After spending three gorgeously sunny days on the Amalfi Coast, and one slightly cloudy day mostly spent eating in Naples, we made our way back to Naples Central station and onto one of the superfast, clean TrenItalia trains going back up to Rome. I may make it sound like I’m sponsored by TrenItalia but I promise I’m not, I just really appreciate a good train. NERD ALERT.
Anyway. We arrived in Rome quite early and our hotel wasn’t quite ready for us yet but given the blazing sunshine that wasn’t a problem. We decided to kill a couple of hours on a bus tour whilst we waited for our rooms to be ready.
Whilst in Rome, we stayed at the lovely Welcom Piram hotel which is a stone’s throw away from Termini station, the Baths of Diocletian and Via Cavour, which is a 15 minute walk away from the Colosseum. Location-wise, it was perfect. The hotel itself was very nice, well-priced and spotlessly clean. I’ve stayed in Rome quite a few times and this hotel impressed me. The staff were also lovely and could prepare a gorgeous Bellini too.
The winning attribute for me was the fact they had a lovely roof terrace where you could enjoy your nicely mixed Bellini or Martini Royale Bianco looking out across Rome.
I have a separate post coming up later in the week on the food in Rome (trust me, it’ll be worth it) as that deserves its own space on this blog, so in this post I want to talk about the highlights from the sights we saw.
If you’ve never been to Rome before and if you only have a few days, then you naturally have to see the top sights. You might manage to see the Colosseum, the Forum and the Vatican (the museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s).
But for me it was my fourth trip back, and so we were able to see a little bit more of my favourites. I have a very easy-going boyfriend whose priorities were mainly around pasta so he was quite happy to follow my lead.
Highlights for me were a night-time walk past the Pantheon, exploring the Palatine hill and of course, the Scavi tour.
I’ve talked about the Scavi tour before on this blog. It’s a tour underneath St. Peter’s which takes you down to the original Roman necropolis and shows you the tombs which have been amazingly preserved including, the Vatican believes, the original tour of St. Peter, with the bone fragments from his skeleton on display.
Going on the tour gave us a sense of superiority as we looked over the crowds queuing for hours around St. Peter’s square. We waved off hopeful tour guide operators with the words “We have the Scavi tour”, which they couldn’t really argue with given it takes three months to book!
[World’s most comfortable jumpsuit from H&M]
Going on the Scavi tour means you get to go ‘behind the scenes’ of the Vatican. We had our tickets and bags checked by the police and by the Swiss Guard before being ushered to wait outside Ufficio di Scavi. We were then met by a representative from the office who took us on the tour.
[Heads up: you aren’t allowed to take photos of the necropolis for obvious reasons so the photos below are from the Ufficio Di Scavi’s website.]
The map above shows you where you go on the tour – the top layer is the ‘modern-day St. Peter’s (completed in 1590), the second layer which is where the crypt is now is where the Old St. Peter’s was built by the Emperor Constantine between 319-333 AD. And the final layer is the Roman Necropolis where St. Peter was believed to have been buried in the year 64 AD.
After the tour as you’re in the Vatican already you are free to explore St. Peter’s Basilica at your leisure, which we hadn’t realized so that was a lovely bonus!
You have to email the Vatican (firstname.lastname@example.org) at least a few months before you want to go, telling them your dates that you’ll be in Rome, how many people are in your group, and what language you’ll need on the tour.
They only let 250 people down a day so it really is the tour of a lifetime. The Vatican are surprisingly quick at confirming your booking, and for €13 euros each I would completely recommend it.
My next Roma post will be all about the food we ate, and how I’ve immediately purchased a pasta machine upon returning to the UK…