When we have each other, we have everything.
We did Rome in a day! Mostly! It helps when you wake up at 3:30 in the morning. We made the mistake of sleeping with the window open and we are staying next to a really busy and loud road. The noises weren't so bad when we were in a deep sleep. However, after 6 hours of sleep, our bodies were convinced it was time to arise. We stayed in bed reading until around 6 and then headed out for our big day.
First stop: Basilica S. Pietro. We were wandering the square when we saw several people entering a security line. We thought it would be fun to follow and check it out. Cleared security no problem, waited all of two seconds at the gate for it to open, and headed up to the dome. It was only 5 euros if you were willing to walk all of the stairs. Heading up to the dome was an adventure. There were 551 stairs and most of the staircases were a spiral form or were slanted at odd angles. We knew we weren't drunk, but it sure felt like it...the stairs really threw off our equilibrium. When we arrived at the top, there were no words. The dome was stunningly detailed and a work of art that would be incomparable. The view of Rome was breathtaking. To look out at the domes, river, and square made us feel very small literally, but also a small piece of history. The ages of the buildings surrounding us remind us that our time is only a blip in history. My favorite part was seeing the nuns and hearing them sing. One little mixup that we had, embarrassingly enough was that we thought we saw the Sistine chapel. There was information about Michaelangelo's work and the paintings were so intricate on the ceiling of the church that we thought they were one in the same! Oh boy... We told everyone all day that we had been there and how amazing it was. More to come on how we discovered that we hadn't in fact seen the chapel.
From St. Peter's Basilica, we headed to Piazza Novona. This area was neat to see because it was located near many of the government buildings. There were a lot of policia and armed guards. This area was definitely upper scale!
The Pantheon was blocks away and really cool to see. Surrounding the Pantheon was a cute square that I pictured every square as in Italy. A gal was singing music, there was a fountain to wish in, and little bistros with umbrellas. The pantheon was free to enter and it was neat to stand where so many events in history took place.
We stopped at a cafe for a pastry and beverage to renew our energy for the rest of the day. We had already been walking a ton, so we thought it might be nice to catch the bus to the Colosseum. However, the bus system is our Achilles heel. For the life of us, we have been unable to figure out which line goes which direction. Fortunately, a nice Italian man helped us onto a train that would get us close and then we could walk the rest of the way. He finally waved us on to the bus he was on and we rode it until he told us to hop off. We stopped at Piazza Venezia, passed the Vittoriano, and walked down Via Dei Fori Imperiali toward the Colosseo. We passed a lot of ruins along this road, reminding us of the age of this beautiful city.
We attempted to get passes to the Colosseo, Palatino, and Foro Romano, but the Palatino was closed because the workers were on strike. Bummer! We jumped in line at the Colosseo, but we were of course bombarded by "Skip the Line" guys: "For only "x" euro more... we will get you to the front of the line...no wait." This was especially appealing to us today. Sun+heat+walking = tired girls! We paid $25 euro (10 euro more) to get out of the line. We waited with the tour group outside for quite some time. We were actually a little crabby because the tour guide just kept talking and showing his book, but we were eager to get inside. Our time finally came and we ditched the tour group within 5 minutes of entering the Colosseo. We realized our mood would improve ten fold if we didn't have to follow a bunch of people around. We enjoyed going at our own pace and took selfies in the Colosseo...two things that don't exactly coincide :).
After enjoying that piece of history, we headed out to find lunch. We enjoyed pizza and "tap water" and rested our feet at .75 on Via de Cerchi. Boccaccio Della Verita (Mouth of Truth) was next! This location was made famous by Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn when Grant stuck his hand in the mouth and frightened Hepburn. Free location, but we did donate money to support the church in order to take one picture. Small line here as well, but only took twenty minutes or so. When exiting after pictures, we were stopped by a priest and he asked us if we wanted to provide a donation to go down to some caves under the church. We thought the picture looked cool, so we gave the donation, but immediately regretted it when we passed a girl exiting and she shook her head vigorously at us as we were descending. Oh boy! Too late! It smelled and was a bit of a creepy, dark, little room. Probably could have lived without it!
Crossed the street to visit Isola Tiberina. This little village is set on an island surrounded by Fiume Tevere. We walked the pedestrian bridge and our sixth sense took us to a gelateria. Delicious gelateria that did not disappoint. The gelato energized us for our walk back to the metro near the Colosseo. Hopped the train from the Colosseo to Termini and then transferred to head to Ottaviano. We were wiped!
Upon arriving at our hotel, we of course had trouble with the keys. Our Australian friend came to the rescue yet again as he had that morning when he described how the keys had worked. He asked me if I spoke English and I said, "si." That is how tired I was! Perhaps I am just that advanced in my understanding of the Italian language! Mmm...probably not! We took naps, showered, and dressed in our "fancy" clothes for dinner. We ate at a little bistro and enjoyed wine and pasta. Yes, for those of you that know me, I drank a glass of wine. Hopefully, by the time I come home, I will be a wine connoisseur.
Walked around a little after dinner and it was time to head in. We fell asleep around nine and closed the window and turned on the air. Much better sleep than the previous night.
Ben, Julie, and Amelia