When visiting Rome, what thing(s) impressed you the most, and what disappointed you the most?

My visit to Rome seemed to have a magical quality.

Maybe this is due, in part, to the charming hotel staff who were such a great help in getting me around the city. For the first time ever during a trip, I booked (well, the hotel did it for me) a tour on one of the off-on city tour buses. This was a godsend because I was able to visit all the major sites on my list without once feeling unsafe, lost, or exhausted from walking.

The city itself impressed me. The natives I encountered were friendly and welcoming. And the cats. How can I not fall in love with a city that takes such good care of its stray cat population?

The juxtaposition of all the old ruins mixed with modern buildings was a fascinating sight. My favorite part of the visit was just walking around neighborhoods and seeing what there was to see. It seemed that at almost every corner turned, Rome had something fabulous to offer. I especially loved walking through the more working-class neighborhoods. Whenever I travel I am most interested in trying to capture the sense of how folks lead their daily lives in this new (new to me) place. The best meal I had in Rome was in a small family-run restaurant on the far side of the Aventine Hill.

Rome is an intellectual and visual feast for history-lovers. To walk through the Forum, to see remnants of the baths used by the Vestal Virgins, to meander through the palace ruins on the Palatine Hill and step on some of the remaining tiles that, perhaps, once trod a Roman emperor...pinch me at the un-realness of the experience.

One of my greatest frustrations during the visit to Rome was my lack of imagination. My brain worked overtime trying to imagine what was before me and how it must have looked in its day. On our last day, I found a flip book that had a picture of modern-day ruins and the flip page that illustrated the original structures. Of course I bought it.

The only disappointment I felt was with the large number of aggressive hawkers that congregated near most major tourist sights. From my experience, a polite"No thank you, I am not interested," was not enough to deter them from harassing me and fellow tourists.

Many years ago I visited Rome in a school trip: We were very impressed by S. Clemente (three ‘churches' one upon the other) and also by National Roman Museum - Wikipedia. The Roman Forum - Wikipedia was not impressing for us.

I was impressed at how walkable the city was, day and night. My hotel was a couple of blocks behind The Vatican (imagine waking up and seeing the dome every morning!), and I never took a cab or bus to get to the Forum, Pantheon, Coliseum, and all the standard tourist stops. I also stumbled on a palace down one side street and watched an art restorer work on a Caravaggio. Oh, and the amount and flavors of gelato everywhere!

Most disappointing? Probably the airport itself, which is miles from the city and accessible only by auto or bus (this was a number of years ago, so maybe things have improved). The airport itself, at at least my terminal, had one meager restaurant and very few sockets for recharging a cellphone while waiting for a flight.

The biggest disappointment, by far, is the preponderance of graffiti, polluting otherwise beautiful neighbourhoods. It's simply everywhere. Stand still long enough and you'll likely get sprayed.

Most impressive: the grocery stores. The quality of food there is astounding. My advice to everyone is to ease up in restaurants, go to the grocery store where even the simplest prepared foods are astounding. My personal favourite: braised brussel sprouts. Each bite eats like a steak. This seems unbelievable until you try it, then you'll get it.

I first stepped foot in Italy back in the summer of 1992 and what disappointed me then was the ragged Rom boy with his hand in my pocket. I live here now and what disappoints me is driving past prostitutes seated on the side of the road, entering super markets with immigrants out front begging for change and being accosted at stop lights by squeegee men. What disappoints me is all these wasted lives that could be lived in a much more productive way. I love Rome but it deserves much better.

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