Finally caught up on sleep, I awoke yesterday morning keen to begin my exploration of Rome’s holy side – the Vatican.
With my 3 hour private tour set to begin at 2:00 PM, the morning was mine. I enjoyed my “complimentary” breakfast in the hotel’s basement restaurant, being served a fresh cappuccino and snacking on fruit and some baked delights.
Unfortunately, excitement of touring Rome’s landmark monuments (like walking through Villa Borghese – Rome’s equivalent to Central Park) wasn’t on my morning’s agenda.
En route to Rome, my shampoo exploded in my bag. Also, my expensive universal adapter wasn’t working very well. To that end, I needed to find a pharmacy and electronics store.
With a map in hand, I trekked off into the hotel’s surrounding neighborhood. I found both stores easily enough, after asking for directions a mere 3 times. 🙂
Getting lost was actually fun! It gave me a chance to explore. Imagine, apartment buildings with ivy growing on the side, little balconies, plants, trees, flowers everywhere, tiny little allies, scooters racing by, little bakeries, markets, and cafes.
I even happened to come across a really shoe and clothing nice boutique and splurged on a new pair of shoes!
Later on that afternoon, I met my guide Francesca at the hotel and headed to the Vatican.
Francesca is amazing – friendly, enthusiastic, and able to answer any questions I posed during the tour. She was knowledgeable, helped me take photos, and pointed out important statues, works of art, the best places to stand to get a good view during the tour.
We browsed through the Vatican’s various museums and galleries, walked around the Court of the Pine Cone, marveled at the Sistine Chapel,visited St Peter’s Basilica, and St Peter’s Square.
It was surreal to be standing in the Sistine Chapel staring up at Michelangelo’s glorious and famous work of art. It was crowded in the room. Security guards walked around yelling out “silence” every few minutes. Photos and videos are strictly forbidden. I saw one man taking a video – when the security guard saw him, he walked over and made the man delete his footage. He would not leave until the man complied.
St Peter’s Basilica was my favorite part. It’s beauty and grandeur are overpowering. I burst into tears (happy ones) at least 2-3 times when I was walking through the church.
St Peter’s Square is also stunning, including the fountains, the obelisk, the view of the basilica, and surrounding architecture.
The overall experience was glorious, even moving. It’s hard to describe in words what it felt like to be there and how beautiful it truly is being in the place.
After parting ways with my lovely Francesca, I napped again at the hotel. Jet lag taking it’s toll!
I went for a late dinner at Gusto. When I told my hotel concierge where I planned to go, he enthusiastically applauded my decision.
I ate in their pizzeria section – they also have a wine bar and restaurant. The place was buzzing – busy and filled with many young people having a dinner/drink before a night out on the town.
The restaurant was warm and not at all pretentious. The pizza was average though – I think Toronto’s Pizzeria Libretto offers a better pizza to be quite honest. Of course, I had it with some wine.
A little disappointed with my dining experience, I’ll have to give pizza another try before I leave Italy.
Still exhausted, I fell asleep right away once I got back to the hotel.
Photos of my walk through the neighborhood and the Vatican and details of the Vatican tour and Gusto will be posted at a later date.