Our third day in Rome was the one I was most excited about, we were going to visit the Vatican City! After seeing it from the open top bus the day before, I was super excited and willing to queue no matter what. But, it didn’t take us long after we heard the length of the queue to decide it would be a good idea to pay for a queue jump and guided tour, something we didn’t regret.
Our little tour group made of a few English, a couple of Americans and a Scandinavian couple, followed our trusty guide Daniela (an enthusiastic and humorous Italian woman) around the walls of the Vatican to the entrance, or, customs if you like, it is after all a country.
After security checks and receiving our radios – so we could hear Daniela through an ear piece so as not to get her words of wisdom muddled with that of any of the other 20 guides – we went into the Vatican Museums. The Pope is not permitted to purchase art, therefore the museum is for the purpose of displaying the many Papal rooms and also the hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of pieces of art that have been donated to his holiness over the years.
From priceless Roman sculpture of perfect proportion to intricate maps of medieval Italy painted onto the walls, you could literally be in there for days if you stopped and admired each piece. But the last was definitely the highlight, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece.
Although disappointingly, nobody seemed to abide by the rule of silence in the chapel, it was still incredible to see the famed vaulted ceiling of the Popes private place of worship. From the creation of man, to the Last Judgment on the far wall, there was a lot to take in. With so many people crammed in looking upwards, it was slightly harder to appreciate, but there was no way your couldn’t marvel at the detail and sheer scale of the work. And as for the famous conclave, which I was curious about, it was hard to see how this all worked, there were no tables and no chimney, so as to fit as many gawping tourists as possible in.
After the Sistine Chapel, we finished our time in the Vatical wandering around the huge St Peter’s Basilica before going to find a much needed Espresso – the tour took about 4 hours all together.
After a refuel we headed back to the hotel via the Metro, which we hadn’t used before, stopping on our way to buy obligatory Pope Francis souvenirs – I still regret not buying that bobble head – and freshened up for our final dinner. I was determined to find spaghetti.
We stopped at a cute restaurant near the Pantheon (not before getting lost on our way of course) and both had our dream meals, Tom had pesto and grilled Mozerella and I had Bruschetta and seafood spaghetti. So good, and definitely a worthy last night meal.
On our last day we didn’t have to leave for the airport until 3pm, so headed down to the River Tiber for a walk and then to Castel St Angelo, the imposing fort overlooking the river. The castle, if nothing else, was worth visiting just for the almost 360 degree views of Rome at the top which we admired for ages before deciding that it was unfortunately time to leave the city and make our way back to Fumicino Airport.
Rome was fantastic, a city of wonderful food, stunning architecture and fascinating history – all the features of a perfect city! I’d love to go back soon, but as we did all of the main tourist attractions I think I would be happy to wait a couple of years first and then happily see the Colloseum and Vatican again. But ask me to go to another city in Italy tomorrow? I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes, and not just for the incredible food!