We had a later start this morning but it was still hard to get up with so many late nights, getting a cold, and drinking. We started our drive to Rome and as soon as we got there in the afternoon, we went to the Vatican City. It was SO crazy busy and it was raining off and on. Apparently 25,000 people come to the Vatican every day, but today they were expecting 30,000 people. Our tour guide was quite flighty and difficult to understand, so I don’t feel like I got a ton out of the tour, especially with the things I didn’t recognize.
The buildings were all very beautiful, but of course the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was the most incredible. I couldn’t believe I was seeing those paintings in person. There was so much beauty to look at and I could have looked at it all day.There were so many people, though. No pictures were allowed, although I so wish I could have taken some. Everyone was supposed to be silent, with it being a holy place and all, but the guards were making the most noise by continuously reminding everyone to be silent over the megaphones.
St. Peter’s Basilica was incredible too. It was so big and ornate. All of the art in there is done in mosaics, but they looked like very detailed paintings. After that we went to an included dinner at a restaurant in Rome and it was just okay. We had fried vegetables and bread, penne with arrabiata sauce, chicken with salad, and tiramisu for dessert. After that, Alex took us on a bit of a walking tour around Rome. It was raining fairly hard and he bought all of us umbrellas! What a guy. Must have been that umbrella seller’s best day ever.
We saw a few monuments and churches. Rome is very pretty. I really want to come back, because our stay here is being cut short due to the scheduling of our ferry to Greece. My favourite places we saw were the gorgeous Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon. The Trevi Fountain was so beautiful lit up at night. Even in the rain. The water source of the fountain has been springing forth water from that spot for more than 2000 years. Alex told us that throwing one coin in to the fountain means that you will return to Rome, two means you will fall in love with an Italian, and three means you will marry an Italian. I threw in one coin and made a wish. I definitely hope I will return to Rome!!!
Then, Alex bought us all gelato from San Crispino, which the New York Times named the best gelato in Italy. It was amazing. They keep all of the different flavours at different temperatures, the ones that are ideal for the flavour and texture. I tried the lemon and pistachio and they were so good. The Pantheon was ginormous and so cool to see in person.
In the morning we went on a tour of the Colosseum. Some of it had scaffolding on it, so that was disappointing, but oh well. It was HUGE and so cool to be there in such an old structure, and to walk those hallways where some people spent their last moments before fighting to the death. Unreal. The sheer size can’t be understood until you stand there yourself. We also toured through the Roman Forum, which was also super neat. This was where ancient Rome developed, and justice, commerce, prostitution and religious activities took place. For a souvenir from Rome, I bought a silver Roman Torque bracelet. It’s really pretty and it was cheap too.
Ten travelers on our tour were actually on the Road to Rome tour with us, so their tour ended here in Rome, while the rest of us would go on to Greece together 🙁 We had one last lunch with our whole group at a restaurant near the Colosseum. I had spaghetti carbonara which is one of my favourite dishes anyway, but Alex told us it is a Roman specialty. It was really yummy. It really annoys me how in Europe they won’t serve you tap water in a restaurant. Water is quite expensive in Europe, so I haven’t always been buying it and I know I’ve been dehydrated. After that, we said goodbye to Phil, Kate, Gemma, Jason, Meagan, Cyrille, Scott, Kelsie, Lauren and Caro. It was really sad to say goodbye to them all.
From Rome, we drove a few hours on to Pompeii and got in around 4:30pm. We had a walking tour around the remains of the city and it was amazing! We saw one of the amphitheaters, a brothel, markets, temples, houses and shops. It was so well preserved from the ash of Mount Vesuvius. It was a very big and functional city with many streets and avenues. The brothel even had ancient paintings on the walls of their “offerings” like a menu 😉 Our tour guide was really good and I think this was my favourite and most interesting guided tour we’ve had. After that, we had dinner at one of the restaurants at Pompeii. I ordered a traditional Napolitan Margherita Pizza, which was fitting since we were just outside of Naples. It was definitely one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had in my whole life. Sitting here and typing this out now is torture, I want that pizza again so badly!!! The ingredients were so simple and fresh, and it cooked in the wood fired oven for less than a minute. Unreal. If you ever have the chance to have real, Napolitan pizza, TAKE IT. You will not be disappointed.
We stayed in a small town outside of Pompeii called Ottaviano, and Jacinda and I went to bed quite early since we knew we’d have such an early start the next day.
Love, Kate Bray