On our first day in Rome, we did a whole lot of nothing. The transfer from the port to our hotel was long, hot, and boring. The driver blasted the radio the whole time and was rather surly and unfriendly, a huge contrast to all the other people we had contracted with up to that point. At any rate, we got to our hotel fine, and left our luggage to go out for a walk since our rooms weren’t ready. Once the rooms were available, we all retreated to our own devices (and I mean that literally – even though the hotel wifi wasn’t the greatest, we were happy to be reconnected). We all needed some chilling out time after the intense sightseeing on the cruise. Domingos and I had pizza for lunch, and then we had pasta for dinner with my parents. Even though were were in a touristy area near Termini Station, we managed to have excellent meals every time out. Best of all is the great house wine in each restaurant, usually only €12 for an entire bottle.
On Saturday, we got up very early, as we had early access tickets to the Sistine Chapel, which let us get in a half hour before the Vatican Museum officially opens to the public. Our guide, Mariella, gave us a good amount of background and history while we walked to the Sistine Chapel. I highly recommend purchasing the early access tickets, as when we entered, there were only about 30 people in there, and we were able to really soak up the art in peace and quiet without being elbow to elbow with hundreds of other guests. By the time we were ready to leave, the chapel was filling up to an uncomfortable degree. As we exited, the long, long, long lines of crowds confirmed that we had made the right decision.
We walked over to the Basilica, thinking we would tour it, but the line to get in wrapped all the way around the Piazza, and none of us cared enough about seeing the Basilica to wait in the sun for hours. We wandered away from Vatican City back to central Rome. Mom and Dad eventually got a taxi back to the hotel, and the rest of us decided to continue walking. We passed by several famous sites such as the Trevi Fountain (currently being renovated) and the Pantheon.
Although we got lost a few times, we finally did manage to find our way back to the hotel, stopping for some incredible (and cheap – €2! – gelato along the way).
We met up with Mom and Dad for lunch, then took to our rooms to escape the heat of the day and rest up. We ate dinner at a charming little restaurant that was tucked away at the bottom of some stairs off the street.
I had the best risotto I’d ever had in my life, with mushrooms and truffles. I also got to try the lasagna, which was rich and creamy and out of this world.