Our trip started with a 1.5 hour drive by motor coach to the city of Rome. Our tour today is CV07 Exclusive Best of Rome. We were in a smaller group of 24 people with already purchased tickets for entrance to the Roman Colosseum and other venues. The Colosseum was an impressive megalithic structure to behold. It filled the scenery and sat adjacent the Circus Maximus. We first viewed the structure from the outside and then proceeded inside the Colosseum. The security was very quick, a little less than going to the airport, but it helped everyone to feel safe. Once inside you could do nothing but marvel at the foundations that were over 2,000 years old. You began to think of the people who fought, performed, and visited here and what must have been going through their minds. It was an overwhelming sensual experience.
To learn that the Colosseum has been ransacked and plundered for its marble and iron makes one quite sad. This structure is just so epic and monumental. Why would anyone want to destroy it? But over time the steps of St. Peter’s would be crafted from some of that reused marble and about 300 tons of the missing iron clamps would have be used to fashion weaponry in the Middle Ages. This required one to use their imagination a bit when viewing the area although much of these missing elements seem to be undergoing a recreation effort today.
Afterwards we went by motor coach to the city center passing through the old city walls, which were impressive in themselves, and we disembarked and walked to Trevi Fountain. All I can say is Wow! It is one of the most impressive fountains I have ever seen. I certainly did not realize its enormous size or the painstaking detail to which it was crafted. Needless to say this area was very crowded but we managed to find a good spot right along the lower fountain wall and Leslee tossed a coin from the right hand over the heart and into the fountain. Certainly we will visit Rome again soon!
Next we set off on foot to the Hotel Savoy for our included lunch. It was a demanding walk for sure of 20 – 25 minutes crossing several roadways and including at least 50 stairs. I liked that our tour guide kept telling us it was just around the next corner, then she would confess that it was just a little further than that. This helped us forget about how long the walk actually was. You did have an option to take a cab, at your own expense, if you did not want to walk from the Trevi fountain. One couple in our group did just that.
Once we arrived at Hotel Savoy we rode the small elevator holding either 6 persons or 8 to the 5th floor then navigated another two sets of stairs. Much to our amazement we were at the top of the Hotel where we next enjoyed a meal of pasta, followed by either Chicken or Fish, Mimosa cake for desert, Champagne and White Wine. This made the walk entirely worth it.
After lunch we had a few minutes to walk the small amount of stairs to the rooftop terrace which had quite an elegant appeal and snapped a few photo’s with Rome in the background including the Altare della Patria aka The Wedding Cake.
Once back onboard the bus we headed straight to Vatican City – in particular the Vatican Museum. This took about 15 minutes to navigate the GROUPS line and we were inside. You were immediately met with amazement here with your eyes looking in all directions at the same time. I have never seen so many people in one place since visiting the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. I can’t really describe what happened next as it was all too much for my brain to comprehend and quite the overwhelming experience. But at some time, perhaps 30 minutes into the Museum we were now in line to enter the Sistine Chapel considered the most holy place of the Catholic religion. Again we stood in a room with about one thousand others in pure awe! Even the alter candlesticks were crafted over 500 years ago. We saw the exact spot on the floor where the stove for the conclave has been placed for many centuries and how the stack is routed up and out. We admired the paintings by Michelangelo on the wall and ceiling and learned that other wall paintings in the Sistine Chapel are considered even older.
After exiting the Sistine Chapel we next entered St. Peter’s Basilica but not in the regular way. We got so lucky to enter the Basilica through the Holy Door which is opened only once every twenty five years. We picked a perfect time to visit and made sure to touch the doors facade on the way in. We saw the tomb of Pope John Paul II, the alter used by the Pope for Easter and Christmas services, and so many other things inside. The floor, walls, ceiling – the detail was astonishing! Plus I learned that St. Peters is the largest Catholic Church in the world followed by St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. If that wasn’t enough I also discovered that the Vatican is not part of Italy at all but rather its own independent state existing within Italy.
After exiting St. Peter’s we viewed the guard area at the official Vatican entrance of the Pope and snapped a few photos. Then we saw the window where the Pope gives his service and the terrace area where the smoke from the conclave comes out.
A quick walk to pick up a few souvenirs and our trip was over. It was sleepy-time on the bus back to the ship where we arrived at 6:15pm after a long but rewarding day.
12,075 steps logged.
Tour operator: Aloschi Bros.