Well, I said I would start from Malaga, but I changed my mind. We’re going to be in Rome today.
Rome was…a very large European city with some once-in-a-lifetime kind of sights. But make no mistake. It is a large city. It has incredibly bad, loud and dangerous traffic. It smells of diesel and city. Prices of many things, including restaurants, are beyond expensive. I was very lucky to find the website of The Church of Santa Susanna. Most of the things I am highlighting and recommending here, I found there first.
Place to stay: Through the Santa Susanna website, we found a listing of convents. The convents are not cheap, but by comparison to hotels in equivalent locations, they are a fabulous deal. We stayed at Santa Spirito not quite a block from St. Peter’s square. Yeah. Couldn’t beat the location or the price. We had a triple room for about 35 euros per person.
As with most hotels in Italy, the convent included breakfast, but don’t be fooled. No one eats breakfast in Italy so breakfast consists of coffee and a roll (in our case a hard roll with butter or Nutella to help it down). We also had a choice of tea. This is not a complaint, just the reality of the customs in Rome. Never mind breakfast; the convent was FABULOUS. Spotlessly clean, friendly nuns (though a bit stern sometimes), and a very homey feel. Couldn’t beat the location. The room had three very nice twin beds and wonderful arched windows that opened almost into St. Peter’s square. The bathroom was quite large with both an Italian style toilet and an American style toilet (standard toilet). The shower was…okay, tiny. Dad dropped the soap and mentioned later how he thought he might never get himself out of the shower once he squished himself down to pick it up. The next time he dropped it, he used shampoo to finish showering. I laughed myself silly.
Just for the complete record, the convents are cash-only. This may mean an instant stop at an ATM upon arrival, but we received excellent exchange rates and low fees from both the airport ATM and an ATM near the grocery where we picked up a few snacks. If you do intend to use your ATM card, you must have a 4 digit pin, and in Italy there is a limit of withdrawing about 250 euros per day per bank account. Carry a back-up bank/atm card from A SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNT. My father’s ATM card/bank did not work at the first machine for unknown reasons. My bankcard did. This type of work/not work on various cards happened in different places in Europe. I would travel with no less than three separate bank cards if possible (they must be linked to different accounts as the limits will apply to a single account.) ATMs are known as Bankomats in Italy. We generally got good exchange rates, although on at least two machines in Spain there was a 2.5 percent fee accessed on top of an unknown exchange rate (in both cases, the machines had a message of this fact.)