My urge to travel to Rome stems from the movie Angels and Demons, where Professor Langdon raced across the city after the Pope is murdered deciphering clues from the Illuminati. So I booked a First Class ticket to Rome via Dubai on Emirates, packed my bags and left.
This was my first trip to Europe so I was pretty excited. My emirates driver drove me deep into the city to my hotel, except the huge Mercedes they picked me up in couldn’t fit down the inner streets… so he dropped me off at an intersection and told me to walk that way, got in the car and left.
I found the hotel quickly, thankfully as I had two large bags full of kitesurfing gear in tow and it was over 30 degrees. My hotel was one street over from Piazza Navona, so I was within walking distance of basically everything from ancient Rome. It didn’t take me long to get out and explore.
I just started walking until I got to the river with the Vatican in the distance to the left, and Castel St Angelo in front of me. I recognized the castle from the movie, it had a secret passaged to the Vatican (which later I never did find). I walked up and noticed the entrance fee was only 10 euro, so I proceeded to explore the maze of hallways throughout the Castel for over an hour.
It was around dinner hour by the time I was done in the Castel, so I found a small café with a patio and had some wine and pasta for dinner, people watching the busy street in front of me. Then I had my first gelato on the way back to my hotel and was hooked for the rest of the trip.
The next morning I woke up early and headed to the Roman Forum. I had some tips that I should start at the forum as the queue would be shorter and the ticket would also grant me access to the coliseum later. I took many photos around the forum with breaks in the shade of the structures as the temps soared to 35 degrees. It was so hot the entire time I was in Rome. I was grateful that I didn’t need to stand in the long queue at the coliseum for a ticket purchase as I was inside within 5 minutes in the bypass line. The place was packed but I got some great photos.
Then I grabbed a bike taxi and headed to the Spanish steps. From there I mapped a route back to Navona stopping at Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. I met up with my cousin and her boyfriend later that afternoon to catch up and we enjoyed some amazing pasta, wine, and gelato!
The next day my cousin met up with me and we headed to the Vatican. TIP: just outside St Peter’s square you can buy tickets as part of a tour guide that gives you line bypass. The Vatican line is very long. These tickets are more expensive than the online Vatican ticket, but you don’t need to pre-book in a time slot online and they run tours often throughout the day. We went through the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel with the tour. I’ve never seen so many people. It was nice to do but I won’t do it again due to the crowds. After the tour we made our way into St Peters Basilica which was the highlight of my day. We ended the day with the best gnocchi I’ve ever had and of course, more gelato.
The next day I grabbed a plane and headed to Morocco…