Next stop: Rome, which was a mere two-hour train ride from Florence. Based on our experience, a “2-day pass” is unnecessary unless you will be using the public transportation. We gladly walked everywhere and didn’t miss a thing. One day, our MisFits reported that we walked 9 miles! Our legs felt like they were going to fall off, but we loved experiencing this great city on foot.
We had three days in Rome and wanted to make the most of it. We saw the Colosseum (aka the Flavian Amphitheatre), every church imaginable, including The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican and its gardens and museums, the Roman forum, and much, much more. We stayed at an Airbnb only a 10-minute walk from the Colosseum. I recommend purchasing tickets in advance – you get better discounts and skip the line. Don’t waste your time on the guys selling tickets on the street – authentic tickets can be purchased through Tigets.com and musement.com.
Our first day in Rome we visited the Coliseum, and it was very busy, so we recommend going early in the day. Our tickets were for the following morning, so we wouldn’t have to fight such large crowds. Next, we went to see several churches, shops and eat amazing Italian food.
One of the restaurants that stood out to us was Divin Ostilia (Via Ostilia, 4, 00184 Roma RM, Italy, +39 06 7049 6526). Emille wrote a glowing review on Google right away because it was such an amazing experience. From the appetizer to dessert, each course served by the owner was memorable. He chose a superb local chianti fitting of this experience.
Our second day in Rome started with a 10am tour of the Colosseum (aka the Flavian Amphitheatre), the largest amphitheater ever built, and one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World.” To visit this structure, completed in 80 AD, in person was incredible. Although it was an early tour, the sun was very bright, so we took the best photos possible under the harsh lighting conditions. We allowed 1 ½ hours for the Colosseum, but spent a little longer, so we had to take an Uber to make our 1:30pm appointment at the Vatican City State, a country located within the city of Rome.
Emille’s research revealed that most Vatican City tourists don’t get to see the beautiful gardens. So for an extra € 20.00, we toured the gardens by bus with an audio guide. This “behind the scenes” tour was fascinating. We highly recommend booking tickets in advance online, to skip the long line and to tour the gardens with a small group. We learned a tremendous amount about the workings of the Vatican through the tour of its beautiful, peaceful gardens.
After the gardens tour concluded, we entered the Vatican museums, en route to the Sistine Chapel. We saturated ourselves in artistic masterpieces for over five hours, and it was barely enough. After you wind your way through a staggering wealth of art, your tour concludes in the Sistine Chapel. It’s funny to enter a room full of people all staring straight up at the ceiling, and then you look up to behold The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, and you understand why. It was disappointing to be told that although you’ve been taking photos for the last five hours, you should not take photos in the chapel. It’s so dark anyway, that the average camera wouldn’t be able to do the subject justice. Luckily, with the auto ISO and white balance of our Sony a7rii, I was able to capture a few great shots, one of which we had printed on a canvas at 40” x 60.”
Inspired, but exhausted, we exited the Sistine Chapel and followed the small crowd around the massive wall to the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, the largest church in the world. Per Wikipedia, “Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Pope. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica.” This is by far the largest, most beautiful structure that we have ever entered. We left overwhelmed and utterly impressed by the collection of art and beauty we witnessed in the Vatican.