I conquered Rome in a day - by foot, twice!
The first time was a self-guided walking tour of the city. I started at the Termini once I arrived on the train and took a few moments to orient myself. I took the long way around, but made my way to the Piazza d. Repubblica then headed down Via Nazionale. When I descended the steps, I stopped and grabbed a slice of pizza from a hole in the wall joint (literally) and was blown away by what I saw when I continued my walk: Trajan's Market, Column, and Forum; Victor Emmanuel Monument; and the Forum of Augustus. I walked down toward the Colosseum and stood in amazement at it size and grandeur. Since I had a 2PM tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, I didn't have nearly enough time to go inside, but it was impressive nonetheless. I headed back up past the Forums and climbed the Victor Emmanuel Monument where I took pictures by the Italian Tome of the Unknown Soldier. My trek countinued and I found myself in the Jewish Ghetto and in front of the Synagogue.
I followed the Tiber River's bends up along until I veered left on Via Della Conciliazione. There in front of me stood the Vatican: St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, and the rest of the holy area. After a quick confused moment, I walked along the walls of the Vatican to the entrance of the Museum. I ascended a spiraling walkway and plodded into a garden area where a cafe greeted me. After a panini and a cold Heineken (better than a Peroni!), I continued through the Museum, wandering through the Egyptian collection, tapestries, and classical works of art. At the end of the long walk, I entered the Sistine Chapel. It wasn't as large as I thought it would be, yet it was still quite impressive as I considered the time and care if must have taken Michaelangelo. Due to a couple of wrong turns, I actually went through the Sistine Chapel three times, and was baptized once..
Then it was on to the Basilica, where I paid five Euros to ascend to the top of the Dome. The staircases were winding, narrow, and at time difficult even for someone in as good shape as I. But, the view was worth the climb! Seeing the Square below and the amazing ariel view of Rome was well worth it! After descending, I took a quick loop through the Basiclia, making way for people who were having a religious experience - for me it was just a nice place to witness - but I was impressed with their spirituality. At around 4:45, I left as I had to meet Steve back at the Termini at 5:40.
The walk back was long, but I impressed myself with my sense of direction. I traversed Vittorio Emanuele and noticed I was heading back to the Trajan Column. My sense of direction intact, I climbed back up the stairs and walked up the street to the fountain where my journey began. The train station was nearby, after a small misunderstanding I met Steve, and we took the bus to the hotel.
After a quick shower and email check, we found a taxi and returned to the Jewish Ghetto for dinner. Steve's Italian guide, Danilo, had set us up at the hotel of a friend of his who is Jewish who also owns a restaurant in the Ghetto. We were well taken care of with fish, a falafel platter, a bulki (sp?) that resembled a spring roll, and chocloate mousse. Of course, I enjoyed a few Belgium beers. Steve had the tripel as well, but asked for something with less alcohol by content since he spent the day tasting at a winery, so I grabbed him a Gold Star, an Israeli beer that goes down as easily as a Schlitz!
We wandered back past the Synagogue and through the Capitoine Museum area. We went back to the Colosseum and took some amusing photos of us pretending to be Gladiators, or more accurately, fighters. As it was getting late, we headed back to the hotel, but along the way got ourselves disoriented. Luckily, we noticed the walls of the British Embassy which was a known point as our hotel was close by.
I woke early at 6AM to get my run in so I could say I ran in Rome. Having walked the city the previous day, I had a great sense of a loop I wanted to do. I wasn't sure how long it would take, but I had ninety minutes or so until I needed to be back to shower and pack as we were off to Florence for the next day and a half. My running route took me along the same loop as my walk from the previous day, and I held on to it in a solid eight minute pace. I love running in different cities every chance I get - I hope to be able to lace up once in Florence!