Day 2 in Rome (2011 Trip)

August 27, 2011 – The Vatican, Trastevere, and Nighttime Walks!

On our first full day in Rome, which was Saturday, we got up early as I had booked us on a private tour of the Vatican museums and St Peters. This was also the first time we ended up using our Roma Pass for the subway there. That was quite easy especially as I had read before that with the Roma pass you just hold it over the yellow sensor, which isn’t at all apparent. So we got a bit dressed up, wearing our nice pants and a button down shirt as you have to dress respectful for the Vatican, although from what I saw later, that doesn’t to seem to be enforced too heavily. I’m guessing that it comes down to really just not wearing a g-string or something!We took the subway though to the Ottaviano stop, which was a stop too early although it didn’t really matter.

After getting our bearings thanks to the iPhone’s GPS, we got to where we needed to go that early morning. Our meeting point was at the bottom of the stairs across from the entrance to the Vatican Museums with the Dark Rome tour guides. We met at 7:55 to get in early and the group was guaranteed not to be more than 10 people, with us it ended up being a group of only 5. Two of us, another gay couple but older, and a seeming lesbian. Awesome group actually. And the tour guide, a beautiful Italian woman, made six. The tour was amazing and lasted about 3 hours, with our guide giving us fantastic explanations about all the rooms and galleries, including the many Vatican museum chambers such as Raphael, the navigation corridor, the courtyards, but of course it all led to the Sistine Chapel. Still so breathtaking, but just very crowded. You can’t take your own pictures, apparently because the Japanese funded the restoration and also own the copyright?  Flashes hurt the paint too, and it’s dark in there anyway. Looking at official reproductions of it later will be better than any picture you take yourself.

After the Sistine Chapel you then head into St Peters which is never disappointing. It’s enormous. We didn’t climb the steps up the cupola as I think we both were a little hot, as it was very hot still in the city and we were wearing pants. Also, I had forgotten to bring a second camera battery and the one in my camera was nearly spent from yesterday, so I was sparing with my camera, well, kinda, as if I turned the camera on, took a picture quickly, then turned the camera off, it was fine. Still can’t believe I did that. After the tour ended and we said goodbye to our tour mates, the gay couple actually are on the cruise with us, but we haven’t seen them yet and it’s day two of the cruise. Larry and I went to grab lunch north of the Vatican and had a good but early lunch. We were exhausted as it was effing hot so we took the subway back to our hotel so we could change out of the pants. We ended up also just passing out and having a siesta. A few hours later, and we were then ready to head out for the evening.

Touring the Vatican / St. Peters

Who doesn't love shadows in the morning?
Who doesn't love shadows in the morning?26-Aug-2011 14:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1250
A quiet Rome in the morning as we walk to the Vatican Museum
A quiet Rome in the morning as we walk to the Vatican Museum26-Aug-2011 22:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
The Vatican walls in the distance
The Vatican walls in the distance26-Aug-2011 22:43, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
There's the Wall
There's the Wall26-Aug-2011 22:45, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
You're not wanted in.
You're not wanted in.26-Aug-2011 22:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
Our tour meeting point
Our tour meeting point26-Aug-2011 22:49, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
No thanks
No thanks26-Aug-2011 22:51, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 3.5, 7.373mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 160
Larry & I at the meeting point, along with some cruisemates
Larry & I at the meeting point, along with some cruisemates26-Aug-2011 22:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
The entry archway into the Vatican Museum
The entry archway into the Vatican Museum26-Aug-2011 23:10, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 9.592mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400
 
Once through the ticket booth, there you are - with St Peters beckoning
Once through the ticket booth, there you are - with St Peters beckoning26-Aug-2011 23:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
So phenomenal
So phenomenal26-Aug-2011 23:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.0, 7.815mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
Michelangelo's triumph, although he actually didn't get to make it himself
Michelangelo's triumph, although he actually didn't get to make it himself26-Aug-2011 23:24, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 12.056mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
yeah, can't help myself again
yeah, can't help myself again26-Aug-2011 23:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
Me & St Peters
Me & St Peters26-Aug-2011 23:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 400
Larry too, in his nice pants
Larry too, in his nice pants26-Aug-2011 23:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
 

Larry wanted to eat in Trastevere and I still wanted to see the Circus Maximus so we took the subway south to the Circus Maximus stop. Amazingly enough the Circus Maximus itself is right there and while they haven’t done anything to preserve it, it is still kinda impressive. We walked from there across the river Tiber into Trastevere, a stunningly beautiful section of Rome that is medieval and quaint and picturesque. It’s all cobblestone there too and you just can get lost wandering around its little streets filled with restaurants and merchants and squares. After walking awhile around the town, we found a little place that when we got there was decently crowded but by the time we left was packed. Very charming outdoor seating with the lights above, great food and all for a great price. Larry finally had his flora di zucca friti.

