Rome – aside from perhaps Jerusalem – may be the most historically important city in the world (subjective assessment of course)… The Roman Republic, Empire, the Roman system of laws, culture, language, the Christian church, all emanated from this city. So Rome has a lot of history. It also has a lot of trash, vagrants, busy streets, crowds, expensive and underperforming food.
Full disclosure: we only had one full day. We were also rather tired. We had staked out a bench at the train station in Frankfurt the night before in order to get the shuttle to our 6AM flight and gave up all hope of sleeping there after all noticing our “bunk mates” who were predominately drug addicts and boozy groups of angry men fresh off a night on the town in the red light district. I barely stayed awake for a full minute during our flight to notice the majestic alps thousands of feet below.
We had also become accustomed to the immaculate streets in Germany, the care the people seem to have for their community, the peace and beauty, and the inexpensive prices (beer is cheaper than water, simply glorious).
So yeah. The deck was stacked against Rome to begin with.
We arrived and walked past blocks of giant concrete apartment complexes that looked as though they had been maintained once or twice in the last century or two, then rows more of those, then more still. We eventually toured the forum, colosseum, vatican, and m0st of the other major sites. They were quite nice.
There were many good vistas. And I know we didn’t give them enough time. I have yet to do the Sistine chapel (we will be coming back to Rome to fly out and that’s when we’ve scheduled that tour). Thus, I can’t say conclusively that it’s not a great city. However, our initial impressions are simply that.