Our friends and colleagues told us that we would have to go really early to visit the Vatican Museum. They didn't tell us that the Vatican Museum was closed on a Sunday!! So we took our time getting ready and had breakfast at the hotel. We decided to head to the Vatican City and see St Peter's Basilica at least. The tram was very busy and packed. People seemed to be a lot more welcoming today, we think it was due to the red lipstick. MAC's Cherry Lip liner does wonders!
I enjoyed our tram journey; once we eventually got seats. The elderly gentleman sat near Farzana was kind enough to tell her to keep her bag close and in front of her so she can see it. He didn't speak English so he acted it out which was very sweet of him. The journey was such a difference compared to the day before when people tutted at us and gave disapproving looks.
Roma Termini is the main railway station. It is the Euston of Rome! Opposite the Termini is a long strip of Restaurants and souvenir shops and stalls. Majority, if not all of them were Halal establishments ran by Bangladeshi's. We tried our utmost to avoid eating at such place so we could experience authentic Italian cuisine.
The Vatican City was very busy with people leaving from the Sunday Sermon. The queue for St Peter's Basilica was also extremely long. It went round the square so we decided to give it a miss and explored the grounds of the Vatican instead.
The architecture, sculptures and fountains were absolutely mesmerising. The white stone had such intricate detailing and although we could not go inside, the weather was too good to go indoors any how.
The Swiss Guards uniforms were quite eye catching and unlike the Queens Guard they were talking to one another and while maintaining a little composure; politely gestured to allow a spectator to take a photo beside them.
We tried to avoid eating at a non authentic Italian Restaurant and then ended up eating at one close by to the Vatican due to convenience and yes it was ran by Bengalis who I just can't escape. Food was mediocre but alhamdulillah (All Praise to Allah) we were fed.
Our next underground stop was back to Spagna and then a long walk through the streets of Rome to the famous Giolitti Gelateria. It was worth every step. The place was heaving with people and we were spoilt for choice. I was rushed with my order. I got Nutella, Hazelnut (which was just like nutella) and Oreo, topped with fresh whip cream (€4). The Gelato is best on its own in a tub, no whip cream or cone necessary, especially since it melts very fast. It was hands down the best Gelato/Ice Cream I have ever had and I would definitely visit Rome again just for that reason.
Our feet were so incredible painful and sore at this point. We wanted to sit by the river but the closest place to sit was at the steps of the Supreme Court. We rested our feet while we watched the traffic and people pass by and they watched us.
Piazza Navona is a magical square with a calm and chilled atmosphere with street artists entertaining the crowds. Facing the Piazza is the Sant'Agnese Church which has such a beautiful painted dome inside. They did not allow photography inside but I took a sneak peak vlog of it.
On our way back to Spagna station we went through the Piazza Della Rotonda and saw the Pantheon, the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The square also had a buzz about it but not quite like the Piazza Navona.
We got some souvenirs from the "Halal Strip", a postcard and a magnet for my collection.
Our trip to Rome was short and sweet. The weather was perfect and once we understood the transport links it was fairly easy to get by.
Tips when visiting Rome:
Get familiar with the public transport links as taxis can get quite expensive. We got two 48 hour travel cards for €24 from a Kiosk at the rail station which covered train, tram, metro and bus.
Food in the central area and near landmarks are quite expensive, a bottle of water is €2 and a slice of pizza can be as much as €6 (A SLICE!) We got two 12 inch pizzas from our local pizzeria in the Perestina area for less than that! (€5).
Definitely do a tour when visiting the Landmarks such as the Colosseum because there is so much history and fun facts that are not predominantly known which make the trip more meaningful and memorable. We went with Crown Tours on the day (2 tickets for €50). Dont miss the tour of the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum like we did otherwise you will find yourself making up your own story of what went down, though imagining Game of Thrones helps. [ https://www.crowntoursitaly.com/ ]
You must visit Giolitti and try the Nutella and Oreo Ice Cream! [ http://www.giolitti.it/en ]
Wear comfortable shoes! Plimsoles or pumps will save you!
Learn basic Italian because not everybody understands English, especially in the outskirts. We struggled a lot on our first day trying to find out where we could get tram tickets!
If you think someone is being super helpful with directions out of the kindness of their heart, they are probably not. There are a lot of kids doing this for a tip and not just any tip. One girl asked us for €5 from each of us just for showing us where we could get a ticket and where our stop was.
If your not used to passionate (border line aggressive) public displays of affection, beware! Love is in the air in Rome! ;)
Be cautious of Pick-pocketers.
Finally, the first advice I received. Be aware of fake taxi drivers. Official taxi drivers are usually white cars with the Rome Capital logo on them. Stay safe!
Hope you enjoy the Vlog below! Dont forget to Subscribe! Check out my instagram for more clips and pictures. [Instagram : @Akeedah]