EuropeItalyRome

My Vacation is Ruined

Rome Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 13 › view all entries
Arriving at Fiumicino Airport

Nearly totally exhausted, we headed out one more time (just before dusk).  After only 2 Metro stops, we exited the subway at the stop for the Colosseum.   As you exit the subway, the immense Colosseum fills your view - it’s spectacular!  We crossed the street and walked around a bit - we were too late to enter the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, but the view from the street is pretty good.  Within just a 15 minute walk are the Roman and Imperial Forum and the Colosseum.  Just standing at one end the street and looking towards the Colosseum, the sight of thousands of years of history is awe inspiring.  The Forum is still an active archeological site - we could see the dig and preservation work in progress.

 

After a fairly quick tour, we decided to try to find a nearby restaurant from a guidebook.

Roma Termini (rail station)
  After finally reaching the Taverna Romana (which promised fresh, local cuisine), we found it to be a very quaint, tiny restaurant…with about an hour wait.  Rather hungry, we decided to walk around and find another place.  We found what appeared to be a nice trattoria, and it turned out to be perfect.  The house red wine was delicious, and the meal was equally enticing.  We met a fellow US traveler, named Michael (from Chicago)  who was very familiar with Rome and all of Italy.  He shared lots of tips to use for another day in Rome.   After cappuccino and excellent chocolate desserts (sorry, we forgot to take pictures!), we got a cab back to the Hotel Centro for a well deserved night’s sleep.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Rome Opera House

After several failed attempts to hail a cab (either they are all very busy in the afternoon, or we didn’t quite get the right gesture), we decided to take the Metro to the Vatican.  The Rome Metro looks exactly like the Washington, DC Metro system (we believe the trains are made by the same company).  We traveled only a few stops, and departed just outside the Vatican.  Within a few blocks, you are accosted by tour operators promising “hours in line” (just book a tour to avoid them!)  We walked into Saint Peters square (Piazza de la San Pietre), and found the line wasn’t too long, so we decided to wait for entry.

 

Of course, it was an incredible feeling to be standing just outside St.

Piazza della Repubblica
Peters, and the sight of the Holy See.  The Piazza San Pietro is vast and spectacular, and the Basilica is immense.  After about only 30 minutes wait in the hot sun, we entered the Basilica.  It’s free, but once you get inside, you either have to be in a tour, or pay to enter either the Papal Tombs (below) or climb the cupola (above) in order to be able to walk inside the Basilica. We opted to climb the cupola.  We paid €7 to take the elevator (ascensore) instead of €5 to take the stairs, but we still had to climb 332 steps!  The climb was dizzying and unnerving at times (see Rob on the tight spiral staircase), but once atop the cupola, the view was unbelievable.  (I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves).

 

After the harrowing climb back down a different set of spiral stairs, we decided to try to enter the Vatican Museum, mainly to see Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel.

Terma di Diocleziano (Roman Baths)
  We barely made the last entry to the museum, and tried to make a quick dash directly there in case it would be closed.  It was a maddening race – there were literally signs everywhere for the “Capella Sistina”, and it always seemed to be just around the corner.  After about 30 minutes of racing through the museum, we finally found the long line to enter the Chapel.  After waiting a bit, you finally get to enter the very crowded chapel, where guards are constantly telling the boisterous crowd to “shhh” and that pictures are forbidden.  It’s quite breathtaking to see the iconic ceiling relief, and we stayed for a bit to take it all in.  The scale, richness, and detail of the Muriel (paintings adorn every corner of the Chapel) is remarkable.

 

What was the most surprising was that the Musei Vatican is itself an enormous museum (it’s actually the largest art collection in the world!)  In addition to the religious artifacts, there are also many other collections (Rob was particularly taken by the Greek collection and the Roman artifacts – the way they were displayed, as if suspended in time, was art in of itself).

Pizza for lunch (olives & potatoes)
  This would be first on the list of places to return when we are back in Rome.  It is like walking through time.  Beginning with ancient Egypt to modern day Catholicism, the museum is Western Civilization enshrined.    

 

After the visit to the museum and the climb of the cupola (and considering we had just landed after an overnight flight), we were drained.  We stopped for a bite to eat and our first taste of gelato, then headed back to the room for another shower.  Only one more historic visit was left for our first day in Rome.
Hotel Centro room

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but given our travel schedule, we’re trying to see it all in one!  After our 8AM arrival in Fiumicino Airport, we caught the Leonardo Express train to Termini Station.  The station is only a few blocks walk from our hotel, but somehow given the heat (it’s around 90 degrees) and our fatigue, we had to stop for a break.  Our first cappuccino in Italy – and it was perfection: smooth, rich, and just the right temperature.

 

After checking in at the Hotel Centro (next door to the opera house), we found our room would be ready in about an hour (by noon).  We wandered a bit to find some food, and discovered the first amazing thing about Rome – you literally stumble into history here.  We hadn’t been walking five minutes before we came across the remains of the largest Roman baths, built around 200 A.

Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City
D.  And just next store was the Basilica Santa Maria Degli Angeli, built by Michelangelo in 1560.  (They both serve as the Roman National Museum, which was unfortunately closed on Monday).  Then, completely by chance, we discovered the birthplace of Enrico Fermi’s (OK, so Don's really the only one who appreciated that, since he's the guy who discovered the electron), marked by an engraved plaque.

 

Next we found some neighborhood pizza (which I think had onions, potatoes, and green olives, yum!)  (Excuse the picture, we forgot to snap it before we took our first hungry bite.)  Somehow I ended up ordering a combo, and we waited patiently for them to hand make some Roman patatine (what we would call French Fries), which were unfortunately not very good.

 

After that, it was back to the room for a quick shower, and then we headed out for our first sightseeing excursion, Vatican City (to be continued)...
Arriving at Fiumicino Airport
Arriving at Fiumicino Airport
Roma Termini (rail station)
Roma Termini (rail station)
Rome Opera House
Rome Opera House
Piazza della Repubblica
Piazza della Repubblica
Terma di Diocleziano (Roman Baths)
Terma di Diocleziano (Roman Baths)
Pizza for lunch (olives & potatoes)
Pizza for lunch (olives & potatoes)
Hotel Centro room
Hotel Centro room
Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City
Swiss Guard outside Basilica San P…
Swiss Guard outside Basilica San …
Don prepares to climb the remainin…
Don prepares to climb the remaini…
Inside Michelangelos cupola
Inside Michelangelo's cupola
Rob climbs the spiral staircase to…
Rob climbs the spiral staircase t…
View of Piazza San Pietro from the…
View of Piazza San Pietro from th…
View of Rome from the cupola
View of Rome from the cupola
Inside Basilica San Pietro (its i…
Inside Basilica San Pietro (it's …
Roman Sculpture exhibit in the Vat…
Roman Sculpture exhibit in the Va…
Spiral Staircase exiting the Vaitc…
Spiral Staircase exiting the Vait…
The Colosseum (dramatic at dusk)
The Colosseum (dramatic at dusk)
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum
Ruins and excavation at the Roman …
Ruins and excavation at the Roman…
The Imperial Forum
The Imperial Forum
Past al pepe (cheese and black pep…
Past al pepe (cheese and black pe…
Canneloni
Canneloni
Bisteca di manzo (beef, over chees…
Bisteca di manzo (beef, over chee…
Chicken saltimboca (topped with pr…
Chicken saltimboca (topped with p…
Rome
photo by: vulindlela