En Route to Rome with an Open Mind


This was written as I was on the train from Milan to Rome on Friday afternoon, the 22nd of May.

Every so often I’m presented with one of those philosophical questions that travel lovers tend to pose to one another – things like, “If you were handed a free ticket to anywhere in the world, but you had to leave within an hour, where would you go?” (Usually when they ask me that question they also add, “And you can’t say Italy,” but that’s beside the point.) My answer changes, depending on my mood and what new and exciting place I’ve most recently read about. In short, I can’t think of a place on earth that I wouldn’t be happy to try out at least once.

I’m not convinced, however, that I’ll love every place I visit. With some places that don’t immediately plant themselves in my heart, I’m willing (and often eager) to give them a second chance. Some places, I’m pretty sure my opinion won’t change no matter how many second chances a place gets. In the case of Rome, I’m quite looking forward to giving the Eternal City as much time as she needs to get under my skin – in a good way.

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As I type this, I’m en route to Rome via the new and speedy Frecciarossa train in Italy – the nonstop version is going to deposit me at Rome’s Termini Station a short 3.5 hours after I left Milan’s Stazione Centrale. Which is pretty damned amazing. When this new train line was introduced, I read about some incredible deals on tickets if you purchased them in advance online – prices were up to 60% off if you booked far enough in advance. I’m told they’re trying to compete with the cheap airlines in terms of price (they already win hands down in terms of convenience), but those stellar discounts are only available through the end of June. I hope they’ll continually offer steep price cuts for booking in advance, though, because that’s certainly something that would help them attract more people.

At any rate, this visit to Rome is a quick one – I’ll arrive on a Friday in the early evening and leave quite early on Sunday morning – but unlike past visits this one isn’t about checking off a to-do list of sights or attractions. This one is about connecting with some people I’ve “met” online, people who either live in or love Rome (or both). I know from personal experience with different cities that seeing a place with someone who loves it can make all the difference in one’s impression of it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about Rome after this weekend.