city centre which takes about 30 minutes (Ticket €9.50). From there we took the Metro system to Barbarini which was only a short stroll away from the hotel.
The Romanico Palace Hotel and Spa is an impressive structure just away from the main roads. The suite we took was spacious and lavishly decorated with statues and paintings in the ancient Roman style.
The hotel manager and the reception staff were amongst the most pompous and unfriendly individuals I have ever had the misfortune to have met, and went out of their way to make a lavish performance and drama out of any enquiry or request for help. Think an uncompromising ‘Faulty Towers’ staff member in the sun, and you won’t be far off the mark.
I am pleased to say that this attitude did not permeate to others in the hotel workforce; with bar staff and the breakfast crews being the perfect counter balance to the narcissism found at reception.
The breakfast terrace provided a spectacular panoramic view of the eternal city, and its convivial supervisor quickly sat guests before conducting them on a tour of the well-presented and plentiful continental breakfast and fruit juice selection provided. Coffee cups were kept filled throughout the breakfast experience.
The Romanico had a spa and fitness centre which we would have normally made use of; however we did not have the appetite or inclination to spend any more time in this hotel than was absolutely necessary.
We discovered that the hotel’s location was a great central position from which to explore the many historic and cultural wonders of Rome; and with so much to see, do and taste it was easy to fill every day with wonderful and thought provoking experiences. Rome is one of only a few places in the world that is globally renowned for its ruins, icons, churches and museums.
Whether going to the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Vatican museum, the Colosseum, the Spannish Steps, Piazza Popolo or the Forum in ancient Rome, make sure you end every day with a gelati (ice cream), as you will not get better anywhere in the world.
We were pleased that we had not judged the Italian or Roman people by the behaviour of our outrageous and belligerent reception staff – as beyond their domain we met some of the most pleasantest, social and hospitable people we have ever encountered. The lack of warmth and common courtesy displayed by the hotel’s management and front desk staff puts it amongst one of the worst hotel experiences we have had to endure, but this vacation has to be weighed against the captivating and charming magic of the eternal city, and I’m pleased to say that Rome tipped the scales – and we intend to return, but not to this hostelry.
Some Tips: Rome metro and tram service is an effective and quick way of getting about in this traffic congested city. The metro runs from 5:30am until 11.30pm every day (until 0:30am on Saturdays). Tickets are purchased from news-stands, tabacchis or station vending machines. Be aware that you cannot buy tickets on the tram or trains.
The cost during our visit being €1 per journey undertaken to anywhere on the system.
Rome is a compact city and walking is the best way to see all its sights, but there are many cobbled streets and uneven ground, especially around the ruins, so killer high heels and designer sandals should be left at the hotel in preference to sturdy and comfortable footwear.
It is a good idea to take water with you on any trek around Rome to avoid dehydration, but purchasing water from the mobile vendors or restaurants can be costly. If you have a bottle there are plenty of places in Rome where you can fill it. Generally speaking, public watering places in Rome are very safe, but beware of the term ‘Non Potabile’, which means ‘not for drinking’.
A photograph with the costumed gladiators and Roman soldiers outside the Colosseum seemed to be a must for most tourists, but be aware that this can cost you between 5 to 10 euros. We suggest you ask before taking you’re picture, as we hilariously witnessed an American couple’s crazed rant at being ripped off by what they called these medieval thieves. They were told that if they did not pay up, they would be taken into the arena and fed to the lions. This was met by hoots of laughter and applause by other tourists awaiting their photographic turn.