It’s our last night in Rome tonight, we arrived on Sunday following a 2 hour train ride from Naples. We’re all over Italian trains now, it was daunting at first but once you figure out the basics it’s all pretty easy.
On Sunday afternoon after dumping our bags at the hotel (close to Termini station) we set off on a hike around the city. We’ve been doing a LOT of walking due to public transport strikes. Got to work the pizza & pasta off somehow though I guess.
We stumbled on the Spanish steps (thinking we were at the Trevi fountain, haha). They were nice, covered in flowers this week… But the crowds were terrible. When we found the fountain it was much the same, fought our way in grabbed a picture for the photo album and bailed.
We then made our way down towards the Tiber to the old Jewish Ghetto and did an audio walking tour that I found on iTunes. The Jews sure had a tough time, but it’s a nice area now and still a cultural hub for the Jewish people in Rome. Grabbed a takeaway fried artichoke before heading back to the hotel to rest up. Om nom nom!
We were up early for a big day of sightseeing on Monday. Hit the Colosseum first and jumped the queues because we’d bought a “Roma Pass” from tourist information at the train station. It’s simply amazing that the Colosseum is still standing after all the metal and stone that the Romans have pillaged from it over the years. What a testament to their engineering!
The Roman Forum and some other archaeological sites are across the road so we had a walk around those too. There’s so many monuments here that it’s all a bit overwhelming after a while.
On the way out of the Forum we saw a museum advertising a Salvatore Dalí exhibition, couldn’t pass that up!! It was fantastic, no photography allowed so I can’t share it with you but they had a good number of his works, notebooks and scraps from his time in Italy, an autographed Vespa and some video stuff as well. We were stoked to have discovered the exhibition by accident.
Tourist information had let us know that the Vatican attractions would be closed on Tuesday (labour day) so we decided to head over there In the afternoon. I’ve never seen such a crowd! It was crazy. Approaching the lines a salesperson convinced me it would be worth joining a guided tour to jump the queues… I’m glad we did because I don’t think we would have made it in on our own. The queue for the Vatican Museums was literally 8 people wide and stretched for around 4 blocks! Apparently it hasn’t been like this since John Paul II died. Even with the priority tour tickets it was absolute mayhem, the museums were just a swirling sea of people and it took us around 4 hours from arriving until we finally got to see the Sistine Chapel. Luckily the girl guiding our tour was pretty funny and could talk the hat off a Pope. I was hoping to climb to the top St Peter’s basilica but unfortunately the stairs & elevator were closed after all that time. Wasn’t too disappointed as Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel ceiling is something you need to see… Sounds clichéd but photos don’t do it justice. Elyse’s feet were sore and my legs were ready to quit so we were relieved that the metro trains were running again (after the strike) for a ride back to Termini.
This morning we set off to the Capuchin Crypt; a few small rooms under a church that contain the bones of some 4,000 Capuchin friars arranged in intricate patterns. A silent reminder of our mortality, a plague in the final room reads:
What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…
A walk past the Pantheon and through the Piazza Navona then along the Tiber took us down to the trendy suburb of Trastevere on the west bank. Lots of narrow cobbled streets, plenty of character and a delightful shortage of souvenir shops! We found a great restaurant and treated ourselves to pasta, some wine, a shared dessert and coffee (great coffee!) 🙂