Circus Maximus

After an afternoon siesta, we ventured south on the Metro to the Circus Maximus.  That's it in the foreground with the Palatine hill behind it (where
After an afternoon siesta, we ventured south on the Metro to the Circus Maximus. That's it in the foreground with the Palatine hill behind it (where27-Aug-2011 09:04, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
Larry on the edge - this arena allegedly held 250,000 spectators at one point.  Sort of a super Nascar thing of the ancient times.
Larry on the edge - this arena allegedly held 250,000 spectators at one point. Sort of a super Nascar thing of the ancient times.27-Aug-2011 09:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
Not sure when I decided to puff out my chest like that - I blame Larry's timing
Not sure when I decided to puff out my chest like that - I blame Larry's timing27-Aug-2011 09:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
 
That's more my style
That's more my style27-Aug-2011 09:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
A closer view of the Palatine ruins from the Circus Maximus
A closer view of the Palatine ruins from the Circus Maximus27-Aug-2011 09:07, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 11.606mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
We decided to walk the length of it, without the aid of any Ben-Hur style chariots.  Luckily the weather was delicious at this time of day.
We decided to walk the length of it, without the aid of any Ben-Hur style chariots. Luckily the weather was delicious at this time of day.27-Aug-2011 09:08, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 400
 
Such a beautiful expanse and surprisingly untouched.
Such a beautiful expanse and surprisingly untouched.27-Aug-2011 09:08, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
The endpoint Cypress tree
The endpoint Cypress tree27-Aug-2011 09:13, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
Looking back from whence we came
Looking back from whence we came27-Aug-2011 09:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 
The Cypress tree we just passed
The Cypress tree we just passed27-Aug-2011 09:16, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
As we left the Circus Maximus and headed towards Trastevere, we passed this.  No idea what it is.
As we left the Circus Maximus and headed towards Trastevere, we passed this. No idea what it is.27-Aug-2011 09:21, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 320
Looking back towards the Circus Maximus
Looking back towards the Circus Maximus27-Aug-2011 09:21, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 

Exploring Trastevere

the River Tiber!
the River Tiber!27-Aug-2011 09:24, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 400
Not sure what this is...but it was a beautiful sight
Not sure what this is...but it was a beautiful sight27-Aug-2011 09:24, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 3.5, 6.932mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 160
Now on the Trastevere side of the river Tiber
Now on the Trastevere side of the river Tiber27-Aug-2011 09:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 
Hey, you!
Hey, you!27-Aug-2011 09:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
Hey, you!
Hey, you!27-Aug-2011 09:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
Heyyyyy
Heyyyyy27-Aug-2011 09:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 
Entering the utterly charming section of Rome called Trastevere.  A MUST for anyone who visits Rome.  It's simply....magical.
Entering the utterly charming section of Rome called Trastevere. A MUST for anyone who visits Rome. It's simply....magical.27-Aug-2011 09:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
Lots of quaint, colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and outdoor shops and restaurants.  So unlike the main part of Rome, but still so connected d
Lots of quaint, colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and outdoor shops and restaurants. So unlike the main part of Rome, but still so connected d27-Aug-2011 09:30, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 160
Larry has his happy face on.  That means he approves.
Larry has his happy face on. That means he approves.27-Aug-2011 09:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 320
 
The sun was deliriously golden at this time of day as sunset occurred.  Ah, I can still remember it.  Oh, and there's my shadow.
The sun was deliriously golden at this time of day as sunset occurred. Ah, I can still remember it. Oh, and there's my shadow.27-Aug-2011 09:43, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
Larry in the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
Larry in the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere27-Aug-2011 09:45, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 400
A very charming place indeed
A very charming place indeed27-Aug-2011 09:45, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
 
Heyyyyyy
Heyyyyyy27-Aug-2011 09:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
Whassaa matta you?
Whassaa matta you?27-Aug-2011 09:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 250
I liked the cobblestones
I liked the cobblestones27-Aug-2011 09:47, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 160
 

