Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
This post will highlight several activities and sites in Rome, including:
We used the Rick Steves’ Italy guide to plan most of our activities.
Activities In Rome
The sites I was most excited to see the ruins of ancient Rome. Daraius and I went to Ancient Rome and toured Palantine Hill, the Forum, and the Colosseum. I liked the Forum followed by the Colosseum and then Plantine Hill.
We walked down one of the side streets and had a cheap lunch at Pizzeria Di Sforza Piero.
Daraius ordered 2 slices of Margherita pizza, a stuffed tomato, and a pear juice. I got a potato pizza and an Italian cola. Everything was very tasty.
1. Palantine Hill
Palantine Hill had some sparse ruins of old palaces. Palantine Hill, one of the highest areas in the city, housed most notable and leaders of Roman society.
Now there are just a few bare arches and rubble, so I would save the time and energy and instead focus on the Forum.
2. The Forum
The Forum, the former center of Rome, was amazing. It really is a city that sprawls on and on.
I would allow at least half a day (3 to 4 hours) to see the many sights. I was surprised by how big it was, even though most structures are in ruins.
There were so many things to see.
Sometimes there were just pieces of ruins without any explanation of what they used to be.
We also saw the Temple of Divus Romulus that is now being used as a church.
There are few markings and they barely explain what you see. Hiring a guide might be helpful for both the Forum and Colosseum.
We then walked up the hill for a great view of the Colosseum.
3. The Colosseum
After the Forum, we went to the Colosseum. The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in the world. During Roman times it was used for drama productions and other events.
This was a huge structure and we were impressed by how large it was. It was also in relatively good condition (compared to the Forum). That it’s standing after 2,000 years is amazing.
Once inside the Colosseum, we walked upstairs which had the best view.
We then went to the gift shop to pick up some blog giveaways.
The Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica
The next day Daraius and I stopped for lunch at Hostaria dei Bastioni which is near the Vatican.
After lunch, Daraius and I went to the Vatican. Tickets were 16 euro each (~$22).
The Rick Steves’ Italy guide mentioned that there was a separate line to enter if you bought your tickets online. Daraius bought our tickets on the web so we were able to use the shorter line to enter. We’re so glad we booked our tickets online and avoided the wait!
Before we entered, we had to walk through security.
You have to check large bags like backpacks and purses.
We signed-up for the English group tour and our 1st stop was the gardens.
We got a quick overview of the gardens but didn’t get to spend a lot of time there.
Inside the Vatican museum, we saw the River Tiber sculpture. But we had to move quickly with the guide.
It was still nice to view the many treasures inside the Vatican Museum.
There were busts of important men…
and beautiful sculptures.
Even the ceilings were beautiful (duh!).
We saw the Pallas Athena statue.
The guide talked about the period of the art (Renaissance), as well as details about the style. She took us to a computer used for viewing the Sistine Chapel and described it in detail. I appreciated how she reviewed many of the portraits with us.
Next, we went to the Sistine Chapel, which was very beautiful. It’s amazing how one man created such beautiful artwork. The figures seemed to be 3D images, and the colors were so rich. Unfortunately, no photos could be taken in the chapel, and many police officers strictly enforced the rule by walking around.
It was also VERY crowded!
Unfortunately my audio guide gave out early on in the tour, so I couldn’t hear her very well.
There was also a lot of background noise from other tour groups that drowned her out. After about an hour of following the guide, Daraius and I turned our equipment in to her and proceeded at a slower pace. The museum was so crowded that it was difficult keeping up with her and hearing what she had to say.
We took the exit straight to St. Peter’s Basilica so we didn’t have to fight crowds to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. This was another tip from the Rick Steves’ Italy guidebook. However, you can’t re-enter the Vatican Museum once you’re in St. Peter’s Basiclica.