The Eternally Regal - Rome
We left Florence around 10 am and did not reach Rome till the evening thanks to a detour/distraction AKA Tuscany's luxury outlet, The Mall. That was one small detour on the road, one huge dent in our budget :P My birthday in a few days was a valid excuse to go I'd say, no? I refuse to take the entire blame though, this idea was my husband's as much as it was mine and those who know him, know exactly what I mean :) We arrived at The Mall early (beat the Asian tour bus crowds :X), the kids cooperated, and we were out early enough to grab a quick lunch from a panini stand on the road to save time.
A no sweat three hour drive later, we entered Rome around 6-ish in the evening and headed straight to our
, checked-in and straightened our backs. We knew our time in Rome was extremely tight for the scale of the city and we would hardly be in our room so we made a budget friendly choice, closer to the Vatican Museum (more on why we chose this location a little later.) I was apprehensive as to how it would be, so it was huge relief when it turned out to be a pretty nice place. We went for dinner at this
conveniently located steps from our B&B, the food was enjoyable, and the service was friendly.
With our packed itinerary for Rome and all that it has to offer it made sense to make the most of every minute we had there. So, with two willing and wide awake kids, and one very excited husband, I was not going to call it a night yet. It was actually quite endearing to see how excited he was to show us around, this being his second time in his favorite Rome :) We ventured out on a 2 km walk to the Pantheon, with wonderful night time views of St. Peter's Basilica and Castel Sant'Angelo along the way. The walk was not short by any means and begged for a gelato break :P We finally made it to Piazza Della Rotonda and the Pantheon. It was livelier than other piazzas on the way but, I am sure it was not nearly as busy or crowded as it must be during the day. This and the fact that the Pantheon is just beautiful at night made it a good decision to visit it that late.
This people free shot of Pantheon would be near impossible at daytime
It was almost midnight and we were tempted to take a taxi back but, we did not give in and out-dared the long, and at times intimidatingly quiet walk back. (Rome is pretty safe for the most part but, it is always advisable to stay on busier and bigger, well lit streets, especially after dark to avoid becoming a victim of a petty crime.)
The next morning Vatican was first on our agenda, and this was the whole rationale behind this being our choice of location to stay. It took us a total of 5 minutes to walk to the Vatican Museum. We had purchased
online ahead of time and highly recommend you do the same. The online reservation fee is totally worth it because without exaggeration we skipped in front of a 2-3 hour ticket line. I cannot imagine what it's like in the Summer, and I felt bad for those in line despite the nasty looks we received from them.
Art lover or history buff or not, visit to the Vatican Museum was a delight, the showstopper being Michelangelo's artwork inside the Sistine Chapel. Pictures and videos are banned inside the Sistine Chapel so you have to see it to believe it. We ended our visit with a nice walk around the Vatican Gardens and were done before noon.
Art on various ceilings of Vatican Museum
Vatican Gardens and St. Peters Basilica
A snack-ish lunch at one of the Turkish cafes across from the Museum and we were on the Metro towards another must visits of Rome - the Colosseum. We decided against going inside, but if you do, I suggest you purchase tickets ahead of time as lines were just as ridiculous at the Colosseum as they were at the Vatican. I suggest getting a
if you will be in Rome for 3 days or more, which includes entry to two museums, all metro, bus , tram rides for 3 days and other discounts. Our decision was based on the fact that you can see, feel, and touch the Colosseum without having to go inside. There are trails that go over and around the ruins at the Forum with so many opportunities to observe and experience them up close that we did not feel like we missed out on anything. After a morning and afternoon loaded with enriching doses of history and its artistic and architectural remnants this family was ready for a nap back at the B&B.
The Roman Forum with my history buff
Rejuvenated after a good 2 hour rest we were ready to hit the town again to check off the remaining things on our long list for Rome. The Piazza di Spagna with the famous Spanish Steps was lovely. It was early evening and there was a sea of people on the steps or maybe it felt like that to me. The buzz around the square was invigorating, but I kind of would have liked it to be a little less crowded. Again did not want to think about the crowds in peak season. The Trevi Fountains were up next and we were a bit disappointed as it was undergoing a major 18 months long restoration. I mean, we could still appreciate the architectural beauty of it, but without the fountain flowing it left a little to be desired. :( :(
We went back to the Colosseum as soon as it was dark and were blown away by it at night in all its amber glory. If it is impressive at daytime, it is just glorious in every way at night. It also served as a magnificent backdrop for some amazing photos at night :P We then made our way to Piazza Venezia, which after all was said and done became my favorite spot in Rome. It is an imposing and stunning square where some of Rome's biggest and busiest avenues intersect. We really just stood there in awe for quite some time.
The splendid Piazza Venezia
What a day it had been!! And, a day like that called for a satisfying meal to close it. We ate at this
we had spotted earlier close to our B&B and enjoyed our meal. Rome is grand in each and every way, and I now get my husband's fondness for it. It delights you and overwhelms you at the same time and without a doubt leaves a lasting impression on you.
Look out for a post on the last leg of our trip that rounded up of our Italian saga on the Amalfi coast. It really was a dramatic finish!