It is a well known fact that City breaks are notoriously tiresome holidays, essentially because you’re packing so much culture, history, sightseeing and experiences into such a short period of time. But, believe me no matter how tired you are, getting up early is so worth it.
Day Two was my ‘Vatican Day,’ (a place where you really need a day). Whilst, the Vatican is officially its own city state, you shouldn’t need your passport to enter, but take yours just in case like we did. Not religious? This really shouldn’t cloud your judgement of going or not. Instead of religion being thrust down your throat, the Vatican is an art museum, that promises stunning views as well as exquisite artwork.
Again, I was dropped off at the Piazza Del Popolo, by the hotel’s shuttle service, but instead this time I headed off in a different direction, crossing the Tiber River, bridges run along the river and make crossing easy, whilst the water doesn’t look so nice, the architecture across the bridges is fantastic, particularly, the weeping angels. Along this route, you’ll pass another attraction Castel Sant’Angelo. Don’t feel tempted to go inside, the Vatican is going to need a lot of time and this should be open on the way back. So, just carry on walking and you’ll be impressed with the magnificent view of St.Peters Square, follow this around and quickly you’ll find the Vatican entrance. Along this route there will be a number of tour guides trying to get your attention, you can either take them up on their offer or book in advance like I did and not need them.
Once in, you’ll be amazed by the sheer volume of artwork and artifacts that the Vatican houses. The Vatican is designed in such a way that the Sistine Chapel is the last room you’ll come to, encouraging you to see all the other pieces of art before diving straight in. I would recommend at least 3 – 4 hours for this attraction, maybe even more if you really like your art. The walls and winding corridors are so ornate it’ll have you constantly looking up.
When you eventually get inside the Sistine Chapel, it will be heaving, and you’ll be very lucky like I was to get a seat and just gaze up. Take your time to soak up the artwork. I made up my own story about the interlinking scenes and to be quite frank I was blown away by it all.
After finally emerging from the Vatican, just be ready to adjust your eyes to the sunlight. For lunch today, I just stocked up on snacks from the supermarket – I was on a budget after all! Slowly, I began to walk back around towards St.Peters square, where I quickly joined a queue to climb to the top of the Basilica, for a lovely total of 3 euros. Climbing to the Basilica was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. The queue moves relatively quickly and a lift will take you half way up the Basilica, but you have to climb the winding narrow staircases the rest of the way. But, once you’re at the top is seems like your at the highest point in Rome, the views are incredible and it isn’t an experience to be missed.
After finally finishing my tour of the Vatican, it was around 5 O’clock, and considering I started out at 9 its been a long day. But, I carried on nonetheless, and visited the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was originally commissioned by the emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for him and his family, and was later used as a castle/fortress by the Pope. Again, this castle offers excellent views and has a mix of renaissance with ancient architecture.
Two policeman on the Tiber River
End of Day Two.