Some parts of Rome were expected - the cobblestone streets, the alleyways of incredible restaurants, the amazing margherita pizzas, pastas, caprese salads, gelato (ohhhh the gelato) and ruins mixed with some modern architecture. Other things like the amount of traffic were unexpected. Yes, it is a big city, no, I didn't really think there would be a lot of highways. Also - the drivers are crazy! I was terrified every time we took a cab or transferred from the airport or to the port. Anyway, I'm alive, and we got there fast!
On the first day we did the usual sights - the Pantheon (very cool architecture), the Trevi Fountain (beautiful - made a wish), and the Spanish Steps (there are a lot, and they are very hot if you sit on them to take a picture in the baking sun). Lots of walking, but definitely needed to work off all the food we ate! We stayed at an old monestary converted to a hotel - very simple, with twin beds in every room (there were 4 in ours) called the Domus Carmelitana. Great price and really close to Vatican city, with breakfast included. They also have a rooftop terrace where we had drinks before dinner each night with a beautiful view of St. Peter's.
The second day we walked AROUND the Colesium (not inside - there was a huge line and we didn't have time for a tour) - I was sad not to go in, I would do that when I go back. We also found these ruins on the way there that had cats living in them - there must have been at least 50 cats - they are like squirrels there. Megan found them in every city. In the afternoon we had a tour of the Vatican. Our tour guides name was Josie (I'll get details on her ASAP) - she was excellent. She had so many funny stories and went through everything at a good pace. We did a private tour with her - just the 5 of us kids (Lynn & Pete had done it the last time they were there) - highly recommended. If you can afford it (which we couldn't for every stop), a private tour is better every time. Those big giant tour groups drove us crazy when we were trying to see anything in Europe! Anyway, the Vatican was beautiful to see - so much art, in every form, and the Sistine Chapel was just incredible. Before we went in, we grabbed a drink, and Josie went through all the things you can see in those paintings, what they mean, and what to look for - it was so helpful, since you aren't supposed to talk in there at all. There are big scary guards saying "SHHHHHHH!" every minute!
Both nights we went out to dinner - the first close to us down a little side street (the Borgo's - "boroughs" - near Vatican City), and the second night we were closer to the Pantheon. There are tons of places and most have similar food. Check prices, however, because they can be drastically different for basically the same thing. They brought us little things to try and were very friendly in both places.
We were sad to leave Rome on the 3rd day, but had to head to the port (about an hour away) to catch a boat! Here are some photo highlights!
I would have definitely caused a lot of death matches in my university days...
*I just looked up...my ceiling is cloud white...hmmm...what a waste of a wall...