On my second day in the hectic city of Rome, the sun burst forth and the sky absented itself of clouds. Just as well, because we were heading to the Vatican city and I didn’t fancy queuing in the rain.
We decided to walk across to the Vatican, which wasn’t too long a walk from our hotel. There is a metro line, but we didn’t feel the need to use it. To get there, we simply crossed a bridge and had a lovely sun-filled walk alongside the river. The Tiber looked particularly grumpy that day as it bubbled and roared next to us.
After a little confusion over which bridge we needed to re-ascend the stairs, we finally stumbled upon St Peter’s square. It was already busy, so we felt more than a little pleased that we had pre-booked tickets to the Vatican museums in advance (we bought our tickets here). As soon as we walked up to the square, tour guide touts swamped us and repeated instructions on where to go for the museum entrance. After shaking them off, we eventually scampered to the front of the museum queue and went through security. The queue outside was pretty lengthy, and it was only about 9.30 in the morning, so if you are planning on making a visit, I definitely think that buying your tickets in advance is a sensible thing.
Once you’re inside the museum, you are absolutely overwhelmed with choice. There were so many rooms that we walked past that I wanted to go back and see, but we never had time. If you are a more organised soul than I, I would recommend researching the different galleries and deciding which ones you really want to see.
The decoration inside the museum is phenomenal – the walls are adorned with beautiful frescos or paintings, and the ceilings are often covered with fabulous artistry. Even the floors have not been forgotten – many visitors were unknowingly shuffling over some stunning mosaics or coloured slabs of marble. I got quite dizzy trying to take it all in.
There are rooms, upon rooms filled with beautiful statues. Sadly I didn’t get to see as many as I would have liked, so that will have to wait for another visit. The rooms decorated by Raphael were also a particular highlight for me. However, my favourite part was the Gallery of Maps. I was completely blown away by this gallery. The work that had gone into making all 40 of these maps was astounding. The ceiling was also one of the most beautiful I had seen. I could have spent much, much longer in this room, but there was still so much to see.
After making the obligatory stop in the obviously impressive Sistine Chapel, we ventured back outside in to the sunshine. We were in need of an icecream, and we managed to select an excellent gelateria nearby. It was now about lunchtime, so we decided that now was an optimal time to join the line for the basilica. It was an excellent decision. We waited only around ten minutes before we were ushered in to the overwhelming church. It was far more awe-inspiring than I had expected, and I felt as though my eyes could not suck in any more grandeur.
Having visited the museums and the church, all that was left was the dome. We opted not to take the lift part-way up, which I was a little apprehensive about, but the climb was rather easy and we zoomed up. The top section is crowded though, and I disliked being hemmed in on such a narrow stairwell, but the rewards were truly worth it. After soaking up the view of the city, we descended back into the church.
After a leisurely lunch, we still had plenty of the day to spare, so we headed back in to the city. On the way, we circled the Castel Sant’Angelo, before venturing over to the Trevi fountain. After tossing in a coin, we called it a day and settled into a pleasant dining place. My feet ached from all the walking, but it was so, so worth it!
On day three, it’s all about the Colosseo!