“You can visit the monuments, but you cannot get to know Rome”, my landlord warned me when, twenty years ago, for the first time I rented an apartment for a year in Rome. As an art historian, Italianist, interpreter and traveler I have regularly gone back, and even if I cannot assert I have got to know her – who can assert this? –, it is sure that I came and went, saw, ate, drank and read there, and I acquainted myself with many of its inhabitants and secluded nooks. This is what I would like to pass along, in concentrated form, to all those who come with me on a five-day tour of Rome in late February and early March, so often heralded in our trips of this year.
The date are the last two weekends before the tourist season, when the city is not yet filled with visitors, the prices of hotels and restaurants do not yet rise to the sky, yet the weather is already pleasant – around twenty degrees Celsius, although rain is still to be expected –, the almonds are blossoming, and oranges bearing fruit. So many people have already indicated their willingness to come, that I have conditionally fixed two weekends in the hotel next to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, so we can roam the city with two smaller companies rather than with a big one. Both periods last from Wednesday to Sunday, the first from 25 February to 1 March, the second from 4 to 8 March. If you would like to come, register until next Friday, 26 December – because hotel rooms and cheap flight tickets run out quickly – at firstname.lastname@example.org, also specifying, which date you prefer, or which one is definitely not good for you. The participation fee is 280 euro, which includes the three-star hotel (one bed in a two-bed room; one-bed-room supplement 80 euro) with continental breakfast (a rarity in Rome), metro and bus ticket for five days, and the guide. In addition, you should buy your own flight/train ticket to Rome and back.
During the five days we will see in the city as much as we can, of course giving its due to the cafés, the trattorie, sitting on church steps during siesta time, without which one surely cannot get to know Rome. We will ramble in the Renaissance and Baroque city center on the Tiber bend, visit the most important churches, palaces, squares and inner courtyards, have an overview of the structure and remaining relics of ancient Rome, and how the imperial concept of Fascism shaped them, go to see the two-thousand-year old ghetto, particularly exploring its hidden corners untouched by modern city planning, make an excursion to the campagna, follow the medieval pilgrim routes, get to know the urban visions of the great Renaissance and Baroque popes following each other, which gradually developed the present-day face of Rome. I also enclose maps and literature for the individual tours, so that after the five days everyone can continue the travel on their own, from their armchair, or by returning to the Eternal City.