Rome was an amazing experience, further validating that Italy is a wonderful and beautiful place, with something for everyone. That is unless of course you hate the heat, then it might not be the place for you. The first day we got in from the train station we had a nice hour long hike to the hotel that we were not thrilled for-even better, it was all uphill which was a great surprise! We made it a little over half way before we found a place to rest and eat lunch to refuel a little. I had some yummy carbonara and tea, and Anna had a sandwich with some tea. Finally we got the strength to make it to our hotel, and after checking in, we relaxed and got settled in for a bit before heading out again to explore the town a little.
One of the things that I loved about Rome was in the city center, you could see leftover ruins from long ago. The ruins were preserved and kept in great viewing condition, allowing your imagination to run wild, showing you what it was like to live here in the times of roman emperors like Julius Cesar. We set off to see the colosseum and the roman forum, which were unfortunately no longer selling tickets for the day. We viewed the sights from the outside, taking plenty of pictures and increasing our excitement for getting inside the following day. After, we walked through the city past capital hills grand building full of stairs, statues and fountains to find Trevi Fountain.
The fountain was huge, much bigger than I expected from seeing it in pictures! It was large and beautiful, adorned with statues and intricate carvings, and spraying clean, clear water. What also surprised me was the crazy amount of people around. Maybe we came at the wrong time, but I can’t imagine a time where the place wouldn’t be busy. It truly made me wonder how people seemed to get photos without anyone else in the picture after the crowds we had to fight through!
We found a place for dinner after our little walking tour and shared a salad (probably one of the first time we’ve had a real serving of vegetables) and a pasta with crispy pork cheek. The salad was glorious, the pasta was less so, but it gave us enough energy to continue walking around Rome. We saw the Spanish steps and the fountain below them, as well as walking down the streets of shops, some of which were high end shops like Gucci, Burberry, and others we couldn’t pronounce or afford. On our way back from the steps we also had tiramisu before heading back to our hostel for the night.
After a good, only slightly sweaty, nights sleep the real adventure began as we made our way to the Vatican. We decided on taking a tour, as it allowed us to avoid waiting 2+ hours in line for tickets. The tour was around 2.5 hours and we were able to see the The Vatican museum, St Peters basilica and the Sistine chapel. While it was a little more expensive (46€ for students), the tour was worth it. In addition to skipping the line, we saw a lot of important things at each place that we probably would have glazed over if we were on our own. We also got a lot of historical background which was really great. Ultimately, it was so busy inside that I think we would have rushed through it all if we were on our own as crowds were always kind of pushing everyone to move forward. Our tour guide took a lot of time to stop and talk about different pieces of art and sculptures, and important spots around the Vatican and it didn’t feel rushed at all. The museum was full of beautiful sculptures, paintings and different mosaics of tile that were amazing to see. The Sistine chapel was also breathtaking. It was definitely smaller than what I imagined it to be, really just a small room with a few small windows high on the ceiling. While it’s size and decor on the outside seemed to be lacking, the paintings on the inside were breathtaking. Paintings of scenes from both the Old and New Testament lined the outside of the ceiling, while the center boasted other wonderful artwork including the famous piece where Adam and God almost touch fingers. The most amazing thing about all of the artwork was how they all looked 3-D; the figures looked as if they were coming out of the ceiling, showing how the artists of the time were masters of realism. Lastly, St Peters basilica was incredible and extremely huge. It was beautiful inside and we also got to see the crypt under the basilica which housed past popes.
After the Vatican, we took a little break to get out of the heat and set off to see the colosseum and the Roman forum. The colosseum was exciting on the outside and probably almost as exciting on the inside as there really isn’t much to see, but it was fun to see it from the inside to feel what it was like to be in the stadium and to see the passageways in the center that were usually under the stage. We listened to another Rock Steves audio tour which was cool because we learned a lot about the colosseum and how it was almost like a stage. There were always different props and settings for the “games” that occurred there. Sometimes it was filled with water and sea creatures, other times it was an African jungle of creatures. After listening to the audio tour, we headed to the Roman Forum, a city where Cesar and other leaders led the people long ago. While everything now is mostly ruins, they are still amazing and allow you to picture what it used to look like in its prime. The audio tour was really great in this setting as well, explaining what each ruin used to be and it’s importance in keeping the city alive.
After a long day of walking and learning our Roman history, we rested at the hostel for a while and set out again to experience the Festa di San Antonio that was showing on. It was almost like a fair along the river. There were restaurants set up, shops, games, and more. It was a great way to experience some of the night life in Rome! We walked along the river looking at all of the great things that were set up and eventually we set down by the river at a restaurant and enjoyed a late night burger and fries. We were definitely lucky that we were in town when this festival was going on! After a long night we went to bed to prep for a long walk back to the train station followed by a little stay in the airport as we were departing for our next adventure in the morning!
- The colosseum and the Roman forum
- The trevi fountain
- The city center near capital hill full of ruins
- The Vatican
- Update definitely gotten a little lazier as the days have gone by, especially because of the heat. We’ve been sleeping in a little later and taking a few more breaks because of the 90-100 degree temps we’ve been in
- We could really use some fruits and veggies right about now
- If we though our feet were bad before, they are way more disgusting now. Pedicures are essential upon our return if we don’t want people to be repulsed by us
- It’s hot. VERY. HOT.
Next stop: Seville