Not the Rouses in Rome, that’s for sure! We had an action packed two days, and we saw as much as we could in the short time we had.
Tuesday was dedicated to two Italian icons, the Vatican and the Colosseum. I tried not to schedule our tours that way, but it was the only way to fit everything in so we went ahead with it. In hindsight, it wasn’t too bad and it was a good way for us to keep going and ignore the jet lag on an absolutely gorgeous day.
We started with an early admission tour of the Vatican with a 7:15 meeting time. In my opinion, this is the only sane way to see the Sistine Chapel and tour the museum, unless of course you enjoy spending your time in a throng of shuffling tourists waving selfie sticks. Jim and I were both stunned at the size of Vatican City – it’s huge! In particular, St. Peter’s Basilica was much bigger than we thought it was. We’ve only seen it on TV, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the inside, but pictures don’t really do it justice. St. Peter’s and St. Peter’s Square are massive and magnificent. On the other hand, the Sistine Chapel is much smaller than I envisioned.
It was wonderful to have a guide who could tell us about the history of the structures and the meaning behind all the paintings and artwork. To really do the Vatican Museums justice would require days, not hours. Touring does give you a sense of how much power and money the pope and the Catholic Church had at one time.
After we left the Vatican, we made the only mistake of the trip so far. We didn’t think we had enough time to go elsewhere for lunch and be at the Colosseum at 1:00, so we did something we’d been warned not to do. We ate lunch in one of the tourist restaurants near St. Peter’s Square. My thought was that an Italian restaurant couldn’t ruin pizza, but I was sorely mistaken. We spent 55 Euros for personal pizzas, one salad, and two bottles of water!😝 Not only was it extremely overpriced (we found food and wine in Rome to be very reasonable), it was just awful. Have you ever had mall pizza? I would have traded my lunch for mall food in a heartbeat! Nevertheless, it did serve the purpose of saving some time, but next time we will know better.
We had an afternoon tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum with the same guide we had in the morning. It was fantastic! Andrea really knows his stuff, and was able to explain not only how the Colosseum was built, but how it worked and what it was used for.
I thought the Colosseum was very interesting, because I saw so many similarities to modern stadiums. It was a very thorough and engaging tour, although I did wonder why anybody would build such a nice stadium without escalators!😉 Our tour included the dungeons and the third tier. The stairs were steep…much steeper than stairs in a modern house.
From the Colosseum, we walked over to Palatine Hill and then through the Forum before our tour ended. It was time for a taxi back to the apartment! We had walked six miles which isn’t too far, but according to Jim’s tracker we had climbed the equivalent of 23 stories! At that point my legs were done. It’s a very different kind of exercise than a class at the gym, especially since the stairs were steep and uneven…there were times I was literally pulling myself up them!
We had a nice dinner with new friends – it sort of made up for lunch!🙂 Rome is a city filled with tiny restaurants and delicious food and wine. We were both stunned at how inexpensive really good wine is. We chose a bottle of Montepulciano for 20 Euros, and it was one of the more expensive ones on the list. I checked it on my wine app, and it retails for about $19 in the US. There was only a very slight mark-up!
My original plan was to update this all the way through Wednesday in one post. That was before I wrote all of Tuesday and Wednesday and hit the wrong button.😢 My writing went to that big cyber-cemetery where all failed tech attempts live, never to be seen again. Since it’s now Friday night and we’re on the ship, I think I’ll take it one day at a time until I get caught up. I will also add the pictures as I can. Enjoy!