First day in Rome. Since it was scheduled to rain, my traveling buddy Amy and I bundled up and headed to the Vatican.
Unfortunately it didn’t rain at all -_- Or I guess that’s fortunate, right?
First impressions on Rome: there are tourists EVERYWHERE. You can tell because they all walk in groups. They are wearing matching T-shirts, and they are following a guide. They are listening to the tour guide through earphones from the audio guides hung around their necks. And they are everywhere.
On the way from the metro stop to St. Peter’s Square, we were
assaulted – err, I mean suddenly stopped by more than ten different tour guides trying to get us to join their tour and buy their tickets. We waved them off because, you know, we didn’t want to be “typical tourists”.
But then maybe we should have given it a second thought because we realized that we knew nothing about the Vatican or St. Peter’s Cathedral or Rome… so we tried to stay close to English speaking tour guides and listen to what they were telling their group, which is the cheap/college student way to be a tourist. This didn’t work very well since all the tours in Rome are on these audio walkie talkie like thingies – the guide talks into the mic, and everyone hears through their earphones. This is actually pretty smart since the tour guide doesn’t have to speak loudly (which is frowned upon in churches anyways) and everyone can still hear. But it meant that they were speaking much more quietly than usual and we couldn’t really hear anything.
We should have done more research before coming, because if we bought online tickets, we probably could have skipped the line. The line for St. Peter’s Cathedral was LONG, and we somehow got stuck in the middle of an Asian tour group… awkward.
Anyways, the inside of St. Peter’s Cathedral is honestly AMAZING, and totally worth it!
After that we went inside the Vatican Museum (another line that could have been avoided had we bought tickets online) to see the Sistine Chapel. Like the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, they put it all the way at the end of your journey through the museum so you are forced to see everything else before you get to the “main attraction”. But the museum had a lot of really cool stuff, and in fact, the Sistine Chapel was a bit underwhelming after that.
Pictures are forbidden in the Sistine Chapel, and I like to follow rules so I did not take any. But I did see that famous finger-touching image on the ceiling! You know which one I’m talking about!
For dinner, we Tripadvisor’d a restaurant called Cantina e Cuchina and it was pretty good – I had a pizza. Can’t go wrong with pizza.
When it got dark, we headed to the Colosseum. Next to the colosseum, at the site of some ancient ruins, they were playing a 2000 year celebration of Augustus or something like that (where is the English when you need it??) and they projected lights onto the ruins. Unfortunately you needed a ticket, and they played the sound through headphones, so really we still have no clue what it was about.
We took the bus home, and couldn’t figure out how to pay, so we didn’t. Lulz. (I know now though – you have to buy the tickets at a tabacchio (newspaper stand?) beforehand and validate them when you get on the bus.)