Monday, April 27, 2015

Rome - Monday - 4/27/15

Today's a big day because we're going to the Vatican, which is one of the top ten most visited museums in the entire world. I've heard many good things so I'm excited. I am sure it'll be overwhelming. 

We skipped room service this morning and went to the restaurant instead. The restaurant was so nice! There were enormous and beautiful chandeliers hanging everywhere and large windows facing the tree-lined streets outside. I was impressed. We sat down and ordered our coffee and cappuccino and headed to the buffet. It was a grand buffet with anything and everything you could ever want. I always go for fruit, yogurt, and pastries. Eric got bacon, eggs, etc. It was an excellent breakfast and a perfect way to start our big adventure to the Vatican. 

We headed out shortly after and walked to the subway station.

Beautiful terrance that captured my attention

Another man tried to approach us at the ticket booth! We looked right at him and said, "No", waving him away. The ride to the Vatican went smoothly and I was pleasantly surprised with the charming area that surrounded the Vatican. I don't know how to describe it exactly; it was just so cute, quaint, clean, and nice. There were many tempting little shops I would have loved to explore, but we didn't have time. 

The second we walked out of the subway station, the harassment started. LITERALLY every TEN FEET there were people standing and yelling at you to buy a tour through them. We kept saying no over and over. It was very uncomfortable.

After walking about 5 minutes, we reached the edge of the Vatican. The line looked like it was 3 hours long to get in!

The line wrapped all the way around the Vatican

The night before we debated about whether or not we should buy advance tickets online. Thank GOD we did! We walked all the way to the front of the Vatican, showed the guard our printed tickets, and he let us right in. The process of getting into the Vatican was comical. We had to check in with half a dozen people before we were actually able to enter. 

The last stop was a desk where we picked up our headsets. The guy handed us these little speakers that we're supposed to hold up to our ear and listen to as we walk through the Vatican. Hmm, that is strange. I asked an employee why we didn't have headphones and he told me not to worry, it's fine. lol Gotta love it.

Grand entrance to the Vatican - check out the mountains through the window

It was tough to follow the map, so we decided to wing it. We started in this huge plaza.

Huge plaza in the Vatican

Overall, the Vatican was an incredibly overwhelming experience, just as I had suspected it would be. It's enormous and there is so much to see. The crowds inside were unlike anything I'd ever seen in my entire life. There were hallways that were literally packed wall to wall with people and you really couldn't move. It felt very claustrophobic. There was so much going on and so much to examine.  I thought Eric's eyes were going to bug out of his head. I have never seen him like that before!

The little speakers proved to be quite ineffective. It was very difficult to pay attention to a long speech while holding a speaker up to your ear. Luckily they weren't expensive to rent. 

We did our best to walk around and learn some history, but this was more of a bucket list item for us both. 

Here are some photos:
This was a cool room full of interesting statues

I loved the tropical backdrop and couldn't resist a picture

Trying to have fun in the Vatican

Long and very crowded hallway

There were thousands of statues like this

That's a statue of Laurie's dog trying to bite Eric

Ew, this wolf has a red rocket!

Beautifully detailed ceiling

Love this! Great idea Eric

Me and Laurie's bad dogs!

I had no idea we'd have access to amazing views from the Vatican

Scenic Rome with the mountains in the background

There was a super long hallway dedicated to displaying these enormous maps

It's all in the details!

As you walk through the Vatican, you eventually stumble upon the Sistine Chapel. There was a large group of people just standing there in the center of the chapel looking around. Guards were on every corner moving people along. I stood there for a minute to look at the famous ceiling and then left. The next stop was St. Peter's Basilica. You're supposed to go outside and get into another long line to enter the Basilica. Eric, being the smart husband that he is, read online that you can sneak in though a hallway at the end of Sistine Chapel. The hallway is strictly for tour groups and there was a large sign that said so as well. 

Eric wanted to do it, but I was scared and hesitant. I didn't want to end up in Italian prison! Eric convinced me and we made it through without an issue. Yes! That was awesome. St. Peter's Basilica was very elaborate and grand.

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica
We spent about 20 minutes walking around taking photos. The last sight to see was St. Peter's Square, where the Pope gives his speeches. We went outside and it started to rain. The line to get inside St. Peter's Basilica was terribly long. Thank goodness for Eric!

