Arrived in Rome
with a full day ahead of us. We headed to the tourist office and made reservations for the Vatican Tour. Then we purchased the 3 Day Rome pass at one of the Tabacco Stores back at the train station, it was totally worth it because it covers the metro and admission to 2 sites. Checked into our hostel and then took the metro to the Colosseum, which was super easy to find. We used our Rome pass for entrance to the Colosseum, we were able to by pass the long line with the pass (Awesome!). Picked up the audio guide and explored the site. It was cool seeing the inside of the Colosseum, it was kind of surreal being there. You could see the compartments that were used to hold the gladiators and the animals in the basements, along with trap doors.
inside the Colosseum
After the Colosseum we walked pass the Arch of Constantine toward Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. We definitely should have picked up an audio guide because I had no idea what I was looking at when we were inside. We tried to follow and blend in with a tour group, but I felt super guilty after a while. I did enjoy seeing the ruined columns all over the floor and the Arch di Tito was very impressive. It started getting darker so we quickly walked over to the Pantheon. The Pantheon contains the tomb of artist Raphael and Victor Emanuele II. There was a giant hole on the top of the dome and the floors had drains in the event of rain. After we walked over to the Piazza Novana to grab some dinner. Found a nice restuarant and had some dinner and did some people watching.
The Piazza contains the Bernini fountain, but it was being cleaned and surrounding by scaffolding. After dinner, we went to check out the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps (both very crowded). The Trevi Fountain was really pretty at night, I made my wish by tossing 2 coins into the fountain. There were a bunch of people at the Spanish Steps just sitting around with friends, hanging out and having wine. There were definitely a lot of tourists everywhere in Rome.
The next day, we made our way to the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli. The church contains the chains Peter was imprisoned with before being martyred. The church is also known for having Michelangelo's statue of Moses. Then we headed back to the Colosseum because we didn't get any pictures in front of it yesterday.
Arch of Constantine
There was some sort of marathon/race being held on the streets. Then we walked over to the Circus Maximus, which was once an area used for chariat races. Now it's just an empty field with a track that people jog on, it wasn't very impressive. Then we went looking for the mouth of truth (Bocca di Leone). Legend says that if you stick your hand into the mouth any liars would have their hand bitten off, my hand is still intact. Then we walked along the Roman Forum and made our way to the Victor Emanuele II monument. It was a giant monument with him on a horse in front of the buidling. Right underneath it was the remains of the unknown soldier and 3 soldiers guarding the area. We climbed up the stairs and opted to pay to take the elevator up to the top, which gave us a great view of the entire city.
Grabbed some cheap lunch at a restuarant we found on one of the streets. Tried some limoncella and that stuff was pretty strong, tasted like lemon flavored vodka. After lunch we walked back to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish steps to see them during the day. The Pantheon was much more impressive during the day with the sun shining through the dome hole. Then we wandered a bit looking for the Capuchin Monks, we had to ask the police officer for some help. He pointed us in the right direction and we paid to go into the crypt. This was crazy, they decorated the rooms with the bones of the 400 Capuchin Monks. There were about 4-5 rooms full of bones. You can clearly see each bone fitted together to create altars and decorations around the rooms, it was insane.
The last room was the most impressive, the ceiling had a skeleton holding a compass and staff made out of bones making it look like the Grim Reaper. We walked all over Rome and saw a lot of things, I was pretty tired.
Slept in a bit and relaxed before heading over to the Vatican to meet with our tour group. Our tour guide was Rosa and she was really good, full of information. The first hour of the tour was mainly used to give us a brief background and history of the Vatican, which helped me better understand and appreciate everything. We made our way through the Vatican museum, there was so much to see but only a limited amount of time. We only stopped to look at a view well known pieces and headed into the Sistine Chapel.
I wish we had more time to appreciate the Sistine Chapel because 15 minutes really isn't enough time. There were so many people in there staring at this amazing work of art. It really was magnificent, there really aren't any words to describe it's awesome-ness. Next we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica, which was also amazing. The dome contained several mosaics all around. The Basilica holds the only sculpture that Michealangelo has ever signed, Pieta (Jesus on the lap of Mary). After the tour we had a little bit of time before the Vatican closed, so we went up to the top of the dome of St Peter. We took the elevator up because there wasn't enough time to climb the steps. Going up gave a terrific view of the mosaics in the dome and a view of the city.
Roman Forum (Temple of Apollo)
Definitely worth going up. There was a lot that we weren't able to see during the tour, but I'm glad we took the tour because it gave me a better understanding of everything. The earlier tour probably would have been the better option, it would have given us more time to explore afterwards.