I’ve been on the go so much I haven’t had time to sort photos, hence the delay in this posting.
Rome is definitely a walking city. Each morning we ate yogurt in our tiny apartment, then wandered our way through the numerous twists and turns of the historic district. Like San Francisco, it consists of many hills with surprise vistas around every corner, except on a much grander scale – piazzas, columns (many Egyptian), cathedrals, colorful buildings, and performers. The street musicians were particularly good.
The central city feels like an outdoor museum and we saw more art walking the streets than in many buildings built to house it (the graffiti wasn’t impressive). The old and the new intertwine to form a vibrant city. A couple of the key sights, such the area around the Spanish Steps, were under renovation. A few others, including the coliseum and Sistine Chapel, charge admission, but there is no fee to enjoy the amazing architecture and street life or to enter the numerous churches. At the Vatican, we stood in line for a half hour to see St. Peter’s Basilica (wow), then skipped the lift and walked more than 500 steps to the top of the cupola for an amazing view. When we tired, we stopped at a sidewalk café for a light lunch or snack. Paninis, pasta, and pizza – they are everywhere. After all this exercise I should be in great shape for hiking the Swiss Alps.
We stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood, where I woke to the sound of the bells on a nearby church ringing 13 times every morning at 7:00; Sibylle slept in later. It’s a wonderful area within walking distance to just about everything, plus plenty of restaurants and an active nightlife (which I noticed more than experienced). My favorite dinner was pumpkin ravioli at Marco G, just outside our door.
Tip: If you’re going to the Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel, go early on a weekday. This was by far the most crowded attraction. The Sistine Chapel exits close to the entry point for St. Peter’s Basilica saving you from having to wait in that line. There’s an additional fee to visit the cupola. You can reduce the climb to 320 steps by paying an extra two euros to take the lift (longer line). If you plan ahead you can reserve a specific time slot online. If not, you can pay extra to skip the line, with or without a guided tour.