My second day in Rome was spent visiting the Colosseum and Vatican City, and eating lots of Italian food (pizza, pasta, and gelato all in the same day)! The morning started out with a trip to tour the Colosseum. The Colosseum was massive in person. It’s incredible to think it was built so long ago and is still standing! Walking up the stairs to the top was definitely a workout – the stairs were quite steep and weren’t evenly spaced. Once at the top, you could see the whole stadium and what it must have been like to be there for the gladiator battles. Visiting the Colosseum was one of the highlights of the trip!
After the quick tour of the Colossuem and the surrounding grounds we were off to Vatican City! Before entering we had a quick lunch break – we ended up going to the pizza shop our tour manager suggested. Best decision of the day! The pizza was seriously so legit and the best I had of the trip! The pizza was actually sold by weight so you could pick as many slices and flavors as you wanted! I selected three slices (they were square slices) which was a little too much for me so I shared some with a tour mate. And then, of course, there was a gelato shop right next door so I had to have some gelato as well – which ended up being the largest gelato I’ve ever had – when in doubt go with two scoops instead of four; it was hard because I had already picked out three flavors when I found out they served it by scoop number! Instead of having indoor seating, both shops had cushions outside that you could use to sit on the steps and people watch while you ate!
Once we had all stuffed our faces with pizza it was time to go explore Vatican City. As part of my Contiki trip, it included a guided tour of Vatican City; our group was assigned a tour guide and we were given earphones so we could hear him – yes we definitely looked like tourists! The great part about the guided tour was that we didn’t have to wait in line to get inside Vatican City; we were able to enter directly. We went through the Vatican museum directly to the Sistine Chapel. The walk through the museum was so crowded – it felt like we were just being shuffled along but it was worth it. The Sistine Chapel was remarkable and beautiful! The detail in the painting was amazing. I could have spent a whole afternoon in there but unfortunately we only had about 10 minutes to look. We also went in St. Peter’s Basilica and got to see where the pope gives speeches. Right before we left we stopped at a gift shop that sells Vatican City stamps. I guess a lot of people like to send postcards from Vatican City so they can have the stamps. I went ahead and sent a couple post cards home to my parents, Molly, and my grandpa because I thought they would enjoy a postcard from my trip.
After our full day of exploring, we were given a little free time to relax before heading out to our last dinner of the tour. We went to a nice Italian restaurant that was actually really good and the food just kept coming! After our dinner we went out to a couple of bars for one last fun night as a group! It was definitely bittersweet! I had so much fun with everyone on my Contiki tour – we definitely had a great group of people and it was sad saying bye to everyone! Luckily, a few people were staying in Rome an extra night so didn’t have to say bye to everyone the same night.
Marina, Neli, and I had actually planned for an extra night in Rome after the end of the tour so that we could explore a little more. We ended up staying two extra nights which was much needed – Contiki cough is a real thing and after being on the road for two weeks we were all pretty exhausted and excited for a couple days to chill. Our extra days in Rome were spent wandering the city, eating a ton, and catching up on a little sleep. Our hotel was outside the city center but it was in a cute area with shops and restaurants which was perfect. I went down to one of the restaurants by myself the one night so the waiter tried to talk to me but my limited Italian knowledge and slow Google translate ended that conversation pretty quickly! It was fun to try to speak a little of the language though. Talking with the locals was one of my favorite parts of my whole trip! I had a fabulous time in Rome but was a little disappointed I didn’t get to drive a Vespa!