Minimoon Day 2
We were up early to make our way up to the Vatican for our early morning tour. After finding out the best way to get there we headed to a shop to buy our Roma Pass which would get us unlimited travel on public transport as well as free entrance into any 2 museums and reduced entrance into others. We then walked down to the bus stop to navigate Rome’s public transport system.
Choosing the bus over the metro meant that we got to see more of the city as it trundled its way through the streets of Rome. It eventually arrived at Ottaviano station where we disembarked and as we had half an hour to kill before our meeting time, we headed down to St Peter’s Square.
Because it was so early there was hardly anyone there which meant that we were able to get some photos without the hoards behind us. We headed back to Ottaviano to meet up with the tour guides and then made our way to the Vatican Museum. There was a massive queue to get in but luckily, as part of an organised tour, we were able to skip this and head straight in. Unfortunately we then had to hang around for half an hour while they organised our tickets and headsets.
Before we entered the museum proper we were given a detailed lecture about the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel which was really informative. Had we not been on a tour we would probably have had absolutely no idea about it and on our visit inside the Chapel would have just stared upwards without looking for certain details.
We wandered around the musuem (just like any other I guess) being fed information through our headsets and finally got round to the Sistine Chapel. You can’t take photos in there (due to some copyrighting by the Japanese!) and the guards do their hardest to stop you and were actually ejecting people if they caught them.
After more walking and learning we made it back outside and after one final lecture on St Peter’s Basilica we were free to do some touristing on our own. We went inide St Peter’s, which is huge, to take a look around, although we decided not to walk around the dome (I don’t think I could have coped with all the stairs!).
We headed off to lunch and found a little pizzeria that was in the Time Out guide that we’d borrowed from my mum and I had something I’d been looking forward to…an Italian calzone! I had to wait a little longer than i wanted though as they brought the wrong one and had to cook me another on. But the wait was worth it!
Next on our list of touristing was the Pantheon so we jumped back onto a bus, headed south and managed to get off at the right stop. Or at least a stop that was close enough to be able to walk to it! The Pantheon is an old church (126 AD) that hosts the tomb of the painter Raphael and has a great big hole in the top of it. There are 22 holes in the floor that allow the rain to drain away but I would have thought closing the hole when they built it would have been easier?
We then strolled round to Piazza Navona as it looked like something we should see and then decided (strangely) to walk home, taking a route along the river.
That evening we decided to head over to one of the places recommended to us by our guide the previous day, a square called Piazza Mercanti. It’s a small square with restaurants opposite each other with ivy clad walls and flame torches to give it a bit of a romantic feeling. We chose to dine at La Taverna de’ Mercanti and this time the wife went for the calzone while I tried the veal. Once again the food was superb. The calzone was packed with filling and not half-air as most normally are and the veal was cooked beautifully.
We were kept entertained by a band playing at the restaurant on the other side of the square which meant we could enjoy the music while not having it shoved in our faces. They also put on a small play, but as it was in Italian we couldn’t really understand it.
It was a really nice evening and if you’re in the area then I definitely recommend taking a visit there!