After our cruise, we spend three nights in Rome. We spent the first day wandering the streets and getting orientated with the ancient city. My favorite part of the day was enjoying lunch by the Trevi Fountain and enjoying local street performers.
We started our second day in Rome at Vatican City. I booked a guided tour through Dark Rome Tours that included the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Vatican as well as the vast collection of art. Here are some highlights of our tour.
I could not believe the security at the start of the Vatican Museums. The massive crowds of tour groups speaking multiple languages was overwhelming.
We started our tour at the gardens and then went through many gallery halls filled with tapestries, sculptures and paintings.
We also toured several rooms included in the tour that included huge murals and pieces of art commissioned by the Popes over the years. This included Raphael's Room and the School of Athens.
No pictures are allowed in the Sistine Chapel and you are required to remain silent in reverence. The frescos in the chapel were amazing. There is not a corner left untouched with elaborate detail. Also, the size of the Sistine chapel ceiling is breathtaking and unbelievable that it was painted over 500 years ago.
Our last stop was St. Peter's basilica. Not knowing much about the Catholic faith I was unsure what to expect. The ornate ceiling and size of the chapel is humbling. Honestly, pictures do not do the beautiful basilica justice.
After the Vatican, we stopped in a nearby gelato shop called The Old Bridge. This was the best gelato we had in Rome and I am still dreaming of my pistachio and ricotta gelato a month later.
After our sweet lunch, we walked to La Plaza Nova and then the Parthenon. It was an easy walk thanks to the cool breeze of the Tiber River and the shade of the buildings.
After a much needed cat nap that afternoon we headed back out for dinner. We enjoyed dinner near the hotel and then spent the evening watching the sun set at the Spanish Steps.
On our last day in Rome we took a tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. We also did the tour with Dark Rome Tours. The Colosseum is currently under major construction but it did not impede our tour at all.
The Roman Forum is now in messy ruins due to pillaging and erosion over the decades. Our tour guide gave us insight into what the forum may have looked like in it's prime.
The view from the Palatine Hill was beautiful and well worth the 5 minute walk from the Roman Forum. Palatine Hill contains remains of the most ancient part of the city.
We spent our last afternoon wandering around the forum, enjoying pizza and ending the night with one last cup of gelato. Oh my it was divine! The next morning we headed to the Rome airport and began our trip home. Highlight of the trip home was seeing part of the Italian World Cup team in the Rome airport!