Early Thursday morning, rain poured down the streets of Florence and a flashback of yesterday’s dreadful walk from the train station appeared in my head.
Two hours south, Rome welcomed us with warmer weather and overcast. Past the platforms a mall of stores and restaurants towered our path leaving the station. With plans to join a hop-on hop-off bus tour, we found a guide waiting for us outside the station doors.
Rome was everything I expected, save the gypsies. Pervasively lining the streets they pushed their products. Five men armed with scarves, umbrellas, and bracelets harassed us until we stepped onto the bus. We spotted seats on top of the double decker and plugged in our ear phones for the recorded commentary. The reception tuned in and out, turning my historic tour into a free ride around the ancient city.
We hopped off at the Colosseum to wait in line for the ticket booth. After a minute, Dad offered to wait outside during our exploration amid the ruins. Separating us without a phone, alone in the largest tourist area in the world? Perhaps not the greatest decision. Though I saw his point. We could peek inside the Colosseum from afar, and that was good enough for me.
Saving €40 a person from “skip-the-line” tours, we walked outside the Palatine for free. We grabbed refreshments at one of hundreds of food vendors scattered around the area and caught the red bus for more sight seeing.
Due to the faulty recording, we “oohed and ahhed” at ancient buildings without a clue of their origin. At least we weren’t falling over on the bus trying to take pictures like a few other tourists. Around 1, we stopped at Castel Sant’Angelo for lunch. Overwhelmed from the copious amounts of options, we sat at a cafe near the bus stop. The food was mediocre; a bit disappointing considering we were in the capital of the food capital of the world.
Next stop, the Vatican. With the Pope preparing a spontaneous Mass, the church was closed but tours into the museum were still available. Spending the extra money to “skip the line”, we joined a tour group lead by an art history student.
Being its own micro-state, the Vatican succeeded my assumed notions. Every inch of the museum is decorated with art, sculptures, tapestries, and tile. The rooms dedicated to Roman sculptures of the Gods, Egyptian tombs, and beyond. A hall boarded with maps of Italy lead up to the Sistine Chapel, the main reason we entered the Vatican. Michelangelo’s masterpiece made the entire trip worthwhile.
After leaving the Vatican, there were two more places I needed to cross off my bucket list, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. After all, a wish was waiting to be made.
A few corners from the bus stop, we turned into a square of tourists. Pushing through the crowd, we found a space to throw our coins into the Trevi Fountain.
Before the haul to the Spanish Steps, Frank needed some gelato to get his mind off the crowd. After much confusion on where the steps were, we managed to climb the famous square during sunset.
Back To Florence
Hundreds of people waited for their number to be called at the train station. I tried explaining to my mom that we could purchase a ticket from a self-service booth, but she refused. When an Italian gave us advice, she shooed him away though he persisted to help. Sure, this interaction usually ends with a lost wallet, but we managed to print out three tickets with everything still in our purse. Who knows how long we would have waited for that number to be called. Once again, our family experienced a long day of travel. Always exhausting but always worth it.