Day two in Rome was a big one! We walked over 15 km, and much of that was slowly plodding around the Vatican museums, surrounded by oppressive tour groups. We also found a castle, twirled around in St Peter’s Square, and ate at the most amazing Italian restaurant. We noticed that we were the only tourists in there when we sat down, which gave us a good idea of the food quality – and we were proved right – it was amazing.
Read on for my vlog, photos, and tips.
Day two highlights:
- Food. Ice cream near the castle, and the best pasta ever
- An extensive tour of the Vatican
- Sistine Chapel
- St Peter’s Square
- 2017 Pope Calendar (yes, really)
- The Castle
Ice cream in Italy is always good, but it’s even better when you’re dehydrated after walking through the mid-day sunshine.
The real food highlight today was a little place called Al Simetra, which was tucked away near our hotel. It felt very authentically Italian. We got a little table with a red and white table cloth on their little porch area, overlooking the rest of the street.
To start, I had the most amazing Bruschetta al Prosciutto for only two euros (expect to pay around five in central Rome), and followed it with a spaghetti carbonara. This was no normal carbonara, though. The sauce was the perfect amount of creaminess, with delicious bacon bits sprinkled generously through the dish. It was perfection. Now I’ve made myself hungry!
An extensive tour of the Vatican
There is a lot to see on the Vatican tour. From state rooms, to full museums, to ancient works of art, it takes quite a while to get around.
Many people chose to sign up for a tour, which was over double the price of entry. While a guide could have been useful, they did tend to quickly go from one room to the other, and skipped past the first part of the tour entirely, while we spent at least an hour exploring that part alone.
In the summer months, it’s worth preparing for the crowds in advance. With the tour groups, there was always a wave of people going past every few minutes.
For tickets, I highly recommend buying them in advance online. You’ll get to skip the insanely long queue outside and go straight in, no matter if you’re part of a tour or not. We also booked audio guides, though I wouldn’t bother with this again. The guides only really explained the museum exhibits, which often had written plaques next to them anyway.
St Peter’s Square
After the whirlwind of the Vatican tour, we almost forgot about this iconic square. We’d already started walking away from the area when we realised that we hadn’t seen it. Even though we wanted to get out of the sun, we trekked back. It was definitely worth the detour. The scale is epic – it certainly made me feel very small.
Another thing to point out is that you should plan to visit the Vatican on any day other than Sunday. The religious services mean that you won’t get the same access as you can during the week.
Phew, what a busy day! Don’t forget to check back next week to see what we got up to on day three. It’s features Rome’s most iconic sight, and I nearly get sunstroke in the process. Don’t miss it!