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.
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.
We got back and promptly passed out. It was a long day!
2011 Mediterranean Trip Pics Index
- Rome: Flying there, Day 1 – Colosseum, Ancient City
- Rome: Day 2 – Vatican City, Trastevere, Nighttime Walk
- Rome: Day 3 – Castel Angelo, Pantheon, Misc Rome
- Mediterranean: Day 1 – Leaving Civitivecchia
- Mediterranean: Day 2 – First Day at Sea
- Mediterranean: Day 3 – Santorini, Greece
- Mediterranean: Day 4 – Athens, Greece
- Mediterranean: Day 5 – Second Day at Sea
- Mediterranean: Day 6 – Istanbul, Turkey Day 1
- Mediterranean: Day 7 – Istanbul, Turkey Day 2
- Mediterranean: Day 8 – Ephesus & Kusadasi, Turkey
- Mediterranean: Day 9 – Mykonos, Greece
- Mediterranean: Day 10 – Third Day at Sea
- Mediterranean: Day 11 – Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii