After travelling for a what seemed like 100,000 hours we finally landed in Rome (via Singapore and Zurich) quite early in the morning. We opted for a private transfer to our apartment, although you can take a train from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Station. As our apartment wasn’t ready for us to occupy, we dropped our bags and set out to explore the sites of this epic city.
We only had three days here so we had to get cracking, our first stop whilst we got our bearings was a church at the end our street. It had an x-ray scanner set up out front with 4 or 5 blokes with machine guns, so we assumed it must be pretty important in the scheme of things. Turns out this was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and impressive was an understatement. It certainly set the tone for things to come over the following week or so.
Next up was Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, apparently it was quite close to our apartment, according to the map anyway! (I can tell you our feet had a different opinion by the time we were coming home).
As impressive as the Colosseum was, and it was pretty bloody impressive, the Roman Forum is equally as impressive if not more so. Just the scale of the structures and the enormity of the site was breathtaking, and the age of this stuff and the fact that it’s still standing…..
We had heard and read many stories about pickpockets in this area. To avoid long queues for tickets and crowds with potential pickpockets lurking, we entered through the Palatine Hill gate and wandered down through the Roman Forum and then onto the Colosseum. The one ticket covers all three sites.
After all of that my brain was a little overloaded so we went in search of something to eat and drink as we made our way back to the apartment to have a little laydown.
Day 2 kicked off with a visit to the Vatican and St Peters Basilica, talk about visual overload. While we walked around staring at the opulence of it all I couldn’t help but wonder how much it would cost to build in todays money?? We arrived early (around 7.30am) and although there was a small queue to go through the metal detectors, it was relatively quiet and we had a good look around with no flag bearers in sight.
After we left the Basilica we went to the Vatican museum, thankfully we had the forethought to buy some skip the line tickets (available at St Peters for a few extra Euros), and got in without queuing – once again the hold up was the metal detectors. Unfortunately I had to check my camera backpack into the cloak room, given that it’s only small (22L, mindshift rotation 180) I was a little irked at this, mainly because I then had to transfer my valuables, passport etc to the waist bag part of my pack (which it how it stayed for the rest of the trip), but after we saw just how crushing the crowds were it was probably a blessing in disguise. So how was the museum after all of that faffing around? – It was great, well worth a look, again very opulent, and truly too much to take it all in with just a few hours.
The Vatican took up most of the morning and from there we wandered toward the Castel Sant’Angelo. Situated on the right bank of the Tiber River, it was built way back when to be the Mausoleum of Hadrian and his Family. Just as impressive is the Ponte Sant’Angelo with 10 beautiful angel sculptures across the span. From here it is a short walk to Piazza Navona with cafes and restaurants a plenty. The Pantheon, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain rounded out the day, along the way sampling the beer and wine, coffee and anything else that took our fancy – just loving life really.
Day 3 was all about Pompeii. A one way train ticket for 12 euros took us from Rome Termini to Naples. Beware though when buying tickets at Termini Station there are people wanting to help and show you what to do. They are persistant and follow you from ticket machine to ticket machine – keep your valuables very very close!
Once in Naples, we transferred to the Circumvesuviana train (all within the same station) and alighted at Pompeii Station which is very close to the archeological site.
Unfortunately it was drizzling, but nothing was going to stop us. We spent at least 4 or 5 hours here, but with the logistics of getting there and back to Rome it pretty well took care of the entire day – well worth the effort. Before boarding the train back to Rome we had lunch at a small cafe a short walk from Naples station. It was a great find, besides supporting the local Naples Football team, Pizzeria ‘O Scugnizzo also serves up delicious food – Gnocchi, Pasta and Pizza – for the first time we saw pizza with chips (ie, the chips – fried potatoes, were as a topping on the pizza! Who knew?)
For more epicness go to my Flickr Gallery
Next time we travel from Perugia to Sienna,