We didn’t start out too well in Rome, our train was delayed by over two hours from Florence so we ended up getting into Rome after 8:30PM and caught a taxi to the apartment after letting our BnB Rome host Serena know of the delay.
Once we had got into the apartment and had a shower it was about 10:00 before we went out looking for some dinner. We had a lovely meal though at a place recommended by Serena that was just down the road.
Next day, our only day for sight seeing in Rome, again didn’t start well. The apartment was just a short walk from the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, so we were down early (just after 8:30) to make an early start as I had pre-booked tickets, only to find that the so-called “guardians” of the Colosseum had taken a half day strike and the Colosseum and Palatine Hill (Forum, etc) was closed until 12:30. I had also booked a tour of the Vatican Museum for the afternoon so that rather spoiled the start of the day.
We walked a little further into Rome and caught a Hop on Hop Off bus that took us to the Vatican (the idea being that we would try and get back to the Colosseum at the end of the day on the bus).
It was a really hot day, Rome was really crowded and the Vatican was worse, hotter and more crowded. We waited in a queue to go through security for St Peters Basilica for about 45 mins to an hour with thousands of people. When we finally got into the Basilica it was pretty crowded. Still it was worth the wait to see Michelangelo’s Pieta – quite beautiful! The Basilica itself was enormous – huge! Even filled with tourists you got a real impression of the size and grandeur of its design – very impressive.
We spent about an hour in the Basilica and then went closer to the Vatican Museum to grab a bite to eat for lunch and get ready for our tour that started at 1:30PM. The Vatican Museum is really impressive and worth taking a guided tour as there is just so much to see – it is huge. We spent well over 2 and a half hours in the museum and the Sistine Chapel before getting out again just next to St Peters. The museum is really interesting with a huge amount of treasures from ancient Greek and Roman statues and artworks (including wonderful mosaics and tapestries). The Raphael fresco’s in the Papal apartments were particularly impressive. Obviously the Sistine Chapel with its beautiful painted ceiling of the Creation and fresco of the Last Judgement by Michelangelo were the real highlight and definitely worth seeing. The only downside is that you are crammed into the Sistine Chapel (which is relatively small –being the Pope’s private chapel) with thousands of other tourists – but still it was awe-inspiring to see the fresco’s for real the first time. Beautiful!
We snuck back into St Peters to have one last look at the Pieta before heading back through St Peters square to catch the Hop On / Off bus again back to the Colosseum, only to arrive at the gate at about 6:45 to find that it had closed 30 minutes earlier (an hour before the official closing time) and we couldn’t get in.
Anyway at that stage we were tired and over the crowds in Rome and wanted to get back to our apartment and get something to eat for dinner. Next day we were due to catch the train for Naples and 3 days at Positano to recover. We needed a break by then, totally over the crowds of people, museums and churches! Looking forward to the beauty, peace and (relative) serenity of Positano and Cinque Terre.