The Vatican City

Our last day in Rome was spent in Vatican City. Vatican City is an enclave, which is a country that is entirely enclosed within another country — when you marry a geography buff, you learn fun facts like this when you travel. 😉 So, even though we didn’t get another passport stamp, we did technically visit another country on this trip.

When we were researching for our trip to Rome, we saw that people spent anywhere from half a day in Vatican City to multiple days. This was a very important site for both of us, so we decided to set aside a whole day to be able to take in the everything without rushing. Let me just say, if your schedule allows for it, take a full day to visit Vatican City! There are a lot of famous sites to see including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel.

Vatican City is a short metro ride from the city center of Rome. Once we arrived, we headed straight to St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is the most iconic structure in Vatican City. Entrance to the Basilica is free, so we decided to spend some time taking in this magnificent structure. If you want to avoid crazy long lines, go during non-peak season and go early in the day! By the time we exited the Basilica the line was noticeably longer than when we entered.

DSC02484

Our next stop was the Vatican Museums. We decided to purchase a tour for the Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Due to the vastness of the Museums you could easily spend days checking out all the artwork and sculptures. Since we only had one afternoon (and Ryan and I aren’t  huge art people), taking a tour was a great way to see the highlights that the Museums had to offer. The Sistine Chapel was the last stop on the tour, and I still can’t get over how beautiful it was. After seeing many pictures of this famous site in history books growing up, it was incredible to actually see it with my own eyes. Since the tour ended with the Sistine Chapel, we were able to spend as long as we wanted taking in its famous ceiling!

DSC02504
The ceiling in the map room of the Vatican Museums was spectacular!

DSC02498

After our whirlwind tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, the sun was beginning to set, and tiredness was starting to set in. We decided to head back to our hotel, get dinner, and prepare for our trip home the next day.

Visiting Rome was such an incredible experience! Ryan and I hope to make it back to Italy one day to check out more places and experience even more of what this amazing country has to offer.

IMG_6426

Just “Rome”ing Around

There are many benefits of traveling to a major tourist area during “off season,” but one major downside is that the weather is extremely unpredictable. You could get beautiful sunny days or it could rain your entire trip. Up to this point we had experienced a bit of both. Our first day exploring the city we had great weather and our second day only had a few scattered showers. However, we were not so fortunate for the third day of our Rome trip.

Day 3: Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona

Even though they were calling for rain, we were excited to begin our day of exploring. We were really hoping the rain would be light like the previous day, but unfortunately that was not the case. As soon as we were on our way to the first site of the day the heavens opened up. If it wasn’t hard enough getting a clear picture of the Trevi Fountain, try adding in copious amounts of umbrellas! Even through the rain and umbrellas, we couldn’t help but admire the beauty of Trevi Fountain.

IMG_6358
See what I mean about the umbrellas?!
DSC02355
Getting pictures throughout this rainy day was a team effort. I would be the one to take the picture while Ryan was standing behind me with the umbrella to keep the camera out of the rain. We also kept a lint free cloth in our camera bag to wipe the camera lens before taking pictures. This helped so much!

 

The Spanish Steps was next on the list. This was another impressive site, although I was a bit distracted by the beautiful lights along the street leading up to the Spanish Steps. After grabbing a few pictures, we were off to the Piazza del Popolo. Once we arrived at the Piazza, we decided that we needed a little pick me up (and a break from the rain wouldn’t be terrible either). We ducked into a little espresso bar and grabbed an espresso and snack to help give us the boost we needed to keep going.

DSC02362

DSC02381
View from the top of the Spanish Steps. See what I mean about the lights along the street!

The Pantheon was our next stop and my favorite site of the day. I didn’t know what to expect, but as we rounded the corner and caught sight of the building I was in awe. Thankfully, we got a slight reprieve from the rain as we were checking out the Pantheon, which allowed us to stop and soak in this incredible structure. Also, entrance to the Pantheon was free!

IMG_6385
Funny story about this picture: I realized that I wanted our picture taken in front of the Pantheon, so we took a look around to try and find someone to ask. Of course there was no one when we needed them. Ryan said, “Just give it a minute. I’m sure we’ll find some American tourists soon.” Sure enough two teenage girls with their selfie sticks came strolling up and were happy to take our picture. 🙂  (Also if you want to get a feel for how rainy it was take a look at the bottom of Ryan’s pants in this picture. haha)

DSC02398

We were quickly losing steam, but had to keep going to check out the last few sites on our list. We made our way to Piazza Navona and enjoyed checking out the various sculptures, fountains, and shops there.

Ryan and I collect Christmas ornaments from the different places that we travel. I still had not found the right ornament for Rome and was starting to get a little nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to find what I was looking for. As we were roaming around, Ryan saw this little shop full of Christmas items and suggested we take a look inside. Thankful to get out of the rain for a minute, we went inside and admired all the hand-crafted Christmas decorations inside. I found a beautiful nativity scene carved out of a piece of wood (I later found out that it was hand-carved from olive wood which is native to the area). I instantly knew it was the ornament for us. I really wanted the word Rome added to the ornament, so Ryan encouraged me to ask the shop owner if she would add that for me. I went up to the shop owner and asked, “Parli inglese?” (Do you speak English), but she said she spoke little English. She did say that she spoke Spanish. I studied Spanish in college, so my face lit up knowing we could still communicate. I asked her in Spanish if she could add Rome on the ornament, and she was quick to do that for me. Before I knew it, we had spent 30 minutes talking in Spanish and learning more about Rome from this sweet shop owner. This is my absolute favorite experience from the whole trip.

By this point we were pretty drenched, so we decided to head back to the hotel to change out of our wet clothes and let our tennis shoes dry for a bit. It was a little frustrating of a day, but a memorable one nonetheless.