This was the second time I had been to Rome and I was excited at the chance to start exploring Vatican city and this time take some photos that I could keep. The problem was that with so much to do in the city and so little time to explore, we would have a hard time fitting everything in (it had been hard enough exploring Athens). I was determined to try my best though, and my aching calfs at the end of the weekend were a testament to my success.
The Viale dilla Trinita dei Monti was the perfect place to get started. There were plenty of things to see as we strolled along the street, but the best thing about the road was the view of Rome. We spent a good half hour just sitting down on the wall and looking out over the rooftops of Rome. It was a great start to the weekend and a reminder of why I had to come to Rome and what I was hoping to see when we started exploring Vatican city.
We quickly decided that the first thing we wanted to do was start by exploring Vatican City. We started at the Vatican museum then afterwards visited the Papal Basilica of St Peter. The amount of time, expertise and care that went into creating these buildings was just incredible to see, which is why Rome is on my list of top 2013 European City Breaks. By far the most amazing thing we saw while exploring Vatican city was the Gallery of Maps; this long hallways just took my breath away, it really was that incredible. The frescoes on the roof were obviously painted by some of the greatest artists that ever lived.
After we finished exploring Vatican city we headed for the Pantheon (it is actually one of the first standing buildings made from concrete. Unfortunately the recipe for concrete was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire and was only rediscovered in the 17th century, which is why we don’t get any concrete castles). If you visit at the right time of day (which we didn’t) you can get awesome photos as the sun shines through the hole in the roof, lighting up the floor or the walls.
At this stage we were getting quite hot and sticky (we had been exploring Vatican city for half the day), so we decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream. In case you didn’t know, Italian ice cream is famous world wide for its great taste, so this was a real treat! Of course every Guide Book has its own recommendation of the best gelateria in the city, however we just used our common sense when making our choice; the gelateria with the longest line of Italians won (we didn’t regret it).
The next destination on our itinerary was the Victor Emmanuelle Monument, which was created to celebrate the unification of Italy. This place is seriously big was designed for a king who wanted to make a serious statement (I am the daddy!). The same principle of bigger is better applied to many of the buildings we saw while exploring Vatican city and Rome.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the many squares and sites that the Rome had to offer, but I knew where I wanted to be as the sun started to set; Uberto Bridge. with a view of the sun setting behind the Vatican and reflecting off of the waters of the River Tiber, this is simply the best spot in Rome spend your evening.
Time to be controversial. We decided to miss the Coliseum. The reason for this was threefold; there are always long queues, it’s expensive and to be honest I though the inside was pretty disappointing the last time I visited. I’m glad that I made the choice, because exploring Vatican city was far more interesting. However, there is nowhere better to spend the evening than by the Coliseum. From the outside it looks amazing. So we finished the day at a bar looking out over the Coliseum.
A word of warning, Rome wassn’t cheap. Hotels were expensive and we had to search to find cheap food, but that was a price worth paying to explore one of the historic centres of Europe. In short, exploring Vatican city and Rome was an unbeatable experience and although I was exhausted I was ready to explore the most dangerous country in the world.