This is the first of a series of posts where I’ll share all my stories and photos about my wonderful adventure cruising about the Mediterranean Sea. It was a trip I always wanted to do and when I saw a friend posting photos on Facebook of many of the places still on my bucket list, I checked it out…..and did it!!! The trip was a Mediterranean Cruise – 7 ports in 7 days covering Italy, France, and Spain. I technically visited five different countries, since I visited Vatican City and Monaco – the two smallest countries in the world as part of my time in Italy and France. The cruise started and ended in Rome.
With the issues with air travel, lately – all the cancellations and delays – I decided to go early. I left on Saturday, arrived in Rome on Sunday morning, and got on the cruise on Tuesday morning. If there were any delays, it wouldn’t have impacted getting to the ship on time. But since everything went like clockwork, I had the pleasure of spending Sunday and Monday in Rome. That is the part that this post will focus on.
My hotel in Rome was amazing! The Hotel Homs is a Four-Star designer hotel in the heart of Rome – just a block or so from the Spanish Steps and other highlights of Rome. I got a really good deal on Expedia. It was comfortable and in a great location and they had a nice buffet breakfast!
They had a bidet – I’ve never used one – nice! And a heated towel rack.
I was there two nights and kept thinking it was strange that the room didn’t have a full length mirror!!! Then, the morning I was leaving, I happened to turn around and – BAM – there it was……right there on the wall in plain sight – not hiding – not on the back of a door……right there – no idea how I missed it……unless someone came in during that last night and put it there! hahaha
Right across the narrow street, there was a wonderful restaurant. I ate dinner there both nights – it was close, convenient, the food was amazing, the price was reasonable…….and……the waiters were absolutely adorable and wonderful flirts!!! LOL
The first night, I had linguini with prawns and cherry tomatoes and the second night I had pizza with spicy salami – both with a glass of Moscato.
I arrived Sunday morning too early to check in, so they stored my bags for me and gave me some directions for places I could walk to.
First up was the Spanish Steps in Spanish Square – just a block or so away. The Spanish Steps is a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and Piazza Trinita dei Monti and church at the top. There are 135 steps! And, believe it or not, I made it up and back down them! It took me a while……they are nicely spaced, so it wasn’t a difficult climb and I stopped often to make it a leisurely climb. They are stunning and the view from the top of the fountain below is really special.
The 135 steps start there behind the fountain and go up to the first landing, then arch around to a second and third landing before reaching the church at the top.
View from the top looking down at the fountain!!! WOW!!!
About half way……one of my breather stops!
The church at the top
There was also another set of winding steps up the “back way” that I took to get down during my walk around the area – there were no security guys telling me I couldn’t sit down for a few minutes on these steps – hahaha:
So…..I spent the rest of the day wandering around the area and I took a hop-on-hop-off bus to just take in the sights.
Of course, I stopped for a gelato — it was VERY hot and this refreshing dish of mixed berry gelato in an air conditioned shop was the perfect solution!
I wanted to see the Trevi Fountain, but never found it — even when I got off at that stop on the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour and went the way they told me……it was obviously much further than it sounded. Everyone I asked about anywhere I went throughout the entire trip said “oh, just over there, 5-10 minutes tops”….yeah, right! hahaha I even tried to take a taxi…….saw one at a taxi station and asked if he was available and he gave me a big grin and said yes, so I asked if he would take me to the Trevi Fountain. He said, “oh, no, Bella…..that is not far….save your money….walk…..you walk to Trevi Fountain…..save your money!” I tried to tell him I didn’t mind paying for the ride, but he was trying so hard to be helpful and keep me from wasting my money – it was funny, but also so very sweet!!! He just said “it is right over there – 5-10 minutes, tops”…..after I already walked about 15 minutes after the last directions I got! hahaha So, I never got to see it! But, that’s OK!
I got back to the hotel and asked for my bags so I could check in and they said they were already in my room! Nice surprise! I was so soaked from being out in the brutal heat that I peeled off my clothes, got a shower, and went across the street for dinner. That first night, I had the linguini with prawns and there was a lady sitting at the table beside me – we struck up a conversation. She was a flight attendant for Delta and was from Brooklyn. We talked about a lot of the places we both had been and it was lovely talking to her.
After dinner I laid down for “just a few minutes” – I was pretty tired after a very long overnight flight and a full day of walking around Rome. I planned to go back across the street for a glass of wine under the stars, but I woke up at 1:00 am! Guess I was really tired! I put on my jammies, turned out the lights, and slept through the rest of the night.
The next morning, I had breakfast at the hotel and caught a taxi to the Vatican – I had a skip the line ticket to get in to Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. WOW – what a day that was! I spent most of the day there. Vatican City is a 110-acre independent sovereign country inside of the city of Rome. It is mostly, but not totally, bordered by a 39 foot tall stone wall originally designed to protect the city from the political threats of the Romans and other religious enemies. It is where the current pope and approximately 800 others reside. It is the smallest sovereign country in the world.
Michelangelo’s Dome on St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
The following photos were taken in the courtyard prior to entering the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are a maze of rooms and buildings with wonderful works of art, artifacts, mosaic floors, and intricately painted ceilings. Several courtyards connect the buildings
Our tour guide – she was amazing!
The view of Rome from one of the rooms in the Vatican
Next on the tour was the Sistine Chapel — no photography or videos of any kind are permitted in the chapel, so I have nothing to show you here. But….suffice it to say……it was breathtaking!!! I was surprised, though – from photos I have seen and stories, I imagined it to be a huge church. It’s not! It is actually a sort of large room with benches all around the perimeter of the room and the crowd is mostly shepherded around in a circle to view the ceiling. It is totally incredible — nothing I have ever seen has done it justice and I’m in a way glad I couldn’t take photos – they would never have done it justice and may have marred my memory of how amazing it really is in person! We were also told to be silent while in there out of respect for the reverence of the room…..of course, people have no respect and talked throughout with the Swiss Guards repeatedly announcing “Silence!” and “No photos!” – it was sad, but I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying my time in this awesome place.
We then went to St. Peter’s Basilica. That, too, was an area where photographs were prohibited. It was also so beautiful and peaceful and just an amazing experience to be there.
We exited through St. Peter’s Square:
When I got done, I was so tired and sore —- several hours of walking and climbing did me in! I had planned that if it didn’t take too long to go through the Vatican, that I would also go to the colosseum, but it was getting late and I just wanted to get back to the hotel.
There was a small square outside St. Peter’s Square that had some vendors, so I sat and had a cold bottle of water to “people watch” and recoup a bit. Then, walked to the taxi station about 5 blocks away to catch a taxi back to the hotel.
So….that’s my time in Rome! I didn’t get to see everything I hoped to see, but that’s OK – I got a nice taste of Rome and truly loved everything I did get to see!
I kept reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and there is no way to see it all in two days….that’s all I had and I think I did pretty good with the time I had.
The next morning I boarded the cruise ship……so, the next in the series will be about the cruise!