Tuesday, May 30th
We flew from Athens to Rome and landed at Ciampino airport around 11am before catching a 45 minute bus ride into the city. After getting off the bus at Termini Station, the central train station in Rome, we walked to our hostel. Since it was before 2 we were unable to check in and had to place our backpacks in lockers. Following this, we walked back to the station to meet one of our childhood friends from Phoenix, Ryan Neel. It was nice to see him again, since we hadn’t seen him in about 9 years. After walking for a bit we found a place to eat. We spent about 2 hours eating and catching up with Ryan.
After we finished eating we headed back to the hostel to drop our backpacks off in the room since we were unable to do so earlier. We spent a few minutes unpacking and then we started to walk to the Spanish Steps. The journey took about 40 minutes, 10 of which we spent walking through a large park to get there. The steps were pretty cool to walk down and we sat and watched other people walk down them for a few minutes. The most memorable thing we observed was the people who go around selling water bottles were chased away by the police.
Since it was only 6, we decided to walk to the Trevi Fountain which was only a few blocks away. The fountain was very crowded, but we managed to find a good spot to look at the fountain. The fountain is very large and full of coins. It is good luck to turn your back to the fountain and toss in a coin.
Next, since it was around 7, we decided to walk to the Colosseum to see it at night. While we would be taking a tour a different day, we just wanted to have a look at night. Following that we ate dinner at a restaurant nearby. The pizza was delicious (had a gluten free crust) and Dan had pasta. Afterwards we ventured back to our hostel for the night.
We woke up around 9, and left the hostel around 9:30 to visit the Vatican. We took the metro there, since there was a metro station very close to our hostel. Once we arrived, we walked a few blocks to the entrance. Once we arrived we were both very suprised to find that there was not a line to enter! Usually there is a line and it can take about an hour to enter. After buying the tickets we also purchased an audio guide because they help to give good descriptions of items in the Vatican Museum. The Vatican Museum is ranked as one of the best in the world and is filled with different artifacts that the Popes and the Catholic Church have collected through the years. The highlight of the Vatican Museum was walking through the rooms that were painted by Michaneglo and the Sistine Chapel. My favorite was Michaneglo’s painting of the School of Athens.
After spending some time admiring the Chapel, we exited and started to make our way to St. Peter’s Basilica. On the way, we decided to climb to the top of the Basilica. It was a very interesting climb, about 531 steps to the top of the dome. On the way up, you are able to look down into the Basilica from inside the dome. At the very top of the dome you have breathtaking view of Rome. The dome is the highest point in Rome and you are able to see the entire city. The view was definitely work the steep climb up! Once we made our way down from the dome, we entered St. Peter’s Basilica.
Top: view from the top of the Basilica
Bottom Left: stunning tile work in he rotunda
Bottom Right: climbing in the dome of the Basilica
St. Peter’s was magnificent. It was by far the most beautiful church I have visited. We spent some time walking around and looking at the different aspects of the church. After spending about half and hour gazing at the different parts we left and walked through St. Peter’s Square. After exiting the square we got a bite to eat and a nearby restaurant.
Following lunch, we started walking to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was a former Roman temple and was later converted to a church. Today the Pantheon is still an active church and is much different that any church I had previously visited. The church is situated in a very large dome with the altar and chairs pews facing the altar. At the top of the dome is a large hole that allows in sunlight.
On the way back from the Pantheon we stopped at a local Gelato shop. It was pretty tasty and refreshing since it was a very hot day. After finishing the Gelato we headed back to the hostel for the night.
On this day we would be leaving Rome, but not until 10:20pm. After checking out and leaving our backpacks in some lockers in the hostel we headed to the Colosseum. The line surprisingly wasn’t that long and in about half an hour we had bought our tickets. The audio guide for the Colosseum was excellent and really helped to convey the history of it. It was especially interesting to learn about how the Colosseum has changed over the years. For instance is was a Catholic Church and at another time it was used as a residence for wealthy families. It was also interesting to learn how parts of the Colosseum were taken and used in other buildings in Rome such as St Peter’s Basilica.
Upon exiting we decided to walk around the area a bit because we still had a lot more time before the train arrived. After walking around we ate lunch at a nearby pizza place. Since we still had a few hours we headed back to the large park we had walked through 2 days ago. At the park we rented Segways for an hour. It was kinda scary hopping on the for the first time because they definitely took a few minutes to get accustomed to.However after about half an hour we started feeling confident enough to take the off the paved paths on to the gravel ones. Overall it was a wonderful experience and we were both glad that we decided to rent them.
Finally we returned to the hostel to pick up our backpacks and then headed to the train station. Thankfully since it was pretty late at night, the station wasn’t too crowded and we were able to board the correct train to Venice!