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August 18, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Rome

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The best part about the Palazzo Manfredi-besides, of course, its incredible view, comfy rooms, and friendly, English-speaking staff-is its location. Within just a few hundred yards are many of Rome's main attractions. I'm sure you will want to tour the Colosseum; a great tip to avoid its long lines is to go to the nearby Palatine Hill (Palatino), since they rarely have a line and your ticket is good for both attractions. If that's too much walking, you can always buy tickets in advance (for a fee) online at, or go to the ticket window at the Colosseum where they sell tours-for a few extra euros you not only bypass the line, but you get a fascinating 45-minute tour.

We walked everywhere and this is what we saw: lots of foreigners selling all kinds of souvenirs/gadgets, from paper umbrellas to your name written in Chinese. Yeah, isn't that a tragedy? If I wanted my name written in Chinese, I would go to China, not Italy. Another thing that bums me out are all the gypsies who are preying on the kindness of strangers. Young gypsy women dress like old homeless women and curl up on the street in a fetal position with rosary beads clutched in their hands. They are wrapped from head to toe so you can't see how young they really are.

I was told by a Roman that the reason there are so many foreigners living in Rome (and Italy, for that matter) is that Italians don't want to do the hard work. He said, “Everyone wants to be a chef, but no one wants to cook.” Even the gladiators outside the Colosseum are Eastern Europeans. The world is changing; you'd better travel before it becomes just one big melting pot.

No matter how many times I visit Rome, every time I feel obligated to visit all the historic sites like the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Castel St. Angelo, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon . . . I could go on forever. There's so much to see and do in Rome that you really need a vacation after your vacation to Rome.

The Tiber River flows through the city and is Italy's third longest river; it's 252 miles (406 km) long. The walk along the Tiber could be just as special as it is along the River Seine, but sadly it's not. If the city of Rome could dredge the river and clean it up more than they are currently doing, maybe even offering more dinner cruises, this place could be really happening. The tree-lined sidewalks above the river that run parallel with it are beautiful when they're cleaned. Here's more on the history of the Tiber River.

If you haven't been to the Vatican, then you're really missing out . . . I don't care what your religion is or how many times you've been. Every time I walk through those doors, I get goose bumps and my jaw drops. It is truly special. Now that everyone has to pass through metal detectors, there's always a bottleneck at the entrance. It moves fast, but to avoid the large crowds, arrive just before opening or closing. Opening hours vary, so see the Vatican's homepage for times. The website also lists the mass schedule; daily masses are open to the public and are not to be missed.

Did you know that the Vatican is located in Vatican City and is its own country? In fact, it's the world's smallest country at 0.2 square miles. That doesn't sound very large, but still, it once took Mike and I a good 45 minutes to walk around the whole walled country. How many times can you say that you've walked around a country? The line to get in the Vatican Museum is seriously the longest line I've ever seen. It had to be close to a mile long. I only wish that I had known about's “skip the line” deals so I could have seen the Sistine Chapel. I sure wasn't going to wait in a long line, no matter how quickly it moved. The Vatican Museum entrance tickets from cost US$43, which is twice the regular entrance fee. But to me, it's well worth it if you don't have to wait in the long lines . . . plus, you get exclusive access! FYI: Viator has these kinds of deals for sights all over the world.

To escape the tourists, you should dine where the Italians dine. Many live and dine outside the city in Travestere, a 10-minute train or taxi ride away. But we didn't feel like taking any trains or taxis, so instead, what did we do? We went to one of the biggest tourist traps in all of Rome: Piazza Navona. It was just a 20-minute walk from our hotel and is a really wonderful square with incredible sculptures and architecture. But the place is flooded with tourists, mostly American, and turns into a Venice Beach–type atmosphere. There are street performers, artists, and hawkers selling everything from cheap toys to knock-off handbags.

AQUA TIP: Don't buy bottled water in the popular tourist places. Next to the Trevi Fountain, stores and street vendors sell bottles for 3 euros! Walk a couple of blocks away, down some side streets, and you can find bottled water in a pizza place for a euro each.

No trip to Rome would be complete without getting at least one scoop of gelato. We went to the most convenient place possible: Blue Ice. It's a chain and by far the busiest gelato place around. It's OK, but my buddy David Farley has some much better recommendations in his Rome story. BTW: I still indulged in three scoops (Nutella, chocolate, and white chocolate) in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone covered with sprinkles. Not a bad way to end my trip to Italy.

Next week, we travel back to the United States, but which airline will I fly, and which route?

