I took a bus from Siena to Roma (population 2.9 million) that quickly leaves the serene beauty of Toscana and enters the building chaos of a world metropolis. I paid €10 for this bus ticket, but unlike the Firenze-Siena route, I received a hefty discount for reserving in advance this time. I want to say that purchasing a same-day ticket would have cost more than €20.
My Hotel Julia was in a great location for a first-time tourist such as myself.
In Roma, I immediately noticed not only the spectacular public display fountains but a variety of drinking ones. There are 2500 fountains, and the water is fresh and cold. The display fountains work on gravity since the many aqueducts were engineered to be placed at specific elevations. Thus, some fountains spout water at higher heights than others.
I have only ever seen one soccer/football match, a Perú-Paraguay World Cup Qualifier in Lima. The atmosphere in that game was awesome, despite the fact alcohol was not sold, and belts were removed from all attendees, due to a tragic incident in a prior match. I watch as much European football as I can, so I browsed the schedules of all the cities I was to tour. As chance would have it, Manchester City would play at A.S. Roma for a critical UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) round-of-32 match. To assess relative cultural importance, UEFA Champions League is on par with the NFL Playoffs in the United States, far exceeding the passion committed for the NBA Finals, the World Series, or the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I walked all the way to Stadio Olimpico (Roma hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics) and back because I wanted to explore the city and since I did not know how to use public transportation efficiently. I am glad I walked because traffic was incredibly tight. I struggle to recall seeing anything like this congestion for any other sporting event. Sporting events in the U.S. are extremely well managed. For this Roma match, there were tons of police officers, but none of them directed pedestrian or automotive traffic. They were ostensibly there to prevent any violence from breaking out.
I paid €43 for my ticket on the North end of the stadium, amid a group of rabid home fans. I arrived 20 minutes ahead of match time, but I was one of the last ones there since the stadium had been going crazy for a while. When I got to my seat, the occupant told me that the seat assignments do not mean anything and that you find space wherever you can, which was not easy.
I spent only four days in Roma. I wish I had time to visit Hadrian’s Villa 24 kilometers outside of Roma or a number of other historical sights within the city itself. Roma is all about basilicas. I visited 12 when I was there!