My Thoughts On: The Roman Forum and The Vatican (Italy Finale Part 5)

Continued from: The Colosseum, Pasta and F***ing Trevi Fountain (Italy Part 4)

The Roman Forum

On the agenda the next day was to continue our walk through ancient Rome with the Roman Forum. We started on Palentine Hill, took in the view from above of the forum with the Colosseum in the background and then headed down to walk through and take in the Roman Forum. We started at the end closest to the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus and then just took our time exploring as we wandered through the Forum from one end to the other. What a neat experience to stand in the middle of the Forum looking around trying to imagine Rome at a time when this was the centre of it all. You don’t get more ancient Rome than that!

For lunch we headed to a cool restaurant, Ristorante Museo Canova Tadolini, which was originally a studio to artist Antonio Canova and now displays many of his and one of his pupil’s works. It was like eating in a sculpture museum which was fun but also made the meals pricier than they needed to be. There we tried a traditional Roman pasta dish called Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper) which was on our Food to Try list, it was quite tasty.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening shopping, checking out Piazza Popolo and the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. For dinner we found ourselves at another of Sophie’s recommendations, Sora Liliana, where we had some delicious bruschette and Gorgonzola gnocchi with red wine to wash it down. And of course another quick stop for some Cremino gelato. 🙂

Welcomed by the Pope

The last full day of our trip was set aside to visit the Vatican City. Once we had gone through security(!) we were in Piazza San Pietro or St. Peter’s Square, the area right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. The first thing we noticed was a big crowd that all seemed to be attentively looking at something right out front of St. Peter’s Basilica. We quickly realized that what had caught their attention was in fact, the Pope himself. That’s right, the Pope heard we were coming to town and decided to hold a formal speech in our honour. Apparently every Wednesday that the Pope is in town he holds a public speech and we were lucky enough to accidentally attend. It was a pretty neat thing to see and start off our day.

 

Our next stop was the Vatican Museum to take in all of the beautiful pieces of art that are located there. There are so many amazing things to see that after about three and a half hours my brain hit overload mode (and it didn’t help that I was starving) so we headed straight to the Sistine Chapel. I was SO mad that we weren’t allowed to take photos and I’m not gonna lie, I thought long and hard trying figure out how I could angle my phone to take a photo without anyone noticing. But the guilt eventually got to me and I gave up and put my phone away. We sat trying to take it all in, I swear you could stare at the Sistine Chapel all day, it really is quite amazing (I definitely get what all the hype is about). We sat for while before finally deciding, or our stomachs deciding for us, that we had had our fill. Before heading off to find some lunch we quickly ran around making sure to see a few other famous pieces of art that were on the list.

We had read about a pizza place that was located nearby called Pizzarium, which claimed to have the “Michelangelo of pizza” and some of the best pizza you’ll ever taste. We got a little lost on our way but finally after asking a lovely Italian women (who kept apologizing for her ‘terrible’ but actually perfect English) for directions, we found it… and it was closed. Next thing we know a man pulls up in a van, explains to us that Pizzarium is under construction and offers to drive us to their temporary location inside a small bakery. So Bryce and I not sure if we will make it much farther without food, look at each other, and valuing our stomachs over our lives, hop in. Turns out he was actually a man shuttling FOR the restaurant so it was a lot less sketchy than it seemed at first. They had so many different kinds of pizza that you could choose from and we finally settled on mozzarella and potato, ham and cheese and buffalo cheese and meats. Although the pizza was good, and definitely different due to its thicker crust, I would say that “Michelangelo of Pizza”… maybe an over statement.

It started to rain as we headed back towards St. Peter’s Basilica but that didn’t stop us from waiting in the long line up to get inside. After about a 40 minute wait we were able to get inside and walk around taking in all of the detail and sculptures. Unfortunately we were too late in the day to see St. Peter’s tomb as it was already closed but we were able to see Michelangelo’s well-known sculpture, Pietà. The sculpture depicts Mary holding her son, Jesus’, body after the Crucifixion. Fun fact: it is apparently the only piece of work that Michelangelo ever signed.

We spent out last dinner in Rome at the lovely Alfredo e Ada which was a tiny place full of locals. The restaurant didn’t have any physical menu and instead our waitress verbally informed us of the daily meals. We ordered an artichoke lasagna and a beef dish with beef rolled around vegetables to go along with their house wine and at the end of the meal we were brought more wine and sugar cookies to dip into our wine as a treat on the house. With no actual menus we suddenly realized that we had no idea how much this meal was going to cost us. Bryce approached the waitress and asked “ummm… how much?…” She disappeared back into the kitchen to ask a man (maybe Alfredo himself?) and then reappeared with our total: 20 euros. 20 euros for the whole meal?! That’s it?! We had definitely thought it was going to be more so it was a nice surprise when it was actually quite reasonable.

Before heading back to Sophie’s to pack and sleep for the night we had one more stop that we had to make. We clearly needed some dessert after the fabulous meal and so we were back, yet again, for gelato at Frigidarium (I was not exaggerating when I said we literally went there everyday…).

The Trip Conclusion

The next morning we were sad to say goodbye to Rome. Our trip was so much fun but definitely too short (although I know my feet would disagree) and it was wonderful to see so many places I’ve always wanted to see. Italy truly is a beautiful place and I can’t wait to go back some day and explore some more. And hopefully see Trevi Fountain up and running! Sttttttiiillll pouting…