I failed to mention this in my last post. We trip-journal. I’d definitely recommend it. At the end of every day we each record the events of that day from our own recollections. It’s funny to see what we each remember differently. Plus, 12 days of vacation can turn into a giant blur if you don’t write it down each day!
When in Rome. All roads lead to Rome. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
There’s a reason Rome is a natural part of our vernacular.
Amazing view walking from the Spanish Steps up to the Borghese Gardens
Rome was… chaotic. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this “super-city” and I’m still not quite sure how to describe our experience in Rome. We flew in and out of Rome, and spent three days in this bubbling city.
Our trip began and ended in Rome, and I have mixed emotions about the city. Rome was cultural. Rome was crowded. Rome was rich with history. Rome was overwhelming. Rome was, certainly, unlike any other place I’ve ever been before.
Walking into oncoming traffic to cross the roads. Ignoring the (crowds of ) aggressive street peddlers. The swarms of tourists (in hindsight, we should have schedule Rome for mid-week). The sneaky swindlers looking to guilt tourists into tips for unrequested “services” (we had an incident on a train).
Yet, Rome is also unbelievably historic. Richly beautiful. Lively and Italian.
The Sistine Chapel was one of my trip highlights. There’s a famous scene in the movie “Good Will Hunting” that takes place in Boston Commons. Robin Williams is talking to Matt Damon about the difference between living and experiencing life and says, But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.
You can bet I took a deep breath while standing under that glorious ceiling.
The Vatican Museum in general was just amazing. The two main draws, the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Room, did not disappoint. I also particularly enjoyed the Cartography Hallway, and the courtyard with amazing statues, including the Laocoon.
To visit the museum, you must reserve tickets in advance. This will let you skip the line outside of the building. However there is still a line inside (we waited about 20 minutes). Although your ticket has a reservation time on it, they didn’t appear to pay any attention to the particular time, so if you are late – like we were – don’t sweat it.
While inside the museum, just follow the basic flow of traffic and you won’t miss anything. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder for most of our time through the museum. But don’t let the crowds rush you along. Take your time, particularly in the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel! We used the free Rick Steve’s audio tour for the Sistine Chapel. It took us about 3 (non-leisurely) hours to make our way through the museum.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world, and the most opulent church I’ve ever stood inside. The impossibly long nave with gleaming, golden intricacies, Bernini’s glowing canopy over the tomb of St. Peter, the iconic dome-to-inspire-all-domes, Michelangelo’s famous Pieta statue. The entire inside literally glows with golden hues. The religious and artistic significance of St. Peter’s Basilica is astounding.
St. Peter’s Basilica can be easily and quickly accessed when leaving the Sistine Chapel. The basilica is free to enter, and much less crowded than the Vatican Museums. We used the free Rick Steve’s audio tour for the tour. It took us about 1 hour to make our way throughout the basilica.
The Trevi Fountain is a magical place. We saw two proposals there in one night! (One looked like it went well! The other… not so much.) While the Trevi is magical, it is also crowded. We visited it each day in hopes of finding a thinned out crowd. Well, let me tell you, even at midnight on a Tuesday, the place is packed. I don’t believe it’s ever without crowds of on-lookers enjoying the massive fountain and tossing coins over their shoulder. Just try your best to shimmy down on to whatever surface you can call a seat and enjoy the experience.
(PS – Rome collects over $3000 dollars a day from coins in the Trevi! The money helps feed the homeless.)
The Spanish Steps were neat – not my favorite site in Rome, but a fun place to sit among loads of people. Just don’t bring a slice of pizza there. Apparently people in Rome think eating in public is really weird. Oops!
The streets are the Spanish Steps are picturesque and classic “Rome” in my mind. It’s also the place to go for upscale shopping, if that’s your thing.
Italian men dress up. Even the ones on the bathroom sign.
Campo di Fiori
Take this with a grain of salt, but being in Campo di Fiori made me feel like I was in the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp. I guess that means it felt like the quintessential Rome piazza experience.
It was there we found our favorite Rome restaurant – Mercato.
We loved it so much, we went twice! We never had a dish that we didn’t like, but the pizza was particularly tasty.
There is also a Grom gelato in Campo di Fiori – yum! Grom is one of the more popular gelato chains, as they use all fresh and organic ingredients.
I’ll be back later this week with the rest of our Rome adventures! Ciao!
Also, today’s my Mom’s birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DORTH VADER!