|St. Peter's Basilica|
Our hostel was very near the train station but as it turns out, not so close to all the tourist attractions. We took the circuitous route past the Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia on our way to the Vatican Thursday morning. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn and ended up walking about 30 minutes past the correct turn (the map wasn't much help either) however this luckily placed us in the Piazza del Popolo which we may not have seen otherwise. 2 hours later, already exhausted we found the Vatican! However we had forgotten my guidebook and while we visited St. Peter's Basilica, we ended up walking around the entire Vatican without finding the non-tourist group entrance to the Vatican Museum (it appears we should have looked harder as we found it the next day). All was not done in vain though as we ended up lunching at the exact same pizza place my father, brother and I had loved so much two summers prior.
|The Roman Forum|
On our way back from the Vatican and heading to a free walking tour at the Piazza di Spagna, I had the brilliant idea of stopping in the Piazza Navona where a large Christmas market was going on. There were several spray paint artists there and we became hypnotized in watching how with a few strokes of paint they could transform a blank canvas into beautiful and colorful settings. We got a bit too caught up in the street artists, and ended up having to make a mad dash 6 or so blocks to the free tour meeting point. All the while checking our useless map and asking random passerby (who were also mostly tourists) how to get there! We arrived breathless and sweaty but we had an informative tour given by a passionate guide that passed by the "Spanish Steps" (which we learned should actually be called the French Steps given that a French King built them), the Trevi Fountain, Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Afterwards we had a lovely dinner with some of the girls from our tourist group.
Friday went a bit more smoothly. We trekked the 2 hours to the Vatican (we would make it this time if it killed us) hitting the Pantheon along the way and entered the Vatican Museum. I had seen it two years ago, but this time around I saw somethings that I didn't remember seeing before and of course the Sistine Chapel was just as stunning as before. No matter how long you look you always notice some new details or pieces. The rest of the day we took a bit easier just hitting a few shops on Via Del Corso before heading back to the hostel. After several 13 hour walking days in a row, we were beat and we still had Saturday to go!
Saturday was a special day! Cari's birthday! I can't believe I have known this wonderful and crazy chick for over 12 years now. We always have a blast and I knew our last day in Rome would be no different. We meant for Saturday to be a bit more relaxed but of course we also wanted to see everything in Rome so it wasn't destined to be. We started the day with a free walking tour found through couchsurfing that was said to hit the off the beaten path sites of Rome. It took us awhile to find our tour guide as at first we thought he was one of the bicycling Santas we were seeing everywhere. However once we found him we had a lovely walking tour past the Teatro Marcello, the Jewish Ghetto, Trastevere, some of the lesser known churches, the Knights of Malta and Campa di Fiori.