depart Sicily early AM and tour Rome & The Vatican afternoon and night
Rome Travel Blog› entry 18 of 20 › view all entries
I got back from the nightclub so late that I didnâ€™t even bother trying to sleep. Instead, I used the early morning hours to take a shower, pack my luggage, and eat. I was one of the last to finish breakfast because I wanted to be sure I ate enough to hold me through the day. We congregated outside the inn just as the sun was coming over the horizon beyond the calm waters of the Mediterranean. As dawn broke over Ortigia, we all streamed down to the pickup location, past the grimy streets of the earlier fish and produce market, and boarded the bus. The ride was quiet as everyone was a bit somber about leaving our little island and still groggy from the early start. I finally got some rest on the ride to Catania and then fell asleep on the plane before we even left the ground.
We arrived in Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport a few hours late around 1:00pm and took our shuttle to Hotel Nord on Via Cavour. Since our rooms werenâ€™t ready when we arrived, a few of us decided to go for lunch. Shrugging off the risk of consuming meat with mad cow disease, I ordered lasagna and enjoyed the satisfying, beefy meal. After we ate, we went to get settled into our rooms since the shops were still closed for siesta. Hotel Nord was much larger than the Domus Mariae, but not as warm and inviting. Our accommodations in Rome worked out more comfortably, however, because each of us was able to choose a new roommate and only had to share with one other person.
Soon after settling into our rooms, we assembled once more and embarked on a coach bus tour of the city. Because our time in Rome was limited, we only stopped at two sites. As we rode along, our guide pointed out some of the cityâ€™s most popular attractions, including such notable landmarks as the Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Constantine, and the Fountain of the Naiads in the center of Piazza della Repubblica.
We did stop at the Christian Catacombs of Saint Callixtus, however, and explored the various crypts and chambers. The Crypt of the Popes stimulated my interest. In the restful underground room stone columns supported an arched ceiling partially covered in brick. Regrettably, no photos were permitted.
Passing Colosseo (The Coliseum), the bus let us out again near Trevi Fountain to wander around. From there, Behn and I strolled over to Piazza Venezia to see the palatial Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II (Monument of Victor Emmanuel II).
Officially leaving Italy, we entered its enclave, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City), the worldâ€™s smallest country and sovereign territory of Sancta Sedes (the Holy See, the governing body of the Catholic Church). We got off the bus at St Peterâ€™s Square and scattered about in the enormous piazza encompassed by the elliptical colonnade. A large Egyptian obelisk stands in the center and located at the focus of each hemisphere is a tall granite fountain. Temporary fencing orders the flow of visitors. Making our way across the cobblestones pavement, we approached Basilica Sancti Petri (Basilica of Saint Peter) and fell in awe of its majesty.
After spending a couple of hours in the basilica, Melissa, Karen, Behn, and I wandered around the city on foot. The shops in Rome were more expensive than those in Siracusa, but I picked up a few cheap tee shirts and a U2 single in my travels. Melissa bought a bottle of olive oil to bring home for her mother and I think someone bought batteries.
Later I took a walk with Amy and Ory down to the Coliseum to see how it looked at night. It was quite beautiful. I took some pictures, but it was to dark for my film to capture any good images. Having walked around the streets of Rome for a couple hours, we went to the hotel again and got ready to hit the bars.
Once I was dressed to go out, I made the rounds, calling room phones and knocking on doors, to rally everyone else for our only chance to experience the Roman nightlife. The last room I visited was Melissaâ€™s and she answered the door dressed in only a towel. It was like a fantasy come true! She invited me in and closed the door to discuss our evening plans.
I rejoined the others in Joe and Mikeâ€™s room. None of us had eaten a substantial dinner, but Ory picked up some bread that filled our stomachs and would soak up some of the alcohol we were about to consume. During the day, weâ€™d chatted up some locals and found out the name and address of a popular nightclub in the area. The crew for our final night in Italy included Amy, Ory, June, Joe, Andy, and me.