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depart Sicily early AM and tour Rome & The Vatican afternoon and night

Rome Travel Blog

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Julius Caesar from the tour bus

I got back from the nightclub so late that I didn’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.

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II (Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) from the tour bus
  I did wake long enough, fortunately, to observe Mount Etna from the air.

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 weren’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.

Evans & Melissa at St Peter's Square, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  In Ortigia, we were four to a room and two of my roommates there had been history students with conflicting schedules and priorities.  The other was Behn from my group, but all three were teetotalers who went to bed early every night, so they didn’t appreciate me coming in late each night, so that along with our differences over temperature and hygiene had sparked a few unpleasant conflicts.  In Rome, knowing we’d both be going out late that night, I teamed up with Ory to share a room.

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 city’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.

Saint Peter's Square, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  Peering through the window of a moving bus, however, is no way to witness a city with as much historical significance as Rome.  Although impressive monuments to human civilization surrounded us, I paid little attention.  I was bored and lethargic and nodded off a few times in my seat.

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).

Alexan VII engraved atSaint Peter's Square, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  We only had a few minutes, so we each took a quick photo and hurried back to the bus for the rest of our tour.  We looped around to pass the Spanish Steps before turning west.

Officially leaving Italy, we entered its enclave, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City), the world’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 Peter’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.

bum by fountain in St Peter’s Square, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  Swiss Guards in traditional red and blue striped uniforms held post and just outside.  The ornate craftsmanship inside St. Peters Basilica is simply astonishing.  As I inspected the fine detail of the embossed wall panels, I diverted my gaze up through the enormous room to the arched ceiling above and realized the same level of intricacy surely exists there, far outside the range of visibility, as well.

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.

Basilica Sancti Petri (Basilica of Saint Peter), Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  At some point, we must have stopped to eat, but I can’t remember when, where, or what we had.  Once the sun fell we turned back toward Hotel Nord.

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 Melissa’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.

inside Saint Peter's Basilica, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City)
  She and I ended up a lot closer that night, but she had a boyfriend at home whom she hadn’t finished breaking up with, so she felt guilty about her feelings for me and decided to stay in for the night.  We decided to keep our burgeoning, yet untimely relationship between us, so I put on my game face for the rest of the group, who had by then had become impatient with my delay.

I rejoined the others in Joe and Mike’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, we’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.

inside Saint Peter's Basilica, Status Civitatis Vaticanae (State of the Vatican City) [Behn shot this picture]
  At 40,000 lira (just over $18 US), the cover charge was steep, but the bar was really cool and had a great, high-energy atmosphere.  Still distracted by the drama with Melissa, I drank a little faster than normal and got pretty loaded, but the rest of the group (except Joe who doesn’t drink) did the same of course, so I no one noticed I was drunk.  It was our farewell celebration and we partied like we should on our last night in the country.    I didn’t get to bed that night until about 5:30am.

ctjevans says:
right, it was really fast. I would definitely have liked to spend more time to get a longer look at some things and going inside a few of the places we flew by in the bus.
Posted on: Jan 21, 2008
korrahh says:
thats a fast look at Rome. A well packed experiance.
Posted on: Jan 21, 2008
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Julius Caesar from the tour bus
Julius Caesar from the tour bus
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II (…
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II …
Evans & Melissa at St Peters Squa…
Evans & Melissa at St Peter's Squ…
Saint Peters Square, Status Civit…
Saint Peter's Square, Status Civi…
Alexan VII engraved atSaint Peter…
Alexan VII engraved atSaint Peter…
bum by fountain in St Peter’s Sq…
bum by fountain in St Peter’s S…
Basilica Sancti Petri (Basilica of…
Basilica Sancti Petri (Basilica o…
inside Saint Peters Basilica, Sta…
inside Saint Peter's Basilica, St…
inside Saint Peters Basilica, Sta…
inside Saint Peter's Basilica, St…
Amy, Evans, Ory at Colosseo (The C…
Amy, Evans, Ory at Colosseo (The …
June, Joe, Mike, Evans in Hotel No…
June, Joe, Mike, Evans in Hotel N…
Amy & Ory at a nightclub on our la…
Amy & Ory at a nightclub on our l…
Amy & Evans at a nightclub on our …
Amy & Evans at a nightclub on our…
Rome
photo by: vulindlela