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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

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

Exploring Trastevere

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

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

Day 3 in Rome (2011 Trip)

August 28, 2011 – Our Last Day in Roma!

So on our last day we were able to take a little bit of time before heading out so we did just that. After a breakfast at our hotel’s swanky breakfast area with the coffee machine that Larry loved, we went to the metro station at Termini to head towards where Castel sant Angelo is. When we got down to where the platform was, it was mobbed with people though, which was not altogether surprising but still frustrating as it was late Sunday morning. We were glad that we weren’t headed to the Vatican as the last Sunday of the month, it’s free. Of course, that means everybody goes there. So there we are at the subway and the mob of people at the two entryways isn’t moving at all. We also see that you really can’t get out as both escalators were heading down and the staircase was blocked off. There was a blocked off path to the other direction of the platform and it was probably an attempt to keep the traffic flow of pedestrians from interfering with each other. Well, people were now passing through that barrier to just get out of the mob. It was fortunate though as it turned out we were able to walk down the opposite platform to an entryway back to our platform where of course it was completely clear. At that moment the train showed up and were able to walk right in and be in a completely non crowded car. We figure it must have been a tour group or something clogging the entryway but frustrating nonetheless.

We took the subway to the same stop we went to yesterday for the Vatican, but this time, when we got off, along with seemingly all of Rome, instead of following the masses to the Vatican we veered east and away from the crowd. It was almost magical as the streets were pretty much deserted at that point. Larry and I both felt that that area seemed a lot like the Upper West or East Side. I also remembered that the hotel I stayed in ten years ago was in that neighborhood, but I can’t remember exactly where.

We walked down to the castle, the amazing circular fortress that used to be where the pope could go for defenses. It’s also a challenging level for Ezio in Assassin’s Creed! It was fun to get to see the inside for myself finally and the real thing looked a lot like the video game interpretation. Crazy. Great views of St Peters from the upper balconies too. You can see the pictures.

Castel sant Angelo


It was warm that day too, but probably not as bad as it was our first day. We walked from the castle along the river to where the Hall of Justice was, then turned inland to retrace some of our steps, in the daylight, of the nighttime walking tour we took yesterday. So we got back to the Piazza Navona in the day, which was a bit more uncomfortable in the heat of the day and not nearly as dramatic as it was during the night. We then headed to the Pantheon again, as when we got there the night before the inside was already closed. The Pantheon is always dramatic but going inside is insane. It’s beautiful and huge. I took some cool pictures of the dramatic beam of light coming from the top hole. After resting there on the pews for a spell, we then headed to find somewhere for lunch. After a few misfires when places we wanted to go were closed, we found a place where we sat outside and had a pizza each and some Peronis. Good times.

Day Walk to the Pantheon

Our satisfying lunch was followed by more walking as we headed past Giolottis again but we did not partake in the gelato this time. We thought at first we would walk to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps again, but as we headed there I happened to look down the street and notice that huge white building with the immense staircase and giant statue in front of it. I can’t remember what it was but I did remember from last time that right behind it is the Campidoglia which is right at the western end of the ancient Roman ruins. We had taken off about halfway through the Forum our first day so this would let us see the rest of it and also give me a chance to see the ruins from the spot I saw them the first time ten years ago. After walking there and also climbing up the large staircase behind, it was really hot so we rested again. Saw some hot guys. But that is easy in Rome. So many hot guys. After some time though, we continued walking on, checking out the sights but not getting back in the Forum as you had to pay again and our Roma pass was used up. We got back to the street and walked back to the Colosseum and it’s Metro stop, which we took back to Termini.

Campidoglia and the Forum

At the train station we figured out what tickets we needed to buy to get to the cruise port. Then we headed back to the hotel, where Larry took a siesta and I played a ton of Game Dev Story on my iPad while also looking at our pics. When Larry got up, neither of us really wanted to go back to Trastevere at that point although that’s what we had initially planned. Something closer sounded better so we found Babbos about a few blocks away and had a fantastic dinner nearby. Headed back to the room and got ready for the next phase of the journey, which was to head to the port for our cruise ship fun!

2011 Mediterranean Trip Pics Index