Once we got settled, we made did a loop on the hop-on-hop-off bus. We got a lay of the land and were able to check off some sites. We saw the Spanish Steps (meh), Trevi Fountain (meh) and some other notable places. I believe some landmarks you have to see even if they aren't showstoppers and doing it hop-on hop-off style is the way to go for quick viewing.
Next morning, we did a 10 person tour of the Colosseum which was very interesting. While that was not my favorite tour of Rome, it definitely was the site I was most excited to visit. Fascinating learning about the history and theatrics that went into the Flavian Amphitheater especially the water shows. The tour also included a walk through the Roman Forum which was mind boggling to wrap your head around the layers of city within the metropolis.
|panorama gone bad|
Enjoyed a 5 mile run around the town....
Here Josh enjoying some fish and stuffing his face with sides...
Our day trip to Ostia Antica was a highlight. We hired a private tour guide to meet us at our subway stop and take us out to Ostia. Once the major port city, it is a living outdoor museum now that is preserved much better than Pompeii. While we wanted to go to Pompeii, timing didn't permit so this short morning trip with our guide was a great alternative for us. We were able to go at our own pace and she explained so much about the ancient city. Definitely consider if you just can't make Pompeii work. The guide said she prefers Ostia over Pompeii due to the preservation and size of the city.
After the tour, we took the bus a bit more west to put our toes in the tyrrhenian sea and then rode bikes in the Borghese Gardens. Josh enjoyed the active parts of the trip and kept it fun for all of us.
Final full day, we went to the Vatican. While I am not Catholic, am totally intrigued in the history of the Catholic church and couldnt' wait to see the Sistine Chapel (spoiler, it is as tiny as people say). After booking a group tour in haste, I switched the tickets for an early entry small group Sistine Pristine tour. There were only 12 people in our group and we were able to visit the Sistine Chapel with less than 75 people in it. Once the gates open, we basically powerwalked through many hallways while our guide gave us some quick references here and there with the focus getting to the Sistine Chapel. The effort was worth it as we would sit on the benches and take it in. After we finished in the Chapel, we visited the map rooms, galleries and some other highlights. Our guide said it could take 3 full days just to 'casually' admire all of the work at the Vatican. CRAZY!!!
After the Vatican, my parents hit up another tour and we spent a few hours in Borghese Gardens again.... This time renting Segways. Josh was interested when we went the day before and they were cheap (compared to Chicago) and did only 30-60 minute rentals so we went for it. They had no real rules for age and when we asked what the requirements were they looked at josh and said, "11-12?" Josh and Scott loved them. I was the slowest and was convinced I was going to get thrown off when we were going up the hills... not shown, the helmets I was adamant about all of us wearing.
Trip went fast and it was time to go home Saturday. We had a few hour layover in Frankfurt and decided to leave the airport. A country doesn't count unless you step outside the airport, right? So, we went to a small little village (Kelsterbach) near the airport. It was quaint and along the Main river. Walked around for a bit and then made our way back to the airport.