Roma, our last stop for this trip!
We arrived by train at the Termini, bought our Roma passes and headed to our hotel, the Trevi Palace (review here). The staff was kind enough to get our room ready before check-in time as we arrived earlier in the day. We napped for a bit and were then ready to begin sightseeing!
We started walking towards the Colosseum, grabbed lunch on the way (Indian food, after ages :D), and caught our first glimpse of this marvelous piece of architecture.
The Roma Pass line was significantly shorter and pretty soon we were inside, looking at the place where killing became a spectator sport, an ancient Hunger Games of sorts.
Leaving the gruesome gladiator games aside, the layout and structure of this massive amphitheater is inspirational, even considering modern standards.
For some reason, the Colosseum closed early this day, so we hung around for some post sunset pictures, had an early dinner and retired for the night.
The next morning was Vatican City day, with Viator tours. We arrived at the Viator office and the guide led us into the smallest country in the world.
Starting with the Belvedere, with it’s enchanting gardens and sculptures, he spoke about the history and architecture.
We continued to the galleries of tapestries and maps to the Sistine chapel with Michelangelo’s majestic frescoed ceiling.
Our last stop was the absolutely gorgeous St. Peters basilica and its gold work, statues and tombs of priests. There was actually a high-profile funeral in progress in one of the chapels when we were there.
We then went to climb the cupola. While we waited in line, a group of young Americans standing behind us were discussing their antics from the previous night, and were surprised to find out that pretty much everyone in the queue understood them :P.
We finally got to the top, and I must say the view from the top is spectacular. I wish there was better management though, the narrow walkway around the dome was extremely crowded as there was no restriction on the number of people entering and exiting.
We lounged about outside for some exterior pictures, and then wrapped up our visit with a lazy long lunch at a place that took the freshly-cooked philosophy to a whole new level, they actually served the food in the pans they cooked it in 😛
That evening was spent at the Pincio garden, giving us a lovely view of the Vatican dome, and of course a street musician. The lovely dusk and music set the scene for the surprise engagement a guy had planned for his girlfriend ❤ The musician switched to romantic songs for them as everyone cheered and congratulated the newly-engaged couple.
As night fell, the city started lighting up around us, and after a few pictures, we left for the hotel having spent yet another amazing day in this amazing country!
This was our last day in Italia!
We started our day at the Roman Forum, which we had to miss on our first day on account of it closing early. This epicenter of the ancient Roman empire gives you a tingling feeling just entering it, knowing that you will be walking on the same paths and stepping on the very stones as Julius Caesar, Constantine and other great rulers of the time!
We spent our morning ambling around from the Arch of Titus to the Columns of Phocas, again an audio guide providing an excellent tour and history revision.
That afternoon, we headed out towards the Pantheon, the temple of all Gods. Being around this building, I couldn’t help but recall the passages from Angels and Demons, where Robert Langdon and Vittoria start their search for the assassin threatening the Vatican (sorrynotsorry, my mind does wander a lot, especially in books pertaining to the places I visit.)
We spent some time in the piazza and in this unique building (for that time, built with bricks as opposed to marble).
A short distance from the Pantheon, we flopped down on a bench, helped ourselves to another delicious gelato, while watching a wedding photo shoot in progress.
We spent a couple more hours wandering around aimlessly around the Spanish steps, did a bit of shopping, and found ourselves in (what we eventually found out) Piazza Venezia, facing the imposing Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This square is pretty chaotic, we clicked a few pictures got out of there, toward the Trajan Market.
At the Trajan Market, we saw some light shows about to start, and we picked the one about Augustus (Caesar’s adopted son), which was a pretty good recreation of his story.
Thus, our last day in Rome and Italia came to a close, we stopped at a deli to get a quick dinner (awesome veggie lasagna) and went back to our hotel to pack and catch our early morning flight.
Our Italy-wide time-lapse:
Italian food and wine is sublime beyond any comparison. A quick peek into our culinary adventures.
My first European jaunt was absolutely epic. Rarely ever does one come across a place where every corner and structure is steeped in a culture so rich and ancient. Hats off to the Italian government and public for a country so well-preserved.
As always, I was a little bummed that my vacation was ending, but excited to back home to a new and challenging job!