After dinner, it was nighttime and it was time to do Rick Steves’ nighttime walk across Rome. Such a great thing, as he even tells you how to link up from a dinner in Trastevere and start the walk at the Campo di Fiore. It was a beautiful night to do this as at that point it’s dark but the temperature has fallen enough from the heat of the day that it is now perfectly comfortable. It was also a Saturday night so everyone was out and about. I took a ton of pictures from the walk but we ended up going to the Campo di Fiore, the Piazza di Navone (an amazing and huge plaza with lots of performers and vendors), the Pantheon (which at night is dramatic, but when you add an opera singer becomes stunning), Giolitti’s (apparently one of the best gelaterias in Rome – I accidentally got mango and chocolate in mine….chocolate was great but mango was a bit strong), then to Trevi Fountain (amazing to see in person and quite crowded, but Larry and I both tossed coins in the fountain), and finally the Spanish Steps. It was a huge itinerary and well worth it but exhausting. So we got a cab for the ride back to the hotel. If we had made it there faster and by 11, we might have caught the metro, but this way we got to experience a car in Rome, and those guys especially in tourist areas, feel like you are driving on the sidewalks at some points as the road is so narrow and pedestrians and cars alike are sharing the way.

Nighttime Walk

Rick Steves has a nighttime walk through Rome - and it coincidentally can start from Trastevere.  Yay!  So we crossed the Ponte Sisto to begin and her
Rick Steves has a nighttime walk through Rome - and it coincidentally can start from Trastevere. Yay! So we crossed the Ponte Sisto to begin and her27-Aug-2011 12:03, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1600
Larry might be a bit nervous, but he had nothing to fear.
Larry might be a bit nervous, but he had nothing to fear.27-Aug-2011 12:04, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
I'm ready to go.....and check out that hot guy walking my way.  Multiply that by lots and that's Rome for you.  Yowza.
I'm ready to go.....and check out that hot guy walking my way. Multiply that by lots and that's Rome for you. Yowza.27-Aug-2011 12:04, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
St Peters at night
St Peters at night27-Aug-2011 12:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 14.088999mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 1600
This may have been the spookiest part of the walk as we headed toward the Campo di Fiore.  Not many folks walking here....
This may have been the spookiest part of the walk as we headed toward the Campo di Fiore. Not many folks walking here....27-Aug-2011 12:09, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1000
Larry sensed people so his anxiety slowly ebbed
Larry sensed people so his anxiety slowly ebbed27-Aug-2011 12:10, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1600
 
The French Embassy in the Piazza Farnese, which has a Michaelangelo-designed facade
The French Embassy in the Piazza Farnese, which has a Michaelangelo-designed facade27-Aug-2011 12:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600
These fountains are actually Roman hot tubs from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla
These fountains are actually Roman hot tubs from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla27-Aug-2011 12:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
The path from Piazza Farnese to the Campo di Fiore
The path from Piazza Farnese to the Campo di Fiore27-Aug-2011 12:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
In the Campo di Fiore, with Larry and the statue of Bruno, an intellectual heretic burned right there on that spot!
In the Campo di Fiore, with Larry and the statue of Bruno, an intellectual heretic burned right there on that spot!27-Aug-2011 12:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
Campo di Fiore, a quite active and exciting place to hang out.  But hanging out was not for us!
Campo di Fiore, a quite active and exciting place to hang out. But hanging out was not for us!27-Aug-2011 12:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
If we hadn't eaten in Trastevere, I bet it would have been lovely in Campo di Fiore
If we hadn't eaten in Trastevere, I bet it would have been lovely in Campo di Fiore27-Aug-2011 12:19, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
One of the surprises of the walk was to emerge from a path from Campo di Fiore and emerge on the Piazza Navona.  It is a huge open area that is utterl
One of the surprises of the walk was to emerge from a path from Campo di Fiore and emerge on the Piazza Navona. It is a huge open area that is utterl27-Aug-2011 12:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600
Walking further into the Piazza Navona
Walking further into the Piazza Navona27-Aug-2011 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600
Me in front of the church of St Agnes - apparently made by a rival of the guy who made the River fountain seen later
Me in front of the church of St Agnes - apparently made by a rival of the guy who made the River fountain seen later27-Aug-2011 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1250
 

We got back and promptly passed out. It was a long day!

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