A Roman Holiday - Part II

22 February 2017

Our second day got off to an early start, which was definitely a shock to the system after our day one lie in, however we had a good reason to be up so early, which definitely softened the blow! Before travelling to Rome, we booked a few trips and tours in advance (like the bus tour I mentioned in day 1), this meant that we didn't have to waste any time queueing up for tickets, to then only have to queue up to visit the attraction - you could spend hours doing this alone so I really would recommend booking in advance.

Saturday morning was the morning of our private tour of the Vatican City, which is amazingly it's own country, and the smallest country in the world! A few of the group had previously visited the Vatican museums and grounds, however as the collection is so large and there's so much to take in, they suggested a tour guide would be better for us, and I'm so glad we went down that route, as the whole city can be fairly overwhelming if you don't have someone who knows their stuff with you. 

Instead of booking on to a large group tour, we booked our own private tour for the five of us which was brilliant. Maria, our tour guide, was so knowledgable and instead of just focussing on the details and dates, etc she told us the stories behind the pieces and the different parts of the Vatican, and the small group meant that we were able to ask questions and discover more about the areas we were interested in. If you're visiting Rome I'd highly recommend this tour, and asking for Maria when you book. Bookings can be made here

We met Maria outside the entrance of the Vatican City, where we completely skipped the line and headed straight into the Belvedere Courtyard. We were then taken around the courtyard where Maria explained the history behind some of the statues we could see, and the story of how St Peters Basilica was built and designed - I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the tour for anyone! Whilst we were outside, we were also taken through each fresco in the Sistine Chapel and the story behind how it was formed, as talking isn't allowed in the chapel. 

After we were done in the courtyard, we headed inside to the oldest section of the museums, where we visited a collection of classical roman and greek art. It would take four years to see the museums if you spent a minute on each piece, so Maria picked out a few key pieces and explained the stories behind them and how they came to being in the museums, which I found really interesting. 

We then continues on to the Room of the Animals, Hall of Muses, the Greek Cross Room, the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of the Tapestries and through to my favourite room, the Hall of Maps which displays geographically accurate maps from centuries ago, which I thought was amazing. Walking through the Vatican Museums was incredible, and I could have spent hours admiring the ceilings alone - they truly are beautiful. 

After we had finished in the museums, we headed to the Raphael's Rooms and then the Sistine Chapel, which was truly breathtaking, with its beautiful frescoes painted by Michelangelo. Gazing up at the frescoes in real life is an experience I'll never forget. 

Our tour ended with a trip to the Basilica of St Peter, with the famous statue of the Pietà and the Holy Grottoes, where the Popes are buried. Again, the church was stunning, and I don't think I've ever felt so small in my life - it was huge!

The Vatican City tour took up most of the day, so after we'd finished, we were starting to get pretty hungry. As we'd been on our feet all day, we decided a long lunch in the sun would be the perfect way to spend the rest of our day. We headed around the corner and through some of the backstreets, as the restaurants outside the tourist areas are often overpriced and aren't the best quality, and stumbled upon a small pizzeria where we enjoyed pizzas and cocktails sitting outside. 

After lunch we went for a leisurely stroll back to our apartment, stopping for gelato on the way, before heading out to one of the restaurants outside our building for some dreamy carbonara to finish off the day - we were all shattered after a full day of touristing! 

xo Becky 

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