Trip Report of Trip to Rome April 23 to April 27. First city in almost two months of travel
We arrived finally in Rome mid morning of April 23 having been delayed one whole day by our airline. Our pick up was with Rome Cabs and they could not have been more helpful. I was messaging and emailing them as our plans constantly changed and they were there waiting for us. Our hotel was near Piazza del Popolo. the name of it totally escapes me, which is a shame as it was a lovely B&B rather than a hotel, and apart from having to carry three keys, and climb two flights of stairs, was a lovely place to stay.
We spent our first day just getting a feel for the city, and it was great to just walk out our door and be encompassed by the popular street for passagiatta. People were mainly walking down the street and we walked up, but apart from that it was so much fun. We found the Spanish Steps and sat down and took in the ambience and then the Trevi Fountain, and finally the Wedding cake building. unfortunately arriving too late to use the elevator to the top to have the good views of the Capitol and the Forum.
During our stay we did a number of tours all bar one with Dark Rome. They were also very good, allowing us to transfer our pompeii tour to our last day, even though we had not been able to give them sufficient notice ( plane delay).
All up we did the Vatican full day, which is exhausting and as we chose April 25 ( a public holiday in Italy as well as in Australia) it was very busy due to being one of the only museums etc open. But this was so good, as we explored the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and got into St Peters without the long waiting line. After an hour break for lunch which we found a great little cafe and had gelato, we set out in a bus to see the three other Vatican churches. St Paul outside the Walls was a not to be missed, and there was also a great shop that sold one of my all time fave drinks Limoncello made by Benedictine monks so really good value and good quality, then St John in Lateran, and the nearby Sacred steps which people are constantly climbing on their knees, as they believe they are the steps that Jesus climbed up to Pontius Pilates palace. ( Helen Emperor Constantine's mother brought them back from Jerusulem with many other artifacts). The last church was near Termini, Maria Majori. The three churches all had their special items and differing atmospheres and alll were worth the visit. it was easy from termini to get home via the metro.
Another trip was a Papal Audience. This is wild! I am so glad we paid for Dark Rome to guide us. The tickets are free but the advice and the way she guided us through the long lines, and to a great place to see the pope was priceless. Of course when I booked I did not know it was going to be a new pope, and this Pope Francesco is a beautful man who does not stay behind the glass of the old papal car but interacts with the audience and went past our spot twice. The audience cry out and cheer and sing and dance and it is a spectacle, as well as a very good spiritual experience. My husband though said he thought he deserved a medal for surviving the people. I guess if you have no Catholic heritage you might find it not as interesting as I did, but for us it was a very special thing to do and only available in Rome. one of my highlights along with the people I met on the tour.
We also did a night time walk and bus tour, seeing all the sights by night and with lights. I learnt a lot about Keats who lived near the Spanish steps and why there are tea rooms and lots of english atmosphere there. We found out the best places to get gelato and what to look out for. 1. no piles of icecream as this means they just pile the new stuff on top of the old gelato. 2. We found the oldest gelato place and stopped for a gelato stop as part of our tour. I loved seeing Piazza Navona and the trevi fountain at night, and then we took a bus tour up to Trastevere hill, which had great views of Rome . I would not have got here without the bus.
The last tour we took was away from Rome to Pompeii . The day was very windy and so instead of going up Vesuvius we went to Naples museum which did provide a great introduction to pompeii as it has many of the artifacts that were taken away for preservation. There is a very naughty section which is funny if you have the right sense of humour and when we went to pompeii we were taken to the brothel to enhance that section of Pompeii. all in all I enjoyed all their tours and would reccommend them to other people.
the restaurants we used were mainly around the Piazza del popolo and off Corso , as it was easy to find places and we did not want to travel much for dinner. I used rick steves guide to find places and also the Dark Rome guides suggestion for dinner the last night. Most places were better if booked early but we showed up before the main eating times and always got a place. The food was spectacular, the Italians sure know how to cook.
I cant wait to go back again and see some of the things we did not have time to do first time, plus eat some more gelato and try a few new restaurants. I liked staying near the Piazza del popolo, and would suggest it is a good place, convenient to a metro stop, or two, and easy to get around as long as you are willing to give the metro a go.