Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can certainly see most of it in one.
I’m very grateful to be on a yacht with a Captain as understanding as the one I have. He knows that us yachties don’t typically get to explore the towns we are in, but he makes a point to try to give us some time off before our guests arrive when we get to a new port. (Thanks Cap!!)
So after we got our boat back in ship shape, my Captain was nice enough to give me, my stewardess and engineer (Meeca and Dave, respectively) a ride into Rome. He dropped us off right in front of the Vatican (which is actually in its own country!!). Before our feet even hit the pavement, a guy approached us trying to sell us a tour. We told him we wanted to find one of those Hop On Hop Off buses that takes you around to all the touristy spots. Well, of course, he sold those too.
I prefer to shop around, or do my research beforehand if I’m going to do a tour, but we didn’t really have time. I tried to hint at my crew members that we should wait and see if we could find anything cheaper, but this guy was a fast talker, so I just went along with it. We had a lot to see in just one day (we weren’t sure if we would get another day off!).
The man escorted us down the street and into his office. He ended up selling us a tour through the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and entrance into the Sistine Chapel, which is also a shortcut to the Hop On and Hop Off bus stop. I think all of this ended up being around 59 Euros. While the other two were discussing which package we wanted, I looked over at the wall about the rules. I noticed that it said that you couldn’t show your shoulders or knees in the Sistine Chapel. They never said anything to while we were paying… even though I was wearing a tank top and shorts! So I asked them about it. They pretty much said, “yeah they might not let you in. You can buy a scarf to cover up or something, or they MIGHT give you a paper sheet (like one they would put on you at a doctor’s office) if they had any left.” Sounds like a scam already.
After we paid, the guy walked us back towards the Vatican. There was a TON of guys with their arms full of scarves. Meeca and I thought that maybe we would buy one so we could cover up, and they were only 5 Euros, but we decided against it. These guys started surrounding us, trying to convince us to buy one. It got to the point where we literally had to run away from them and catch back up with Dave and the salesman.
We escaped, unscathed, and met up with our English-speaking tour guide, and then promptly were escorted into the building. You should have seen the line that everyone else was waiting in with no tour guide!! We were herded like cattle through security, and into a few different rooms before getting our headphones so we could hear our tour guide. He brought us to the courtyard and tried to get our group mostly in the shade. He talked about some history of the Sistine Chapel and showed us photos on his iPad because you aren’t allowed to talk or take photos once you are inside. It was semi-interesting, but I’m not really into history. He then brought us inside the museum and started talking. He could tell a few of us were bored already, and he made a point to say that if we thought it was boring to listen to him ramble, that we could hand in our headphones and wander around on our own. My crew and I lasted about 15 minutes after that. Everything kind of looks the same… old statues of naked dudes and colorful paintings of people getting slaughtered.
We walked around until we found the Sistine Chapel. There were several signs along the way warning us not to talk, not to take photos, not to wear clothes that show our knees or shoulders once we entered the Chapel. Well, I was too nervous to enter because I was dressed like a typical Floridian. However, my crew members were more daring. They walked right in and I waited… and waited. I walked around to see if there was any other exit. Nope, this was literally the only short cut to our bus. Ughhhh. So I walked in quickly, hoping not to get noticed. I was stopped immediately. Too my surprise, they had some beautiful white sheets available. I chose to cover my shoulders because it wasn’t big enough to cover my knees as well. I found Meeca and Dave and we stood in awe. It was beautiful! But being crammed in a room full of smelly tourists eventually drove us out.
We set out to find our bus. It was the most touristy company, the red City Sightseeing tour bus. We found our bus stop and saw that people were loading. We tried hopping on, but were turned away. Apparently, the really long line we ran past wasn’t for all the other similar bus companies, it was just for ours. We waited for 2 buses before finally getting on ours. THIS is why you shop around!! My advice is to pick literally any other company. They were around 5 Euros cheaper and there is no wait.
Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain. Que “This is what dreams are made of” by Lizzy McGuire. By this point, my cheap ass flip-flops were killing my feet, so I was miserable. I let Dave and Meeca go get their cute, couple-y photos together at the fountain while I squeezed through the crowd to throw my coin in and make my wish.
I was considering going back to the boat because my feet hurt so bad from my shoes, but you can’t come to Rome and not see the Colosseum. So I rallied, but mostly because I had 5 bus stops to rest my feet.
After completing a lap around the Colosseum, we walked over to an ice bar that Meeca had spotted from the bus earlier. I had never been to one and it was a very hot, sunny day… and there’s alcohol, so umm yeah, no brainer for me. It’s called Ice Club. I think it was 15-20 Euros and it included entrance, a parka, and 2 drinks served in ice glasses. You can purchase gloves as well. You can stay inside for as long as you can handle. But if you come out and want to go back in, you have to pay again. We left after our two drinks because no one could feel their fingers or toes anymore and decided to grab some dinner (and a bottle of wine to myself).
We heard that the Colosseum looked amazing at night but still had an hour until sunset. It still looked amazing. After my feet could take no more and we luckily saw a subway station nearby and found our way back to the marina pretty easily (and cheaply!) thanks to Google Maps.