This is Rome. One of the greatest cities in the world for a wide variety of reasons, including it's extremely rich history, vibrant atmosphere, and bright future.
It is a city like no other. It was once the center of Roman civilization, and is currently the center of the Catholic religion - something that cannot be forgotten walking around Rome, as this picture attests.
Rome supports this role well, as the cornucopia of Catholic clothing stores shows.
The city is busier and noisier than any big city, but feels very safe at the same time.
Here is the symbol of the Rome city government. Romans believe their city was founded by twin orphans, Romulus and Remus, who were nursed by a she-wolf. In adulthood, Romulus murdered Remus and christened the city by the name Rome. Note the depiction of the twins with the she-wolf in the city symbol. What other city has a symbol anywhere near as awesome?
Anywhere we walked in Rome, we came across Catholic clothing stores. Here are some examples.
And where else will you see gentlemen walking down the street in what appear to be Friar/Monk robes? This is about a block from the Vatican, by the way.
One of the main thoroughfares in old Rome is Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. We recommend you don't get a hotel on this street, as we walked it many times and there was ALWAYS a siren going, either an ambulance (hospital is at end of street), police car, or fire truck.
Except for the only time we saw a fire on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. There were no sirens, save the fire alarms going off extremely loudly in the building that was on fire.
In fact, we watched for quite awhile and a fire truck never came!!! While Rome burned...
But we felt very at ease in the city. Despite it's reputation for theft, we never felt threatened or even encountered shady characters. We purposely avoided large crowds and would recommend being very aware when a motorcycle passes by. In fact, carrying your wallet in a front pocket is a great idea. Just in case - as we do know people who have been pickpocketed. Also, there are police EVERYWHERE. They even direct traffic during rush hour at every semi-major intersection. And at night, we saw police vans full of officers. They take security seriously.
Ladies who like to wear high heels, be warned! They really aren't recommended in most European cities, and Rome is no exception. My wife was disappointed. Note the swollen ankles and band-aided toe from all the walking we were doing!
Old Rome, within the old Roman walls, has an enormous number of tourists at any given time. This leads to many stands catering to us tourists, like this one.
And this one. Paninis, water, pizza, and gelato can be easily found about every block or two. And virtually everyone speaks English - no need to learn Italian in old Rome.
Some notes on the English spoken there, things we had forgotten since our last trip. First, businesses labeled "BAR" do not serve alcohol as they do in the US. A bar in Rome is a small restaurant/grocery store. Almost like a deli.
Another example of a Italian bar. Second, we got strange looks when we asked for the nearest night club. Again, we forgot that "night club" does not mean a club that has music and alcohol as it does in the US. No, in Italy a "night club" is what we call a "strip club" in the US. Lesson learned! :-)