Putting our Rome transit passes to good use, we tested out the bus system on our way to the Vatican today. Express bus number 30 got us to Piazza Navona, which is only a half hour walk from the Vatican. But that half hour walk includes time to take pictures in some of Rome’s most scenic locations, as well as a leisurely pace.
We also passed over the Bridge of Angles, and past Castel Sant’Angelo, while St. Peters dome got larger and larger with every step. The clouds teased us all day, and the promise of thunderstorms helped keep the temperature down. Which was good considering we had to be appropriately dressed for the church, and we would have absolutely died from the heat otherwise.
The line up and security check took us roughly 45 minutes to get through, and once right by the dome, we decided to climb up to get the view from the top before going up. The sign at the ticket office stated that it was 551 stairs to the top, and we decided to put that to test. We counted every single step to the top. At the view down into the cathedral, we were at 240 steps. At that point, you get a closer look at some of the stunning mosaics that make up the churches elaborate decoration.
Once at the top, we could testify to the truth of the original promise posted at the bottom of the climb. It really is 551 stairs to the top – and 7 of them are downhill. The views from the top are breathtaking, and Rome is spread out beneath you like a map. The only negative is the crowds at the top, but there isn’t too much that can be done to skip the summer crowds besides travel in the winter.
Back down at ground level, we visited the Vatican Post office to buy some postcards for some family members. We were also able to get a closer look at the Swiss guard that stands by the doors of the Vatican. In 1500 the Pope at that time asked the Swiss army for some mercenaries to protect the Vatican state, and since that time, the Swiss guard has been the personal guard for the Pope and the Vatican.
After our Vatican adventures, we were walking over to a spot that we had been told of by the lovely Brittany Busenius, and we noticed something along the banks of the River Tiber. Lining the roads of the river, there was a festival type of tent line-up, with some markets, some arcades, and some restaurants and food joints. Feeling a little hungry we stopped at a Mexican eatery and reflected on how funny it was that two Canadians and a German were eating Mexican food in Italy. Multiculturalism at it’s absolute finest. Looking it up a little later today, we found out we had stumbled upon Lungo il Tevere – Rome’s own summer festival celebrating different cultures and cuisines.
After a little food to nourish us, we continued to a spot that we had been told of by Brit. There is a keyhole in Rome, designed by Piranesi in 1765. The area and gardens belong to the Knights of Malta. This spot has become quite the tourist destination, but still feels like a hidden spot. There is a large, regal, green double door in a small Piazza. Look through the keyhole, and you will see the St. Peter’s Dome perfectly outlined in it. A steady flow of people passes by to have a look, but at no point was it too full or crowded there. At a public park near to that location, we also paused to take some pictures of the Basilica and to enjoy the sunset.
Our Airbnb host, Daniele, was fantastic in many ways, But what made him absolutely the greatest is that he volunteered to take us on a little night tour of Rome. He took us to one street in Rome where St. Peter’s Basilica is so huge it seems to be right in front of you. A breathtaking view, and hiding right in the middle of a residential area in Rome. We also went to a smaller church which hosts plenty of plays and musical shows, and due to an open plan you can hear everything when you sit outside on a nice summer day. We also paid a visit to the Colosseum to see it lit up and glowing by the night lights.
We’d also like to introduce you to Kentaro, or Teddy Bear. Daniele’s dog and our cuddle buddy of the last few days, he’s a rescue from a shelter, and he has to be the friendliest dog imaginable.