A Taste of Italy: Rome (Day 2)
A visit to Rome must include the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum. Our guided tour included a trip to the museums, which are always incredible and inspiring. From Bramante's Staircase (hint: this is an exclusive tour not accessible through regular admission) to the gardens to the world famous Sistine Chapel, the Vatican never disappoints. It is impossible to visit everything in a day; however, I encourage you to try to get a quality overview! See the main sights to get an overview, then focus on one or two areas and do them well.
Although I've been to Vatican City years ago, I found a special treat this time around. Again, the Vatican is HUGE and full of surprises even for repeat visitors. This year I found a small museum showcasing the Pope's transportation through the years. From horse and carriage through modern times (check out that Ferrari steering wheel!), it was fascinating!
Did you know the Swiss Guards are a real thing? They guard the Pope in their distinctive uniforms... and they are real guards -- don't test them! You can learn more about them here and see them here:
You can't go to the Vatican without a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. It is simply stunning. The size is extraordinary, but the scale of the sanctuary offers the illusion of compactness. Don't be deceived. If you look at the plaques on the floor, you'll notice names such as "St. Patick's Cathedral" in New York City. These plaques represent the size compared to St. Peter's... one of the largest Christian churches in the world.
We spent the morning visiting -- absolutely not long enough, but today was our last day in Rome and we needed to make the most of it. A small group of colleagues and I left for the Colosseum -- another remarkable site in Rome.
Seeing this engineering marvel can be done independently; however, a guided tour will make a bigger impression and make things more interesting. We hired a guide that included a stop of the platform overlooking the lower level of the Colosseum. Is it worth the money? It depends. I enjoyed getting up close and personal with the lower level, but if you need to save a few dollars, then skip this.
When in Rome, and specifically at the Colosseum, visit Palatine Hill which is just "next door." This is where Rome was founded, and has a unique and interesting history along with beautiful grounds and stunning architecture and ruins. We didn't have long here, but I'll give you a little teaser of what you can expect.
It was wonderful to see Rome again, but the next two legs of our journey would be brand new to me. Where do we go next? What special activities do we do? Stay tuned and find out soon! ~Michele