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Note: This trip was sponsored in part by Hotel Palazzo Manfredi

Copyright 2010 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


My Buddy Mike


Nap Time


Umbrella Anyone








So Amazing




Getting Lost


Cobblestone Streets


I'm Huge


Don't Go There






Castel St. Angelo






I Feel The Power


Vatican Statue


Tiber River


Piazza Navona




  • Loved your article on Capri. It has been many years since we visited this beautiful island. We started out with a 2 day visit and ended up staying 6. Still have a little book with all the walking tours of the island. We did everyone of them. Looking forward to Roma next week as it is my favorite European city. P.S. My husband and I were on the Seabourn Odyssey for a 21 day cruise. The day we got off in Istanbul, Johnny Jet got on for his 7 day adventure. We had been in 603 and I believe he was to be in 605. I already knew who his stewardess would be and told my husband and we got the biggest tickle out of having just been there. I saved the article because of the great photos of the ship. Graham P - Scottsdale, Az.

  • I'm going to Kauai, HI on in September. I'm traveling solo and have 2-3 free days to "play". Any links/advice for adventures & activities? Cami K – Los Angeles, CA. REPLY: Lucky you! Here's my slide show from my February trip

  • Loved your newsletter and hope my friends enjoy my notes as much. I enjoy writing them. I do think you should expand your diet much as you like salad and spaghetti. Keep up the good work and enjoy life. Sophie M - Wilmington DE

  • Was talking to a friend about Capri a few days ago—the place is MAGICAL. Almost indescribable—the magic is everywhere! Theo B – Los Angeles, CA

  • Great pics Johnny! One of my favorite places. Rita J – Miami, FL

  • So jealous! I've been in the mountains of Abruzzi for nearly 2 weeks. Next time, beaches! Daisy -

  • Try Ischia it’s much better! Mike D – Norwalk, CT REPLY: I agree! My grandparents are from there and I visited two years ago. Here’s my story

  • I mean this from my inner most heart (!!) in all sincerity, but I’ve always felt and said, that UR one of the best, most GENUINE travel experts out there. John C – Los Angeles, CA

  • Re: Bank of America: It is kind of funny that they have no Italian partners, given this history... Nina D – Boston, MA

  • Thanks Johnny...that was theee best little mini-trip. I love the pix of the beach boys... and all the other stuff. Lyn G – Norwalk, CT

  • Great idea to give a reference to those Travel Quotes. Thanks a lot. Lorraine W – Markham, Ontario Canada

  • This is one of my favorite places in the world! Drink a limoncello for me! Crystal T – TN

  • I'll be in Milan in 2 weeks and your posts are making me very antsy and impatient. Debbie B – Atlanta

  • I want a full report on new gelato flavors! We'll try them out next time you get down here. Ciao! Gelato At Collado's – Delray Beach, FL

  • Go to Ischia way fewer tourists JJ!! Max H – Boston

  • I second Max on Ischia. Procida is a fun half-day too - off the tourist map - where Il Postino was filmed. Kathy M – Washington DC (

  • Buon divertimento! Aubrey M - Honolulu, HI

  • Ugh, soooooo jealous. Melanie Y - New York, NY

  • Oh, I want to be there! Venice is in my future very soon! Have fun! Linda B - Tokyo

  • You have to stop posting great looking food. It makes the rest of us hungry! David K - Boston, MA

  • O--M--G--! Don't show those really nice tomatoes to an Alaskan. I'm gonna break down and CRY!!! Scott M - Anchorage

  • Make the walk up to Tiberius' Palace for the most incredible view. David B - Pittsburgh, PA

  • I'm jealous! I love Capri! Sharna E - Los Angeles, CA

  • This is one of my favorite places on the planet and I'm living vicariously through you today....keep the photos coming. If you have time check out Grotta Verde...scooter there and you dive in and swim in....way cooler than the renowned Blue Grotto of Capri....SO JEALOUS! Darrell C - Florida

  • Wow simply the best place in the world! Hanna H – Copenhagen, Denmark

  • So beautiful. I love the Amalfi Coast! Nancy S –

  • The Amalfi coast is one of the most beautiful areas in the world! Barbara M - Greenville, North Carolina

  • Capri is so amazing ... I can't wait to return - keep posting pics! Danielle L – Palm Beach, FL

  • Hi Johnny Jet, Great tip on the avoiding ATM fees, I did a little research that would be useful to you and your readers: Try Schwab's no fee ATM card when traveling. Use virtually any ATM in the world for free receiving any currency (All ATM fees are reimbursed, real-time exchange rates used.) No fees or exchange % on any ATM or Debit transactions. It cost no money to open the Checking account except you do need to have a or open a brokerage account too. How to waive the $1,000 account minimum for the Schwab One brokerage account: * Automatic $100 monthly deposit into your brokerage account. Once you open an account, arrange to deposit $100 or more per month. * Open a Schwab Bank Investor Checking account linked to your brokerage account. Would be great for International Travel and even local travel to avoid those ATM fees. Hope this is helpful. First time writer but a long time follower since back to the Amber Airplane days. Good Traveling, John

  • I am sure you have received tons of comments regarding this... I loved it and couldn't agree more! How about a traveling companion?! L.M. – Miami, FL

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