I couldn’t exactly take three consecutive weeks off in a row so while the rest of the family enjoyed their time in Paris and Salzburg, I went back to work. Instead the compromise was for me to meet them in their final European destination, Rome since I hadn’t spent any time there either. Since my sister organised most of the other parts of the journey, Rome was my responsiblity.
I managed to find a decent apartment located right near the Spanish Steps that was extremely convenient for when you arrived from the airport and the main train station and also perfect walking distance to all of the major Roman tourist destinations.
Like most other old European cities, Rome is packed with plenty of tourist destinations and although we strived to see as many as we could, doing as the Romans do, took our leisurely time doing so. Like most other tourists, we wandered the various piazzas, went along to all the magnificant buildings and marvelled at the winding streets whilst enjoying plenty of gelato in the process.
Here’s a picture of the famous Trevi Fountain that, I think, is best lit up at night.
We also went to Campo de Fiori, one of the famous markets for food, where you could watch all the excellent seasonal produce available to all the locals. It’s definitely a place that’s more accomodating to tourists with plenty of market stalls taking advantage of all the potential buyers, particularly with many of their premium products such as truffle based products and high quality olive oils, and liquours. One stall even sold stove top Moka’s of all kinds.
I’d organised for us to join a number of tours because of the deep history associated with the city and plenty of it unknown to us or that a real person would provide a much better experience than any guidebook possibly could.
Our first tour took us to the Vatican City, technically a country on its own though we didn’t get any stamps in our passports to prove it. Going on a guided tour to enter here is definitely worth it because, if anything, you get to skip the infamous queues if you’re in a tour group. Unfortunately when we went, we skipped the lines to buy tickets but still got caught up in the security queue given all of Europe was apparently on extremely high terror alert.
Our tour guide, a friendly American Irish tour guide was well worth the money (we went via Eden Walks) providing excellent entertainment and keeping the tour interesting and relevant. He even went ahead and brought props of his own making to help explain the insides of the Sistine Chapel rather than crowd around the public ones the rest of the visitors would.
Here’s our tour guide prepared with a copy of the Sistine Chapel roof top since you’re not supposed to talk in the building and the collage of pictures outside is overcrowded with tourists
The vatican city is vast with so much history I think you could repeat the tour four times and hear about different aspects all of the time. They have some pretty spectacular statues such as the one below showing the slaying of Medusa.
They also had plenty of non standard statues, some of them particularly freaky looking like this life-like statue with eyes painted in.
We also did a tour of the famous Roman ruins, the Forum and its well worth getting a guide for this yet again because there is literally nothing but ruined stone formations which require a fantastic story teller to bring to life. We had a fantastic Swedish/Italian tour guide associated with Preso Tours whose quirky humour made us laugh quite a lot. She was a lot younger than many of the other tour guides so I think that also contributed to the high energy in the tour itself. We ended up this tour in the huge Roman Colosseum which was quite surreal to stand inside, both from a size perspective but also from having watched the movie Jumper last year where they spend a good amount of time at.
We had plenty of great food and although we succumbed to probably some of the more tourist joints, the quality of the food still ended up being reasonably good. At least I think the food we ate ended up much better quality than some of the cheapo tourist joints you’d find in London.