[click here to read part one of the Rome blog]
July 25 (Monday)
We were up and out the door by about 9:30; we had to be at the Colosseum for our tour at 10.
Our family took an hour and a half tour called the “Colosseum, Underground and the Third Ring.” On this tour, you are taken to certain areas that are restricted to regular visitors, like the top floor and underground passageways.
After our tour ended, we walked several laps around the Colosseum’s main floor before we left to get some lunch.
We found a pizza place about ten minutes away from the Colosseum. We all split four different types of pizza.
After lunch, we walked back towards the Colosseum to meet up with our second tour guide, Stephania, who was going to take us around Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
We met up with Stephania around 14:15, and headed straight to Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is the hill (one of the seven of Rome) that overlooks the Roman Forum. On this hill are the remains of the huge Imperial Palace that overlook the once impressive Circus Maximus.
Once we had made our way through the remains of the Imperial Palace, we made our way down to the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum was the birthplace of ancient Rome. The collection of ruins seen today once served as ancient Rome’s civic center, its marketplace, its place of worship and its place of government.
After stopping at all the places of importance in the Roman Forum, we headed to the Church of San Pietro in Vinvoli (Church of Saint Peter in Chains).
This Church of Saint Peter in Chains houses a relic claiming to be the actual chains used to bind Saint Peter when he was martyred. It also houses Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
After staring at the Moses sculpture for a good, long while, we parted ways with our guide and slowly made our way back to the apartment. Along the way home, we shopped a little and got some dinner.
July 26 (Tuesday)
We got a very early start this morning; we were all up by 6 and out the door by around 7. We walked about ten minutes from our apartment to the metro station to take the metro to Vatican City. It was about a twenty minute ride. We had to be waiting for our guide, Stephania, (the same guide we had for Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum) outside the walls of the Vatican at 7:45/8.
We had reserved an early bird tour, which allowed our family and our guide to get into the museums and Sistine Chapel an hour before they opened to the public. This was so so soo worth the extra money. We went through security, got our tickets and made our way in. Our plan was to leisurely walk through the museum, not really stopping to look at anything, directly to the Sistine Chapel. Because of the way we timed everything, there were hardly any other people in the chapel once we arrived. We were able to find an open section of bench, so we sat together and just looked up at the ceiling and at the Last Judgment wall for about an hour. We also brought a pair of binoculars, so that was really cool to get to pass those around and see things on the ceiling in detail. The ceiling is truly an incredible feat. The size and perspective used is absolutely mind blowing. Words can’t even describe it. Of course, “NO PHOTOS” were allowed, so these were all snuck on my phone.
Our guide was very patient and let us spend as much time as we wanted in the chapel at the beginning of our tour. Most guides just walk you through from one end of the chapel to the other, barely stopping. We basically had to drag ourselves out of the chapel to continue on with our tour.
After leaving the chapel, we started at the beginning of the museums and went through everything room by room.
After going through all the rooms of the museums, we made our way through the papal tombs to get to Saint Peter’s Basilica, where we ended our tour. Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. To put it simply, it is extravagant and excessive.
Around 13:45, we had to part ways with Stephania (she had another tour to lead through the Vatican at 14:00). We joked and said, “We’ll see you again, because we’ll be here all day.” And we did end up seeing her again later in the day.
We took about an hour and a half break to eat lunch, to sit for a while and to caffeinate. We ate hot dogs and burgers in the Vatican cafe, and had cappuccino and a chocolate muffin for dessert.
Once we had gained our energy back, we headed back to the museums. We all split up – my sisters and I went to the Raphael rooms and the modern art gallery, my mom and Peter spent a lot of time in the Raphael rooms. We all planned to meet back up in the Sistine Chapel around 16:30. The modern gallery featured works by Rodin, Dali, Matisse, and many others.
When we all met back up in the Sistine Chapel, we sat in there for about another hour.
After this, we walked back through Saint Peter’s Basilica one last time.
After exiting the Vatican, all of us were basically brain dead from all the art we had seen.
We got back on the metro to get back to our apartment. Once we were back, we made dinner and went to bed pretty early.
July 27 (Wednesday): Dad’s Birthday
We all slept in pretty late. The plan for the day was no plan other than to do whatever dad wanted to do. We ate a big lunch of all our leftover food (we needed to eat it up because we were leaving the next morning to fly home). It was an odd assortment of things, but it was all yummy.
Dad decided that he just wanted to walk around the city. So around 15:00, we headed out to do just that.
First, we walked to the Spanish Steps, which were close to our apartment and were unfortunately under construction.
Next, we made our way to Giolitti’s for one last gelato. Once we got our gelato, we sang happy birthday to dad.
After finishing our gelato, we made our way to the Pantheon. While we were in the Pantheon, we sang dad happy birthday again (very quietly).
After wandering around the city for a little bit longer, we made our way to Abbey’s Irish Pub, for dinner (per dad’s request). Everyone but me got beef in Guinness, which was basically like a pot roast soaked in a Guinness sauce. I got an Irish breakfast, which was eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and beans. My mom, my dad and I got Kilkenny beers to drink. For dessert, dad got a chocolate lava cake, which he did not share with anyone.
We made our way back to our apartment to pack up and get ready to leave very early the next morning.
July 28 (Thursday)
We had to be up at around 4/4:30 to finish packing and get our stuff down to the street to meet our taxi at 5. We made our way to the airport, checked in, checked our bags and were off.
We flew from the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome, to the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, to RDU airport in North Carolina.