Colosseum Ruins Exterior
Two Days in Rome – Domus Victoria Guest House
After a short confusing walk from the train station, we found the Domus Victoria Guest House – our home for Two Days in Rome. The guest house entrance was a simple wood door beside the MAS store with the hotel name in tiny letters on the buzzer. The staff at Domus Victoria Guest House was eager to use their English. A map and detailed directions were very helpful. The Domus Victoria Guest House had free internet, very nice air conditioning and lovely cappuccino delivered to your room with breakfast each morning.
Two Days in Rome – Colosseum & Forum
For our first adventure on our two days in Rome, we walked to the Colosseum & Forum. We then joined the hordes of tourists. Two mistakes started off our self guided tour – we didn’t buy tickets in advance and the Colosseum & Forum are at their busiest around noon. You can also buy tickets at the Forum, but the lines were just as long there too. So, we spent an hour lined up in the heat of the noon day sun to get our tickets. We started our two days in Rome with a self guided tour of the Forum. The Forum is impressive, no matter what your mood is after a long wait. The grounds are extensive and the viewpoint over the ruins is fabulous.
Colosseum at Night
Next we made our way back to the Colosseum. The line up had decreased significantly. The stone ruins are gigantic, but for some reason I wasn’t overly impressed with the Colosseum. By this point, we needed to get out of the sunny, hot spring day. So, we walked back to the Domus Victoria Guest House. We asked about places to eat dinner, as everything in the square was boarded up like a massive economic foreclosure. The B&B staff told us it was afternoon and that everything closed at that time. Dinner time is around 8pm in Italy. Luckily a great place to find a late afternoon meal was the main train station nearby.
Two Days in Rome – Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountian
After a late lunch at the Roma Termini train station, we took the A Red Line subway to the Spanish Steps. The subway in Rome was fast and inexpensive. We got off the subway at the Spagna station, which overlooks the top of the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps are intriguing, because of all the people who come just to sit there. We then followed our map with difficulty to the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain was pleasant in the shade of evening, but very busy with tourists. Then we went to the Pantheon and got seriously lost, despite the map. Plus the Pantheon was closed. Clearly I need to step up my game if I was to be a successful at my own self guided tours.
Forum at Night
We walked back to the Domus Victoria Guest House from the Panteon and had an unexpected pleasure. Our route went past the Colosseum & Forum. These attractions were now both closed, but you can get great views down into the empty grounds of the Forum. We wandered the edges of the Forum and got great views of the empty spaces at the sunlight faded. The Forum has a completely different atmosphere after the tour buses leave. Try to visit the Colosseum & Forum early or late in the day.
St Peter’s Basilica Interior
Two Days in Rome – St Peter’s Basilica
Our second day in Rome started with a lovely breakfast in our room. Then we took the A Red Line subway again. This time we stopped at the Cipro station and walked to St Peter’s Basilica. St Peters Basilica was the highlight of our trip to Rome. The basilica is magnificent and peaceful. The tombs of the Popes underneath make your aware of its importance and the depth of time. People were gathered at the tomb of Pope John Paul II to pay their respects. The main floor of St Peter’s Basilica is immense and absorbs numerous lovely carvings and tributes to the numerous Popes who have led the Catholic Church. Faint singing from a service echoed through the building and its various caverns.
St Peter’s Square from the Cupola
I ended up taking two trips around and paused a long time to simply listen to the service. Then we paid to take the elevator up to the outside top of the dome (cupola), which was great too. The views of the city, St Peter’s Square were fabulous. You could also look down into the grounds of the Vatican and the roof of the Sistine Chapel. The refreshing breeze made it hard to leave.
Two Days in Rome – Vatican
We had reservations booked on the Vatican site and it was wonderful to pass to the front of the the crowds lined up in the hot sun. Unfortunately our Vatican experience didn’t match our glorious self guided tour of St Peter’s. Our Vatican reservation included an hour of pre lecture on the drawings of the Sistine Chapel. Standing still and listening drove me crazy, as I just wanted to get on with the tour. The four Raphael rooms involved lengthy descriptions by our guide too.
Stained Glass Madonna and Child, Vatican Museums
After 2.5 hours on our guided tour, we finally made it to the Sistine Chapel. What a weird experience. A large dank room crammed with full with people to every corner. A uniformed official presided and continually made hissing noises at the crowd to maintain silence. At times he would clap too. The murmur from the crowd never ceased and quickly built to the point of another reprimand.
It reminded me of the Dog Whisperer or a lion tamer controlling animals. When we finally got to the exit, a security guard waved his hand to indicate we could not leave, but did not speak. We had no idea why we couldn’t leave. I had the strangest sensation that the heathen had all been caged and we were about to be dealt with. Then someone in a wheelchair came in through the exit, making it clear why our exit had been denied for so long.
After Tour Groups Have Left
The Vatican – On Our Own
The guided tour was finally over and we were on our own. We next stumbled on the nicest piece in the museum in my opinion, which is a life size stained glass of mother and child. After the disappointment of the tour, this item lifted my spirit and I wasn’t ready to leave the Vatican yet. We headed to the Etruscan Museum and something remarkable happened on the way. The crowds thinned and we started to have entire rooms to ourselves. We wandered through the painting gallery and the Etruscan Museum. The two large halls of statues, that were crammed with people earlier, were now empty. We strolled around as if we owned the place. I thoroughly enjoyed this time on our own at the Vatican.
Piazza Navona Fountains
Two Days in Rome – Self Guided Walking Tour
After our tour of the Vatican, we took our own self guided tour through the city center. We crossed the Tiber with views of Hadrian’s Tomb. As we made our way east toward the Pantheon, we came across Navona Square. The Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini was wonderful. The open space and fountains of Piazza Navona were just as impressive as the Trevi Fountain. Nearby we arrived at the Pantheon. The Pantheon peaked my interest due to the movie, Angels and Demons. Rafael and Italian Kings (Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I) are buried in the Pantheon. Our self guided walking tour finished by wandering past the Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps. Then we caught the subway back to our B&B. Our two days in Rome were a great success.