St. Peter's Square was huge. Here are a few shots:

St. Peter's Square in the rain

The line to get inside! I can't believe people actually wait in these lines.

Another shot of St. Peter's Square

Just writing about this day is making me feel exhausted. I am so glad it's off our bucket list. Phew. After that extravaganza, all we wanted was a glass of wine. It was raining so we didn't stick around to explore the town, and instead went right to the subway. 

My friend Aman had also suggested a place called Eataly, which is owned by Mario Batali. There are Eataly locations all over the world, including Chicago and NYC. I know several people who have been and they all had rave reviews. I really wanted to visit Eataly in Rome because they are building one in Boston that will be complete in 2016. I am SOO EXCITED. 

If you've never been to Eataly, it's a multilevel indoor Italian marketplace and eatery. There are several different restaurants, both formal and informal. There are also take-out options where you can purchase coffee, dessert, and everything else you can imagine. The first floor had a small grocery store but there were shops spread out on each level selling Italian food, goods, and other delicacies.

The location in Rome is not meant for tourists, so we took the train to a real neighborhood. I was feeling a little nervous and hoping we didn't get lost. It was raining and chilly and getting dark out. 

Once we got off the subway, we had to walk about a mile through this city. Aman later told me it's an up and coming area. I could tell. It seemed safe enough, but I was slightly uncomfortable. 

I was so relieved when we finally entered Eataly! I immediately spotted these gorgeous dessert displays.



I could stare at this all day long

We were both so excited to eat and explore this marketplace. First, we needed wine. We headed upstairs and found a wine bar where we ordered 2 delicious glasses of red. We took our glasses and continued to walk around exploring. We found a homemade pasta restaurant, which seemed like a perfect place to stop and eat.

The waitress approached us and we realized that no one in the place speaks English. Luckily we managed to find a way to communicate and order our dishes. The food was excellent. I'm not sure how I'm going to go back to the boxed stuff at home after eating homemade pasta for 2 straight weeks!

Eric sitting in the pasta restaurant

Fresh tortellini

Homemade pasta was so good! I want some now.

We were still hungry so we wandered downstairs and checked out a few more take-out options. We ordered a ton of food and found an empty table to sit down and enjoy it. 

Vegetable Frittata


Pizza focaccia

As we sat and ate I noticed a group of elderly people sitting nearby at a large table. They were hanging out, drinking coffee and eating. They had to be in their 70's-80's and it was so inspiring to see them out enjoying life at that age. I've noticed that the older people in Italy really get out and even have social lives. I really hope Eric and I have a circle of friends at that age to go out with. How cute!

It actually reminded me of my Nono (born in Italy). This past year was very rough for him, and he was in and out of the hospital all year. Eric and I visited him in December and I was extremely impressed with his positive outlook. He was talking about getting a new car, and starting to exercise. There must be something about their culture that encourages older people to keep living and enjoying life. I hope I inherited that mindset.

After eating, we walked all over and checked out the goods for sale. I knew I wanted to take home something tasty, like chocolates and candy.  There were so many options it was difficult to choose only a few items.

I brought this delicious candy back to Boston. 

Look Mom they sell Paidina!

We also ordered dessert and sat down to relax before heading back to the hotel. Instead of coffee, we ordered more wine. 

Eric with our wine order

More dessert pictures

In my dessert glory 

We ordered three little desserts and split them all

This may have been the tiramisu

Not sure what this was but I definitely ate it

As the evening went on the place became more and more crowded. I'm glad we visited Eataly in Rome and can't wait until it opens in Boston. 

It was down pouring by the time we left. Luckily we had umbrellas. The traffic on the road was gridlocked and not moving. It looked worse than Boston.

We walked to the subway station pretty quickly and Eric tried to buy a beer from a convenience store.  However a crazy drunk person entered the store at the same time so we promptly left due to his sketchy behavior.  We then made it back to the hotel without incident and Eric bought a beer on the walk back.

It was kind of fun walking in the rain! Eric enjoyed his beer while we sat in bed talking. And there you have another day in Rome. 

1 comment:

  1. That was an amazing day. Lots of history and sights not many people get to see the vatican. The food shots were awesome!! Your descriptions are very entertaining.