Italy–Day 1–The Vatican.

Our first day in Italy was good but tiring. We took a direct overnight flight on American Airlines. The flight was good; I tried to sleep but probably only got a couple of hours. We arrived in Rome around 9 am. Getting through customs here was the easiest it’s ever been  anywhere! We didn’t really have to do anything–no paperwork, no computer stuff, no questions–just showed our passports and we were on our way.

Our first mission was to take the train from the airport to city central of Rome. Buying tickets was pretty easy, they have these machines where you can buy them yourself or you can go to a ticket booth. We chose to use the machine and it took a few times because for some reason our credit card wasn’t working.  When we got to the train we at first got on the wrong one. We were sitting there and it wasn’t busy at all and then somehow we realized it was the wrong one and ours was on the other track. We got out and went to our train and crisis was averted. That could have been Amazing Race disaster. We liked to pretend we were on The Amazing Race because we’ve been watching it and all of the traveling made it feel like we were.

Waiting for our train to Roma Termini!

When we got to the city of Rome we walked to our hotel, which was about a 15 minute walk from the Roma Termini Station. We are staying at iQ Hotel Roma. It was great because we got there around 11 am and a room was available for check in. The hotel seems awesome so far, it’s very clean and modern. The hotel staff was very nice and upon check in we got a coupon for a free cappuccino or prosecco.

We got to our room and decided we needed to stay up and keep going so we could get our sleeping on track. The man at our hotel desk gave us directions on how to take the subway to the Vatican so we decided to go there and see what we could see.

The subway was very nice and clean compared to the ones in NYC or Chicago. It was easy to take except for in order to buy a ticket we needed smaller bills because it would only allow 4 euros in change. We were trying to think of what to do but we were in luck because a very nice man saw us struggling and bought us each a ticket. You might be thinking “why not just buy extra tickets to use later?” From what we could see the tickets were only valid for 100 minutes so we didn’t want to buy a bunch and not be able to use them, so it was very nice of the guy to buy us our tickets!

When we arrived at the Vatican the mood changed a bit to more touristy. People were selling things on every corner and other people were trying to get you to go on Vatican tours. We stopped at a little sandwich shop and got our first lunch in Italy. It was pretty good.

Near the sandwich shop we ran into a guide that wanted to take us on a tour. He was offering the walk through part of the museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peters Basilica for $55 per person. His group was leaving in 10 minutes and we would also be able to skip the line. We decided to go with him because the line was long and he was ready to go. Could we have done it cheaper? Maybe, but we were here now.

The tour was supposed to be 2 hours, but the tour guide talked a lot. He was very informative and it was interesting but it almost seemed like way too much information, especially on 2 hours of sleep. At one point the guide asked if we wanted to go around the long way or the short way, of course most of the group said the long way. At this point I was so tired and not really feeling this tour.  People were dropping out of the tour left and right to go and do their own thing. It was like a maze though I have no idea how anyone would get around in that place without a guide or a detailed map. The Vatican was beautiful though. It was really amazing. One nice thing about the tour was we each had an ear piece that we could hear our guide speaking in. Here are some pictures.

Our tour guide, outside The Vatican.

Replica of The Vatican.

Don’s favorite painting-The School of Athens by Raphael.

When we were almost to the Sistine Chapel  one of the doors was closed because it was getting late in the day and they wanted to limit traffic. The guide told us he would get us there but he would have to take us around a longer way that would be another 45 minutes. We got to see parts of the museum that are usually not on the tour, but I was fading. Luckily getting to the Sistine Chapel was a breath of fresh air. It was so beautiful! We were not allowed to take pictures but we might have snuck a few.

It was almost 5:30 at this point and the tour had started at 1:30. We ended up not going to St Peters Basilica because it was very crowded and we wanted to take some pictures outside. The outside of the Vatican was very pretty.


Now it was time to eat and make our way back to the hotel. We were getting a second wind now but we were tired. We ended up eating at a pizza place called Il Piccolo Pub Bistrot. It was across the street from a pizza place I wanted to try but we couldn’t find at first. This place was ok; the pizza was definitely nothing special. It was nice to sit down though and have a cold beer.

Now it was time to figure out how we could make it back to hotel. We were all walked out and the hotel was about an hour walk away. We were also pretty far from the subway we took earlier, so Don looked at his phone and saw a bus that would take us a block from our hotel. We walked to the bus stop and tried to ask someone how to buy a ticket but he didn’t know. An American couple came to the stop and told us they had just been getting off and on the bus all day. They decided they were going to walk to Trevi Fountain so we decided to try out the bus. Basically what you are supposed to do is buy a ticket at a train stop and then within 100 minutes use it and validate on the bus. The validation machines on the bus are located in the middle and in the back so you can just get on, unlike in Chicago or NYC where you have to get on at the front of the bus and insert your ticket immediately. People would just get on the bus and sit down. We saw one person validate a ticket. So either there is some sort of monthly pass for people or people in Rome never buy bus tickets? I was nervous a ticket person would come on the bus and we would get in trouble but we made it to the hotel. We got back around 8 pm and went to bed. So tired, but good first day in Rome!

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