A place you’ve been to over and over again can teach you new things each time you visit. Customer Account Coordinator Shannon recently explored Rome again on a tour of Italy. Here’s how her perspective allowed her to enjoy the experience.
It’s always fun to travel somewhere new, but when I found out my tour was going to Rome—somewhere I’d been a few times before—I was determined to find the fun in the familiar. It’s always easy to be excited about the new adventures (Pompeii! Capri! The Amalfi Coast!), but nothing was going to stop me from enjoying Rome again, too. After all, I still enjoy re-reading favorite books and rewatching my favorite movies—so why couldn’t I apply the same principles to revisiting one of Europe’s most famous cities? Here’s how you too can get the most out of visiting your favorite place twice.
The last time I was in Rome, I stayed in a small hotel near the Vatican and didn’t venture far away from it, except when sightseeing. This time, I stayed near Santa Maria Maggiore, and when there was free time for lunch, I just started wandering. Rather than head in to the more popular areas, I went to a quiet neighborhood, where I found a lovely restaurant with bookshelves painted along the walls, outdoor patio seating and excellent bruschetta. It turned out to be a great place to rest and relax before sightseeing in the afternoon!
Though sometimes it can feel like visiting a particular site will be full of redundant information, you can almost always learn something new. While this was my third trip to the Colosseum, my previous guides had focused more on the history of the Colosseum in action—the crowds, the fights, and the history of gladiatorial contests. The guide I had on this trip covered those topics, but also discussed what happened to the Colosseum after that. While we tend to look back at the structure in awe, that wasn’t true throughout history. In fact, when metal was in short supply, emperors gave permission to pry it from the walls of the building itself. It was hard to imagine–it’s the Colosseum after all!–but hearing that story made me look at the Colosseum in a whole new light.
As much as I loved finding new places in Rome, it can also be great fun to check out places you’ve been before. My first time in Rome, I kept a journal of all of everything I did, which I would update during bus rides. I re-read it the night before I left for my Go Ahead tour, and it helped me remember all those tiny details that had gotten lost throughout the years (including a gelato ratings system I faithfully recorded next to the entries). It reminded me how much fun I’d had and made me even more excited to take a new adventure in an old place.
I love the movie “Roman Holiday,” so on my first trip to Rome, I made sure to visit the Bocca della Verita from one of its famous scenes. Since then, every time I’ve been in Rome, I’ve made a point to get a new picture with it. It’s been a fun touchstone over the years, and this time I was able to share it with another traveler on the tour, who was also a fan of the movie. One of my favorite memories from the tour is when the two of us were running across Rome, trying to navigate our way there before it closed for the evening!
I’m definitely not the same person I was the first time (or the second time) I visited Rome, and I’m sure that when I find myself there again, I’ll be different still. That became even clearer to me when reading my old journal entries (see tip #3) side-by-side with my newer ones. What I appreciated on this tour was different from my previous trips. After seeing Naples and Sorrento, I was able to compare Rome to some of the other Italian cities, which I hadn’t had the background for on my previous trips. I also took an Italian class last year, which expanded my ability to immerse myself in the culture. There’s a quote from Proust that says, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” At the end of the day, I may have seen some of the same things, but I saw them differently than I had in the past.
(Except for the gelato, that is. Some things don’t change.)
Have you visited a place more than once? Why do you like revisiting a favorite destination?