We arrived in Italy absolutely exhausted. (at about 2:15pm) For some reason, neither one of us was able to sleep more than an hour or so. It took forever to get our bags, it was like just one or two bags would come out of the baggage claim at a time and then maybe a couple more a few minutes later. Once we finally got our packs, we took the express train from the airport into Rome.
When we arrived in Rome we found a train ticketing booth and purchased all of our major train tickets for our stay…something we tried to do online at home but for some reason couldn’t get to work…Then, we took a taxi to our hotel, Genio,, which is pretty much in the center of Rome. The taxi ride itself was an adventure…I thought for sure we were going to crash into someone, or our driver was going to run over pedestrians…but we miraculously made it safely. Our room is surprisingly nice, too. Big bed (about as hard as a rock though….) and big bathroom. I’m a bit confused about the bathroom though. It’s strange because there is a curtain rod around the tub, but no curtain on it…So, we’ve been improvising with that…
After we dropped off our luggage we immediately started our sightseeing. (Although we much rather would have slept at this point!) First stop, the Pantheon…Raphael’s tomb is here… WOW…this building is amazing. Actually, just walking through the small areas we passed to get to the Pantheon were amazing in themselves. It’s strange because we both felt like being in this city is very surreal like being on a movie set or something. Anyway, the Pantheon was very cool and just thinking how they managed to build these structures without modern technology is mind blowing to me.
After the Pantheon, we walked a short distance to the Trevi Fountain, which was also very cool. It was just starting to rain when we got there, lightning and thunder too…and then we got caught in a downpour. Luckily we had just purchased another umbrella to replace the one that went bust in NY, and we found an arch to stand under for a few…anyway, we enjoyed the fountain for a bit and then headed toward the Spanish Steps. By this time the rain had pretty much subsided. We walked up the Spanish steps and toward the Piazza del Popolo where we had excellent views of the city.
From there it was dinner time and the restaurant we ate at was excellent! We got an appetizer of Mozzarella and Proscuitto (delicious!) and Kev is now in love with Proscuitto. Kev got a ravioli and sage dish, and I got a Spaghetti Pomodoro, and we both enjoyed the house wine. It was a great meal. After dinner, dessert of course! We stopped at a gelateria on the way back to our hotel, and it was delicious as well! We were back in our room and ready for bed by 10pm.
We got up at about 7:30 this morning in preparation for a very busy day. We started out with a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica, crossing over Ponte St. Angelo. Unfortunately for me, I had a shoe malfunction which left me in pain very early in our journey this morning. Anyway, St. Peter’s Basilica is HUGE! We started out by climbing the dome (Yikes!) which was definitely an exhausting adventure. We were smart and took the ticket that includes some elevator assistance. So we only had to climb about 320 steps instead of 500+… It was tough going, but not too terrible…and, we got more awesome views of the city! Going down was hard too because there is a part that is very steep and corkscrew like, which was making us dizzy.
When we finished our descent, we entered the Basilica itself. It was absolutely insane. It’s impossible to accurately describe the amount of detail found here, as well as the incredible size. It’s strange too because it doesn’t feel as big as it actually is. We had our Rick Steve’s Audio Guides to help us get an understanding of the layout and artworks found here. All of the mosaic work here is incredible, and again just imagining this being built is mind boggling.
After being dazzled by St. Peter’s, we had to go back to the hotel to get my shoes changed and Kev’s sunglasses…then back toward Vatican City where we had a yummy lunch al fresco before heading to the Vatican Museum. There were soooo many people here that it was hard to even walk! We saw some Roman and Greek sculptures, some Egyptian artifacts dating back as far as 10th Century BC (really?) and the Raphael rooms before visiting the Sistine Chapel. We had another audio guide for the Sistine Chapel, which we both really enjoyed. It really helps you to get an understanding of the times and the meanings behind the artworks. The Sistine Chapel was painted by Michaelangelo, and he painted the ceiling for about 4 years standing up on scaffolding. He also came back and painted the Last Judgement years later. It’s pretty incredible to imagine these works being put together!
After the Vatican Museums we walked to the Metro and took the subway to get to San Pietro in Vincoli Church where we saw Michaelangelo’s Moses. Then we walked to San Clemente Church which is built on top of these really cool crypts which we got to go in and explore. There is a 1st century Roman house down there….crazy!! It started raining on us a bit while we were over this way, but it was gone pretty quickly.
Next stop, the Colosseum. We also had an audio guide here. The Colosseum was pretty cool, a little hard to imagine what it must have been like. Also hard to imagine the people coming here to see slaughter…but still cool nonetheless.
On to Palatine hill which is full of old Roman palace ruins, and where the name “palace” comes from. This was neat but very hard to imagine what it once must have looked like.
From Palatine hill we stopped by the Bocca di Verita, which was closed but we took a couple pics there…and then the Piazza del Campidoglio where we took a little break and saw some great views of the Forums.
Finally we had dinner at Ristorante la Carbonara, which was also delicious. We got Gnocchi Pomodoro, a Pasta with Salmon for Kev, and tasty house red wine. It started pouring again during dinner with lightning and thunder right overhead! Lucky for us, our table was well covered and we didn’t get wet and have to go inside like some of our fellow diners. It seems so far that the storms here are pretty short lived thank goodness!
Of course we had to stop for gelato again after dinner…tonight we got a strawberry and a coconut…so good!