Ah Rome – what a treat to be back. Five years had passed since we first visited staying at the delightful Lancelot near the Colosseum. This time we booked a hotel just out of the main centre – the Courtyard Marriott as it offered parking, the rate was reasonable, and the rooms were good. On arrival we discovered there was a shuttle into the Vatican, so once we had checked in we hurried off to catch it.
Around 15 minutes later we were at the drop-off point. What a sight! The queues to enter the Vatican were enormous… nothing like that greeted us five years ago, although we had booked our entrance ticket online. It was surprising to see so many tourists in what is essentially Autumn, so not the high season.
Thankfully we had no need to join the huge queue so we went in search of lunch to shore us up for the hop-on hop-off bus trip which would re-acquaint us with this huge and bustling city. It was surprisingly hot as we sat under shade umbrellas on a narrow sidewalk eating our lunch while tour groups gathered beside us. It wasn’t that pleasant so we moved on as soon as we had finished, walking though St Peter’s Square en route to the bus stop:
The bus tour was at least an hour long and was initally not very good, but as we hit the more well known sights, the commentary improved and we rather enjoyed it. There are several companies offering this service and I think we would have been better to choose the I Love Rome service (pink and white buses and brochures) rather than the Red bus service we used. However it served a purpose, because we could now pick out the places we wanted to revisit – have a look a some of the famous sights we passed:
Having completed the bus tour Phil and I decided to cram in as much as we could for the rest of the day. On our previous trip, I had not been able to wander the famous shopping streets so we grabbed a taxi and headed for the Via del Corso where I was able to pop in and out of shops at my leisure.
On our last visit we had enjoyed the atmosphere at the Spanish Steps so we headed back there, and climbed to the stop of the stairs which was surprisingly empty presenting a good photo opportunity…
The fountain at the bottom of the stairs (Fontana della Barcaccia) was quite a different matter with tourists surrounding it and at one stage, a woman was actually standing in the boat….
Next we headed off toward the Trevi Fountain – with a quick detour into a very pretty church I spied along the way:
The Trevi Fountain was ridiculously crowded – on our previous visit it had been busy, but nothing like this – tourists were shoulder to shoulder trying to the get their photos, and we heard one guide urging her clients to hold on tight to their bags and wallets. A bit of jostling got us closer to the famous landmark:
We completed a very busy day in a very rustic trattoria close to the Spanish Steps. It was lovely to see Rome at night with restaurants lit up like this one:
For us it was the end of a wonderful few weeks spent with two people we love. Travelling with Roger and Frances has created a large bank of wonderful new memories – shared experiences that we will never forget. Hopefully there will be more to come… watch this space.