Day 2 in Rome was dedicated to Vatican City.
After the miscalculation of time during our Colosseum tour on Day 1, you would have thought that we would have gotten our shit together. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
I had researched tours that gave us early access to all of the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel, so we booked our entry for 7 a.m. That meant waking up before dawn and making our way to Vatican City. This wouldn't have been a problem for us, except that I just had to stop for a coffee and croissant which threw off Mike's calculation of how long it would take us to get there, so we ended up sprinting nearly a mile in the dark to make our tour.
We arrived to the front of the Vatican right on time, relieved and ready to sightsee. Unfortunately for us, the actual meeting place for the tour was on the other side of Vatican City (a whole mile away). Well done, us!
We ended up missing our tour by about 30 minutes. Luckily for us, the Vatican Museums still honored our early access tickets, so we were able to go inside -- just without a guide. Our first stop was the Sistine Chapel. Even though we knew we'd be among the first in the room, we still wanted to have as much time in there without the crowds as possible, so we dashed through the museums straight to the Chapel.
As most of you probably already know, you're not allowed to take any pictures inside the Sistine Chapel. You'll just have to use your imagination. :) Spoiler alert: it was amazing.
After being two of 30 people in the Chapel for over an hour, we decided to explore the other rooms in the Vatican Museums.
We were told that the museums all together are about 9 miles. Needless to say, we did not do all 9. Instead, we headed outside to stand in line for entry to St. Peter's Basilica.
About an hour later, we were inside. Besides Michelangelo's famous Pieta, there's a ton to see including other sculptures, frescos, and of course, the dome.
Mike was insistent that we climb the stairs to the top of the Dome of St Peter's (there is actually an elevator that will take you halfway up), so I obliged and up we went. Pro tip: It gets a little perilous toward the top; that's when they give you the rope to hold on to. It barely helps.
The views really are unparalleled in the city, and you get to walk on the roof of the Vatican. That's pretty boss. If you get the opportunity to climb to the top, take it. Just be prepared to wait a while and burn some calories on the way.
About 50 flights of stairs later, you'll be greeted with this:
After our epic Vatican adventure (and nearly 10 hours later), we headed over to the Trastevere neighborhood for some aperitivo and dinner. Although Staci and I have never needed to make reservations on our trips, for some reason, Mike and I had no luck walking into places during this trip. Our second night in Rome proved really difficult for getting any food before 10 p.m. Since we hadn't really eaten all day thanks to sightseeing in the Vatican, I was getting hangry. We wandered from restaurant to restaurant before eventually finding an empty table in a Lonely Planet recommendation that, honestly, was probably the worst meal we had on the entire Italy trip. It was "authentic Roman" but that just meant that the wait staff was surly, and the meat was just labeled as boiled. No chicken, no beef, no pork. Just "boiled."
I went with a meatless option.
We made our way back to our hotel still a little hungry, so we grabbed some gelato.
Even a so-so night in Rome is still a good night. I mean...look at these fountains!